Six tips to save you money on gear
No one wants to be the one with 'all the gear and no idea' so money.co.uk's Martin Lane shows you how to avoid overspending on your favourite outdoor activity.
When taking up a new hobby, it’s often tempting to splurge on new equipment. Here are our top tips to stop your hobby from being a serious financial drain.
Make sure you’re in it for the long run
There is little point in buying new gear if you’ve just started your hobby. Borrow or hire equipment for your first few sessions before splashing out.
You may fall out of love with your new pastime within months so make sure you’re serious before making any big financial investments. As tempting as it may be to buy a new time trial bike, do a few triathlons first to gauge how much difference it will make before making such a big financial commitment. You might find you don’t get on with it and a road bike's a better option.
Buy second hand to start with
Buying kit from charity shops and websites like eBay will save you a fortune, especially in the early days.
As you get better at your hobby, it’s likely you’ll want to upgrade, so this gives you time to work out what works for you. It’s so tempting to get the shiny new stuff but without testing out different brands and trying things out for size, you could wind up with kit that simply doesn’t suit your body or your style. Look out for groups on Facebook that buy and sell second-hand fitness equipment and if you’re part of a club keep your ears to the ground for any bargains up for grabs. And if you're buying for your kids, who are quickly going to grow out of things, it's even more important to be as savvy as possible.
Shop around online
If and when you want brand new gear, never buy it from the first place you see it. Shop around and google for discount codes.
You’ll be amazed at how many you’ll find floating around online for all manner of websites. It’s always worth a quick search before hitting the checkout button. Some retailers offer packages for people getting into a new hobby with all the gear you’re going to need for a discounted fee – and while you can save money here be careful not to get sucked in and wind up with kit you’ll never use or wouldn’t suit you. Be particularly careful about buying any type of sports shoe online – you want to be sure you’re comfortable in training shoes before you commit to paying for them.
Read the reviews
It’s worth reading reviews of the equipment before you invest, both from professionals and consumers.
You aren’t going to know if those hiking boots will rub until you’re half way up a mountain so google for reviews of the boots before you part with your cash. The same goes for all equipment; specialist magazines and websites offer buyers guides which include reviews from both professionals and consumers. It’s certainly worth reading a few to get a feel for how other people have found the product before you commit.
Don't get sucked into 'new season, new gear'
Manufacturers of shoes/boots/bikes/clothing all need to make their money somehow and their favourite trick is to bring out new lines every season.
The biggest difference is often just a change in colour or a slight change in shape. Don’t assume just because it’s new it’s better. Read the reviews before upgrading because you might find you’re better sticking with what you’ve got – saving you money and frustration when your new kit doesn’t live up to expectations.
You don't need to look like a pro to become a pro
It’s incredibly tempting to invest in all the kit when you’re falling in love with your new-found hobby, and you see others looking great in all their gear.
What you do need to remember is they probably look good because they’ve been doing it for years and are seasoned pros. Nobody is going to begrudge you having a go if you’re in last season’s kit, and you’re clearly a newcomer. What’s worse is when you turn up looking all flashy only to fall at the first hurdle… that’s when people whisper “all the gear and no idea”. Instead, build up your skills and the stuff you need slowly and spread the cost out over several months or even years. You’ll be less likely to begrudge the cost of your hobby, and you won’t end up with hundreds of pounds worth of gear you don’t use.
Working on skills and training is what really makes the difference - and we're here to help:
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