General Guidelines for Buying Old Outdoor Gear

-This post is meant to be a general guideline, based on my personal experience, on when old/older outdoor gear may potentially be worth buying due to performance close to more modern gear, and when it should be avoided. In most cases, outdated gear is made so by the advancement of better materials, designs, and manufacturing. That being said, there are cases where older gear can be more durable or close enough in performance to modern gear that it can be worth considering, if it is in decent shape and at a good price point. This list smashes many outdoor activity types into one sheet. The term “old” is used somewhat synonymous with “outdated”, although this is based more on factors of design rather than years. Condition of an item matters a lot as well, a great condition item that is slightly outdated can be a better option than a newer item in bad condition. This list is entirely subjective , and if you are someone that has other considerations (collecting, retro-cool, re-enacting, DIY projects etc…) you may think otherwise. Feel free to mention any exceptions you have discovered in your experience. I am always open to ideas.

Older Gear that is Almost Always Worse/Not Worth Buying

-Alpine Skis (This is the most striking example I can think of. Consider mid 2000’s and before to be “old” in this case.)

-Ski Boots (sometimes old boot parts can be used on newer boots though)

-Backpacking Tents (Tents tend to deteriorate quicker than any other gear, and there are enough new pole systems on the market to make a difference)

-Non mountaineering Boots and Shoes (In some cases, older footwear can be more durable, but hiking shoe philosophy has changed quite a bit, and many people place comfort and weight over durability)

-Fly Fishing Rods and Reels (can be a collector activity though)

-Insulated Winter Jackets and Pants (far too often heavy and bulky)

Older Gear Sometimes Worth Buying in Decent/Safe Condition

-Backpacks/ Assorted Packs

– Base layers (Wool can be timeless, synthetics depend on type and manufacture)


-Goggles and Winter Sunglasses

-Spin casting Fishing Rods and Reels


-XC Skis and Boots

-Road and Mountain Bikes (For casual use. All Aluminum is still a perfectly viable composition for non racing bikes)

-Minimalistic footwear (also great for DIY project base)

-Ropes (only after VERY careful inspection)

-Climbing hard gear (see ropes above. Not worth risking if unsure)

-Sleeping Bags (Ultralight setups may be hard to find)

-Backpacking stoves (More so with alcohol than compressed fuel stoves)

-Standard Archery Equipment

Older Gear that Often Works as Well as Modern Options

-Windbreakers/Shell Jackets

-Running Outerwear

-Cold weather gloves (Leather is a classic material for this. doubly so if liner is replaceable)

-Kayaks and Canoes (If plastic or aluminum. Many weight variables here though. Also look for damage)

-Warm season eyewear (Special lenses excepted. Dont risk if you have eye or vision condition)

-Backpacking hard gear (Knives, Cooksets, etc…)


-Recurve Archery Equipment

-River rafting equipment (Obviously dependent on condition)

-Ski/Hiking Poles (Aluminium works fine for most people)

-Military Surplus Clothing (If priced right and as personal preference. I find much older mil surp gear to be overkill for my needs. Far often built for durability over comfort)

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