Used Outdoor Gear
& Disadvantages

And where to shop!

by Diane Spicer

Meet Hiking For Her's Diane

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.

So here's how I buy used hiking equipment and gear.

Note: This is just friendly advice, and 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.

Where 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 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.

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.

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.?

 A note about Second Ascent

That list referenced above lists Second Ascent in Seattle in the top position.

Second Ascent split into Ascent Outdoors in 2013.

  • It also opened a partner store called Ascent Cycles.

As of May 2019, the company is no longer operational in either its Ballard or Redmond locations.

Used gear websites

It has become trendy to re-purpose putdoorgear, 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 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.

  • 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. (You may have heard they are no longer a co-op.)

  • They call it their community gear swap, and you'll call it 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.


Promising name for an outdoor gear exchange site, right?

This site carries the Better Business Bureau logo, and if you click on it, you can see their track record for customer complaints.

  • BBB reviews are just another way of gathering data before you do business with a company.
  • It's up to you to determine how much weight you give that credential.

Use GearTrade to list your used gear, or shop for gear that someone else wants to pass along.

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,
and then return it hassle free
for the next hiker

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.

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

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 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 renting gear to their students and community members.
  • They need to turn it over regularly due to storage space constraints, so end of season deals are common.

This is really important

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?

Get a deal, not a headache

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!

You might like to read these next

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.

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.

Hiking For Her: Hiking tips you can trust!