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When Should You Upgrade Your Camping Gear?

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 15 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
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When you start out camping, you buy the equipment you think you’ll need. If you’re not sure you’ll enjoy it, then the tendency is to spend as little as possible (or even borrow gear for the first few trips until you’re convinced!). But after a while, you might start browsing through shops and consider parting with money for new equipment. When, though, is the right time?

Do You Need New Gear?

There’s a big difference between desiring new camping equipment and needing it. It’s all very well to fall in love with that new lightweight sleeping bag that promises more comfort and rolls up smaller, but is there anything wrong with your old one?

Need means replacing something because it’s broken or torn, or simply worn out, or perhaps because circumstances change – you might have had a child and truly need a bigger tent, for instance. When things like that happen, it makes perfect sense to upgrade, and to buy the best you can afford, within a reasonable budget, since that means you can hopefully go longer before upgrading the same thing again.

The problem with necessity is that it doesn’t always coincide with a flush bank account or a sale. That means you need to shop around, both in stores and online, and research what you want to buy and the prices that places are charging (and all too often the big chains aren’t the cheapest). Ultimately, though, you might end up having to bite the bullet and spend more than you really want for the item you need.

The Best Time To Upgrade Camping Gear

All stores selling outdoor equipment have sales. Right after Christmas is always a good time to shop, since it’s a slow season for them, and there are plenty of real bargains to be found. Remember, though, it’s never a bargain if it’s something you don’t need and that you’re not likely to use too much. If the item you’re considering really is far superior, or your old item is looking worn and well past it, then it can be a real deal. Otherwise you’re simply spending money for its own sake.

It’s worth thinking ahead to sales, to inspect all your equipment in the autumn when your camping season has ended – unless you’re one of the hardy types who likes being outdoors all year long – and making note of suitable gear in the shops. That way you’re well prepared and far less likely to buy on impulse, as well as get the items you really want.

Christmas and birthdays also work well, as long as you have a partner who’s glad to indulge you. A new portable stove might not be the most romantic gift, but it can certainly be very practical.

Thinking Ahead To Replacements

It could well be the case that you’ve owned something for years, but in that time there have been great advances, and you finally feel you’re due an upgrade. It could be to something much lighter or far more efficient. If you’ve had a long period of good service from the old item, like a tent, then treat yourself to the new one and pass the old one on to someone who can use it; recycling is always a good thing. There’s never any need to consign something useful to the scrap heap, even when you’ve finished with it.

Follow these guidelines and don’t give in to impulse, and you’ll find that when you do upgrade, you’ll do so thoughtfully, and probably even save yourself some money, too – which is never a bad thing.

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Only upgrade at sale time, usually just after Christmas. It’s out of camping season and shops are eager to get rid of their old stock before the new spring lines come in. You can find real bargains then, often stuff that’s only appeared recently, with some lines vastly reduced. Just find out when your local camping shop is having their big sale!
paul - 15-Oct-12 @ 10:38 AM
To be frank, there's not often a need to upgrade as long as everything's in good condition. Backpacks and tent can stay serviceable for many years. Even boots will last a long, long time, and once properly broken in you won't want to part with something so comfortable. The beauty of camping is that you can spend a lot of money if you wish, or you can get by on a very tight budget. I know which I prefer...
Victor - 14-Jun-12 @ 8:55 AM
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