New vs. used vs. rental camping gear

How to choose between new, used, and rental camping gear, plus some excellent resources in each category.

In the market for camping gear? Of course, you can visit your local outdoor store or friendly online retailer and pay top dollar for new-model camping gear. But that’s not the only option—you can also find bargain-price new gear from various retailers, buy “pre-loved” camping gear, or rent gear. Read on to find out more about how to choose between new, used, and rental camping gear and for some excellent resources in each category.

New camping gear

Advantages:

  • You can find the specific item, brand, functionality, and style you want
  • Nearly certain to be in great condition
  • Often carries good return/warranty policies

Disadvantages:

  • Can be very expensive
  • You may commit to a pricey item you don’t really use or need
  • Owning gear can require significant storage space

Used gear

Advantages:

  • Can be lots cheaper than new gear
  • Often is not used heavily – some individuals and outfitters change out gear each season
  • You can try out different options before investing in new gear
  • Buying used may enable you to afford a top-of-the-line brand
  • Better for the earth – reusing equipment and clothing saves water, reduces pollution, and lessens waste

Disadvantages:

  • Gear may have been returned because it didn’t perform well
  • Gear may have damage, unpleasant stains or odors, or mold/bug issues
  • Selection is more limited
  • Can’t always be returned
  • Owning gear can require significant storage space

Rental gear

Advantages:

  • Less expensive than buying
  • Packages of equipment are available to suit your needs
  • Conducive to trying out new types of gear or activities, like backpacking, before committing to them
  • No need to store and maintain the gear
  • Rental experts can provide advice about the equipment
  • Gear is likely to be in reasonably good condition
  • May be better for the earth than buying new gear, depending on how the gear is picked up or delivered

Disadvantages:

  • You may not feeI comfortable renting more personal items like sleeping bags
  • Costs can still add up
  • Less convenient, and tied to a rental schedule
  • You may be liable for the full cost of the gear if something happens to it

Below are some resources for campers hoping to find bargain camping gear, used gear, or rental gear.

 

Bargain sites for new camping gear

 

Where to find used camping gear

Where to rent camping gear

  • Local outdoor outfitter stores
  • Outdoors Geek (rental cost can be put toward cost of purchasing gear)
  • Gearo (marketplace for rental gear)
  • LowerGear (rental gear shipped nationwide)
  • Arrive (rental gear delivered)
  • Gear to Go Outfitters (nationwide backpacking gear rental)
  • Mountain Side Gear Rental (camping gear delivered nationwide)
  • Some colleges/universities rent outdoor gear to students and to the general public
  • Borrow from friends and family!

Finally, check out these webpages that list great ongoing deals on camping equipment:

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