Camping gear can be pricey, especially if you're making last-minute purchases. The next time you're in the market for new gear, save money by planning ahead and shopping used.
Online retailers aren't the only source for savings. Become a savvy camping-gear shopper by checking community groups, your friend's closet and more.
If you're new to camping, borrow from friends—invest in new, more expensive gear later. If you don't have these friends yet, join local outdoors Facebook or MeetUp groups to connect with people who may have extra gear to lend you.
REI Garage Sale
Gain access to huge deals on used camping gear when you buy a lifetime REI membership, which is only $20. Much like a regular garage sale, REI sells slightly used, returned gear and clothing for prices you'll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. Not to mention, you can see the gear in person, try it on and test it out. Find the next garage sale dates at REI.com.
Play It Again Sports
Play It Again Sports buys, sells, and trades gently used sporting equipment and outdoor gear. This is one of the best places to find used camping equipment, often 50 percent of the brand-new price, every day of the year.
Craigslist and Freecycle
You can find unbelievable deals on Craigstlist.org but follow a checklist to make sure it's a good purchase: ask for pictures, specs and history of the product. Check the current retail price to make sure you're getting a good deal too.
Freecycle.org is similar to Craigslist, but as the name implies, everything is free. Again, always double check for condition and that all parts are included. Don't forget that you can post a wanted ad for what you need on Freecycle and Craigslist.
Online Gear Trades
GearTrade.com is a national marketplace that offers hard-to-beat deals on new and used gear; read carefully to be sure you're browsing the used section. Both individuals and retailers can sell here, and the best part is that the website has a 72-hour inspection policy. The buyer has 72 to hours to check out the gear, and if it doesn't match up to the online description, contact customer service to negotiate price or return.
Outdoor Community Sales
Become a member of, or reach out to, local outdoor clubs who often have community sales. Check universities, hiking and climbing clubs, or find a chapter of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) near you and contact them to see when their next community sale is.
More: 14 Reasons to go Camping
Find a Campground at ReserveAmerica.com.