For a brief time in my life, I worked at an outdoor retailer. While it was a totally cool experience, I was always stunned by customers having moments of “Wow, that [insert insanely expensive piece of gear here] costs SO much. Guess I won’t be getting into [insert awesome outdoor activity here].” Needless to say, seeing customers bumming that much made me feel pretty bummed about it too. I’m on a mission to get as many people as possible outdoors and loving it, so when time and money stop folks before they even get started, that’s no fun.
But, I have a secret for you. Ready?
Outdoor adventure doesn’t need to be impossibly expensive or insanely time consuming. You actually don’t need to spend tons of money or take weeks off from work. Really. Here’s how.
Adventure at home.
I’m often told that I’m incredibly lucky to live in New Hampshire where nature is so readily available. And while I won’t argue that I have an element of luck on my side, I have to tell you that outdoor adventure is absolutely everywhere from urban trails to sprawling mountains. I’m almost willing to bet that there is a trail, river, lake, or interesting natural feature within twenty miles of your home.
So why adventure locally? Well, first off – adventuring locally saves you travel costs as well as time. I’ve traveled all over the United States and the cost of flights, lodging, and the headache of trying to pack my outdoor gear in my luggage is just nuts. And then there is the whole concept of losing at least a day or two just traveling! Eek! Adventuring locally lets me just load up my car and get to it – usually in the same day.
When it comes to outdoor gear, I can’t argue that it is expensive. But fortunately there are so many ways to get great gear at affordable prices. Here’s a few:
- Buy the right gear for what you do. I once had a woman come into the outdoor retailer I worked at and ask for the warmest jacket we sold. Naturally, the warmest jacket was also the most expensive. I asked her about what activities she was preparing for, and in the end it turned out a $400 down expedition jacket was not what she needed. With that being said, it’s always better to over prepare than under prepare – but think about the level of gear you need. Just hiking for a day? Skip the gigantic ultra lite multi-day backpack.
- I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a bit of an addiction to clearance racks at my favorite outdoor retailers. While this usually means that I’m purchasing gear out of season or from last season, I’ve scored some seriously amazing deals on gear I’d normally be unable to afford. Heck yeah. Also, be sure to frequent outdoor websites like Sierra Trading Post, TheClymb, and Steep & Cheap. The deals there are mind blowing and hard to say no to. Favorite recent score: $249 down jacket for $89.
- Don’t pass up used gear. While some used gear can be totally sketchy (you’ll know it when you see it), there are a lot of good finds out there especially with the more expensive items such as snowboards, skis, tents, and other essentials. So where should you look? Craigslist can be a good place to start, but many outdoor activities will have websites or classifieds dedicate to gear. For example, if you’re looking for climbing gear, Mountain Project’s classified section is a great place to start.
Get off the beaten path!
If I ask you to think of a state with big mountains, you’re likely going to say “Colorado! Alaska!”. If I tell you to think of a place with beautiful ocean views, you’ll either tell me “California” or “Florida”. Tourism is wonderful like that and by the power of advertising, you assume that these places are the best, biggest, and exactly where you should go. I say skip the popular stuff and get off the beaten path.
We’re fortunate to have fifty stunning states and each of them has at least a handful of things you should see in your life. Getting off the beaten path has some huge advantages.
- It’s usually cheaper. For example, want to go snowboarding in Colorado? Both lodging and lift tickets ($110/day) at Vail are nuts. But if you head back down I-70 for a little over an hour, you can visit Loveland (which is nothing short of epic) for $63/day.
- It’s not as crowded. Nothing can wreck a great trip more than traffic, crowds, and lines. Thinking outside the normal locations means getting away from the crowds, and that is a glorious thing.
- Sometimes it’s right around the corner. It always feels like the biggest stuff is the furthest away, but you might just be pleasantly surprised that you live closer than you think to the not-so-touristy stuff. Look at your state and neighboring locales – you’ll be amazed what you can find!
So there you have it, folks. Outdoor adventure is right in front of you and waiting. Get at it and go explore. Happy adventuring!
I was inspired by Dollar Shave Club to share some of my best advice on how to shave time and money off something I’m passionate about – so naturally outdoor exploration. I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are my own. And PS: If you aren’t a mountain man with a beard of epic proportions and actually do use razors, DSC is a darn good deal to avoid the Sasquatch look. Just saying.