Mittens. Snow pants. A couple of fleece.
These bits of warm winter apparel often mark the difference between “WINTER RULES, LET’S ADD ANOTHER WING TO THE SNOW FORT!” and “I cannot feel my body. It’s possible my fingers have died.” Cold-weather comfort is really a matter of layering.
Add a pair of snowshoes, a set of cross-country skis, and some ice skates into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a season’s worth of outdoor winter entertainment.
Winter gear is an investment in your happiness. (If we’re going to live in a place with snow, we might as well seize the opportunity to play in it!) It can also be an investment financially.
If you’re in the market for winter layers to keep you cozy or outdoor gear to better enjoy the snow, there are plenty of retailers that would be happy to set you up with brand-new stuff. If you’re on a budget, well, there are options for that, too.
Here are a few places I like to go when I’m on the hunt for affordable, gently used gear and apparel.
GearME just opened its doors in October. It’s an outdoor gear consignment shop located on Route 1 in Freeport, and the small store is already quickly filling up with gear and apparel for women, men, and kids. GearME sells used outdoor stuff for every season – from camping tents and sleeping bags to ice skates and sleds – so be sure to return in warmer months to see what’s there. The owners, Emily and Hayes, are making a concerted effort to gather kids’ stuff, too, which is great for families with growing kids whose sizes seem to change every six months.
On a recent visit, I spied racks of coats and snow pants, fleece zip-ups, and knit hats. They also had a selection of cross-county skies, cross-country ski boots, a few snowshoes, ice skates, sleds and snow tubes, winter boots, and more. (Note: most smaller shops do not sell used downhill skiing equipment – skis or helmets – because of liability issues, and that’s true for GearME as well.)
GearME is definitely worth a visit, and the selection is always changing based on what’s coming in on consignment. And if you have outdoor gear or apparel you’re no longer using or that the kids have outgrown, bring it in!
475 US Route 1, Freeport
HOURS: Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed Sunday and Monday.
Portland Gear Hub
Portland Gear Hub opened several years ago – first in the basement of the Portland YMCA, then in a storefront on St. John Street. Now they’re in a sweet spot on Washington Avenue. The Gear Hub is a great spot to look for bikes (seriously – there are so many bikes here. They also have a Bike School with mechanics classes, workshops, Bikes for All Mainers program, kids programs, and more). They also sell a range of other outdoor gear, too, like camping stuff, backpacks, cross-country skis, outerwear, and more. And proceeds from sales go to support the Gear Hub’s programs and Camp Ketcha.
The selection is always changing, of course, but expect to find used cross-country skis, cross-country ski boots, snowshoes, ice skates, winter coats, snow pants, fleece, and more. There was even a fat bike for sale when I was there. (Note: most smaller shops do not sell used downhill skiing equipment – skis or helmets – because of liability issues, and that’s true for the Gear Hub as well.)
Portland Gear Hub has also begun doing consignment. More details on that on their website.
Goodwill is a well-known destination for used clothing (most of my closet came from a Goodwill store). I’ve also written before about how Goodwill is a great place to find inexpensive workout apparel. But they also sell a decent selection of winter apparel, too. And while much of Goodwill’s wares are used, they often have new stuff, too, like gloves, mittens, socks, hats, and balaclavas (face masks).
I’ve bought most of my fleeces at Goodwill – they always have a good selection of fleece, wicking underlayers, and winter coats and vests. But this time of year they also sell NEW winter apparel like mittens, gloves, hats, scarves, face masks, and socks. At the Falmouth location recently, they also had a rack of new winter coats.
You can also sometimes find ice skates, cross-country skis, and snowshoes at Goodwill, although those items tend to fly off the shelves pretty quickly.
Goodwill has 17 locations in Maine. Find a location near you here:
Play It Again Sports
There are three Play It Again Sports locations in Maine: Portland, Biddeford, and Auburn. The selection of sporting gear at these locations is pretty impressive. Much of it is used (Play It Again buys your old gear), but there’s new gear on the racks, too.
At the Portland location, there’s a ton of downhill gear – skis and snowboards – at a variety of price points (Play It Again is one of the few resellers to sell downhill gear. I bought my used downhill skis and boots here four years ago and have been really happy with them). They also sell cross-country skis and boots, snowshoes, ice skates, helmets (new only), sleds, and more.
Play It Again Sports
232 Center St., Auburn. 207-777-7427
Hours: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
473 Alfred St., Biddeford. 207-602-6066
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
315 Marginal Way, Portland. 207-773-6063
Hours: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
Okay, Burlington Coat Factory isn’t a “gently used” resale shop – and you probably already knew that they sell coats here. But I’m including Burlington on this list for one reason: snow pants. When I was first getting into the Maine outdoors, my budget was tight. So I bought a pair of bib overall snow pants from Burlington for like $25. Those are the same snow pants I wear today, 13 years later.
The snow pants are mixed in with the coats – and I could only find them in the men’s section. The ones I’ve worn for 13 years are a men’s medium, and they’ve done me just fine over the years. There are bib and regular snow pants on the racks, so pick your pleasure.
Burlington Coat Factory
441 Western Avenue, South Portland
229 Springer Drive, Bangor
Whether you’re sporting hand-me-down boots and a used pair of snowshoes or you’ve invested in brand-new skis that match your ski suit, it doesn’t matter. The point is to get outside, enjoy the snow, and make some memories. Here’s to a winter full of forts, sledding hills, and perfect skiing conditions.