Liz here to share some key tips about how to save money buying gear. I’ve been calling this: The Hindsight is 20/20 Approach to Purchasing Discounted Gear.

If you’re like me, November gets you psyched for the upcoming season’s cold-weather adventures. However, you probably now also remember all the times you froze last winter, not having the right jacket, socks or water-proof ice climbing gloves to brave chilly belays, and that you really need a warmer sleeping bag to camp out under your desert crack nemesis. Unfortunately, at this time of year, many other people are thinking the same thing, meaning you’ll be paying full price for your new 0°F bag and Everest-expedition-thick puffy—not ideal. However, there is another approach to purchasing seasonal gear on sale: The “Hindsight is 20/20” Method.

time for a new puffy
Clearly, it’s time for a new puffy.

While you’ll be paying full price for winter gear right now (minus Holiday sales), companies’ autumn lines are on sale, and they’re practically giving away the few pieces of summer merchandise they have left. This doesn’t mean you should rush into every North Face store in the area to buy every 90 percent off T-shirt just because it’s $6.99—That’s just a waste of $7. Instead, ask yourself: What pieces of gear, if any, do I wish I had last season? If you remember that your favorite pair of lightweight climbing pants has started to rip in the left knee, then see if you can find an equivalent pair on sale now, so you’ll have them for when the weather warms up again. Can’t think of anything? Great, you don’t have to waste time digging through sale racks.

You can use this method at the end of every season, but make sure that you’re only purchasing gear you REALLY need—not name brand sale items that will never leave the back of your closet. If you found a great solution for not having the perfect moisture-wicking base layer, then you might be able to use it again next season instead of spending money on a now not-so-necessary shirt. You can also keep a list of items you need on your phone or in your climbing log, so you know which sale racks and sale sections of to browse through and which you should skip to resist unnecessary purchasing temptation.

Time for New Shoes
Time for new shoes!

When it comes to apparel, not all “sale” items are worth snatching up. Most items will be marked at least 40 to 50 percent off at the end of the season, so you should resist the urge to snatch up your favorite pair of Black Diamond pants for 20 percent off, if you can wait a month or two to get them at double the discount.

You can also save money by pre-buying gifts at end-of-season sales and by purchasing past season’s models. You could, for example, surprise your best climbing bud this Christmas with a past version of EMS’s light-weight puffy to replace the one they ripped to shreds bushwhacking in September. They’ll appreciate the thought you put into the gift, and you’ll appreciate spending $70 instead of the $190 the jacket cost originally.

For multi-season gear like cams, ropes and harnesses, shopping Black Friday/Cyber Monday, Labor Day and Memorial Day sales is a great way to save money. These items rarely go on sale for more than 20 percent off, so, unlike clothing, you should invest in triples for your upcoming Moab projects when you see 25 percent off cams. Look up next seasons’ potential projects and vacation destinations in advance, and add the items you’ll need to your “find on sale” gear list or your Want It List, which will now send you alerts when your saved items go on sale – making it the easiest option.

By planning ahead you’ll know whether you need to buy a 70 meter for next summers’ Rifle season or if you can save a few dollars and extra material by buying a 60 meter; since, you’ll be focusing on shorter, single-pitch climbs. You can use the same approach if you’re primarily an indoor climber looking to get outside more. Look up the cliff heights in the areas you’ll be climbing at to decide which length rope you’ll need. Research the routes you’d like to climb to determine how many quickdraws and/or what, if any, additions to a standard rack you should purchase.

New Shoes Needed
These shoes won’t be able to be re-soled.

You can also check out local gear shops and thrift stores for discount and used gear (which can be dicey, check out this post to figure out what is ok to buy used). When buying used, this is time to get a really good deal. Apparel in great condition should be at least half of what it costs new. Hardware should be no less than 30 percent off for you to consider purchasing it used—Otherwise buying the equivalent product new on sale is a better deal. And, again, resist buying that lightly used pair of half-price Miura lace-ups when you already have two newly-resoled pairs at home.