One of the most important things about getting ready to go into the outdoors is having the right gear. Many friends of mine have worked on or with Search and Rescue teams, and when they see people heading out without the right preparations, it makes them wince. They have had to pull people off a mountain or from a canyon, (or insert any particular land formation from your area here) because they did not go with the right gear.
Now, all things cost money, but there are lots for ways you can save money when finding outdoor gear. My first search is always the thrift store. Be it an old school mom and pop store, to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or one run by any number of local churches, these can be a great stop. Now you may not be wearing the latest and greatest, but most of the time you are not heading out to pick up hotties. Things to look for here: Water bottles, clothing, backpacks, and sometimes sleeping pads and bags, boots or tents.
Online is a good location as well. Google Shopping is your friend. You type in the product, and it will bring up a variety of online vendors and allows you to compare product price, shipping, and total price. Another good online source are w00t style sites like steepandcheep.com and its affiliates. They are clearance sites put on by bigger gear sites that put out a cheep but good product every hour. Downside is that it's only one product, that is changing frequently, but will work well for you if you get the smartphone app.
Another site that I like to use to get a huge discount on gear is theclymb.com. It is an invite only site, like gmail and google+ in their early days. I have to admit, it is partly selfish, because every person that you invite who joins gives you a $10 credit. So click here! http://www.theclymb.com The site changes its selection every few days, and drops you an email so you can check it out. Downside: Not a full section, so they may not be selling gear you want and choices go fast.
The next site I like is REI.com and it's clearance site REI-outlet.com. With REI, and most outdoor sites that also have a storefront, you can get free shipping to your local store. Even if the store is a bit of a drive, if you are heading in that direction for another purpose, add a few minutes to your route, swing by and grab your gear. I also recommend becoming an REI member. REI is a CO-OP, so it's like investing, but you get a portion of the money you spend every year back. You can also get 20% coupons 5-6 times a year, as well as the REI Garage Sale. The Garage Sale is a members only event that allows you to buy returned gear at a good deal. Some of the stuff is worn out or damaged, but most of the time it is a simple patch fix or you can send it back to the manufacturer and pay a small fee to have them repair it. Still, pay $50 for a $200 jacket, plus another $10 to send it back and pay for repairs and you still saved $140.
If any readers have other good gear tips, please share them in the comments. I look forward to seeing what you all do to save money.