When is the best time to buy camping gear on sale?

by | Nov 4, 2022 | Gear

This post may contain affiliate links.

Camping gear can be expensive.

If you’re planning to camp on a budget, you’ll want to know when the best time of year to buy camping gear is, and ideally when it goes on sale.

Elise and I have spent far more money on gear than we’d like to admit, but we’ve gotten pretty good at finding deals along the way.

Here’s what we’ve learned.

Reality check: Some of the best gear rarely ever goes on sale

So, here’s the thing.

When it comes to buying top-of-the-line camping equipment and gear, you’re rarely going to find it discounted—if ever.

In fact, many retailers don’t discount their products at all.

A man holding up a sleeping bag.


Because they don’t have to.

They know that their gear is the best on the market and people are willing to pay full price for it.

These high-quality products are also pricey for a reason.

They’re often made from expensive materials and built to last.

And if it’s lightweight or ultra lightweight, you can expect to pay even more.

As a camping enthusiast who’s interested in using the absolute best gear, it’s important to recognize this.

In this case, you have two choices:

  1. Save up so you can eventually buy the best gear.
  2. Sacrifice some degree of quality or functionality by purchasing more affordable gear.

We often do a combination of the above.

For gear that we know we’ll use all the time and will help make our trips easier or more comfortable, we try to save up and splurge.

One example is our 17-foot T-Formex Prospector canoe, which cost us around $2,500 Canadian dollars.

As canoe trippers, having a strong and sturdy canoe is extremely important to us.

But for gear that we don’t use as often or that isn’t as essential to our trips, we’re more likely to buy a lower-priced option.

For instance, we have a cheap but perfectly functional canister stove that cost us less than $30, which we don’t use very often but are glad to have when we do need it.

Anyway, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to when the best time to buy gear actually is for the stuff that actually does go on sale.

The best season to buy camping gear is the off-season

The off-season for camping is fall and winter.

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, that means you can expect to start seeing gear on sale around September and October.

There are a few reasons for this.

First of all, retailers need to clear out their old inventory to make room for the next season’s stuff when the season ends.

Sleeping bags stocked on a shelf.

You won’t just see this with camping gear.

You’ll see it with almost everything that’s used seasonally—from clothing, to home decor, to patio furniture.

Second, camping is simply more popular in the summer, so certain gear items are naturally higher in demand—meaning retailers can charge full price for their gear.

But as soon as the weather starts to turn and people are less interested in camping, retailers become more willing to discount their products.

And finally, many big brands release their new models in the spring.

So, if you’re okay with buying last year’s model, you can often find some great deals and sales on gear in the fall and winter.

Wait until Black Friday

At this time of writing, it’s November 3rd, meaning that Black Friday is just three weeks away.

I just visited the Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) website—a popular outdoor equipment and gear retailer (especially here in Canada)—only to see that they’re rolling out their Black Friday deals way ahead of time.

Sleeping bags stocked on a shelf.

Given how bonkers retailers have gotten for Black Friday over the past several years, it’s clear that all of November (and into December to coincide with the holiday season) is a great time to check out what’s on sale.

I’d recommend setting an automatic reminder to check out your favourite outdoor gear retailer sites at least one week before Black Friday, two or three weeks ahead of that day might also leave you pleasantly surprised.

You could also sign up for their newsletter, but they could get lost in the sea of Black Friday ecommerce emails that come flooding into your inbox during that time!

Don’t forget about Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is really just an extension of Black Friday, which occurs on the Monday after.

Many retailers will even dedicate the entire week to Cyber Monday, meaning you can score deals all week long.

In any case, the entire month of November is a great time to look for gear that’s on sale.

Take it one step further by waiting to buy gear in winter

You can definitely find some great deals by shopping around the holiday season since gift giving is on everyone’s minds.

But if you can wait until after the buzz of the holidays—a.k.a. January—you might just find that this is actually the best time to buy camping gear.

The word sale written in the snow.

Again, it all comes down to the cycle of retail and the significance of when the season changes.

Elise used to work in retail, so she knows that seasonal products tend to be shipped and received about three to four months ahead of when they’re expected to be stocked on the shelves or featured online.

This means that in January, retailers are just beginning to receive new shipments of camping gear to start featuring in March or April—just in time for spring and the big kick-off to camping season.

Buying seasonal products at the opposite time of year that they’re popular, such as in the dead of winter as opposed to the middle of summer, is a good strategy if you want to score some great deals.

Don’t forget about Amazon Prime Day

You can find some really great camping items on Amazon.

We’ve bought all sorts of things off of Amazon and been really impressed with what we got.

Although prices can be really good for certain gear items on any regular day, if you have Amazon Prime, you can take advantage of Amazon Prime Day deals, which is an annual event that takes place in July for 48 hours.

A person tapping on Amazon to shop on their smartphone.

It’s basically their version of Black Friday, but exclusively for Amazon Prime members.

So, if you’re not a member yet, you might want to sign up just in time for the Prime Day deals.

In 2022, Amazon held a follow-up to their July dates again in October (called Prime Early Access Day).

This year, Prime Early Access Day will take place again sometime in mid-October (2023).

We’re not sure if they’ll do this every year from now on, but if that’s the case, then that’s a great opportunity to jump on those discounts during the season’s off-peak.

When it isn’t Prime Day, check Amazon Deals & Discounts

If you can’t wait for the next Prime Day, you can still find great deals on camping gear the rest of the year.

