Repeat after me:
Hi, my name is (___________) and I am a gear junkie.
Don’t worry, gear hoarding and over-enthusiasm is a common issue. Without generous people like us, where would all those deserving hiking pants, freeze dried crème brulee , and insulated water bottles live? But…have you ever had that moment of common sense strike you? There you are, minding your own business, standing in your local REI contemplating whether you will buy the 5-dollar plastic spork or splurge for the 7-dollar one with the sweet action handle…and it hits you like a ton a’ bricks. You’re overspending on frivolous luxuries. Oh, the drama.
Here are some principles to follow to save some green. Money, that is.
Get your stuff on sale
Online shopping is awesome. Not only is it tons easier to find and compare what you want to buy, but you can also find it much cheaper than you would in a regular store. Great websites for this are theclymb.com and steepandcheap.com. I swear the first time I saw these websites I flipped out. Such sweet deals. However, keep your eye open for seasonal gear sales—it always helps to shop for the gear you want at the END of a particular season, when shops are clearing out their seasonal product. And to be honest, I have never seen a hiker look at my Columbia rain jacket (that I got on clearance) and say “uhhh…lame. Isn’t that jacket like from, two seasons ago or something?” (maybe they reserve this ludicrous jabber till I can’t hear them, but I highly doubt it)
Get your stuff used
I have a ridiculously clever friend who can go into any Goodwill or The Salvation Army and come out with hundreds of dollars worth of quality outdoors-ready stuff…for less than twenty dollars (cue the poor rendition of Macklemore’s “Thrift Store”) No but for real, your local thrift shop is worth a good racking through. If you look for clothes made with quality wicking material, your one-of-a-kind clothing choices are really only going to make you stand out even more when you get to the summit.
For those very specific gear needs though, might I suggest checking out the REI member garage sales as well as websites like GearX.com and geartrade.com? Think about it—reusing not only decreases your footprint, but also decreases your financial losses. A double win, if I do say so myself.
Make what you can
I’m not saying that you should necessarily be weaving your own climbing ropes, but if you get creative you really can save some big mullah, as well as have more ownership of your outdoor experience. This could be as simple as making your own trail mix in the bulk section of your local grocery store, or learning to knit your own wool hat. Not only can you be certain that the things you make will be entirely unique, but you can also make SURE that you have exactly what you want. And besides, how do you think the big gear companies got started? With passionate people like you and me, being creative and sharing their good ideas. So get your creative gear junkie mind going, and invent something awesome.
Repair before replace
The cool thing about buying outdoor gear is that most of the time, it’s MEANT to get muddy, grass stained, rained on, slept in, worn in, and eventually worn out. There’s nothing wrong with that. Take pride in your investments and care for them as much as they care for you. They didn’t give out on you when it was snowing and they had to wake up at 8 am to hike back to the trailhead, so why would you give out on them when they’ve suffered a small hole? Learning to patch bumped and scratched equipment is a valuable life skill. Not only will it make you feel like a million bucks after you triumphantly solve the issue, but it will also prevent you from buying new gear prematurely.
Just don’t take as much stuff
This may seem like a no-brainer, but when faced with a barrage of tempting, beautiful shiny new things in an outdoor store, it is hard to think that you don’t NEED all that stuff. Everything! All the things! But here’s where a little self-control comes in. Remember that everything that you bring is going to need to be stored properly and taken care of to really get your money’s worth out of it. Even more fundamentally, ask yourself “do I REALLY need this? Am I REALLY going to use it?” I promise you-half the time, you’re going to say no. People have made it centuries without that 89 attachment Swiss army knife. And think of it this way, the less you have to depend on not to break, the less stuff WILL break and leave you in a bad situation. Trust yourself more than your gear.