The 10 best places to buy outdoor gear for an active summer
Get the goods you need to actually be outside.
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With warmer weather comes a slew of activities that you can finally do outside. Hiking! Fishing! Kayaking! Camping! Oh my! And after being stuck inside for the past year due to COVID-19, we’re all itching to get outside and get our bodies moving, while still adhering to the latest social distancing guidelines to stay safe and active.
If you’ve been eager to jump into an active lifestyle, first things first: you’re going to need the right gear. Whether it be the right paddle for your snazzy new kayak or hiking boots that won’t give you blisters after trudging for miles, you should always make sure you’re buying top products. That’s where we come in.
To help you can tap into your inner adventurer and have an active summer, here are the 10 best places to buy quality outdoor gear online.
REI is a wonderland when it comes to outdoor gear. I could spend hours wandering through the brick-and-mortar stores while imagining myself surviving in the wilderness for a week. Do I need that inflatable mattress and portable cookware set? Probably not. But it sure is tempting.
REI sells clothing, gear, and footwear for just about every outdoor activity from top brands like Patagonia, Yeti, and The North Face. Shopping there can be a bit overwhelming, but REI’s online shop does a great job of breaking down activities (i.e. camping to backpacking), letting you see top-rated products you’ll need for it.
If you’re looking to save some cash, especially on big purchases, you can check out their “Used Gear” section, which features previously owned gear that’s been inspected by REI experts. It’s better for the environment and for your wallet.
Additionally, if you’re planning on investing in outdoor equipment for the long run, it might be wise to become a REI Co‑op member. For just $20, you can purchase a lifetime membership. As a member, you’ll get 10% back on all purchases made at REI, which comes as an “annual dividend” you can use on items at the store. It also comes with sweet perks like discounted equipment rentals, special pricing on REI Adventures, and more.
2. Dick’s Sporting Goods
Like REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods offers a vast selection of outdoor and recreational items. You can find a basic rod for fishing or buy roller blades, both of which were very hot commodities last summer. While the number of reviews on products isn’t as hefty as sites like REI, Dick’s does a great job of narrowing down the categories for very specific equipment. For example, under fishing, you can further filter your search by “wading boots,” “fly fishing,” and “crabbing,” making it easier to find what you're looking for.
Additionally, Dick’s has a few specialty brands only available at its store that come highly-rated by customers and tend to be slightly more affordable compared to some of the name brands offered.
In addition to selling goods, Dick’s offers tips and tricks from their experts like what kayak is best for you and outdoor activities to do with kids. Depending on your level of outdoorsiness, this could be a great place to start to determine what you’ll need for your newfound adventure.
The retail giant seems to sell everything, so it’s no surprise they sell a ton of great outdoor gear. When navigating the outdoor section of the site, you can filter by brands, including top labels like Columbia, Osprey, Camelbak, and more. While this is useful for getting recommendations for well-respected outdoors brands, it makes it a little trickier for finding specific products like hiking boots or a harness.
The best way to look for products by activity is by using the right-hand navigation bar, which offers a long list of options for specific gear. If you find a product that looks great by a brand you've never heard of, be sure to read reviews carefully and check the rating to assure you’re getting a quality product.
Backcountry is an outdoor clothing and gear retailer that sells top outdoor brands like The North Face, Patagonia, and Santa Cruz. They also have their own affordable line of gear and clothing. Need some product advice on what to buy? Although Backcountry does not have a brick-and-mortar shop, you can chat with their experts, who are known as Gearheads. Also, if you see a little green flag on a product, that means it’s approved by the Gearheads.
Backcountry is also known for having incredible end-of-season sales, which is a great chance to save on some of the top brands they sell. If you’re looking for even more deals, you can also check out its sister site, Steep and Cheap
5. L.L. Bean
L.L. Bean doesn’t only make the coveted Bean Boots that people are obsessed with. They also have a nice selection of outdoor gear on products such as tents, kayaks, fishing pools, and so on. While the selection is more limited compared to larger outdoor stores, it's still a great choice for outdoor fanatics—particularly for those who are fans of the reliable L.L. Bean brand. Additionally, the store offers a variety of guides to help you choose the right kayak or what products to bring for fly fishing.
6. Bass Pro Shops
Bass Pro Shops is known for its fishing equipment, but the store also has a great selection of camping, hiking, and paddling gear.
The store website makes it easy to shop by category with large selections of products coming from fishing, boating, and hunting sections. You can also browse detailed guides on the site for bass fishing (naturally) and camping. These two guides have videos with tips and how-tos, as well as product recommendations for specific activities.
Walmart is known for its low prices, and they offer affordable camping and hiking gear with its label Ozark Trail. The brand’s quality has been compared to Yeti for a fraction of the cost. I even tested out one of its tumblers to see what the hype was about and found that it was just as good as the more expensive brand.
Aside from its own outdoor gear, Walmart sells popular brands like Coleman, Lifetime, and Humminbird. It’s also easy to shop for specific activities and sports as each is broken down by categories.
Although there are only 11 Moosejaw stores nationwide, you can happily browse their vast outdoor gear selection online. There are hundreds of popular brands to shop from, from Chaco and Hydro Flask, to Moosejaw’s own clothing and accessory brand. The store’s offerings focus on mostly hiking, camping, and watersports, as opposed to fishing and hunting. Each section is easy to shop, too, with top brands for each category called out as well as essentials for each sport.
Moosejaw also has a rewards program that’s worth joining if you plan to shop there a lot. With every purchase, you get 10% cash back in the form of Moosejaw Reward Dollars, which can be used to purchase gear and clothing on the site. The best part? It’s completely free to join.
9. Eastern Mountain Sports
While most of Eastern Mountain Sports (also known as EMS) brick-and-mortar stores are located on the East Coast, you can shop their huge selection of top brands and gear online. Have a question about any activity or gear? Check out its Expert Advice page with detailed answers to common outdoor activity questions. The physical stores also offer lessons like rock climbing or avalanche safety, which are worth checking out if you live near one.
Similarly to REI and Moosejaw, EMS has a rewards program that gives you 1 point for every dollar spent, with 200 points equating to a $10 reward. This cashback can go towards EMS purchases, and it’s completely free to join.
Love T.J.Maxx? Love the outdoors? Well, you’re going to be obsessed with its outdoor sister brand called Sierra. Here you’ll find discounted hiking clothing, as well as gear and sports equipment. While the selection is more limited depending on the stock and season, it’s truly a hidden gem for saving on big ticket items. We all know how expensive stocking your camping bag is!
Plus, unlike T.J.Maxx, Sierra’s site is easy to navigate and find what you’re looking for. You can use the search bar to look for specific brands or dig through the categories to check out its current offerings.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.