Easy Money: Where to Find Gear Savings

Whether you're buying maps or park passes, there are easy ways to save a few bucks.

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$12 Need maps for trip planning? Download and print free USGS quads online at topomaps.usgs.gov. Want to use them on the trail? Include the margins in your printouts (so you have gridlines, declination, and map info), and waterproof them; an 8-ounce bottle of Aquaseal ($12; aquaseal.com) will coat six-plus maps.

70% Troll craigslist gear-for-sale pages in outdoor-centric cities like Boulder, CO; Burlington, VT; and Jackson, WY. Before purchasing from a distant seller, ask for pictures showing the gear’s condition.

$40 Split an annual $80 national park pass with a friend. Either I.D.-toting passholder with the card in-hand can access parks for a year. Passes are free for active military, people with disabilities, and NPS volunteers with 250 hours of service; a lifetime pass for seniors (ages 65 and up) is just $10.

25% Buying airline tickets online? Use a different Internet browser to search for prices than you do to purchase tickets, or clear your browser’s “cookies.” Airline websites may tap into your search history and increase displayed fares based on your interest in a given city.

$25 Will you be backpacking longer than a week? Save enough to cover your permit fees by turning off all nonessential power to your house, including your water heater, air conditioner, computers, and clocks. In winter, turn your furnace down to 50°F, which will keep pipes from freezing, but reduce your bill.

$50 Camp instead of staying in a hotel the night before an alpine start. Even if there’s a site fee, you’ll save compared to a room.

$200 Avoid losing or breaking top-notch sunglasses by investing in a cheap retainer like Croakies ($5-$15; croakies.com). The same applies to smartphones: A good case is a sound investment.

$20 Premium jerky (though delicious, see page 152) can cost more than $28/pound. But you can save big by buying beef flank for $6 to $7/pound and drying it yourself. For marinades and oven-drying tips (you don’t even need a dehydrator) visit backpacker.com/jerky.

$10 For faster rehydration times and to keep meals warm while you wait, you don’t need a $12, purpose-made insulated cozy. Purchase a bubble wrap-insulated, Mylar mailing envelope ($2) instead (8 x 11 inches fits most two-serving backpacker meals).

$15 With just 10 to 15 feet of paracord and some basic knot knowledge, you can create your own survival bracelet in 20 minutes or less. Get a step-by-step demo at backpacker.com/survivalbracelet.

80% Instead of upgrading to a winter bag, make yourself a sleeping bag liner out of on-sale silk or fleece (anything high-quality priced under $4/yard is a steal). You’ll add 10+ degrees of warmth to a summer or three-season sack. Visit backpacker.com/bagliner.