How and where to find good used outdoor gear

At the height of the pandemic lockdown, I was like so many Americans: desperately looking for other ways out. I had set my sights on buying a kayak. I researched brands and styles, discovered skegs, paddles and roof rack systems. And when I was finally ready to shop, I scoured online markets for a used boat, only to be continually beaten by faster buyers. Even when I responded to a seller within minutes of posting a message, I still found myself buried in a long line of eager buyers.

After several months of desperation, I landed two older, moldy (but still seaworthy) boats two hours away in another town. Once I cleaned the salamander poo from the cockpits and cleaned up some rust, the boats made the outdoor adventures I had long dreamed of easier.

I was not alone in my fights. Eager to get out of their homes and participate in COVID-safe activities — and increasingly aware of the years of toll of “linear” consumerism that has plagued the planet — Americans have taken a more circular approach and have purchased outdoor gear at an incredible rate: Demand for camping gear increased by 25% in spring 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, and up 86% compared to 2019. This also applies to other outdoor items, such as bicycles, kayaks and sporting goods. Insatiable demand met the pressure of supply chain issues, and situations like mine played out everywhere.

Luckily, there are plenty of places to find used gear, from clothes to skis to backpacks and more. Here’s a list of gear dealers, online consignment shops, and nationwide rental services ready to help keep up with demand and enable the summer adventures of your dreams.

Apparel/Equipment Companies

Several equipment and apparel companies have created online marketplaces to resell used items that are still in good condition. Arcteryx cleans and repairs clothes, then resells them through its digital store, and the company offers gift cards in exchange for any trade-ins. Patagonia Worn Wear Program works the same way, with lightly used gear taken in exchange for credit. Same North Face Renewed Programalthough it is currently undergoing updates and is on hiatus.

outdoor equipment seller REI has developed an extensive online marketplace for used items that have been returned and found to still be usable. Buyers can sort by equipment category, condition, brand, and price.

Used Equipment Markets

A multitude of online marketplaces funnel used equipment to new owners. Among them are Geartrade, which allows sellers to list items for sale and then ship them directly to buyers. Sellers can also send the item to Geartrade, which handles the sale and pays a commission once the sale is made. The consignment operation, which aims to give a lasting revival to the outdoor industry, enabled the resale/reuse of 45,590 outdoor goods in 2021, and almost 17,000 in the first quarter of 2022. It has also recently unveiled a loyalty program.

Outdoor Equipment Exchange has a physical location in Burlington, Vermont, and an associated online store for gear and apparel. Sellers can consign their equipment by bringing it to the store or mailing it in; the company has an ever-changing list of what it accepts right now, depending on the upcoming season.

The pro’s closet specializes in used bicycles, frames and wheels. Sellers can submit photos and basic details online. TPC pays for shipping of accepted items, and sellers receive cash or store credit in return.

Redirected has both a mobile app and a website with used equipment listings. The app allows users to upload photos and lists of used gear, and create a “closet,” which notifies you when someone lists gear that matches your wishlist. There is also an option to donate used equipment.

Rental companies

While most rental companies limit their geographic reach to local users who can physically appear in their store, two companies are shaking up this model by delivering rental gear nationwide. Arrive outside offers gear sets – complete sets of skiing, camping and hiking gear to outfit an entire adventure – as well as individual items for rent. The company ships everything to your doorstep anywhere in the United States, and you just ship it back when you’re done.

outdoor geek also ships gear to renters, with options that include camping and hiking packages, as well as canvas “glamping” tents. The company allows users to apply the rental fee towards the purchase of the equipment after trying it out. Outdoors Geek also has a physical location for rentals in Denver.