Best Outdoor Gear Deals for Beginners on #1 Brands

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latest outdoor gear deals on display in the forest

Embark on Affordable Adventures: Gear Up for the Great Outdoors Without Emptying Your Wallet

For many, the lure of the great outdoors is undeniable – escaping the hustle of daily life to breathe fresh mountain air, explore remote trails, fish new streams and sleep under a canopy of stars. But for beginners, the cost of proper outdoor gear can seem like a daunting barrier to entry.

Fear not, adventure awaits, and you don’t need to empty your wallet to get outfitted for your first camping, hiking, kayaking or backpacking trips.

With some smart planning and this guide to budget-friendly outdoor gear deals, you can hit the trails or settle into a serene backcountry campsite without breaking the bank.

The Most Important Outdoor Gear for Beginners

When you’re just starting out, focus on the essential items that will keep you safe, comfortable, and prepared for your outdoor pursuits. At the very top of the list is a good backpack or daypack to carry all your supplies.

Look for one with a breathable, mesh-lined back panel to promote airflow, and adjustable hip and sternum straps to distribute weight evenly and prevent fatigue.

An internal frame backpack in the 30-50 liter range is a versatile option for day hikes or overnight camping trips.

Next, invest in footwear that will get you to your destination comfortably. For day hikes on well-maintained trails, a pair of lightweight trail running shoes with good traction may suffice.

If you plan to tackle more rugged terrain while carrying heavier loads, look for mid- to high-cut hiking boots that provide ample ankle support to prevent twists and rolls.

Amazon has a great selection and allows free shipping on many items so you can find the right fit easily.

Budget outdoor gear in the wilderness
Budget gear finds today

Substituting for Expensive Gear with Top Outdoor Gear Deals Today

One of the best ways to outfit yourself on a budget is to borrow or buy used outdoor gear from friends, relatives or second-hand stores. You can often find like-new items for a fraction of the retail price.

Online marketplaces like Amazon Renewed are a great source for secondhand top-brand bargains on outdoor gear that has been inspected and graded to work and look like new.

Just be wary of products showing signs of excessive wear and tear, especially for items like tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, and footwear where failures could compromise your safety or comfort.

And don’t forget to check for recalls on used items like camp stoves or water filters.

Reviews on Amazon can help identify any potential issues!


Smart Spending on Shelter

As a beginner, there’s no need to invest in an ultralight, expedition-quality tent that could set you back $500 or more. An affordable option in the $50-$150 range will suffice until your outdoor interests solidify.

Look for roomy two-wall dome tents from respected budget brands like Kelty or Slumberjack on Amazon, which have waterproof rain flies and double-stitched, bathtub-style floor seams to protect you from wet ground.

A simple three-season, two-person tent is a versatile option that can accommodate you with a friend or just you and your gear on solo trips. If you plan to mostly car camp, the additional space and headroom of a cabin-style tent can provide a bit more livability for longer stays.

Building an Affordable Sleep System

A quality sleeping bag is just as important as a tent to ensure you stay warm, dry, and get a good night’s rest outdoors. As a budget shopper, consider an all-season synthetic fill bag rather than a premium down bag, which can cost over $300.

While down provides unmatched warmth for its weight, synthetic bags insulate adequately for most camping and are less expensive, plus they insulate better than down when wet. The temperature rating is key, so opt for a bag rated about 15 degrees Fahrenheit lower than the conditions you expect to encounter to leave some wiggle room.

For example, a 20-degree bag is suitable for most three-season camping. Amazon has a wide selection of affordable sleeping bags to choose from in 2024.

To insulate you from the cold ground, pair your sleeping bag with an inexpensive sleeping pad. While self-inflating and inflatable models are ultralight and compact, closed-cell foam pads are affordable, virtually indestructible, and get the job done for less than $20.

For pillows, skip the fancy camp pillows for now and improvise with a pillowcase stuffed with clothes or a soft puffy jacket. You can always upgrade later once you’ve dialed in your ideal sleep system.

camp kitchen and cooking
Backpacking food

Camp Kitchen Essentials on a Budget

In the backcountry, a quality camping stove and durable cooking gear make all the difference between quickly prepared hot meals and going hangry on a disappointing night of cold snacks.

For beginners, skip the integrated, all-in-one cook systems and opt for an affordable two-burner propane stove. Brands like Coleman offer basic but reliable freestanding models for around $50.

When choosing your stove, be sure to also budget for a few reusable propane canisters – they’re typically cheaper on Amazon and allow you to leave the disposable green bottles at home.

For cookware, all you really need is a basic mess kit with a pot, pan, cup, and utensils. Stainless steel kits are classic, durable, and easy to clean. Look for boxed kits in the $20-$30 range from respected brands.

Don’t Sleep on Affordable Lighting

Proper illumination is essential for setting up camp after dark and moving safely around a site at night. While there are many fancy, high-output headlamps on the market, you don’t need to spend $40 or more on one as a beginner. Many budget models provide more than enough brightness for camping at well under $20.

Look for simple LED headlamps that output at least 100 lumens on high – more than enough to light up a tent’s interior or cook area. Other convenient features to consider are a dimming function, different beam modes like a wide floodlight or focused spotlight, a red night-vision mode, and weather resistance.

Energizer and Black Diamond make reliable budget headlamps well-suited for beginners that you can find on Amazon.

Get Back to Basics with Navigation

While GPS devices and apps can certainly come in handy for outdoor navigation, there’s no substitute for basic map and compass skills when batteries die or your phone lacks service.

