Active Junky from 13 Sites for Buying Bargain Gear
13 Sites for Buying Bargain Gear
Active Junky is a good first stop before you shop any further. Sign up (free), click through its portal to over 100 online retailers—including several listed below, such as REI, EMS and Backcountry.com—and get automatic cash back on your purchases. (Every retailer has a different cash-back rate, prominently advertised.) You can also use Active Junky as a version of Google Shopping curated for outdoors lovers and active folk: search for the exact product you’re looking for and see what it sells for at Active Junky’s partners. The cash rebate is helpfully listed next to the price. Active Junky also collects coupon codes, so there’s no need to scour multiple sites to maximize your savings.
For many, Backcountry.com is the go-to “e-tailer” for active and outdoor shopping. It has an outlet store with a limited selection of sizes, colors and gear. But that’s almost beside the point. The regular Backcountry.com store, which has a staggering selection, lets you search by discount, so buried closeouts can pop right to the top of your search. Backcountry.com also distinguishes itself for its lenient return policy: not only can unused gear be returned any time for a full refund, you have 90 days to return used gear. (Of course, if you treat the website like a lending library, the company won’t take too kindly.)
Sierra Trading Post
If you don’t feel like driving to the nearest outlet mall—an oxymoron if there ever was one—head on over to SierraTradingPost.com for the latest closeout, overstock and seconds deals from top outdoor brands. (Although, if you are in a driving mood, the company does have outlet stores in Wyoming, Nevada and Idaho.) Sierra Trading Post is like Overstock.com for core enthusiasts: you’ll find Mountain Hardwear tents instead of Coleman. The selection is wide-ranging, extending from apparel and gear for virtually every outdoor activity, to home decor, but the depth varies with inventory. It has plenty of boardshorts at the moment, but no surfboards. Still, discounts of 50 percent or more abound for offseason gear, and the return policy is lax. You have six months to return an item for any reason for a refund, and a year for store credit.
This Michigan-based retailer has a well-stocked outlet site that carries big names in outdoor gear and apparel—it’s jacket selection is especially impressive, with brands like Arcteryx, Patagonia and North Face at healthy discounts of up to 70 percent. Moosejaw’s “Snow” store is also a great place to shop for ski and snowboard gear offseason at pennies on the dollar (okay, maybe dimes). The company promises to match competitors’ prices and offers 10 percent back in store credit on all non-sale purchases (5 percent for sale items), but one thing that really sets Moosejaw apart is its lifetime return policy. True, you can’t return your skis after a season of heavy powder runs, but if those skis spent a few years in the back of your closet, you’re still good for store credit as long as you saved the receipt.
This Internet retailer with a store in Bend, Ore. has an online “outlet” with closeouts from popular brands like The North Face, KEEN and Burton. Altrec also has a “Deal!” section with limited-time, while-supplies-last, flash sales of individual items at 50 percent off or more. The main site is also flush with discounts on discontinued items and overstock—just search by discount. Altrec was a wide selection of apparel, but the gear choices vary by sport. You won’t find paddleboards or bikes here (accessories are another matter), but Altrec shines in the snow-sports department, with serious closeout deals on skis and snowboards.
REI has never been known for being cheap, but that doesn’t mean you can’t snag deals there. REI Outlet has plenty of ways to find the gear you’re looking for at a good price: daily and weekly deals with discounts of 50 percent or more, overstock and clearance from REI’s famously comprehensive selection of outdoor gear and apparel, and the ability to search by price point or percent discount. REI Outlet also sells last year’s bikes for 20 to 30 percent off. The catch: you have only 30 days to return items purchased from the outlet, and outlet purchases don’t qualify for REI members’ annual 10 percent refund.
EMS Outlet operates in much the same way as its competitor REI Outlet: clearance and overstock makes its way to the outlet page, where prices get slashed. The gear selection doesn’t go nearly as deep as REI’s, but EMS Outlet is a solid online rummage bin if you’re looking for clothes—good outerwear selection—and footwear. Better yet: unlike REI, EMS doesn’t curtail its generous return policy for discount items. With a receipt there are lifetime returns, and without a receipt, EMS will even give partial credit depending on how old and well used the item is.
