A fan on Facebook recently asked me about shopping for hiking gear, which got me thinking: where are Hikerly’s favorite destinations online or in person to get that perfect tent or to find flattering hiking pants that don’t cost an arm and a leg? Here’s the answer…
If you live in the Bay Area, you probably know Sports Basement. The brick-and-mortar-only store is more than a discount sports gear mecca. It’s a supportive member of the Bay Area outdoors community, offering space for community gatherings, discounts to participants in non-profit groups like Team In Training, providing weekly free yoga classes and even providing 101 training in things like bike maintenance.
While they don’t sell goods online (sorry non-Bay Area readers), they do have a new pop-up store near San Francisco’s Union Square for the holiday season if you happen to be passing through the city by the Bay between now and the end of the year.
What I shop there for: Sports Basement is my first go-to destination for just about everything I need in my outdoor endeavors, from trail food to wicking shirts. But as a discount retailer with an ever changing selection, you can’t count on specifics. One week they might have that trail bar you absolutely love and the next they might not. But what they do have is almost always at a can’t-be-beat price. Bonus: you can now feel good about supporting a company that cares for the community they serve.
REI and REI.com are my go to destinations for anything I can’t find at Sports Basement as well as big-ticket items because of their stellar no-questions-asked return policy (used an item for three months before it broke, take it back). As a member of REI you will get an annual dividend from your purchases and you can shop at the unbelievably well-priced Member-Only events and sales.
What I shop there for: If I want the latest technology or a specific item, I know I can count on REI to have it. And for things that you need to try out to be sure they are right, like hiking boots, REI is the way to go. I have been known to buy, try and return various boots in my search for a good fit and while there’s a part of me that always feels guilty, it is their policy to allow this. And in the end it’s a win-win for you and REI: You get the boot you love and REI gets a loyal customer.
If you haven’t heard of The Clymb, think of it as the Groupon of outdoor gear. Every day there are new items at deeply discounted prices available for only a limited time and in limited quantities.
What I shop there for: I have to admit, I haven’t made a purchase from them yet, though I was very tempted by a Sierra Designs 15-degree sleeping bag for $160 recently (when the cheapest on a web search was $210). I get their daily emails and check out the offerings most days. I’m so well equipped these days that I haven’t seen anything yet that I need, though I keep seeing great prices on good products that I recommend to friends.
Athleta and Title Nine
I’m lumping these two together because they both fall in the category of destinations holiday wish list items, rather than regular stores/web sites for gear. Their prices are high, but they arguably offer some of the most fashionable outdoor wear you’ll find.
What I shop there for: I shop both Title Nine and Athleta for specialty items only or the occasional splurge. If you are looking for sports bras, the selection at Title Nine can’t be beat. And one of my favorite pairs of winter season pants came from Athleta: Fleece lined wicking midweight pants for snowshoeing or snow hiking. They are cute, fit well and, frankly, are something I’ve never seen anywhere else. So while not a bargain, these two destinations may have something you can’t find anywhere else that’s worth a little extra cost to you.