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Cost Cutting Ideas for Gear

The following is the response to a question posed by a reader who is concerned about the cost of high quality hunting gear based off the layering article and review in the latest issue of Eastmans’ Hunting Journal. To read the full layering article head over to the Eastmans.com home page and scroll down to the article on the lower center of the main page. Let me know if any of you have some good cost cutting tactics when it comes to hunting gear. Tis the season so to speak.  -G
I have been an avid hunter for 35 years and hunt in the Cascades of Washington state. Enjoy the magazine and subscribe to both editions. I love your published stories. The MRS is great information. Thank you.

However, I have a problem with your recent layering product review. This is expensive gear, way more than I can justify spending. I feel that more and more, your magazine is becoming elitist. Only the well-off can afford the CHEAPEST layering system in these current economic times. $500 packs are beyond my means as well.  I understand that your magazine demographic may be affluent, but I am sure there are readers who would like to see more affordable options. Field and Stream (not my favorite) does a nice job of compare and contrast between high end and affordable.

Just my input.

Thank you for your time




Howdy Tim,

Thanks for the e-mail. I can totally understand your frustration regarding the price of hunting gear these days. Congratulations on 35 years for hunting the Cascade Country in Washington. That is tough country by any measure.

Keep in mind we chose to review only the best of the best in hard-core hunting gear. These four companies represent only the very best in materials and design. With this comes a premium price and I totally agree looking at the entire layering system all at once can be a very expensive undertaking. I would concede this however, you can cut some corners to make the price of this equipement much more economical than initially meets the eye.
For instance, the prices noted in the write-up are the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) which is usually a bit higher than you can actually find the product in stores. In addition, if you shop hard and look for a true bargain like my wife often does, you can find most of this gear for much cheaper than noted in the article. For instance, the Russell Gale Jacket, one of my favorite pieces in the write up, is listed at $214.99 but you can pick one up right now from Chad Linton over at Linton Outdoor’s (lintonoutdoors.com) for only $169.00 which is a savings of more than 20%. The very same goes for some of the Sitka gear pieces. If you really shop the racks hard and are willing to pick up some of the gear that is last year’s models or designs you can almost cut some of that pricing in half. Some guys have picked up these layering systems for around $500-$600 by mixing and matching brands, camo patterns and hit the racks in the off buying seasons to get the best deals.
An additional note to keep in mind is that you don’t have to purchase all of this gear at once. It took me three or four years to gather up, test and fully incorporate my entire layering system as it sits today. Most of this gear will last you 3-5 years minimum. I would start by purchasing the base layer and the rain gear first and work my way down the system from the outside layer backwards by purchasing a few new pieces each and every year until it is completed. In the interim simply use what you have or buy lesser gear from the bargain basement at Cabela’s or Wal-Mart and progressively upgrade each piece of gear as you go. By doing this, and shopping smart you should be able to complete the system in four years by purchasing less than $200.00 worth of gear each year. Many of these pieces also make for great Christmas and Birthday gifts from the wife or girlfriend that always seems to find it difficult to shop for a hardcore hunter.
In my opinion, try not to scrimp on the base-layer, the protective-layer and possibly the insulating-layer. The rest can be compromised with lesser gear fairly easily. Another cost-cutting trick would be to only buy the gear you need for the early season hunts and then swing into the sports shop at the last minute right before your October or November hunts and pick up the last few remaining layers at a bargin last minute price right before you head afield.
These are just a few ideas to help get you through the fall and not downgrade your gear to the point of discomfort or even danger. I know the country you are hunting and it is no place for cheap cotton hunting gear.
Thanks again for the note and best of luck to you this fall. Thanks for reading the publications.

About Guy Eastman, Editor-In-Chief

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Following in the footsteps of his father, Guy has taken up the reins and is now at the helm of the Eastmans’ Hunting Journal and the Eastmans’ Bowhunting Journal. A fine hunter in his own right, Guy has taken several trophy animals and has become an expert in trophy hunting as well.

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  1. Good follow-up to a reasonable question Guy. Like the guy who asked the questions, I too have a modest income. And yet I have managed to acquire a good selection of Sitka Gear by doing pretty much what you just described. On average I spent about 50% of the retail price by buying off of Ebay (both new and slightly used clothing) and getting stuff on year-end sale and clearance. It took about three years to collect it all, but now I have top quality clothing that allows me to hunt hard – and stay comfortable while doing it – and will last me for years to come. It’s worth the money!

  2. Problem is Nobody makes clothing for people who are over 6′ 2″. And if they do it’s never ever on sale.

  3. Andrew Thornock, Utah

    I have always been working on building and rebuilding my clothes set up for hunting. My Cabela’s gear was great on the pocket and I have hardcore testef it here in UT and in AL. If you know of military surplus stores watch them under armour I have 3 sets of their heat wear it cost about $50. I also have friends in the military that gave me their hand me downs.

  4. Chris,

    Kuiu makes gear for folks over 6’2″ as the founder is 6’4″. Have you tried that?