A major presence in the mail-order camping gear business for decades, Campmor used to be known for its illustrated catalogs. Now the company operates an online store out of its warehouse in New Jersey (there’s also a single retail store) and sells a huge selection of outdoor gear at some of the lowest everyday prices in the business. While Campmor has regular sales (click the “Hot Deals” tab), discounts aren’t usually as large as you find on dedicated “deals” websites; but if you’re looking for something specific that isn’t on clearance anywhere else, Campmor likely has a competitive price. The company’s return policy is a bonus, too: anything in “resellable” condition can be returned within a year. And it still prints the catalogs.
Images courtesy of ColdSplinters.com.
This well-designed flash deals website has a wide selection for its class. The Clymb runs dozens of timed, name-brand sales at a time in a wide variety of categories, including footwear and apparel, climbing, cycling, camping and more. As with all deal sites, there are some limitations: at the moment you can buy bike components, for example, but not bikes. But prices are regularly half of retail or less, so it’s hard to complain about selection given what is available. Top brands like Columbia, Oakley and Adidas are represented and there are even deeper discounts (over 80 percent in some cases) in the “Warehouse Selects” section. The Clymb even sells discount travel packages: think skiing the Canadian Rockies or surfing in Costa Rica.
If you’re one of those people who gets addicted to deals sites with countdown clocks, you might want to steer clear of Steep And Cheap or risk getting sucked in. (Or you can sign up for alerts if you want a slightly more measured approach.) This website, owned by Backcountry.com, specializes in limited-time, limited-quantity deep discounts on small, rotating selections of name-brand gear. As of this writing, its oddball assortment of ten categories includes yoga apparel, ski helmets, work boots and long underwear. At any given moment there’s also a “Current Steal,” which is a lightning deal—typically 50 percent off or more—on a single item. Don’t try to stock up and resell on Ebay though: there’s an item limit and they check resale sites for abuse. Also scope its sister “one deal at a time” sites, Chainlove.com for cycling gear, and WhiskeyMilitia.com for surf, skate and snow gear.
Al's Sporting Goods
In the days before the Internet, taking a retailer up on a low-price guarantee meant scaring up a circular for a store across town, bringing it to the customer service counter and sometimes finding out that the fine print excluded your desired purchase—usually more trouble than it was worth. So it’s pretty cool, then, that brick-and-mortar store Al’s Sporting Goods in Logan, Utah offers to beat competitors’ prices (after shipping and fees) by 5 percent, a competitor being any authorized retailer in the U.S. All you have to do is send customer service an email with a link to the competition—it can’t be Ebay or Craigslist or any clearance outlet—and they’ll quote you the new price. Al’s also has a decent, if spotty clearance section and a “steal of the week,” in which a single item—this week Scott Fuel winter gloves—sells for a song.
New winter gear doesn’t come cheap, which is why discounts in this space are so welcome. Online retailer evo (it has a flagship store in Seattle) specializes in gear and apparel for skiing, snowboarding, wakeboarding and skating. Like Al’s (above) evo offers to beat competitors’ prices by 5 percent, but it also matches membership refunds for stores like REI and will retroactively meet its own sale prices within 20 days of purchase, or a competitor’s within seven days. But where evo really stands out is its outlet store (just click on the “Outlet” tab), where last season’s gear sells at huge discounts—up to 70 percent or more. For a ski package, that can be several hundred dollars off retail.
This one is kind of a cheater since it’s the website of a manufacturer. So what makes GoLite so darn special in the discount department? This Boulder, Colo.-based manufacturer of outdoors and ultra-light backpacking gear made a bold decision last year: it pulled its products from third-party retailers and went direct-to-consumer via its website and chain of retail stores in western states. The result for consumers was an immediate, across-the-board price cut of 50 percent—a discount advertised on every single product page. Everyday prices are more like what equivalent products go for at closeout sales, but don’t think this means GoLite’s gear is inferior: it’s consistently wins “best of” awards from Backpacker Magazine.