For ski equipment: Check out a ski swap. These events (often organized by ski resorts) feature booths run by businesses and people who are looking to unload new and used skis, snowboards, and other equipment. Potential savings? Up to 80 percent off retail. (Log on to goski.com for a directory of resorts in the United States.) Renting equipment? Reserve in advance. By booking ahead of time at rentskis.com, you’ll get up to 20 percent off the walk-in price.
For snow shovels: Seek out holiday sales. Prices are about 5 percent lower during December.
For firewood: Check local newspapers for firewood suppliers, then cut and split your own or hire a neighborhood kid to do it. This will cost you about $25 a cord, compared with $250 to $300 for a logger to deliver split wood to your door.
For boots, backpacks, and other outdoor gear: Snap up deals in January. Post-holiday clearance sales discount items 20 percent or more, and some online retailers offer free-shipping promotions.