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Do you have friends who just completed a trek through the Himalayas or a tour of Australia by campervan? Ask if you can borrow their outdoor gear. You can also find like-minded travellers by joining online groups and forums, where members may trade and share their gear when it's not in use. Online crowdsourcing is a great way to save money both on accommodation and gear these days.
2. Buy slightly used gear.
The next best thing to getting your gear for free is to buy it used. Again, you can look at outdoor forums to find other travellers who want to get rid of their gear, but you can also look at auction sites like eBay for good deals. You'll probably find better prices if you look locally in your destination of choice, however. For example, if you're backpacking through South America, look at local listings sites like MercadoLibre. For Australian travel, look at Quicksales for used gear. There's no reason to pay full price for items like tents, jackets, or backpacks.
3. Use online coupon codes.
Outdoor retailers like REI often offer discounts specifically to online shoppers, which you can access with coupon codes. Backpacker sites like TrailPotato have a "gear coupons" section which you can search, or you could follow outdoor retailers on Twitter or Facebook for access to special deals and discounts. Be sure to check the expiration date.
4. Look for flash sales.
Sales are an old-fashioned method of saving money that are still widely used. However, these are often restricted to just a day or two and called "flash sales" or "daily deals." There are a number of daily deal websites that round up all of these deals. Groupon is one of the most famous, but LivingSocial is another contender. You can also look at individual outdoor retailer websites, where upcoming flash sales are often announced.
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Like regular clothing, it's best to purchase outdoor gear at the end of the season. You might be left with last year's styles, but when you're simply looking for a heavy duty rain jacket does it really matter? A good rule of thumb is to shop between seasons and plan for your trek well in advance to take advantage of serious savings.
6. Don't pay extra for high-tech materials you don't need.
The outdoor retail industry is geared towards making consumers think they need the latest high-tech materials for optimum performance. However, in many cases plain old cotton will work just as well for a hike as a super-performance wicking t-shirt. Ponchos and windbreakers can work just as well as an expensive rain jacket for shorter hikes. Think carefully about what you really need for your journey, and consider whether you might already have it in your wardrobe.
By shopping around to compare prices and taking advantage of online deals when they pop up, you can save a bundle on your next outdoor adventure.