As a camper, you’ll agree that there’s nothing worse than buying a tent in the wrong season.
Unless you’re careful, it’s easy to end up spending more than you’d like to for a tent that doesn’t live up to its promises.
Savvy campers are always on the lookout for good deals around the end of fall and the beginning of winter.
This is when tents are the cheapest since stores are trying to clear out last season’s inventory to prepare for tax season and the new winter gear arrivals.
Likewise, there are other times when you might be better off waiting until next season.
So, when is the best and worst time to buy a tent?
Let’s talk in detail.
When Is The Best Time To Buy A Tent?
As we said, tents are best bought at the end of fall and the start of winter. But you can find a good deal at other times of the year too.
Consider the following:
End Of Season Sales
The end of the camping season is a great time to buy a tent. The tent prices are low, and fewer people are to compete for inventory.
Particularly, if you’re looking for a tent that isn’t going to be used for a few months, then waiting until the end of the season will give you more options than shopping during regular retail hours.
You can find tents on sale at most major retailers during the end of the camping season.
These sales usually start in September or October, and they run until all of the tents in stock are sold out.
Sometimes you’ll find tents on sale even earlier in the year, but those discounts aren’t nearly as deep as during the actual end-of-season sales period.
Another smart move is to lurk around when retailers try to clear out inventory from their summer lines.
You’ll find tents on sale at up to 70 percent off the retail price, making it very tempting to go ahead and make that purchase beforehand.
If you’re planning on camping during the summer months, buying a tent at this time will save you money on gas and campground fees, which can add up quickly if you plan on spending most weekends in your new tent.
You might also want to wait until after winter ends before buying your new tent because most stores will be offering significant discounts on their spring lines when they want to get rid of all their winter gear to make room for their summer lines.
The same goes for camping gear; many stores will sell off last year’s stock to replace it with new models once spring hits.
These discounts are usually anywhere from 20% to 30% off the original price tag for each tent model sold at that time.
The off-season is also a great time to buy a tent if you don’t mind waiting to use it.
Since there’s typically less demand for tents during these months, retailers will offer significant discounts to entice customers.
You can find tents on sale at up to 50 percent off the retail price during the off-season.
This time is usually around the months of January and February, but it can start as early as November and run through March, depending on the retailer.
For example, Dick’s Sporting Goods has an annual Tent Event sale in January where they offer discounts on tents, sleeping bags, and other camping gear.
Other retailers will hold similar sales around the same time, so it’s worth checking multiple stores before making your purchase.
Special Marked Down Events
Although end-of-season clearances and off-season sales are the best times to buy a tent, several special deals are to be had throughout the rest of the year. Such as:
Black Friday And Cyber Monday Sales
Most retailers offer some type of discount on their camping gear during Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales.
These discounts are typically around 20% to 30% off the regular retail price, but you can sometimes find tents for up to 70% off.
It’s important to note that these sales are usually only available for a limited time, and the inventory is often limited as well.
So if you see a tent on sale that you’re interested in, it’s best to buy it then and there before it goes out of stock.
Amazon Prime Day
Amazon Prime Day is a relatively new event, but it has quickly become one of the best times to buy a tent.
This annual sale is only available to Amazon Prime members, and it offers discounts on a wide range of items, including tents.
The discounts vary depending on the item, but you can often find tents on sale for up to 30% off the regular price.
The selection is also endless, so you should be able to find a tent that meets your needs.
Many retailers offer discounts on their camping gear during holiday sales, such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Independence Day.
Prices are usually reduced by 10-20% during these sales.
Many retailers offer discounts on their camping gear at the end of the year to clear out inventory for the new year.
These discounts can be anywhere from 20% to 40% off the regular price, making it one of the best times to buy a tent.
These sales usually start in late December and run through early January, so it’s best to buy your tent as soon as possible to take advantage of the discount.
Boxing Day Sales
This particular sale is only available in Canada, Australia, and the UK, but it’s worth mentioning for our international readers.
Boxing Day is the day after Christmas, and it’s when retailers offer some of their biggest discounts of the year.
You can find tents on sale for up to 75% off the regular retail price, making it one of the best times to buy a tent if you’re located in either of these countries.
What Are The Best Places To Purchase Tents At A Discount?
Discount tents are available in several places–both online and offline. Here are some options worth considering.
#1. REI Garage
REI is one of the most popular outdoor retailers, and they have an annual garage sale where they offer discounts on a wide range of items, including tents.
The discounts vary depending on the item, but you can often find tents for as much as half off.
The selection is usually quite good, including stuff from Big Agnes, MSR, Alps Mountaineering, and REI Co-op.
Amazon is a great place to find tents on sale, as they offer discounts on a wide range of items, including tents.
The discounts vary depending on the item, and the selection is also usually quite good.
Besides, a great plus when buying from Amazon is checking lots of honest reviews from other customers who have purchased the same item.
Walmart is another great place to find discounts on tents. They offer a wide range of tents, and the price cuts can be quite significant, depending on the item.
The biggest downside to Walmart is that its selection is often limited.
However, Walmart is definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for a cheap tent.
eBay is the best place to check if you’re looking to buy used or refurbished tents online.
You can often find discounts of up to 80% off the regular retail price.
Just be sure to check the seller’s feedback rating before making a purchase to ensure that you’re getting a quality product.
#5. Dick’s Sporting Goods
Like REI Garage, Dick’s Sporting Goods has a massive selection of tents from well-known brands like Coleman and Kodiak.
The discounts vary depending on the item, but you can often find tents on sale for up to 50% off the regular retail price.
#6. Sierra Trading Post
Sierra Trading Post is an online retailer specializing in selling outdoor gear at discounted prices.
They offer a wide range of tents from brands like Big Agnes.
#7. Bass Pro Shop
Bass Pro Shop is one of the leading fishing equipment retailers, but they also offer a wide range of outdoor gear, including tents, at discounted prices.
#8. Local Thrift Stores And Garage Sales
Local thrift stores are a great place to find cheap tents. The selection can be minimal, but you can find some great deals if you’re lucky.
Just be sure to inspect the tent thoroughly before buying it to ensure that it’s in good condition.
5 Tips For Buying A Tent On Sale
When looking for deals, these tips increase your odds of success.
- Make sure you know what kind of tent you need before shopping. This will help you narrow down your search and find the best deals.
- Compare prices across different retailers to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible.
- Be patient and wait for the sales. Rest assured that buying a tent from a sale isn’t a bad idea even if you’re done with camping this season if you’re looking forward to the next.
- Check the quality of the tent before you buy it. Just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean it’s a good deal if the quality is poor. Read reviews if you have no option to hand-check.
- Ask around and reach out to retailers who might want to dispose of their returned items at a dirt-cheap price.
When Is The Worst Time To Buy A Tent?
As with anything else, the worst time to buy a tent is during the peak camping season when demand is highest—which is usually the summer months.
This is when everyone is rushing to buy tents to go camping, which drives up the prices significantly.
However, there are always exceptions, so it’s crucial to watch for sales throughout the year.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this little read. As you can see, there are a few different times throughout the year when you can get a great deal on a tent.
Yet, sometimes things may depend on many factors unique to your situation.
We recommend doing your own research to figure out when it’s most feasible for you to buy.
There are certainly some great deals around the end of fall, winter, and the beginning of spring, so take advantage.
Do you have your own idea about the best and worst time to buy a tent? Share with us in the comments.