When realizing that you need a new pair of ski pants, gloves or boots for the upcoming winter season, it's beneficial to evaluate your options. Sometimes you think your only option is to walk into REI and spend too much money, but that isn't the case.
Looking for gear? Visit a used outdoor-gear store.
Visiting a used outdoors store is the easiest and most useful first step in your winter gear search. Buying used gear is an inexpensive, sustainable and a more personal experience. Central Oregon has a bountiful selection of top-notch, well-maintained outdoor gear stores, including Gear Fix and Latitude 44. Find anything from well-loved puffer coats with sewn-up holes to almost-new snowshoes to trendy beanies to keep your head warm in the wintry weather.
After swiping through hangers and finding something that stands out to you, make sure to analyze it. Look for stains and fabric tears. Decide whether it's worth it or easily fixable. Don't let a small stain stop you from saving $30 on your next winter coat or base layer for the mountain.
When it comes to clothes and soft goods, buy used. Backpacks, hats, jackets or even ski boots are prime used gear. It's almost comforting to wear items that are already broken in, have lived a little life and seen a little love. Outside Magazine put it best when it comes to what you need to buy new. "There is a tempting category of used gear you should avoid purchasing altogether; this includes anything manufactured to save someone's life, or at the very least, prevent serious injury," Outdoor Magazine said. Ropes, carabiners, mountaineering equipment and harnesses always need to be in prime condition, because it's what's holding you between adventurous life and death.
Know that you want to buy new? Buy local, buy trusted.
Buy new if you know exactly what you want and if you know you are going to use it well and for a long time. Say you wore out your well-loved snow boots and you're looking for new ones. Instead of purchasing online, head into a local outdoors store to look around. Some PNW-born brands to consider are DaKine, Columbia, Edelrid, Hydroflask and Keen. Read reviews and be mindful of the business you're buying from.
Fabric tear? Learn to sew.
It has happened to everyone. When you're least expecting it, your coat sleeve or pants catch on a door hinge or a tree branch and tears through your favorite thing to wear. Disbelief and disappointment take over your entire body, until you realize how easy of a fix it is. Everyone can sew. All it takes is a needle, thread and a little knowledge. Watch a short YouTube video about how to patch up clothing with a simple sewing kit. It will save money and time. Patches are solutions for bigger fabric catastrophes and add a little personality. Whether it's a pair of pants, a tent or a bag, try sewing or patching before you toss it.
If you find that sewing really isn't your thing but you want to save your gear, Rugged Thread is one place to get that stuff fixed. Bring your item in (or mail it), get a quote, leave it for repair and pick it up in about two weeks. Another option for repair is checking warranty agreements online or calling to inquire about repairs. Patagonia offers mail-in repairs for almost all its products for free through its exceptional warranty agreement with a small shipping price. REI offers an affordable repair program with a specialization in GOR-TEX fabrics. Outdoor brands want you to get the most out of your gear. It never hurts to ask.
Older, out-of-trend gear that still works? Spice it up.
Instead of buying gear, try working with what you have. Add a couple of decorative patches to your old, plain backpack. Buy some dye and change the color of your hoodie. Embroider a pattern onto your beanie from four years ago. Give your outdoor clothing new life with a little personality.
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