The Season for Outdoor Savings

Read More

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. 

The Lowdown

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. 

REI

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. 

Backcountry.com

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).

EverestGear

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. 

Midway USA

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. 

Overton’s

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…

REI Patagonia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Product Review: Irish Setter VaprTrek Boot

[ngg src=”galleries” ids=”13″ display=”basic_slideshow” gallery_width=”600″ gallery_height=”400″ arrows=”1″]It all started in 2014. A great pair of leather boots had given up the ghost and I needed something new. Another pair of leather boots seemed a good idea, but with all the walking I do in the bird hunting season, I didn’t want anything too heavy. One boot caught my attention, marketed as light in weight and tough as nails. I’d never owned anything in kangaroo leather before, so who was I to doubt their claims? 

Well, I should have. Astonishingly, I wore those boots out in just one October. The leather in the toes completely disintegrated, and the waterproof layer underneath could clearly be seen. I regret to this day I didn’t take pictures, but I was livid as I packed up the box. I just wanted them out of my sight. Ever since then, I’ve been in search of a boot that could stand up to the way I hunt.  Continue reading “Product Review: Irish Setter VaprTrek Boot”

Do Something New: Quarter and Pack Out a Deer

Read More

I’ve long dreamed of hunting in the mountains, spending days climbing, glassing, and stalking. This kind of trip has always seemed quite accessible to me, except for one aspect: getting the meat out of the woods. It would be impractical to expect to drag a deer back to the truck. Foolish, really, and out of the question with an elk. So that would mean quartering and packing the animal out. This is nothing to the hunter on horseback, or even one who is accustomed to doing it. Continue reading “Do Something New: Quarter and Pack Out a Deer”

NAGC’s Best Adventurer Food, 2019

Read More Nordhem Karlstad MN

Even when you’re on the road, everybody’s gotta eat. There are the hidden gems, and there are the inevitable sore disappointments. On my adventures, I’ve found my share of each. In the interest of rewarding the proprietors of first-rate eateries, I would like to share some of my favorites with you. Hopefully this will also serve to help you avoid some of the duds lurking out there. The map below is interactive, so click on the icons to obtain addresses, phone numbers, and websites. Have at it, and let me know what you think!

Continue reading “NAGC’s Best Adventurer Food, 2019”

Product Review: 2004 Ford F-150 Heritage

Read More

“It’s a work truck. You’re a smaht guy.” Those were the last words spoken to me by salesman Sean, through the truck window, as I drove my F-150 Heritage off the lot in April of 2004. After I rolled the window up, my wife and I looked at each other and wondered aloud what that was supposed to mean. It seemed nonsensical. We laughed and shrugged it off, but never forgot that moment. I’m not sure what made those words so immortal, whether it be their cryptic nature or because it was fun to say “smaht” in our best manufactured Massachusetts accents. Either way, they stuck with us. After fourteen and a half years, however, Sean’s absurd adieu now seems strangely prophetic.  Continue reading “Product Review: 2004 Ford F-150 Heritage”

Compliance

Read More Minnesota deer hunting

The Deer Hunt

It was the third day of deer season. My dad, my brother, and I were done hunting and were standing around by the new blind I’d been sitting in. I glanced westward and noticed somebody in blaze orange walking straight toward us across a neighboring soybean field. Having no idea who it was and what they might want, we went to meet him at the property line. When we got close enough to each other, I could see he was wearing a badge that identified him as a state conservation officer. He introduced himself as Jeremy, we shook hands, and I invited him across the fence so we could talk properly. He asked us about the hunt and checked our licenses.  Continue reading “Compliance”

About Roy and NAGC

Roy Heilman is a lifelong outdoorsman with an ear for storytelling. His unique voice conveys a lifelong passion for all the outdoors, and especially of his home state of Minnesota. Fishing, hunting, and foraging topics are of special interest to him, especially when those topics intersect with getting kids outdoors, public lands, and Minnesota’s natural resources. An adventurer at heart, he is always looking to do something new.

In addition to writing exclusive content for Never A Goose Chase, Roy also produces material on wide-ranging topics for newspapers and magazines. Publications where his work has appeared include American Hunter, Pointing Dog Journal, Outdoor News, MidWest Outdoors, and Whitetales Magazine.

Roy is an award-winning communicator and an active member of the Association of Great Lakes Outdoor Writers (AGLOW). A naturally curious lifelong learner, he is a graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College and the New England Conservatory of Music.

This website is dedicated to the idea that when we venture outdoors, it doesn’t matter if we return with a stringer full of fish, a basket full of mushrooms, a belly full of berries, or nothing at all.  What does matter is that we go out, we make memories, and we make our lives richer.  No matter what, it’s Never A Goose Chase.