Planning an outdoor vacation next year? Now is the time to start thinking about new equipment and how to get it for less.
Outdoor equipment can be expensive, but buying it at the right time of year can get you the equipment you want at a better price. The savings will give you more cash to spend on outdoor adventures.
We’ve noted that national retailers are good sources, however you may be able to get better details on Facebook’s Marketplace or Nextdoor for pre-owned equipment. At Gear Trade you can buy new and used equipment.
It’s time to go out.
Guide to Buying Outdoor Gear at the Right Time
Best time to buy: Autumn and March
Details: When ski shops close for the season, they usually have to clear inventory. Many of these stores remain in the outdoor supply business year-round, converting to bike or camping supply stores in the spring and summer. But there is always the question of what to do with all the bulky skis and snowboards that are left. The answer is usually to sell them cheaply. While the selection may not be great after the ski season, the prices are. Another option is to buy used ski equipment through GearTrade.com. Every week that an item is not sold, the price drops so you can see your favorite items until the price is right (unless someone else grabs it first).
You will save: 50-60 percent
Where to buy it: Crossing; REI; Gear trade
Camping equipment (mainly tents, sleeping things)
Best time to buy: September
Details: In September, retailers don’t usually have many people clamoring for camping gear because it’s cold in much of the country and they want to sell as much as possible, Priobrazhenskiy says. November through January are also great times to shop when people are looking for Christmas gifts. If you have a last-minute outing, you can also find discounted items in late August, says Andrew Priobrazhenskiy, CEO of DiscountReactor, an e-commerce company.
You will save: 50 percent
Where to buy: REI; Dick sporting goods
Seasonal sportswear (ski coats, swimwear, hiking clothing, and more)
Best time to buy: May
Details: If you wait until July or August, you can also get your hands on some great sales options and discounts, says Priobrazhenskiy.
You will save: 50 percent
Where to buy: REI; Patagonia; Moose jaw
Outdoor kitchen equipment
Best time to buy: February, June and August
Details: These items, like camping stoves and kitchen supplies and utensils, tend to go on sale during these months. This is when most people plan their camping and outdoor trips, and retailers want to snag the business, Priobrazhenskiy says.
You will save: Up to 60 percent
Where to buy: Dick sporting goods
Stand Up Paddleboards, Surfboards, Kiteboards, Windsurfers
Best time to buy: August
Details: Buying your watersports gear in late summer is better because many stores have end-of-season clearance sales, says Holly Appleby, a marine conservation researcher and surf instructor who runs Ocean Today, a project dedicated to ocean education. However, if you buy at the end of the season, make sure you have adequate storage for your new gear. Surfboards and paddleboards should be stored out of the sun in a cool, dry place, Appleby says. And while many items can be purchased second-hand, Appleby cautions against purchasing water sports equipment this way. “Buying second-hand generally means you can get great deals year-round, but while it is likely to save money, there is a chance that the safety of the item has been compromised,” he says.
You will save: 40 percent
Where to buy: Dick’s sporting goods; REI
Kayaks and canoes
Best time to buy: late August
Details: The prime season for rowing around lakes, rivers, and other waterways in much of the United States is August. So the end of August is a great time to purchase a discounted kayak, canoe, or other paddling gear. Don’t want to keep it for a year before you can use it? Memorial Day generally draws the lake’s top gear sales, as does Christmas. The worst time to buy these items is spring when new inventory hits stores. You can often find used boats and rowing equipment on Craigslist or local Facebook groups for half the price during the spring and fall months.
You will save: 40-50 percent
Where to buy: REI; Cabela’s
Best time to buy: March and April
Details: Most sporting goods retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Bass Pro Shops and Camping World will close in the spring to make room for new hiking gear and accessories like boots, backpacks, boating tools and trekking poles, says Vipin Porwal , founder. and consumer savings expert on Smarty and Smarty Plus. “It’s very important to take advantage of any available savings with trending coupons and rewards like cash back to ensure the best price, regardless of which stores you’re shopping at,” says Porwal.
You will save: 10-40 percent
Where to buy: Dick’s sporting goods; Bass Pro Shops; Camping World
Bikes and helmets
Best time to buy: Fall
Details: That’s when stores ditch the stock from the previous summer and make room for new models. But you can also get good deals on Black Friday and during the holiday season. If you are looking for a specialty bike, such as a mountain bike or road bike, these will be for sale as long as they are out of racing season (usually the winter months). Save even more by requesting the purchase of a demo bike. These are the bikes that stores loan out to potential buyers. They are usually well maintained and are the equivalent of an open box item in an electronics store.
You will save: 20-35 percent
Where to buy: You must buy bikes from a local store to get the correct fit.
Best time to buy: February
Details: About two months after the December holiday season is the sweet spot – it’s too early to fish in much of the country except for all but the hardy ice fishermen and the shops must sell their older gear. Make sure to also look in the used sections because that is where you can find better deals.
You will save: 25-40 percent
Where to buy: Cabela’s; Bass Pro Shops
Luggage rack to carry it all
Best time to buy: November
Details: Black Friday is the best time to snag racks for bikes, jet skis, skis, snowboards, and more, but you’ll rarely see them more than 20 percent off. Do you want a better deal? Look for them on EBay or Craigslist, or browse local Facebook Marketplace listings. These are sturdy so you normally don’t have to worry about them getting damaged and often people will wear yours for a trip or two before ditching them.
You will save: 20 percent
Where to buy: REI; Crossing
Danielle Braff is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.