How to buy camping and hiking equipment without breaking the bank

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Looking for gear for your next camping or hiking adventure? Here's some clever tips to help you get the gear you need.

Camping and hiking in The Great Southern Land throughout Winter and Spring is a popular choice for Australians looking for an active holiday. Pitching a tent, sleeping under stars, and covering some wild terrain is fun for the entire family. If you don’t have any equipment and feel like you need some, what’s the best way of getting the equipment you need? If you’ve got a taste for camping or hiking and are planning to go more than at least twice per year, buying the equipment is more economical than hiring. But how should you approach your equipment purchases?

Do You Really Need to Buy That?

You need to set a realistic budget for your camping and hiking equipment purchases – what do you absolutely need, and what can you borrow or hire instead? If you’re only hiking once a year, it makes more sense to hire that high-spec pack, rather than buying it. But if you are going away a few times a year and get a lot of use out of a tent or a sleeping bag, it makes sense to buy them outright. You can even go halves in a tent with another family and use it as a “time share” – just make sure you don’t want to use it at the same time! If you can, try to make your clothing purchases dual purpose – if you’re buying thermal underwear, perhaps you can also use it during the cold months at home (and save a bit on heating!)

Don’t Go for Elite Kit

A trip to a brand name outdoor equipment store can dazzle you with all the advanced camping and hiking equipment on offer. Tear-proof “tactical” jackets, Gore-Tex gloves, -15°C sleeping bags, spiked mountaineering boots – buying all the mountaineering and survival equipment designed for fully self-sufficient, extreme expeditions can quickly blow your budget. If you’re only going on day hikes or overnight stays, the latest and greatest tents aren’t necessary. When it comes to hiking, weight matters, though if you are only doing 5K or 10K hikes on popular tracks and going back to your base camp at the end of the day, weight won’t be such an issue, while more space might be appreciated. Entry-level or mid-level equipment will do you fine, especially if you’re not planning anything too strenuous.

Consider what you’re really looking at spending:

Hike Tent: $600
Pack: $500
Boots: $500
Jacket: $500
Soft Shell: $400
Sleeping Bag: $500
Mat: $300
Stove: $500

In this example, you have already spent around $4000 for the core equipment, none of which is of the highest specs available. It is worth considering if this is really an 'investment' or just a feel-good adventure splurge!

Don’t Put it on the Credit Card

With any holiday or non-essential item, the big temptation is to spend up huge and put it all on the credit card. This can be fraught with (financial) danger. Bill Tsouvalas, personal finance expert and Savvy managing director says that unless you’re treating your credit card like a fixed term loan, you could end up paying substantially more in interest.

“Putting large purchases on the credit card will load you up on interest if you don’t pay everything back within the interest-free period,” he says. “Worse yet you may be tempted to blow your budget because ‘one more purchase can’t hurt.’ It might not upfront, but it could bite you down the track with significant ongoing interest. If you only pay back the minimum, it could take years to pay off and add potentially in interest.”

Consider a Small Loan Instead

A small loan is a type of limited-term and fixed interest loan ranging from $500 to $5000. This allows you to borrow a smaller than usual amount (compared with personal loans) so you can stick to a predetermined budget.

Obtaining a small online cash loan gives you a set amount to spend, unless you want to fork out your own money, and a set amount of time to pay back the loan ranging from months to a couple of years. These are often better than a credit card as every repayment you make gets you closer to a zero balance. You can add to a credit card with purchases which only means more to repay in interest.”

You’ll make better, more clear-headed purchasing decisions once the initial excitement has worn off.

Remember to talk to a financial professional if you’re unsure.

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