    A great response! I have picked up my Kuiu system over the past two years and I plan to have it for the next 10. Now I don’t have to worry about spending money on clothing and can concentrate on bow, arrows, lighter backpacking gear, etc!

  5. I think you will find that most of these high end suppliers require their dealers to not sell below the manufacturers “Minimum Advertised Pricing”. MAP pricing set by the manufacturer insures the perceived value of their product and allows them to keep their prices high. This is especially true of smaller companies like Sitka, that only have the ability to produce a limited amount of product, or as in Sitka’s case…they order their years worth of gear from Asia only once a year.

    To get better pricing on new gear one must wait until the dealers are allowed to put the gear on “Year End Sales”. By then, the selections and sizes are very limited. Some of these companies also offer a pre-sale discount to purchase now and wait until this years shipment arrives in the US before it is then forwarded to you.

    Another alternative is to shop for gear from mountaineering companies like Patagonia,Mountain Hardware,Marmot, Arc”Teryx. This works well because these companies’ products are what has inspired the elite hunting gear companies’ gear. These mountaineering companies are generally musch larger, and have a great distribution system, so finding sizes and selections (as well as sales)is easier. The only down side to this is these companies don’t carry camo, so you’ll still need to use hunting companies for your outer layers. A great source for mountaineering gear is mountaingear.com .

    I myself am a gear nut, and I have tried just about everything. My hunting and layering gear has been built over the years and is a combination of High End hunting gear, mountaineering gear, and gear from Cabelas, and Gander Mountain. Just use your head to pick what works for your given situation. And keep in mind that especially for outer layers, it is hard to beat the hunting gear from these high end companies, even at the high prices they ask. You really do get what you pay for. Just beware of paying too much for equal gear that can be purchased from the mountaineering companies. purchased

  6. Dean Kiourtsis

    I don’t know if any of you have tried Gray Wolf Woolens products? I purchased some of their clothing 10 yrs ago and it is still like new! Wears like Iron. I was thinking of ordering some more just for a different pattern. Their unlined wolfskin product is great! For those who like wool they have it too. Better yet it is all custom sized and made in the USA!!

  7. Andrew Peterson

    I more than agree with Tim that the prices of todays gear, especially in this economic state we are all in, is silly but like Guy said values can be found. I recently went on a January archery deer hunt hear in the back country (yes, Arizona does have great back country/wilderness hunting) and I found a Big Agnes Whiskey Park 0° in the Bargain Cave at Cabelas for $80 I found rain gear at the SPORTSMENS WAREHOUSE on sale. Granted the pants are Realtree brand I only spent $24 on them marked down from about $80 and I have also found in recent years that original in moisture control, Under Armour, still knows what they are doing. And compared to the others is cheap!
    Just my thoughts,

  8. Dean,

    Grey Wolf is far from affordable. In fact, it is the worst brand to investigate when trying to find affordable. They come with bare bones type garments for base price then you can add items for a premium. You might have $300, or more, in a pair of pants that a quality competitor has of all the same options but at as standard feature and standard price.The price is much lower too! For me, I just don’t see how the prices can be justified.

  9. Sorry to disagree Dave I bought a pair of camo overalls, double seat, double knees and cargo pockets for under $200. I have not needed to purchase another pair yet, with 10 years of use! Sure you can add their comfort max for cold weather and run up the cost but I layer with merino wool undergarmets instead. Maybe I will go back and look at their site and check the prices? For a person looking for custom clothing I dont think you can beat it.

  10. Dave, just went to their site. The same bibs I bought 10 yrs ago would cost me 289 now. Yea thats getting a bit pricey. I think the 10 yrs of use was well worth it. I noticed they have a bargain section on their site and if the sizes work a fair amount of money can be saved. Whatever you buy just watch the quality of the products, there have been times where I felt I was saving a lot of money on gear only to have to replace it the following season!

  11. Look into true timbers lineup. Pretty good clothing for a fraction of the cost of Sitka. After two seasons of hard use and abuse I am well impressed.

  12. Try Sierra Trading Post, hands down the cheapest priced outdoor gear for the tight budget.

  13. I am 5’7″ and I have a great deal of trouble
    finding these things in my size…and quite honestly
    I have found GREAT gear that is not made for the rich
    and famous.

  14. Good write up, being an avid hunting college student it can be hard to keep the gear cheap, as to avoid a 100% ramen noodle diet (which doesn’t help with packing out animals).
    I’ve found some creative solutions to help myself save money.

    For instance, after leaving the nest I lost a lot of use of shared equipment with my dad, one particular tool I missed was his Montana Decoy. I wanted one for myself but that price tag is a little steep for me. What I did instead was make my own version of a montana decoy for under 15$. What I did was simply take one of those wire frame cloth collapsable windshield reflectors and sew a cheapo white sheet I got at walmart around it, some thin plastic from a tuperware to make the stiff head and ears, and with a little acrylic paint and artistic ability painted a cow elk on it. I haven’t had a chance to test in the field yet, but it looks just like a montana decoy and collapses just as easily.

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