I enjoy pinching a penny about as much as I love being in the outdoors. Raising 4 hungry children (one of which is a teenage boy who regularly eats his weight in cereal) means I can’t always blow wads of money on the hippest new hunting, outdoor, and survival gear from national suppliers. I have become an expert in stretching my outdoor survival budget and have managed to get some of the coolest and most useful equipment out there on the market while doing it.
My most favoritest of places to find serious bargains on quality outdoor gear is eBay. In just the past few months I’ve purchased rain gear, a hunting backpack, sub-zero sleeping bag, AND my son’s brand new compound bow. And I’ve paid far below retail on EVERYTHING.
If you are like me and need to stretch your outdoor survival dollars, eBay is a great place to start shopping. You can find plenty of new and gently used items. And if you have some equipment you want to upgrade, eBay can help you sell your used equipment, too.
But there are a few guidelines you should follow to ensure you don’t end up wasting money on low-grade or otherwise unacceptable gear.
1. Read the auction listing thoroughly and carefully. Important information is contained in the item description. Size, color, weight, measurement, and condition should all be contained in the seller’s description. If you don’t find the information you are looking for, or you need more details, don’t hesitate to contact the seller with your questions. Most seller’s are more than happy to help clarify or offer more details when it means they might make more money on a sale.
2. Don’t forget to check the shipping cost. Sometimes the cost can be pretty expensive, so consider this when deciding how much you are willing to spend on your desired item. If the shipping cost isn’t listed, contact the seller to find out how much it will cost to have your desired item shipped to you.
3. Check what types of payment the seller accepts BEFORE placing your bid. Most sellers on eBay accept payments via PayPal, and that is my favorite way to pay. It’s safe, secure, convenient, and fast. But if you aren’t up to using PayPal, check to see if the seller will accept other forms of payment, like checks, money orders, or credit cards.
4. Make a note of when the listing ends. This is especially important if it is an auction-style listing. Sometimes the auction may end at a time that isn’t convenient for you to be up and waiting. In this case, you can place you highest desired bid with eBay and it will automatically place bids for you up to your maximum bid. My personal strategy involves waiting until the last possible minute to bid, sneaking in like a ninja when my competition is least expecting it. In order to keep up with the items you are interested in, just click on the link to add the item to your “watch list”. This is a great tool for comparing similar listings to find the best value without having to hunt through pages of listings that don’t at all interest you.
5. Use the utterly awesome “Buy It Now” feature. I use this one a lot. If I know it’s an item I want and the “buy it now” price is a desirable one, I’ll go ahead and buy it at that price. This way I don’t have to wait until the end of the auction, plus it will ship almost immediately after my purchase. You usually have to act quickly on the “buy it now” option, since if the item is listed auction-style as well, the “buy it now” feature becomes unavailable once the first bid is placed.
6. Perform searches for misspellings. A lot of sellers aren’t very careful with spelling in their listings. Since misspelled listings are harder for people to find, you can often get an excellent bargain on some top-notch products because you’ll have less competition. I once got a steal of a deal on some gloves that were accidentally listed as “glooves”. Apparently there weren’t as many people looking for “hunting glooves” as there were for “hunting gloves”. Go figure.
Purchasing your outdoor gear on eBay can be a very rewarding experience. In a way it’s comparable to the thrill of the hunt, but instead of a trophy buck, you’re tracking down a trophy bargain. And when you bag it you’ll have something to brag about.