The off season is a great time to do some gear analysis, gear upgrades and gear replacements. Here’s my system:
- The first thing that I do is check all of my equipment for irreparable damage and determine if it has met its life expectancy. Even the best made equipment will eventually need replacement and I try to do that before the fail actually happens. This year I am replacing my grill grate which is twelve years old.
- The next thing I do is make a list of things that I actually need and are essential to camping. Things that keep me warm, that I use to cook with or to stay dry and then there is the, “I just want it” list of things! For me an “I just want it” thing is the table top heater. There are quite a few manufacturers and a bit of a price range. There is one at Ace Hardware that I like and I am toying with buying this. It is definitely a non essential item!!
- After I get my essential and non essential list I start by surfing the web. The first thing I do when I have an item I want is to crowd source. I get online and start asking the members of RV groups if anyone has the particular piece of equipment I want or if they can make a recommendation. I get valuable information about cost, ease of use, packability, quality, and value from actual users. I then go on and read reviews from seller sites.
- When I get the feedback that I need and make the decision to buy I start price shopping the Internet and looking for coupon codes, sales and the best price including shipping. The online groups are a good source for this information as well. Because I am shopping in the off season I can be patient.
- It’s also a good idea to call the outfitting stores that sell it and ask if and when it will be on sale. Everything to do with cooking outdoors is always on sale in June for Father’s Day.
When buying used:
- Shop Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Repurpose Stores.
- Another resource is the spring time surplus of Church bazaars, garage sales and flea markets.
- If you don’t see what you are looking for, place an ad “in search of” the equipment you are looking for. Many people read these and their “junk” could be your treasure.
- When you find used equipment make sure to thoroughly examine it. Unlike a store it is understood that when you buy something used, there is a “no return” policy.
Buying used is a good opportunity to purchase something at a significantly lower price than retail. With camping supplies you are purchasing something for intermittent recreational use. Not having to make a big investment in something you may not use often is a great way to build your gear and keep extra money in your pocket to get outdoors!