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Used Outdoor Gear
Advantages & Disadvantages

And where to shop!

By Diane Spicer

Used outdoor gear can be a bargain or a headache. Choose wisely with these Hiking For Her tips. #usedgear #usedcampinggear #hiking #camping #backpacking #gearbargains

Used outdoor gear for hikers can run the gamut of time investment:

  • Cruising distressed piles of returned items in going-out-of-business sales every week end
  • Thumbing through jumbled heaps of clothing at yard or garage sales for end of season bargains
  • Trolling online endlessly for cheap hiking gear

Who has time for all of that? You want to hike, not haggle.

Think of the planet

And there is another important component to shopping used gear: keeping things with a lot of life in them out of the landfills.

Planet Earth is where we hike, not to mention breathe and eat.

So giving gear a second life extends the life of all of us. And that's a good thing!

Note: This is just friendly shopping advice, one hiker to another.

Of course you will filter these tips through your own "common sense" meter.


Yup, you have one!

Bring it hiking, too. It's the 11th essential.

Now let's take a look at places I go to when I want to shop for used hiking clothing and gear.

Best places to find used outdoor 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 the 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 right out of the gate.

Online used gear deals

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:

  • Ebay can be a gold mine for cheap hiking gear, but be careful to closely examine the photos for signs of wear and tear or damage. You have recourse if the deal doesn't turn out to be such a bargain.
  • Craigslist can be useful, but it's not as tightly monitored as Ebay so I'd only use it to get a feel for what prices are for a particular piece of used outdoor gear.

If you don't have a clear photo to work from, ask for a new one.

  • Pay particular attention to "failure" areas on the gear: seams, zippers, points of contact, anywhere that will be bent or twisted or rubbed.

How will you know if the price is right?

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.

  • Do a "gut check" to determine if you're comfortable with the price.

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.

Female hiker sitting in dirt beside her green backpackMaybe used outdoor gear is the way to go if you punish your packs like I do!

Hiking gear stores
with used gear for sale

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 for low(er) cost.

But when that rental gear comes back, it needs to be "end-of-life'd" to make room for newer gear.

Ditto for outdoor gear and camping equipment returns that didn't work out for the original buyer.

And that's where you come in

Chat up an employee in the rental section and ask what happens to their 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.

For instance, REI has annual "garage sales" to get rid of the backlog of used gear. I myself have scored some really good but low price binoculars and a great winter jacket that was astonishingly cheap.

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.?

Used gear websites

It has become trendy to re-purpose outdoor gear, rather than dump it in landfill or let it languish on a dusty garage shelf.

A few companies are making an art out of putting pre-loved hiking gear into the hands of hikers who are saving money or just starting out.

Let's look at a few of the best used outdoor gear websites. Hiking For Her is an affiliate for some of them, because of their high quality, well run programs, and honest effort to get the best used gear into your hands.

You pay nothing extra for purchasing through these links.

REI Co-op (USA)

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.

They also do this nifty thing called a gear trade-in program.

Here's how it works.

1. Send your used gear to REI Co-op using the packaging they provide.

2. Receive an REI gift card to spend as you wish.

Seriously! It's that simple.

Of course, common sense says your gear should still have a lot of life left in it before you offer it to someone else.

  • Worn out, filthy, hole-y hiking equipment - not for this trade-in program.

MEC (Canadian)

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 Canadian website I've found is Mountain Equipment Co-op, or MEC. (You may have heard they are no longer a co-op, which is true, but their cooperative spirit remains.)

  • Their community gear swap is an easy way to hunt for used gear.

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.


If you love the ethics of the Patagonia company, and have experienced the quality and craftsmanship of their clothing and packs, you can take advantage of the used vibe with their trade in or shopped used WornWear program.

Another approach to selling
and buying used outdoor gear

Harness the power of social media to find active outdoor groups near you.

  • Within that group, post a request for exactly what you're looking for. 

One approach is to use this Gear Trade subReddit.

Or find a Facebook "Buy Nothing" group and do an ISO (in search of) post for free stuff.

Joining your local neighborhood social media sites may also bear fruit if you're looking to find used hiking and camping gear.

Rent the gear
Then return it hassle free for the next hiker

REI Co-op has a rental department for outdoor gear. What a great chance to try out all the brands!

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.

These 2 companies make it easy to select what you need, and receive it when you need it.

Female hiker in backpack looking at tree leaves on a trailGet out there with used clothing and gear to benefit your wallet AND the planet

One more idea to try when searching for
used outdoor gear

There are very few places that offer ridiculously low prices for outdoor gear, sometimes rivaling or beating used outdoor gear prices.

  • SteepandCheap is my go-to place when I'm considering used gear but just can't find it using the methods outlined above.

The thing I love about this store?

Sometimes they can match, if not beat, used prices.

  • But don't be too picky about colors or models, because it's "get it while it's hot" or nothing.

Heed this advice, too

When you buy used outdoor gear, you inherit other hiker's problems.

And bad habits.

  • So it's really important to do a thorough inspection for gear malfunctions before you trust your life to it.
  • That link has repair tips as well.

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.

Trail tip:

Carrying a gear repair kit becomes extra important when you're using gear that has already seen some (probably more like many) trail miles.

A few tips before you go gear shopping

Trusting people is one thing.

Jumping in blindly to a used outdoor gear deal is another thing.

  • If you're going to part with your money, be sure you can file a complaint, and be heard, if something goes wrong.
  • Look for a mechanism to make a deal gone wrong with this unscrupulous used gear seller publicly available to future buyers.
  • Pay attention to rating mechanisms to get a feel for how often the gear doesn't match the description or photo posted by a seller.
  • If you're going to meet the seller, do so in a busy public space. Consider bringing a friend with you, or at least letting someone know where you are.

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:

  • Local schools rent gear to their students and community members, and then let it go when it's no longer needed or is replaced.
  • Or they need to turn it over regularly due to storage space constraints, so end of season deals are common.

This tip is really important

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.

I do my thorough best to give you all the information you need to make informed decisions about your hiking apparel and gear before you go shopping:

When you do your homework, 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?

Happy Bargain Hunting

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Home page > Best Hiking Gear >

Where To Find 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.