I believe that it's important to support local gear shops and outfitters, but we all know how expensive it can be to load up on quality outdoor gear. Sometimes the best option is to buy secondhand. Here are a few options for locating used or heavily-discounted gear.
Sure, it may turn into an all-day event, but how cool is it to rummage? After regretfully replacing some Beach Boys cassettes, and pushing past that questionably-stained knife collection, you will usually happen across some clothing tucked away against the wall. Push back all the crap and search for the prize. Check salvage stores in resort towns for great winter gear that "winter locals" discard before returning to the summer home. Scan stores by beach towns, near national parks, and in paddling communities. Chances are you will find those synthetic shirts or snowshoes you've been hunting. Last season at Goodwill I scored a pair of insulated North Face snowpants with the tags still on them. Originally $135.95, they now keep my butt warm on the chairlifts for the low price of $4.00. In fact, the mountain I work at this winter recently donated half their stock of rental boards to the local Salvation Army, in hopes of an updated inventory. Sure they're beaten boards, but now you've got a board to destroy. Thank you, thrift shops.
Craigslist and Messageboards
Craigslist.com takes the trophy for most random collection of deals ever. You're bound to find anything there, except exactly what you want sometimes. But if you check back frequently and remain persistent, you're bound to find some gear that works for you. Just don't get lost in the web of personal ads and false promises along the way. Region or sport-specific message boards are the way to go. People on these sites generally understand the gear they are selling, and are happy to communicate with potential buyers. The example I am most familiar with is the Northeast Paddlers Message Board, where the local boating communities hang out to swap gear and pray for rain. (Please note that while trying to google other examples, I got extremely sidetracked after my discovery of rodeoattitude.com, where rodeo enthusiasts search for equipment such as "clown barrels." But I digress.)
I came upon this website during a search for a discounted Rome Howl Jacket. I found this jacket used on geartrade.com for 67% off the retail price, after only being worn once. The same story goes for most of the stuff on the website... if it's new, it'll be labeled new, if it's beaten, it will be marked as such. They have an option to search for gear under $5, if thats what floats your boat. Find gear such as apparel and footwear, biking equipment, climbing accessories, boats, fishing rods, skis, skateboards, the list goes on. All money for purchases goes through geartrade.com, so you are sure to be paid. Selling is also a cinch, and is made stupidly easy through a downloadable iPhone application. With the discovery of this website, there is simply no excuse not to be sporting sweet gear.
Do you have any suggestions on how to score outdoor gear for cheap? Do you have any reviews or steals of your own to share? Comment here, post on Kim In A Kayak's facebook page, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keep the love rollin!