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Know the Best Times to Buy Travel Gear

travel gear deals

Do you know the best times to buy travel gear? The calendar date can make a huge difference.

Yes you can afford quality travel gear and name brand outdoor clothing for your journeys. The secret is buying it when the timing is right, not two days before your vacation.

I see a lot of people traveling around with unreliable luggage, bulky jackets that don’t ward off the elements, and clothing that is ill-suited to traveling with just a carry-on. (If your carry-on is too heavy for you to lift it by yourself to put it in the overhead bin, you have overpacked. Do better so you can stop holding up the boarding process.) Many of these people, if they were dropped into REI or MEC in the height of travel season may think, “These prices are too high for me.”

You don’t have to accept those kinds of prices to get good travel gear, backpacks, and apparel though. You just have to buy it when demand is low. That happens to be right now as I right this—late August. Summer vacations are winding down, back-to-school shopping has ended, and soon the weather will start cooling off. It’s in between time at retail.

This is not the only window for terrific deals though. There are several windows that are the best times to buy travel gear. Anytime stores have to move out the old to bring in the new you’re going to find drastic reductions. Companies like Colombia, Patagonia, and North Face are bringing out new styles at least twice a year and if you buy the old styles when those new ones are launching, you can find unbelievable bargains. Just look at this page from one of my favorite travel clothing brands: Craghoppers.

Croghoppers on sale

Here’s a page from the sale section at You can pick up terrific gear that’s just last year’s color (and maybe a few grams heavier) for 1/3 what it went for originally.

the best times of the year to buy travel gear like at Backcountry

So what are the best times to buy travel gear?

If you want the newest and hottest, it’s when the new 800-page issue of Vogue comes out in the spring and fall. That’s also when all the deals start rolling out though to get rid of existing inventory. Click on these links for some examples of sales running at the time I wrote this, heading into fall, the switch from hot weather gear to fall and winter. If you’re reading this later and the link just takes you to a home page, look for a tab called “Outlet,” “Bargain Bin,” or “Sale.”

See what’s on sale at REI

New Customer Offer – Get 15% Off Your First Purchase at

Clearance items at Sierra Trading Post

The second big changeover is in the spring, when the jackets go for as low as it takes to sell them and the bikinis come out in stores. Logically this should be happening in May or so, but really it gets cranking as soon as early February—the height of ski season. If something is not selling well from the winter line, they’ll already know it by then. By the time we get into March, the physical and online outlets will be offloading base layers, goggles, and beanies for the price of a 6-pack of craft beer.

There are smaller inflection points in there where bargains come out in force, usually because there’s a shopping holiday in there. Labor Day will bring out sales because the timing is right, but so will Thanksgiving, Father’s Day, or President’s Day.

Buying Travel Clothing Direct Can Be Surprisingly Cheap

Besides the online stores I mentioned above, note that many brands run their own stores and some are quick to discount slow-moving items. This doesn’t mean anything is wrong with them. It usually just means there’s a new style or color replacing the past one. These travel apparel companies are on the same kind of cycle as fashion ones and are under just as much pressure to come up with something new to talk about each season. Just saying, “Our travel shirt is super-popular so we’re not changing a thing” doesn’t cut it. To get new orders, they need to show buyers a new version. This doesn’t make much sense, but it’s the way it is.

Take advantage of the disconnect and you can be packing great travel apparel that lasts into a backpack or suitcase that won’t let you down on the other side of the world. Brand sites with frequent sales (currently up to 70% off at some of them):


Colombia Sportswear

Mountain Hardwear



Also keep in mind that some online retailers discount more than others. Zappos almost never does and its parent company Amazon takes advantage of the fact that many Prime members buy from there without even looking anywhere else, assuming prices are equal when they’re not. REI has always been less of a discounter than others. But a few times a year they run a good sale and occasionally you can find some deals in their outlet section.


Rick Stevens

Friday 26th of August 2016

Best time to buy travel gear is in midsummer at the end of July when most people have already been on their big trips.

Tim Leffel

Tuesday 30th of August 2016

That's when it starts, but then they continue to mark down from there. You'll find deeper cuts from Labor Day weekend onward (for summer gear).

Thomas E Mayer Jr

Tuesday 23rd of August 2016

I like the way buyers of travel clothes think everybody is below a 44 waist or that bigger guys would pay for the better quality as smaller waist guys! I experience this in Seattle in the 1960's when my buyer who wore a 30 couldn't believe that on Saturdays I was turning down customers that were 38 and above with great regularity. When he saw the wiring on the wall our Levi figures jumped 12% in the year after he started bringing larger sizes. JC Penny's down the Mall were no longer taking away my big guy business.