It seems every year I tell myself I’m going to get new hiking boots. And ice fishing boots. And snow bibs. And winter clothing layers. And a new backpacking stove. I’m sure I’ll get around to all those, but most of my procrastination has to do with finding the right items at the right prices. Well, now is the time of year when prices get slashed and I need to be on top of my shopping game. You should too, especially if you need any type of outdoor clothing.
The average retail shopper is usually thinking in terms of the upcoming season; at least that’s the way retailers act when it comes to their merchandising. But if you’re willing to think about the things you’ll need next year rather than the next season, you can often get clothing and gear for half or less of what you would otherwise pay.
Almost 20 years ago I learned that the end of the winter is prime time for snatching up clothing and gear for good (sometimes crazy-good) prices. I was working in fishing retail, watching the clothing and camping employees marking things down, trying to clear the shelves for all the merchandise that was to flood the store in the lead-up to Spring. You see, they do not want to store any more than they have to for the next six to nine months.
What’s more, things like tents, sleeping bags, outerwear, and all manner of casual clothing are subject to major styling changes- every single year. It stands to reason, then, that the old stuff has to make room for the new stuff. And this is the golden time every year when ice fishing gear is also leaving the showroom floor, which means the fishing department can have steep discounts too.
The Internet is No Different
Now, the the savings don’t just apply to retail stores; companies with an online presence are doing a lot of the same things. Here are some of my favorites, my go-to sites when I need a deal on new goods.
Let me say at the outset that if you’re not a member, you should probably consider it. A permanent membership is still only $20 (To me, that is incredible). What does that get you? For starters, you get a percentage of your purchases back every year as a store credit. My dividend- as they call it- has more than paid me back over the years, and my main purchases there are dehydrated food and fuel for my backpacking stove.
The even-better reason to become a member is that you will be alerted to their big sales and issued coupons several times over the year. Those coupons are usually 20% off a regular price item and 20% off an REI outlet item. One of those big sales is coming up in June- I hope to find my new hiking boots then.
Regardless of one’s membership status, the REI Outlet is always there. That part of the site features their clearance goods, and is largely clothing. It seems the longer an item waits there, the steeper the discount. And those who shop on the extreme end of the size spectrums will do well.
This website ranks up near REI for my first and favorite place to look for low prices on things I need. If I had to classify it, I’d say it’s “An online store with clothing and gear in current styles, with sometimes extensive selection of sale and clearance merchandise.” Backcountry offers goods from top-shelf companies like The North Face and Patagonia, but also has exclusive brands like Montane and Stoic. I’ve picked up some clothing there as well as my warmest sleeping bag. The Stoic fleece jacket I bought from them last year has become one of my go-to layers (seen in this photo from the About Roy and NAGC page).
Like Backcountry, Everest Gear seems to be a dumping ground for old styles. Sure, they have some regular-priced stuff, but their regular prices are nothing special. I first stumbled on Everest Gear when I was looking for sleeping bags. They have lots of clothing and other gear, but it remains one of the best places I’ve found for discounts on sleeping bags.
If I had a complaint, it would be that I haven’t found a way to refine/sort the merchandise listings (by brand, price, size, etc.). So if you’re looking at tents, for instance, you have no choice but to scan through all the tents. If you’d like to keep your purchase under a certain price, they don’t make it easy. It can make shopping there a bit more time consuming, but it’s still worth a look.
The people at Midway USA are pretty much no-nonsense. They offer whatever they offer, and it won’t be everything on the market. But when they want to get rid of something, they’ll put a good price on it until it’s gone. I finally found the price I wanted on a hunting backpack there a couple years ago, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Again, they don’t try to offer everything that’s out there, but it’s one of the best places online to find good discounts on hunting gear.
When it comes to your ice fishing needs, it can be hard to sniff out the best destinations for deals. Generally speaking, retail stores are trying hard to get rid of everything ice fishing- especially by the middle of March. It seems like you just have to hit the stores you know and hope to get lucky; I have yet to find an online source for ice fishing gear that tries as hard as the aforementioned websites do to get rid of their wares.
Still, the Overton’s website currently has some good prices on some gear. The selection is by no means comprehensive, but some good deals can be had. I wish now I’d held off on some of my recent lure purchases…