As we’ve been bitten by the Spring camping bug, we’ve been talking about outdoor gear quite a bit lately. Today, we want to talk about bargains. In the past, our family has ordered gear and clothing from Campmor and Sierra Trading Post (STP). We have no affiliation with either of these merchants aside from being customers – happy customers. Aside from having us as customers, what both of these companies have in common is that they tend to carry closeouts and 2nds. The latter is the topic of this post.

Sierra Trading Post’s glossary offers a definition:

These are items with barely perceptible blemishes or slight irregularities that do not affect fit, performance or longevity such as an error in the stitching or a slight fading of the product’s color. Labels on 2nds are usually clipped or marked by the manufacturer, and 2nds are often offered at lower prices.

According to the Wikipedia entry for factory second, these are simply products that do not pass the manufacturer’s quality inspection for sale at full retail price. Rather than waste safe and serviceable items, the manufacturer offers them to retailers, such as Campmor or STP, for a significantly reduced wholesale price, with the saving passed on to customers.

In the past Mr. FamilyTrivium has ordered various pairs of pants from STP that were 2nds. Perhaps the color was off, because they all fit just fine and worked great for their intended purpose: casual office wear, field work, or weekend wanderings.

More recently, we order some Therm-a-Rest closed cell foam sleeping pads from Campmor that were also 2nds. These were bound to become cosmetically blemished the first time that they were used anyways. When they arrived, we couldn’t spot the problem with our eyes and they were as comfortable to lay on any of our “unblemished” pads.

In our experience, 2nds go for anywhere from 1/3 to 3/4 off of MSRP. Savings is in our nature, so we buy 2nds when they are available and they make sense for our purpose. Advice on organization and thrift will tell you to avoid bargains – we’ll tell you that if you are going to buy something anyways seek out bargains.