We are an outdoorsy family, always have been. We have always had a dog, we love long walks, we love going to the beach or the woods and being out in the garden. However, even though we enjoy all of this we most certainly aren’t kitted out in all the up to date must-haves outdoor gear, in fact, one of my favourite coats is 11 years old and from a well-known high street store and only cost me £20. For me, getting outdoors is vital but spending a fortune to do so isn’t so here are my 9 tips for getting outdoor gear on a budget.
This is probably the best way to save yourself some money when it comes to sourcing your outdoor gear. Whether you need walking boots, camping gear, a good outdoor coat, bikes, hiking gear and so on, you will be able to find almost everything on pre-loved sites such as eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace and also don’t forget to check local charity shops, you will be amazed at what gets donated I once picked up a kid’s wetsuit for just £2.50!
The British can be very proud people and asking people for things doesn’t come naturally to many of us but asking around whether that be on a Facebook status, in a group WhatsApp group, speaking to family members just to see if anybody has any outdoor gear or clothing that they no longer need can prove to be valuable. When I was searching for a kid’s bike seat during lockdown 1, I struggled to find anything in my price range new and everything was being snapped up too quickly secondhand. I took a punt and posted on Facebook and almost immediately a friend replied to say she had one that I could have for free as it was taking up space in their garage and they needed it gone. It was a win-win. So why not check with people you know before checking the websites?
If you don’t take part in the outdoor activity on a regular basis, you may find that somebody you know already has some outdoor gear that you could borrow from. My husband goes camping once a year with friends and each year he will borrow chairs and a table from his parents, he will share a tent with a friend who borrows this from his brother and others will all bring items that have been loaned out too. It is a really simple way of getting plenty of use out of what somebody else has bought, saving yourself money, being more eco-friendly (as you aren’t buying new) and saving on storage space.
Under this heading I am also going to include hand me downs. Keep older children’s clothes for the younger ones, ask friends if they have any kids outdoor gear you could borrow or have as a hand me down and return the favour as when you can. You could always borrow items for a while and give them back when they require them again. This is a great way of making items go much further and will save both you and a friend or family member a lot of money.
As above, if you don’t regularly take part in a certain outdoor activity and don’t want to buy, you could simply hire the gear for the day or for a trip. Many people will hire all of their surfing gear once they arrive on their holiday in Cornwall. This will allow them to free up space in/on their car, it means they won’t have to store it at home and it can be far more convenient.
Shop The Sales
When you start to look at the prices of outdoor clothing and gear, it can seem as though all of these outdoor activities are only for those who can afford it which I think is a really poor message being sent out by these retailers. Thankfully, come the sales you can see some huge reductions making the items far more affordable (and rightly so!)
Shop The Kid’s Department
If you can fit into kid’s clothing or shoes, head to this department in the store over the adults. You will still get the same quality but at a lower price. I purchased my walking boots in a six 6 from the kid’s section and instead of paying over £40, I paid just £22. They fit really well, are warm and comfortable as well as water-resistant. They should last me years.
Shop Your Wardrobe
The thing is, we are told over and over again by adverts that we need this special coat or boot or hat or gloves to get outside and enjoy nature but in all honesty, you most probably already have what you need at home. I’ve never had a fancy “outdoor” coat, I simply use what I own and I’ve not had any problems. I also own a variety of scarves (thanks to Christmas existing!), I have hats, 3 pairs of ordinary gloves that are not waterproof but they do keep my hands warm, plus plenty of t-shirts and jumpers that I can layer in order to trap my body heat. As long as you are comfortable, as long as you can freely move about and have a certain level of water protection, you can get out and about on all of those walks just by using what you already own.
There will be some items that you will inevitably have to buy brand new – maybe you can’t source it secondhand, you need to be sure of safety, you can’t borrow etc. In this case, my biggest tip would be to read the reviews, check and compare prices and invest in the best that you can afford. If you know this will be well used, if you know you will use it for years to come, if you know you could make some money back one day by selling it on, then go for it. When you make an investment into something like this, you end up saving money in the long run which is what you should keep in mind when looking around.
Only Buy What You Need
It is amazing how much is out there on the market these days but before you buy, stop and ask yourself if you really need it. Yes, there may be special hiking backpacks but won’t an ordinary backpack do the same job? There may be an amazing water bottle that promises to keep your drink cold for 24 hours but any reusable water bottle you own should suffice. You probably have all you need to pack up a lunch to take out with you sitting in your kitchen cupboards. Going outdoors doesn’t have to be “on trend” it just needs to be practical.
I hope these tips have given you some new ways of being able to enjoy the great outdoors without it costing too much.
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