Outdoor Junkies on a Budget: How to Play Like a Rockstar Without Breaking Your Bank

167223960My friends call themselves “dirt bags” and with good reason. They play hard, live cheap, and don’t give a damn about your brand new Marmot jacket or top of the line tent. In fact, they throw up what they lovingly refer to as the “drunk” tent, a $30 Walmart special, and their Marmot jacket is patched with duct tape. For them, being out in the wilderness isn’t about dropping hella money on gear or buying the latest contraption- it’s about being outside and doing what they love. Inspiring, right? That being said, here are a few tips for outdoor junkies that I learned from my dirt bag friends.

Get By With a Little Help…
From your friends. If your amigos have gear that they’re willing to let you borrow then, by all means, borrow it. Lord knows, I’ve spent a few nights in the drunk tent. Be sure to observe borrowing etiquette: return the gear in good shape and throw in a beer or some chocolate as a thank you.

Cards that Give Back
Outdoor retail stores such as REI will often offer you an in-store credit card that gives you 1-5% back on purchases. A totally legitimate and smart way to capitalize on this perk is to put ALL of your purchases on this card every month and then pay them off in one fell swoop. Throw gas, food, your car payment and tuition on there if you have to and soon you’ll reap the in-store rewards. Note: No outdoor junkie should be saddled with credit card debt. So if you’re gonna work the system, be sure to pay that shit off at the end of EVERY month!

Spend on Your Priorities
You know how they say “put your money where your mouth is”? Well, I say put your money where you heart is…if your passion is rock climbing, then don’t feel pressured to spend a lot of money on skiing or kayaking (rent or borrow for these sports). If you’re a devoted camper, then sink some bills into a 3 season tent and skip the Walmart special. You don’t have to have the “best” of everything and, when you save your money for what you love, you’ll have nicer gear that fuels your passions.

Thrifty is Sexy
Craigslist, The Clymb, and outdoor thrift/consignment stores are a cheap and fun way to purchase gear. You can get high-end stuff at low cost and, often, the “pre-loved” gear is already broken in and has more character than the straight-off-the-shelf stuff.

The Power of “Gigs”
Living in Boulder, Colorado I know more than just a few people who have taken a second job to fund their outdoor habit. That may sound crazy but these people are onto something. Instead of dipping into their savings or being stressed over money, they find something like freelance writing, working at an outdoor retail shop twice a week, or baby-sitting to fund their sports. Not only does it help them get the gear they love but it can also, eventually, lead to a career in the outdoor market. And, hey, what could be better for these junkies than that?