Whether you’re a homeric hiker or new to this “spending time outdoors” thing, you’ll want some proper hiking gear to ensure safety and comfort on your adventures.
You may have heard that Japan is about 70% mountainous, which makes hiking a popular and obivous pastime. It’s no wonder then that there are plenty of brick-and-mortar and online shops selling specialty boots, backpacks, clothing and more that cater to both beginner and expert trekkers.
Where to buy hiking gear in Japan
It’s no surprise that Amazon stocks a wide range of hiking gear, from the cheapest of the cheap to high-end. If you’re just getting started and don’t want to shell out too much, then Amazon is a good place to start. You’ll be hard pressed to find gear cheaper elsewhere. For example, there are plenty of hiking shoes for as little as ¥3,190:
While it’s nice to have really fancy hiking gear, the cheap stuff will still get the job done. Spend money on your next pair of boots or rain jacket—upgrade only when you know you’ll be making good use of it.
Ishii Sports – BICQLO
In central Tokyo, one of the best spots to get advice and try out hiking gear is the Ishii Sports branch at the top of the the BICQLO (Bic Camera + Uniqlo) department store by Shinjuku East Exit.
Under the same roof are a variety of mini stores, some specific to a brand, some to a product type (e.g. hiking boots).
There is also a large branch of Ishii Sports next to Yodobashi Camera on the other side of Shinjuku Station.
The staff at both stores are well versed in the ways of the great outdoors and are very patient in helping customers find exactly the gear they need. I once spent almost an hour with the Falken store representative trying out practically every backpack they had.
Despite the French sounding name, Montbell is actually a Japanese brand. You’ve probably seen its branding prominently plastered all over your fellow hikers in Japan. It’s a good-value mid-range brand and its products should suffice for most expeditions around Japan.
Cheapo bonus tip: Montbell has an English-language online shop, with a factory outlet section (Note: There is no cash refunds on “outlet” products—only exchanges for other items.)
Kandahar isn’t the cheapest shop in town, but it has ALL the gear—for everyone from complete novices to someone planning an ascent of Everest.
They have stores in Kyoto and Machida, but their main base is in the Kanda/Jimbocho Sports Town area, where they have five different stores, including an outlet store which specialises in marked-down stock that they want to clear.
Outdoor outlet stores
There’s numerous brand outlet stores selling hiking gear. For example, The North Face tends to have a shop at the all the Mitsui outlet malls (check out the one in Makuhari).
Some even have stores in central Tokyo (like Patagonia).
When to buy hiking gear in Japan
Serious cheapos should buy their hiking gear off or near the end of season (e.g., shorts in late summer, thermal/snow gear in late winter/early spring). There’s no feeling like that of a smug cheapo having picked up an expensive high-end Gore-Tex jacket at half price.
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