Learning to read topographic maps and use a compass is an essential wilderness skill that will serve you well, especially in an emergency situation.

You can pick up waterproof topo maps for just a few dollars from third-party sellers on Amazon. As for compasses, skip the pricey models with extra bells and whistles for now and get started with a basic model with a rotating bezel for taking bearings from Amazon sales online.

Coupled with a map, it could save your bacon in the backcountry if you lose your way.

Layer Up with Versatile Clothing Pieces

Outdoor clothing from top brand names can drain your budget fast, but you don’t need to spend a fortune when you’re just starting out. The key is layering different weights of synthetic, moisture-wicking fabrics to regulate your body temperature as conditions change.

For bottoms, look for affordable hiking pants or convertible pants/shorts that offer ample freedom of movement from Amazon’s activewear brands. On top, stock up on polyester or merino wool base layers along with fleece or puffy insulating layers you can add or remove as needed.

Amazon has a huge selection of affordable outdoor gear deals on clothing and accessories from popular brands ro help as you build out your system of layers.

You can often find past-season styles and colors for steep discounts. As you get more experienced, you can invest in premium pieces designed for breathability, freedom of movement, and weather protection.

sitting around the campfire in the great outdoors
Campfire fun

Budget-Friendly Outdoor Gear Deals on Amazon: Top Picks for Beginners

Hitting the trails or spending a night under the stars doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Amazon offers a wide variety of budget-friendly camping gear that won’t break the bank.

Here are some of our Outdoor Tech Lab top picks to get you started:


Sleep System:

  • Sleeping bag: The Coleman Heritage Sleeping Bag is a comfortable and affordable option for casual camping trips. Choose a temperature rating appropriate for the climate you’ll be visiting. Coleman is a well-known brand and this sleeping bag offers reliable warmth for beginners.
  • Sleeping pad: The Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Lightweight Closed Cell Sleeping Pad is a classic choice for backpackers and campers. This closed-cell foam pad is lightweight, durable, and provides basic insulation from the ground.


  • Camp stove: The MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Stove is a high-quality, albeit slightly more expensive option that offers excellent performance. For a more budget-friendly choice, consider the Coleman Gas Camping Stove. This simple one-burner stove is easy to use and perfect for boiling water or cooking basic camp meals.
  • Cookware: The Sea to Summit Collapsible Camp Kitchen Set includes four bowls, all made to be durable and packable!


  • Headlamp: The Black Diamond Spot Headlamp is a versatile and user-friendly headlamp with multiple brightness settings. It’s a great choice for lighting your way around camp or on nighttime hikes.


  • Map and compass: While not available directly on Amazon, you can find a variety of waterproof topographical maps from reputable publishers by searching “National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps” or “USGS Topo Maps” + the region you’ll be exploring. A compass like the Suunto A-30 Classic Compass is a great option for basic navigation.

Remember: These are just a few examples of modern outdoor gear deals, and there are many other affordable options available on Amazon. Be sure to read reviews, check out the best sellers at the bottom of this guide and compare features to find what you need.

Additional Tips for Saving Money on Outdoor Gear:

  • Look for deals and discounts, especially around Prime Day or Black Friday.
  • Consider buying used gear from online marketplaces or consignment shops.
  • Invest in versatile pieces of gear that you can use for multiple activities.
  • Borrow gear from friends or family members who enjoy spending time outdoors.

With a little planning and some smart shopping, you can outfit yourself with everything you need for your next outdoor adventure without breaking the bank.

Camping tent deals being used on a test in the wilderness with outdoor tech lab
Camp essentials

People Also Ask OTL Questions:

  • What is the most important outdoor gear for beginners?
    • A good backpack is essential for carrying your supplies comfortably. Look for one with a breathable back panel and adjustable straps. You’ll also want a pair of sturdy hiking boots or trail shoes that provide good traction and ankle support.
  • What can I substitute for expensive outdoor gear?
    • You can often find gently used outdoors gear at thrift stores, consignment shops, or online marketplaces. You can also borrow gear from friends or family members who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors.
  • How can I save money on outdoor clothing?
    • Invest in versatile pieces you can layer for different weather conditions. Look for synthetic fabrics that wick away moisture and dry quickly. You can often find good outdoor gear deals on clothing during sales or at outlet stores.

Start Small and Smart

The joy of finally getting outside and enjoying nature is well worth a modest investment in proper outdoor gear. And with some smart shopping strategies, you can get decently outfitted for your first camping and hiking adventures without spending a fortune.

Start with the essential items like a quality backpack, footwear, shelter, and sleep system!

Hit up online marketplaces like Outdoor Gear Exchange for gently used bargains and some of our favorite outdoor gear deals.

Focus on basic, affordable options from respected brands to get started, and then you can start upgrading individual items as your outdoor interests and budgets allow.

With this budget-minded approach, you’ll be able to hit the trails sooner rather than later and begin building a lifetime of amazing outdoor memories without going broke in the process.

Outdoor Resources:

  • Leave No Trace: The Leave No Trace site is a fantastic resource partnered with the USDA Forest Service. Learn the seven principles of Leave No Trace to minimize your impact on the environment and ensure enjoyable experiences for all outdoor enthusiasts.
  • National Park Service – Gear Up: This link to the U.S. National Park Service webpage offers a basic checklist for car camping essentials. It also provides links to specific park websites for information on regulations, amenities, and recommended gear for specific locations.

2 responses

  1. Can’t go wrong with Coleman tents on a budget 👌. Good gear OTL.

    1. Thanks Tommy!
      We like Coleman tents. Great gear for a new camper or old vet as well. Not too expensive!

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