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Thrift stores.
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Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Thrift stores. on 06/13/2013 12:29:02 MDT Print View

I've found a lot of decent backpacking clothing at thrift stores.
Athletic shorts, cotton or polycotton hot weather dress shirts, polyester t-shirts, cheap windbreakers/windshirts (just cut out the lining), wool sweaters, coated (non breathable) rain jackets, and more.

Does anyone else shop around at thrift stores?

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Yes on 06/13/2013 12:41:50 MDT Print View

Yes I have and have used some thrift store stuff for bicycle touring and backpacking. Nothing in my current rotation is from a thrift store though.

While not from a thrift store, I do use a kayaking sweater on almost every trip, that was free (found floating in a river).

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Yes on 06/13/2013 12:52:06 MDT Print View

Yep, a lot of my clothes are from thrift stores. Selection varies though. Sometimes I'll go months without finding anything, and then have a big score. To actually find the good stuff you have to commit to checking regularly.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
El cheapo on 06/13/2013 12:58:00 MDT Print View

The dirty little secret about outdoor clothing?

If you shop at thrift stores, outlet shops and ONLY buy stuff on sale ... You can spend a quarter of what someone buying name brand clothing spends

And still get "good" brands

Spending $$$$$$ on commoditized outdoor brand clothing is likely the single biggest money waster

They wont make you go any harder or longer at the level most of us are at ;)

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Thrift stores. on 06/13/2013 13:20:11 MDT Print View

I've found name-brand outdoors wear in thrift stores, but more commonly in kid sizes. I've got kids, so that's great, but small women could also leverage that angle. In adult clothing, I've occasionally found good indoor gear, but I do better shopping for dress clothes. Often dry cleaners and laundries will donate unclaimed clothing so I look for the claim-check number stapled onto the shirt or pants. It was (1) good enough for someone to pay to have it cleaned, (2) the previous owner could afford professional cleaning so often it is an upper-end label, and (3) it was cleaned since it was last worn.

As the OP implied, some non-outdoors clothing works well. To give an incongruous example: John Travolte's polyester suit from Saturday Night Fever is better outdoor wear than a cotton shirt with Levi jeans. It keeps you warm even if wet and it dries pretty quickly.

Thrift stores are also a cheap source of fabric and insulation. Down jackets and quilts can be harvested for fill. A complete jacket will be cheaper than the YKK zipper you want to scavenge from it. And, for myself, it is less intimidating to modify an existing piece of clothing than to start with a pattern and 2 yards of fabric. That might be taking in the sides to reduce weight and draft. Or adding a hood (perhaps cut from another garment), or adding pockets exactly where and in the style that you want.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Thrift stores. on 06/13/2013 13:21:55 MDT Print View

"John Travolte's polyester suit from Saturday Night Fever is better outdoor wear than a cotton shirt with Levi jeans. It keeps you warm even if wet and it dries pretty quickly. "

In other words, definitely bring your sunglasses when hiking with David.....

Tom D.
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
Lots of good stuff to be found on 06/13/2013 13:41:56 MDT Print View

A partial list of my thrift store finds:

9 pairs of convertible pants (6 for myself, 3 for my sons) including 3 pairs of Columbia, 2 pairs of Ex-Officio. All in "like new" condition. Prices from $2 to $7

Several long and short sleeve athletic shirts

1 pair crocs

1 Stainless Klean Kanteen (for my truck and car camping)

3 fleece jackets (2-Columbia, 1- REI)

Various fleece caps and gloves

1 Spotting Scope

1 set ski poles. My 11 yr old broke his trekking poles on the JMT. We did 2 rest days in Mammoth and the cheapest set of trekking poles in town was about $50. We wandered into the thrift store there and found a light set of Scott aluminum ski poles his size for $10. Plus, he wasn't going to be able to break these. He still uses them almost daily in the local mountains.

1 Two liter Platypus (25 cents, found it when I wandered into a thrift store while on vacation in Colville, Washington).

1 three cup aluminum pot with handle, weighs 1.8 oz (after I cut the handle to about 3"), 2.1 oz with MYOG lid. Its now my standard pot when I want more than just a mug.

1 Pot cozy. It was an thin neoprene sleeve for a thermos type bottle, perfectly fit a small IMUSA aluminum mug.

I could keep going, these are just some of my better deals found. I check the local thrift stores about once a week. Unfortunately, the larger thrift store chains like Goodwill and Salvation Army are getting expensive, not much cheaper than new on some things I've found and often twice the price of the same things at other local thrift stores. They do good work and I support them for that, I just wish they'd keep their prices a bit lower.

Edited by DaFireMedic on 06/13/2013 13:51:11 MDT.

K Magz
(lapedestrienne) - F

Locale: somewhere without screens
Re: Lots of good stuff to be found on 06/13/2013 14:08:16 MDT Print View

Where I live (college town), the local thrift stores are more expensive than Salvo or Goodwill. On the flipside of that coin, the amount of like-new TNF/Pata/etc in secondhand shops here is staggering.

And, you can almost always find nice wool sweaters and lightweight wool gabardine pants, perfect for looking real classy on fall hikes.

