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How To Find Cheap Outdoor Clothing

Outdoor clothing needs to function to a higher standard than everyday clothes. This makes it more costly to manufacture, and so more expensive for you. What can you do to find those quality hiking and backpacking clothes for less? You can watch for sales. You will save money, but that "extremely expensive" waterproof/breathable coat may still only be marked down to "very expensive." What else can you do?

More Radical Ways To Find Cheap Outdoor Clothing

Start by reconsidering what you really need for the trips you have planned. Will you be scaling peaks in Patagonia for a month? You probably should stick with the best sales you can find on the high-quality stuff. On the other hand, what if your trips are fair-weather overnighters? A dollar-store plastic poncho isn't out of the question.

Consider things like how often you will be using a piece of clothing, and how abusive or careful you are with your clothes. How will you actually be using it? I didn't take a 0 waterproof/breathable rain suit to the top of 20,600-foot Mount Chimborazo. I took a papery Frogg-Toggs rain suit, which you can find at golf shops. It's waterproof and breaths well, and cost just for the set. I have used it for years, on many rainy trips, with only one duct-tape repair. On the other hand, I hike in open areas, not thick forests that would tear the jacket up.

If you hike in running shoes, as I do, start watching the sales on out-of-style shoes. I've bought brand-name running shoes for just . With savings like that, I'm happy to be out of style.

Want cheaper hiking and backpacking socks? Mine weigh less than an ounce and cost about a dollar per pair. I actually stopped getting blisters when I gave up on expensive, high-tech, too-hot hiking socks. I can hike thirty miles now without a blister in my comfortable, lightweight, white nylon dress socks. They come four pairs to a pack for three dollars at Wal-Mart.

Used Outdoor Clothing

The only outdoor clothing I won't buy used is footwear. Otherwise why not watch for potential hiking and backpacking clothes at a rummage sales or thrift stores? My own finds include a Goretex rain jacket and North Face vest for a few dollars each. My thrifty used wool sweater weighs just 11 ounces, and seems as warm as the newest fiber-pile models.

One of my thrift store discoveries was silk shirts. They weigh just three ounces, and used to show up on the racks regularly for (they are getting harder to find). They are comfortable, and dry fast if they get wet, though some of the styles make me look like I'm searching for a wilderness disco.

Making Hiking Clothes

While I can't recommend sewing your own outdoor clothing, and I don't like sewing myself, I have made a few simple things. A sleeve from an old thermal shirt became a one-ounce ski mask with scissors and three minutes of sewing. Socks with finger-holes became nifty hand warmers. As an insulating layer, I have worn a four-ounce piece of poly-batting like a tunic under my jacket, to the top of many mountains. Finally, without too much sewing, you can often modify your old clothes to make cheap outdoor clothing.

About the Author: Steve Gillman is a long-time advocate of lightweight backpacking. His tips, photos, gear recommendations and a free book can be found at

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