by Diane Spicer
Used outdoor gear for hikers can run the gamut of time investment:
Who has time for all of that?
Here's how I buy used hiking equipment and gear.
If you are new to this hiking thing, before you go shopping be sure to look through my tips for what makes the best hiking gear.
If you've been hiking for awhile, you have a mental, if not physical, list of the outdoor gear that you want, need, or crave.
You can try shopping for discount hiking gear.
But why can't some of that gear on your list be used hiking equipment?
No reason, no reason at all.
But where are you gonna find it?
Here are three places I look when I'm in the mood to try a new brand or a new hiking technique and don't want to commit to brand new, sometimes expensive, hiking gear.
Proceed cautiously with your quest for cheap hiking gear in the virtual world.
You can't touch it, try it, or look the seller in the eye.
Therefore, you want clear color photos and detailed descriptions of the hiking gear you are considering.
No photos, no deal in my humble opinion.
Having scared you a bit, go ahead and consider these places for a gear deal:
If you don't have a clear photo to work from, ask for a new one.
Look at the price range for a new item.
Then ask how old the item is, how many times and how it was used, whether it's ever been cleaned or repaired, and why it's being sold.
Try a bit of haggling, just to see how firm the price is.
Offer 10 - 20% less than the asking price, even less if you like to be aggressive.
Not a good deal? Walk away.
Gear stores have the best hiking gear (thank you, Captain Obvious).
So it makes sense that they would have a rental department so they can put that hiking gear into the hands of every hiker in the area.
But when that rental gear comes back, it needs to be "end-of-life'd" to make room for newer gear.
And that's where you come in.
Chat up an employee in the rental section and ask what happens to that used outdoor gear.
The answer may be periodic sales, where you will behold a vast array of cheap hiking gear that you can pick up, try on and examine for flaws.
Or you may hear that they dump the gear at particular second-hand gear stores.
Which you will head to immediately, right?
Be sure to buy your "informer" a cup of coffee for the great insight!
Interested in a "best used gear stores" list for the U.S.?
That list referenced above lists Second Ascent in Seattle in the top position.
Second Ascent split into Ascent Outdoors in 2013.
As of May 2019, the company is no longer operational in either its Ballard or Redmond locations.
REI Co-op sells their lightly used and returned clothing and outdoor gear at a steep discount.
That's a great move for keeping stuff out of a landfill, & it's great for you!
Check out their pre-loved gear when you're on the hunt to fill in that hole on your gear list for an upcoming hiking trip.
Or when you're just starting out on this adventure called hiking!
Read about the 14+ member rewards that are yours when you join this gear cooperative, including an annual rebate on your purchases.
Not surprising to know that some folks make a living by gathering up used hiking gear and selling it to other hikers looking for a bargain, right?
The best website I've found is connected to a Canadian outdoor gear co-op that I joined many years ago: Mountain Equipment Co-op.
This co-op is right upfront about "buyer beware", but is committed to recycling used outdoor gear on its website and taking a chance on the honesty of its sellers.
Be sure to read through their tips for buying and selling outdoor gear, as well as their rules for using the gear swap.
Another website that merits a look is GearTrade.
This site carries the Better Business Bureau logo, and if you click on it, you can see their track record for customer complaints.
Use social media to find active outdoor groups near you.
Another approach is to use this Gear Trade subReddit.
REI Co-op has a rental department for outdoor gear.
The company called ARRIVE rents hiking and backpacking equipment, camping gear, and all sorts of snow sports stuff.
By renting, you figure out which brands and types of gear work best for you, and you avoid wasting your time and money on things that don't suit your style or plans.
There are very few places that offer ridiculously low prices for outdoor gear, sometimes rivaling used outdoor gear prices.
The thing I love about this store?
Sometimes they can match, if not beat, used prices.
When you buy used outdoor gear, you inherit other hiker's problems.
And bad habits.
If inspecting a prospective purchase seems like a hassle, maybe buying used outdoor gear isn't for you when you're doing anything more than a straightforward day hike.
Carrying a gear repair kit becomes extra important when you're using gear that has already seen some (probably more like many) trail miles.
Trusting people is one thing.
Jumping in blindly to a used outdoor gear deal is another thing.
You might want to skip the unknowns in a bargain hunt by buying used outdoor gear directly from a trail buddy or hiking club member.
REI Co-op is also reliable and has good customer service even for used gear.
One more place to hunt:
It's important to go looking for used outdoor gear bargains with a list firmly in hand.
Don't window shop, or day dream, or wish you knew exactly what you need.
Instead, use these Hiking For Her resources to get a clear picture of what you need, including sizes, volumes, features, and all that good stuff.
Do your homework and you're going to get a bargain when you see exactly what you're looking for.
And that's a great feeling, to have extra cash in hand for trail food and transportation to the trail head, right?
After all of the time and effort you put in, be sure you're getting what you paid for, and expected. Now you know how!
Happy Bargain Hunting
Use these tips to sell your own used
hiking and camping gear, too!
Used Outdoor Gear
Some of the links on this website take you to great outdoor gear and clothing that will keep you safe and happy on the trail.
When you purchase through these links, Hiking For Her may receive a small percentage of your purchase total, although it costs you nothing extra.
About the author
Diane is the founder of Hiking For Her.
She's been on a hiking trail somewhere in the world for 5+ decades & loves to share her best hiking tips right here.
All rights reserved.
Photo credits: All photos on this website were taken by David Midkiff or Diane Spicer except where noted.
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