David A
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
Re: Re: Thrift stores. on 06/13/2013 15:26:16 MDT Print View

"John Travolte's polyester suit from Saturday Night Fever is better outdoor wear than a cotton shirt with Levi jeans."

True, a proven choice for stayin alive, stayin alive.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
thrifter on 06/13/2013 16:11:54 MDT Print View

The thrift store has mainly provided me with fleeces, wind jacket/pants and long sleeve dress shirts (65/35 poly-cotton) for three season hiking.

My overall best find in a thriftier was a Patagucci fleece jacket that retailed, at the time, for $120. It cost $4 (in 2000). Looked brand spanking new.

I was in Ft. Collins,CO at the time and I suspect a local CSU student just dumped it as it was just after Xmas break when I found it at Goodwill.

Edited by PaulMags on 06/13/2013 19:38:13 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Thrift stores. on 06/13/2013 17:54:59 MDT Print View


jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Thrift stores. on 06/13/2013 19:01:08 MDT Print View

I wear an REI fleece vest my wife got from thrift store

And some shirts

For backpacking, I like close to state of the art materials and usually you don't find those at thrift stores.

Edward Jursek

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Thrift stores on 06/13/2013 20:19:10 MDT Print View

I am thrift store junky. My previous best score had been for a pair of REI branded Komperdell carbon trekking poles for $14. Then, two weeks ago, I picked up a brand spanking new pair of ArcTeryx Rampart pants in my size for $12. I also have 2 pairs of nice Patagonia hiking pants and all of my capilene curtesy of Goodwill. They also recently had new 2.8 liter soft sided water carriers for under $2.00 that perfectly match up with the Sawyer Squeeze filter. I bought 4. I get almost all of my gear from Goodwill, Craigslist, Ebay and the Gear Swap Forum. My new gear comes from cottage companies or REI when I am forced to pay retail.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Thrift stores on 06/13/2013 20:27:10 MDT Print View

I threw out a UnderArmor shirt that fit poorly, so now I know that brand won't work for me. Cost at the Goodwill store, sold as a T-shirt, $1.75. A good money donation to them. I've found a few nice shirts to wear to work and one outdoor type shirt to wear down the road, name brand.

Daniel Pittman
(pitsy) - M

Locale: Central Texas
My score... on 06/13/2013 22:53:34 MDT Print View

Vintage aluminium popcorn kettle with wire-bail lid clamps. Fricken' rad for five bucks. Keeps squirrels out of my foodstuffs and toiletries, yet not as annoying as a bear canister. Can cook in it and use the lid as a plate.

Greg Pehrson
(GregPehrson) - MLife

Locale: playa del caballo blanco
head to toe on 06/14/2013 05:09:22 MDT Print View

My whole kit is mostly secondhand or MYOG. Here are some of my thrift store scores:thrift
All for less than $5 each, except the sneakers, which were $7.
-SweatVac Marathon Cap
-Boston Athletic Association synthetic T
-Lands End Down Vest
-Patagonia Synchilla Snap T
-Nike running shorts with liner and mesh sides (like RR EcoMesh)
-Quest convertible pants
-New Balance synthetic mesh running shoes

I've also seen, but not purchased:
-TNF fleece
-ThermaRest Small Pad
-generic CCF pad
-handheld water bottles for running
-nylon UPF button down shirts
-vintage external frame packs

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
Flea Market: Gossamer Gear Kumo for 10 dollars on 07/11/2014 09:41:09 MDT Print View

Like new, last weekend. Size Large. 10$!!!
The student that is working with me this summer has been looking for backpacking gear so I gave it to him as my plan to set him up with a nice kit. Not that I am rich...:) but he is such a great helper whose interest has given me renewed energy. In return I get to talk his ears off about backpacking.

Gordon Gray
(GordonG) - F

Locale: Front Range, CO
tent on 07/11/2014 10:29:56 MDT Print View

Not UL backpacking, but I found a huge 3 room Coleman family tent for $13. It has one broken pole which cost something like $6 to fix.

I got my daughter's first pack from there as well. $7?


Since then she has sewn on a sternum strap and new, padded waist belt. She is bad a$$ with a sewing machine. We recent found her a new pack from an REI garage sale that was a steal as well.

Edited by GordonG on 07/11/2014 10:31:10 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Thrift stores. on 07/11/2014 10:39:42 MDT Print View

I'm at the other end of the spectrum. I'm the guy who enables the rest of you to find great deals at thrift stores....

Kenda Willey
Thanks Doug! on 07/11/2014 11:22:51 MDT Print View

Hey, thanks Doug I.! Someone's gotta donate that gear!

I'm a thrift-store junkie, most of my apparel (hiking as well as regular) comes from Goodwill and the Humane Society store. (I like to think it justifies the money I shell out for footwear.) As another poster states, you have to check in regularly, but by doing that, I've scored: Patagonia pants, shorts and tops, about 5-6 Mountain Hardwear Tshirts, a long-sleeved Icebreaker base layer top, Ex-Officio convertible pants and hats, and I've scored so many Columbia jackets and lined pants that I simply had to stop and donate them to a church free clothing program. And I shouldn't forget to mention the less high-end brands, such as LL Bean, Eddie Bauer and Land's End.