One thing you soon find out as a scientist (besides how easy it is to blow shit up) is that field gear can be super expensive.
Not only is it expensive, but it’s one of those things that’s expected for you to a) already own and b) bring it to work with you (and thus wear it down even more).
While some scientists have traveled the world over, I’ve been pretty fortunate to work in a few different places myself and in extreme conditions. How extreme? In Alaska, it was negative 60 degrees and our tires froze off my vehicle. That wasn’t awkward at all.
When I first started field work, I bought everything from REI and now I wish I hadn’t. Making it rain student loans at REI wasn’t one of the finest moments in my life but now I know how to find equipment more affordable.
So today, I’m going to be sharing my secrets to getting quality affordable field gear without breaking the bank.
First Tip… Add a line item in the budget for clothing!
Zach and I have been doing this for a few years now.
While fifty dollars a month may not seem like a lot, it’s one of those set and forget it budget things to where I randomly remember and it feels like Christmas. We’re also discussing adding an additional line item for equipment like backpacks in case we can snag them for a good rate. (If you need budget help, sign up for my free course at the end of this post!)
The cheapest way to find clothing is your nearest thrift store.
In Alaska where it was cold as *&%$ (please see earlier note about tires freezing off the car), I was able to buy the gear I needed at a price I could afford. Thrift stores can definitely be hit or miss, but at least why not see if you can get someone else to purchase it at full price and then you can buy it for five bucks?
Second Tip…Check out used gear markets!
In the age of the internet, finding used gear as never been easier.
You’re not limited anymore to what you can find on eBay or Amazon either. Craigslist, Offer Up and Facebook groups all have hot used field gear markets that you can find items like binoculars.
Some communities have used gear stores that could also have what you’re looking for. A lot of gear is only used once or very gently, as scientists all know how expensive stuff can be. You want to buy it for a reasonable price and chances are another person is looking to recoup some of their money.
Another great idea to snag affordable gear may be any local meet up or hiking groups for outdoor enthusiasts. They may have some field gear you can snag for decent rates or even know where to point you if you need something specific.
For more tips (I got em!), check out my video up above and let me know what you think. Have you been able to snag field gear for cheap? Any cool stories about being in negative sixty degrees too?
Also, here are some resources I mention in the video to help with gear!
SAC Alerts (so you don’t have to watch Steep N’ Cheap all day and be tempted to spend ALL the monies)
Pro deal networks
Expert Voice (I mention “Promotive” in the video – this website is the former Promotive, it appears they changed their name)