I'll admit it—I didn't know what The North Face was until fairly recently. Where I live, the brand just wasn't popular five years ago. However, their popularity has since exploded here—and in so many other locations! And it seems to be for good reason. The North Face offers quality apparel and adventure gear that can't easily be found anywhere else. But when I saw the retail prices of some items online, the sticker shock caused me to question whether I should really make an impulse purchase.

I didn't, and I'm so glad! With a little research and a bit more time to find the very best deals, I've been able to get great products, usually at around 50 percent off. Here’s how you, too, can save at The North Face:

1. Join VIPerks

The North Face's customer loyalty program is like no other. It doesn't reward you with free merchandise like other programs do, but with experiences. Members earn points not only for making purchases but also for tasks like recycling/donating used clothing and gear in drop-off bins in-store, following them on Facebook, or participating in North Face-sponsored events. The points can be redeemed for awesome adventure experiences like ski resort weekends, race entries, backpacking getaways, and countless other dare-to-dream experiences. Don't think you'll ever accumulate enough points? VIPerks members also get an ongoing online shipping deal—free shipping when you spend $50 or more!

2. Free shipping promotions

Even without VIPerks membership, The North Face occasionally releases free shipping codes like their current code for free shipping with a minimum $50 purchase. These promotions are announced via a banner at the top of their site; alternately, check a code site like RetailMeNot.

3. Shop seasonal sales

On a recent trip to Seattle, I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon a 40-percent-off sale at The North Face. The best part? The 40 percent off could be used on top of already-reduced merchandise! I got a reduced-price cotton blouse, some running shorts, and a cool t-shirt for my son for less than $50. Big sales like this occur as merchandise is changing in-store, so be sure to coordinate your visits to a brick-and-mortar store with seasonal changes for your best chance at savings.

4. Buy from Sports Authority

North Face apparel does not have to be purchased exclusively through The North Face company. My favorite place for finding discounted brand apparel is Sports Authority. My local store routinely has North Face markdowns of 40 percent—I've even seen items marked as low as 60 percent off! Earlier this year, I scored two big apparel bargains: a $10 reaxion tank and a $30 zip fleece. Sports Authority also offers printable coupons. Popular coupons include 25 percent off a single item, $10 off a $50 purchase, or $25 off a $100 purchase. Check online to see their current sales and coupons.

5. Buy from REI

REI is another great store where you can find discounted North Face surprises. If you're in need of gear (tents, backpacks or sleeping bags), now's the time to get them from REI at 30% off. Learn about other ways to save at REI here.

6. Check overseas

Planning an international trip? Some North Face apparel and gear can be purchased at cheaper prices in other countries. Imagine my surprise when I arrived at the Machu Picchu base in Peru and found stores that carried North Face backpacks, many for around the US equivalent of $40. Select a region to research available stores in your destination country.

7. Shop through Discover

If you have a Discover card and plan to shop online anyway, do so through the ShopDiscover site. Now through September 1, earn an automatic 15 percent cash back and get free shipping for every order over $50 at TheNorthFace.com if you pay with your Discover card. Note: ShopDiscover usually awards 10 percent cash back with The North Face, but, as they do with many partner sites during back-to-school season, they are increasing the cash back by 5 percent. For more on how to earn with your Discover card, click here.

8. Get cash back through Ebates.com

No Discover card? No problem! You can join Ebates.com for free and receive 4 percent cash back on your North Face purchase just by going through their site. With Ebates.com, you can also input any applicable coupon codes once you are shopping, so the 4 percent savings is on top of any other discount you may be receiving through The North Face itself.

9. Redeem their warranty

It has been my experience that North Face products are durable and well made, so I don't mind paying more for their quality. I also like that my clothing or gear investment is backed by a company warranty. Just in case a seam busts, a zipper runs off course, or there is another defect in the merchandise, I can get a refund or replacement through the company's warranty policy. They guarantee to stand behind their products—and The North Face isn't the only company to offer such a guarantee. Learn more about other company guarantees and how to redeem them here.

So even if you find the perfect apparel or gear item from The North Face, be sure to shop around and use online deals to see what discounts might be available to you!

Now, it's your turn. Love The North Face? Scored a great deal on it recently? Brag about it in the "Comments" section below!

How to Save at The North Face