My wife just found a Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person tent for $4 dollars, brand new at the local Salvation Army and it got me thinking about all of the great gear I've found on a budget. What piece of gear have you found for dirt cheap that you would have paid good money for?
I remember another one! At the "Mental Halfway Point" of the Appalachian Trail, there is a Trail Conservancy office in Harper's Ferry. A COOL little town to visit. They have pictures of every AT through hiker who has come through since the 60's I think. They also have a gear library for when people have too much gear and want to drop off or exchange. All free and on the honor system. I got a little homemade alcohol stove made out of a PBR can. Super lightweight! I actually first saw them at my local REI in a display case to show you how to make them. Ha! I don't really use it but thinking about throwing it and a bottle of Heet in to my "72 hour bag".
Those little alcohol stoves are terrific! I made one of my own six or seven years ago, and it's become my primary stove. Weighs almost nothing, brings two cups of water to a boil in five minutes (plus or minus) and keeps it boiling for four more, all on one ounce of alcohol. My wife just shakes her head at me. I still have the old Primus Grasshopper stove I got back in the early 70's, that I had to keep in my sleeping bag to keep it warm enough to work the next morning. My trusty old Whisperlight, a misnomer if there ever was one. It's actually a replacement for the original, which caught fire due to a leaking O-ring that shot a jet of fuel right into the burner. That's a whole 'nuther story! "And," she says, "you use something you dug out of the trash?" Well, yes, but it's not exactly true. I bought it new, and it came with free cat food. What more could you want? She's after me to get rid of my old companions, though. It's an ongoing struggle. 😀
Sevylor Tahiti Kayak, two different times including my current one, for the price of a patch kit and the time and experience to patch correctly.
Thrift and resale stores don't want them if they can't inflate them to sell them.