If you’ve decided that it’s time to invest in a new tent, you’re probably asking yourself what the best time of year to buy a tent actually is. Sure, you could just buy a tent whenever you get the inspiration to do so, but you may be missing out on some great deals that could save you a lot of money when purchasing such an important piece of gear.
So, what’s the best time of year to buy a tent? Generally speaking, the best time of the year to buy a tent is just as camping season is ending for the vast majority of people. This is usually around late fall to early winter as stores look to get rid of last season’s inventory to prep for tax season and for the influx of new winter gear.
Before you go out and buy that new tent, however, there are a few things you ought to know about the whole tent purchasing process. Here, we’ll walk you through the ins-and-outs of buying a tent and looking for good deals on outdoor gear.
When Do Tents go on Clearance
While every store is different, you can usually expect any piece of outdoor gear, like tents, to go on clearance, or at least a substantial discount, at the end of the season. Especially if you live somewhere with large seasonal changes in weather, stores will look to get rid of their three-season camping inventory before winter begins so they have room to display and store the next season’s products.
That being said, it’s a great idea to search for discounts year-round as the best time to buy a tent can vary from year to year. Although stores will often try to unload their inventory at the end of a season, they also know that interest in purchasing camping gear is highest during the actual camping season. Thus, you may even be able to find a tent at a reasonable discount in the middle of the summer.
Another thing to consider when looking for discounts on tents is to look for holiday sales. Especially in the summer, when Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day all get their own special sale at most retail stores, you might be able to find a good deal on a tent. If you still can’t find a discount on the tent you want at these sales, you may have better luck during the winter holidays, when many major retailers offer discounts on products or coupons that are good on any item in the store.
How Much of a Discount Can You Expect
When it comes to the actual discount you can expect on a tent, this varies significantly from store to store and from brand to brand. Generally speaking, lower-quality brands offer larger discounts because they want to give people an incentive to actually buy their product. Popular name brands that produce high-quality goods usually rely on brand loyalty or popularity to sell products so they don’t have much of a reason to offer huge discounts.
That being said, if a specific tent model is being updated or is being discontinued, you may get a great deal on it, even if it’s from a top brand. These big discounts usually happen at the end of the season as retailers want to clear out the old models to make way for the new ones. In these cases, you may see discounts upwards of 75% off, but that’s a fairly rare occurrence.
Are The Top Tent Brands Marked Down Also
Here’s where it gets tricky in the world of outdoor gear discounts. If you’ve ever looked at the bottom of a 20% off one item coupon, you’ve probably noticed a large list of big-name brands and products that are not eligible for the discount. This is not a coincidence.
In fact, many top brands, like The North Face, Patagonia, Marmot, and the like actually have contracts with many major retailers, like REI and Backcountry.com, whereby the stores can only have a certain number of sales on their products during a given year. This is not a ploy by the brands to make more money, however, as they charge the same wholesale price to retailers throughout the year.
Instead, this is actually a tactic that many top brands use to prevent big box stores from outcompeting smaller local outdoor stores. Since big box stores are more able to absorb any revenue losses from sales, many brands limit their ability to discount their products so the smaller stores can compete for customers.
This doesn’t mean that top brands never go on sale, however, just that they don’t go on sale as often as some of the less popular brands. If you’re looking for a sale on a particular piece of gear from a big brand, it’s always worth checking out that brand’s website as they sometimes have their own end-of-season sales with big discounts.
Where’s The Best Place to Buy a Tent
If you’re new to camping or just looking to upgrade your tent, a good place to start your search is on Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook’s Marketplace. The key is to look after the camping season comes to an end, which for most is sometime around September.
This is because a lot of newbies who think that they might like to get into tent camping buy all this equipment (including tents), but after a couple of trips, soon realize it’s not for them and put their camping gear up for sale on one of these websites.
In most cases, you can get practically brand new gear for sometimes less than half the original cost. In fact, I’ve bought most of my camping gear this way.
What About Other Camping Gear
The general rule of thumb about buying discounted tents holds true for the rest of camping gear. For the most part, camping gear goes on sale at the end of the season or during major consumer holidays. You can almost always find a sale on camping gear if you look hard enough, but you might not find a discount on the specific item that you want.
If you’re really in a pinch and need to get a piece of camping gear on a discount, there are websites that act as “outlets” of discounted and past-season gear. Websites like SteepandCheap.com and the REI Outlet usually have substantial deals on gear, but you might not get the color you want and sizes may be limited.
Before buying an expensive piece of gear, it’s always worth looking at a few different websites and visiting a few different stores to see what’s on sale. While tents usually go on sale in the late fall/early winter, retail stores have sales all year round that offers special discounts for holidays, so it’s hard to say precisely when the best time of year to buy a tent actually is. Thus, it’s important to always keep an eye out for a good deal, especially when you’re making an investment on a critical piece of gear, like a tent.