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.
I've found bargains on Amazon by looking for price errors. Usually the item is end-of-line and available in limited sizes or colors. As they say, when the shoe (or sandal) fits...
All items were brand new.