Guest Author - Lisa Linnell-Olsen
Winter Sports like skiing, snowboarding, figure skating and hockey have a lot of necessary gear and clothing. All of these items can really add up to expensive costs for you and your family. Getting outdoors to ski, sled, skate or board doesn’t have to break the bank. The following is a list of tried and true strategies to find discount prices on winter gear.
Classified ads: People buy gear and find a sport is not right for them, or their kids outgrow the items. Maybe they are just ready to upgrade. Search classified ads of all kinds to find good deals on skis, snowboards, hockey gear, and even jackets and clothing. Be cautious and check items over well. Make sure clothing fits and does not have any tears or damage that interfere with an items ability to perform.
Internet options: EBay, Craigslist, or your local Freecycle group are some of the internet options to look for discount winter gear. Many of these items will be second hand and in varying conditions. Like classified ads, you will want to have a good idea of what damage you are willing to accept, and have a good idea of what performance features you need in an item.
Discount catalogs: Sierra Trading Post and Campmor are just two examples of catalogs that run overstock or discontinued winter clothing and gear at reduced prices. These stores carry new items. Discounts can vary between a little less than full retail to more than 70% off. Many of these stores have both print and web catalogs that you can purchase from.
Second hand stores: Whether specializing in sporting goods equipment or general second hand stores, great deals on winter gear items can be found at thrift and second hand stores. Stores like Play it Again Sports are staffed by people who know what quality items are locally in demand, and will often have a full selection available for children and adult items for winter sports that are practiced in your area. Also, general second hand stores like Goodwill can have excellent deals if you are willing to sort through the merchandise. My daughter got a very expensive base layer top for only $1 at Goodwill.
Military Surplus: The military needs to outfit its members with all kinds of winter clothing and gear. As these items age or are phased out, these items can be found at affordable costs through military surplus stores, giveaways and other outlets. Name brand manufacturers like Patagonia and Outdoor Research have military contracts, and make some of the clothing. You can find wool sweaters, pants, fleece jackets, snowshoes, skis and many other cold weather items that were once issued to service members. The colors and cuts may not be the most flattering, but military gear is often very affordable and practical.
Hand Me Downs and Pass-ons: Probably one of the least expensive options, usually free. If you let your friends and relatives know that you are looking for items for yourself or your family for winter fun, you may very well get handed some items that others have outgrown and would like to pass on. This helps to keep usable items out of the waste stream. As an example, I was speaking with one of the neighborhood teen boys about how my daughter had outgrown her skis and needed a new set. It was a casual conversation. The boy came back with his still usable skis that he had outgrown. My daughter’s old set will be passed on in the same way.
Winter Sports are notoriously expensive to get clothing and gear. With a little bit of looking around at options, almost everyone can afford to stay active in the outdoor winter months. If you have any further tips you would like to share, please post them in the Winter Sports forum.