Amazon sellers will reduce their prices or offer coupons on products throughout the year—you just need to know where to find them.

An easy way to do this is by searching for an item and then selecting “All Discounts” from the Deals & Discounts filter.

On the web, you can find this on the left sidebar.

Amazon deals and discounts

On the Amazon app, you need to select “Filters” in the top right, then scroll down to Price and Deals > Deals & Discounts.

You’ll be able to see the original list price crossed out and the new sale price.

Coupons will be highlighted in green, which you can apply by checking off the checkbox on the product page if you decide to buy.

If you want to find camping gear that’s been newly released or updated, wait until spring

So far, we’ve focused on the time to buy gear in terms of saving money.

But that’s not what everyone is looking to do.

A man in an outdoor equipment store trying on a backpack.

Some people think the best time to buy camping gear is when the newest models come out—especially for popular items like backpacks, sleeping bags, air mattresses, and tents.

The month of May and even June are good times to look, but new models will probably roll out even sooner than that—as early as March or April.

Don’t expect to see deals or discounts on the newest models during this time.

While it’s certainly possible that some retailers might have sales to get people excited to buy, the newest stuff typically isn’t included.

If you’re a sucker for a good discount or the latest models, the season matters

Red and yellow camping gear.

Here’s a recap of what we explained above, with general seasonal guidelines to help you plan your purchase:

January to March: It’s the opposite season to camping season AND the holidays are over, so considering that hardly anyone is thinking about camping at this time, you can expect to find some good deals on last year’s models.

April to June: The newest models are out, but don’t expect to save much money on them.

July to August: You may see some early sales starting in late August, but this is peak camping season, so don’t expect any all that great.

September to October: The off-season has begun, making it one of the best times to shop as retailers look to get rid of leftover stock.

November to December: This is the holiday season and an extension of the off-season where retailers are still looking to offload old stock.

What about deals and sales on winter camping gear?

Not many people camp in the winter since it requires very specialized gear (and it’s cold, of course).

But similar to summer camping gear, you can expect to find the best gear and deals (if any) at the opposite time of the year when it’s popular, which would be summer.

In general, however, winter camping gear is so specialized and expensive that it pretty much doesn’t go on sale almost ever.

And because so few people camp in the winter, items go out of stock in fall and winter.

We bought our hot tent and wood stove in the summer because it was out of stock the previous winter.

Lesson learned!

We hope that these camping gear tips in terms of the best time to shop have been helpful.

If you plan it right and according to the season, you can definitely score some great gear without spending a fortune.

And remember, the best time to buy camping gear is typically when it’s not being used—so the off-season is definitely your best bet.

Good luck!

Next up: 45 of the best camping gifts for men

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How much can I expect to save by buying camping gear on sale?

The amount you can save when buying camping gear that’s on sale can vary widely depending on several factors, including the type of gear, the brand, the time of year, and the specific sale event.

It can also depend on the condition of the product, its popularity, and the retailer’s pricing strategy.

Some sales may save you as little as 5% while others may have you saving 50% or more.

Keep in mind that high-end or specialized gear may have smaller discounts compared to more mainstream items.

When do camping gear sales typically occur?

Camping gear sales often coincide with seasonal changes.

You can expect sales in the spring as people prepare for summer camping, and in the fall when retailers clear out inventory for winter.

Are there specific times of the year when camping gear is discounted the most?

    Yes, some of the best discounts on camping gear can be found during holiday sales events like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and end-of-season clearance sales.

    Do camping gear stores have annual clearance sales?

    Many camping gear stores have annual clearance sales to make room for new inventory.

    These sales can happen at different times, so it’s a good idea to check with your local stores or their websites for announcements.

    Is it better to buy camping gear online or in-store during sales?

      Both options can offer great deals.

      Online retailers often have exclusive sales, but in-store shopping allows you to see and touch the gear before buying.

      It’s best to compare prices and options to make an informed decision.

      Are there any specific camping gear brands known for frequent sales?

      Some outdoor brands, like REI, Cabela’s, and Backcountry, are known for having regular sales and events throughout the year.

      Sign up for their newsletters or follow them on social media to stay updated.

      Are there any loyalty programs or memberships that offer discounts on camping gear?

        Yes, some stores offer loyalty programs or memberships that provide exclusive discounts and early access to sales.

        REI’s Co-op membership, for example, offers numerous benefits for outdoor enthusiasts.

        What are some signs that a camping gear item is on sale?

        Look for price tags with markdowns, discount percentages, or special sale labels.

        Online, you’ll often find products listed with the original price crossed out and the sale price displayed.

        How can I stay informed about upcoming camping gear sales?

          To stay updated, sign up for newsletters from camping gear retailers, follow their social media accounts, and check their websites regularly.

          Additionally, consider using deal-finding websites or apps to track discounts.

          Is it possible to negotiate prices on camping gear during a sale?

          While some smaller retailers may be open to negotiation, it’s less common at larger chain stores.

          However, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they can offer any additional discounts or bundle deals.

          Should I buy last year’s camping gear models during a sale, or is it better to invest in the latest models?

          It depends on your needs and budget.

          Last year’s models can offer excellent value, especially during sales.

          However, if you want the latest features and technology, you may prefer to invest in the newest gear.

          Popular posts

          About Us

          Elise & Ross

          We’re Elise and Ross, avid backcountry campers and outdoor adventurers! We started Gone Camping Again as a way to share our knowledge and experience about wilderness living and travel. Our hope is that we inspire you to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer!

          Read more about our story.