Get the right gear to make your next adventure a success! Being prepared with proper equipment can make or break your day, but no one wants to spend hours combing through reviews. So let us do the work for you. Start here for tips and tricks that will save you time and money as you seek out what you need to make your next big outdoor goal happen.

Before you buy any adventure gear, check the following websites for phenomenal deals. You typically will not find the latest and greatest models, but these days, equipment is advanced enough that last year’s model will be more than sufficient. Look at the end of each season for the best deals!

Running Gear

The most important pieces of running gear are shoes, a running vest, poles, and performance clothes. In the grand scheme of adventure sports, it’s pretty simple! Yet somehow, you can spend hours and thousands of dollars on your running gear choices, especially before a race you’ve been training hard for and the last thing you want for gear to stand in the way of the finish.

Most races will give you a mandatory kit list that will have you running around for emergency blankets and elastic bandages that, let’s face it, none of us actually carry on our similar risk profile long runs. The trick is finding gear that works for most races that you’ll actually use on a day-to-day basis. Just because most people don’t carry it doesn’t mean it’s not worth carrying, especially when it comes to mountain runs. By keeping every ounce of your gear in check, you’ll build a kit that will keep you safe and save you precious time in the big race.

Let’s dig in:

  • Shoes: For ultras, Hoka, Salomon, and La Sportiva are top-notch choices. They aren’t the cheapest option, but shoes are not where you want to focus on savings. REI is a great place to shop for and try on shoes, as they offer most of the options you’ll want to pick from for rugged races.
  • Running Pack: If you’ve never used a running pack before, Salomon is the place to start. They offer a variety of high-performance options that will last for years, so you’ll more than get your money’s worth, even at the relatively high price. Check out REI for other options, if you’ve tried Salomon and don’t care for their packs for some reason.
  • Poles: Leki and Black Diamond should be your go-to stores for running poles. If you need them, it likely means you’re undertaking long, mountainous races and you’ll want to save every ounce you can in weight.
  • Performance Clothes: Besides the discount sites highlighted above, the best places to buy performance running gear online are Patagonia, 32 Degrees (for cold weather gear), Hyperlite (for lightweight gear), and Black Diamond. Some key items you’ll want to purchase are a base layer, waterproof jacket and pants, lightweight puffy jacket, and sunglasses.

Mountaineering Gear

Mountaineering gear is a bit more complicated than running gear – and by a bit, we mean a lot. Mountaineering trips are often expensive, so gear manufacturers assume their target market has a bit budget. Not to mention, mountaineering involves entering some of the most hostile environments on the planet, so it take high-end, ultra performance gear to survive it. 

Similar to running races, most mountaineering expeditions will involve a kit list a mile long, and you’d better be sure to bring every piece, as compact and lightweight as you can find and afford. You’ll also want to test your gear extensively beforehand. You don’t want to be one of those unlucky people who have their boot zipper break at 20,000 feet, though with Scarpa this is a risk no matter how much testing you do. Some of the big items to check for are whether you stay warm enough, whether you get blisters, and how all of your gear packs up, as you’ll have to pack and repack frequently on most trips.

Here are a few key items you’ll likely find yourself shopping for if you take on a big mountaineering expedition:

  • Approach Shoes: For approach shoes, it’s tempting to use your trail running shoes, and often you can. However, when trails are particularly cold or rugged, true approach shoes can lead to a safer, comfier experience. La Sportiva offers a range of options and a helpful purchasing guide. REI is great for if you want to try before you buy, or explore options from a range of manufacturers.
  • Boots: No on wants to spend +$700 on a pair of shoes (okay, most people don’t), but it’s necessary for many alpine peaks. Once you find yourself needing double or triple boots, you’re in for a big, but worthwhile expense. Do yourself a favor and go with La Sportiva over Scarpa (thanks to Scarpa’s constant quality issues) and don’t worry about the rest. Some people like Arc’teryx, but they do not have nearly the track record of other boot manufacturers.
  • Backpack: You can go crazy looking for the best fitting backpack with all the bells and whistles, and it’s true pack selection is important. But backpacks are often in abundance at local second hand outdoors shops, as well as in REI’s Outlet section. If you want to geek out and explore all your options, Hyperlite, Black Diamond, and Osprey are some of the best manufacturers.
  • Poles: As in running, Leki and Black Diamond offer your best options for lightweight trekking poles.
  • Performance Clothes: Especially with mountaineering gear, be sure to check out the discount sites highlighted above (Steep & Cheap, Evo.com, Moosejaw, and Outdoor Gear Exchange). Mountaineering gear is so expensive that sellers have a lot of margin to work with, and even small discounts can add up to hundreds of dollars saved. PatagoniaHyperlite, Arc’teryx, Mountain Hardware, and Black Diamond all have quality technical clothing.
  • Hardware: For technical equipment (including headlamps), Black Diamond and Petzl make a lot of the best options. But make sure you’re purchasing the right equipment before you buy anything and ensure it’s actually necessary. Often, if you’re going on a guided trip, the guide will have gear you can borrow or rent to save a big expense, letting you refocus your budget on clothing.

LISTEN UP

An often forgotten element of a good adventure is what you’re going to listen to along the way! Sometimes it’s your friend or partner hinting that you should really turn back, in which case, you’re going to need something to tune them out. Or more commonly, you may be hiking or running solo and want to lose yourself in a good book. If you’ve never tried audiobooks in the outdoors, consider this your cue to try it. Not only will it enhance your experience, but you’ll associate the book with that place. Then every time you think of one, the other will come to mind. While there are a few different audiobook platforms out there now, Audible is one to try for its extensive library, plentiful reviews, and Audible Plus catalog, which gives you access to thousands of books for free with your subscription, rather than having to purchase each one individually. Think of it as the Netflix of the audiobook world. 

Ski and Snowboarding Gear

When purchasing ski gear, there’s very little reason not to purchase from a discount site. Unless you’re buying new ski gear every year (which is just plain unnecessary), it’s better to start with last year’s model at half the price. If money is really burning a hole in your pocket, you can use the excess to buy a powder or touring ski or splitboard. The best sites to start with are Evo.com and Powder7, followed by Moosejaw, Steep & Cheap, and Outdoor Gear Exchange. Cripple Creek Backcountry and Bentgate Mountaineering are helpful for more specialized backcountry equipment, though don’t expect high discounts as the other sites offer. Backcountry gear is harder to come by and their prices often reflect that.

Hiking & Camping Gear

For hiking and camping gear, many of the resources you use for trail running and mountaineering will work just fine. But depending on the hike, they may leave you either under or over prepared for the conditions. Being overprepared doesn’t sound that bad until you’re carrying 60 pounds on your back for 15 miles, or sitting in a car overstuffed with down sleeping bags and jackets. So just take stock of what you have and decide if it’s fit for purpose for your trek. If not, REI is a great place to fill in the gaps.