As you already know, we love to get outside. Going outside can be as uncomplicated and cheap as taking a walk around the block and as complicated and expensive as going on a ski vacation. Having a lot of interests means having a lot of gear, which we do: kayaks, paddles, skis, skates, helmets of EVERY kind, bikes, bike trailer, scooters- you get the idea. All this gear, especially with growing children, can add up quickly. Lucky for us we have two boys that are two years apart, so we just pass down from one to the other, and my husband and I are the oldest children in our family- we have no empathy yet for those who always received hand me downs, so as long as we can get away with it, we will!
Like most people, we do not have an unlimited budget for these things, so here are some strategies I use to get great gear for the best price.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
1- Decide what gear you really need to have. Do you skate so much that you need ice skates or can you just rent them? We have state run rinks here that don't always have their rental stands open, and if you have your own skates it's free, not to mention skating outside of a rink, so we have our own skates.
2- Decide what gear you'll use the most to see where you need to put a priority on quality. For instance, I have my own ice skates, but they're basic, CCM figure skates that I've had for many years. I don't have fancy, fancy hockey skates or anything, we just skate for fun when we are able to get out to the rink.
SOURCES FOR GEAR:
Craigslist is my favorite. Sometimes it does take a bit of stalking to find what you need, but that's why you think about it in advance. For instance, at the end of the ski season think about what you'll need for next year because that's when people like to unload things, or start checking in the fall before ski season gets into full swing. Last year I scored a pair of skis and boots for my son for Christmas for $60 and they'll get passed down! His ski instructor looked at me and said, "Those are really good skis." Score!
2- Second Hand Stores
Stores like Play It Again Sports and other local second hand stores are a great place to go to get discounted gear, you just might have to go back and check on whether they have what you want in the size you want. Sometimes these stores also place some of their inventory on Craigslist. Good to know: Play It Again Sports also sells some reasonably priced NEW equipment as well- this is where I got my ice skates.
Swaps happen in many kind of environments, you just need to be on the lookout to find out about them. Maybe your local ski area has a ski swap before the season starts. I worked at a school where the kids went ice skating every Friday morning in the winter, so we always had a skate swap at the school before that season started. If you can't find a swap near you then ORANIZE ONE!
4- Gifts for Occasions
Are the relatives asking what the kids want for Chrismtas? Little Johnny needs some ice skates! Susie needs some ski goggles! This is probably common sense, but try to be seasonal about it. My son wanted a scooter, so we waited to give him a scooter for Christmas and he couldn't ride it outside for quite a while because it was covered in ice and snow outside. He liked riding it inside my parents' house, though!
Good luck scoring some deals!
*Also, let's keep those in mind who can't afford the basic necessities for winter. Please donate to your local coat drive this season!*