Like most people who get into the outdoors, I have acquired my fair share of kit over the years and, during that time, I’ve found a few places that are good for getting cheap or discounted equipment. Here are a few recommendations:
Google search for shops. The first place to go for price comparison.
If you can’t find it, or find it cheap enough, on Google then eBay’s the next port of call. Great for second hand stuff.
Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com
Better known for their books but always worth a search after Google and Ebay.
An online only equipment manufacturer who make simple but good kit for camping and climbing.
A fantastic super store for sporting equipment including camping, skiing and cycling. Their own brand stuff is usually a bit bigger/chunkier/simpler than the branded gear but always significantly cheaper. A great place for the basics.
Not dissimilar from Decathlon but solely focused on outdoors kit. Sells lots of cheap brands as well as better quality kit at reduced prices.
This is a ‘flash sales’website, like Groupon, which means they sell large volumes of a certain item at low prices in a short space of time. You sign up to receive regular emails with the latest deals and then have a limit window in which to buy whatever’s on offer. Useful if you’re not in a hurry for a specific item.
Don’t under estimate the beauty of PoundLand, 99p Stores and the like. You’ll never get a down sleeping bag or a Goretex jacket but there are plenty of smaller items you can get at rock bottom prices. I’ve got a rubber Kindle cover, a neoprene case for my netbook, a bike horn, spare gloves, a foldaway rucksack, USB card reader and more, all for a pound.
Cotswold Rock Bottom
Cotswold Outdoors are a good range of outdoor retailers and they send all of their excess, discontinued and unsold items to their ‘Rock Bottom’ branches in Betws y Coed and Grasmere. You can get some top quality kit at bargain prices from these stores. Some of it’s available online but not all.
Ex-Army Surplus Shops
Ex-army and army surplus stores can be a good source of particular pieces of kit like large rucksacks, bivi bags and tarps. There are high street shops and online shops (like armynavystores.co.uk, armynavy.com, thearmystore.co.uk and surplusadventure.com), and ex-army stuff often proliferates other places like ebay.
Outdoor Shop Hot Spots
Certain towns around the country have large clusters of outdoor shops all in one place which are often useful for bargain hunting. These include Betws y Coed in North Wales, Aviemore in the Cairngorms, Keswick in the Lake District and Covent Garden in London.
What did I miss? Add your recommendations with a comment below.
+1 Decathlon. If you’re getting started on a shoestring you can walk in wearing your boxers* and walk out ready to begin pretty much any adventure you might dream up.
For second hand kit, also try Gumtree, Craigslist, and charity shops. I recently got a mint 80’s Berghaus 40l rucksack from a Cancer Research UK store for a fiver.
And for free stuff, check out your local Freegle / Freecycle groups. Also look around your local recycling centre towards the end of summer, after festival season and when school’s back in.
*I don’t suggest you actually do this
Don’t forget Aldi and Lidl. If you are carefull, bargains to be had, e.g. merino or bamboo baselayers for £10/£5., softshells for £16, primaloft jackets £19 and the best cycling gloves I’ve ever used at £4.99. Usually seasonal, so have to look out for the deals. All tested by me in the field and as good (sometimes better) than the “proper” brands. Label snobs need not apply!
Sports Direct is ok for a few bits if you’re a runner. To much brand snobbery at events. Nowt wrong with decathlon and karrimor for your basics. Great blog!!!
There are lots of great independent outdoor retailers who offer competitive prices on their websites. They generally have sales staff who are outdoor enthusiasts themselves, so they can offer advice about the kit gained from their own personal experience. Why not look up your local independent, then drop by to check out their range and say hello?
Try aliexpress – they sell some great tents / tarp tents, sleeping bags, down jackets at about 1/4 of the price you’d pay for branded products.
Thanks Tom. Not used there before.