How to save money, time, and hassle by renting gear before your next camping adventure.

Hikers carrying packs with camping gear.

Camping is a gear-intensive activity. Not only do you need to get a sleeping bag, backpack, sleeping pad, and other personal items, you need to make sure you have a stove, tent, and other bits of group gear. Thus, camping can be really expensive, especially for someone new to the outdoors.

Luckily, there is a way to decrease the amount of money we need to spend to have a fantastic time outdoors. The answer? Camping gear rentals.

Especially for those of us who don’t get to spend as much time outside as we’d like to, renting gear can be a cost-effective way to enjoy the great outdoors. Instead of having to purchase all of the gear we need for our next camping trip, we can simply rent what we need before we leave home.

That being said, figuring out how and where to rent camping gear can be pretty tricky. That’s why we’ve created this guide to renting camping gear, complete with all of the information you need to get started. Let’s get to it!

Why you should rent camping gear

There are a number of reasons why you should consider renting camping gear instead of buying it. While you’ll certainly need to purchase some things, such as your own personal clothing items, renting can be a great option for a significant amount of the gear you need to get out of the house and enjoy a weekend of camping. Here are a few reasons why renting is a great idea:

Cost

If you’re not a frequent camper, the cost of buying a tent, sleeping bags, stove, and other big-ticket items can be astronomical and a bit unnecessary for your lifestyle. Renting gear means that you can limit your camping-related spending, which is better for your bank account. Plus, by spending less money on gear, you can afford to go on more camping trips – a win-win situation

Space

Unless you live in a fairly big home with lots of land, you probably don’t have a lot of space to store your camping gear. By renting camping gear, you can reduce the amount of bulky equipment you need to store in your garage, shed, or basement to just the bare essentials. This is particularly great for those of us who live in an apartment and for those of us with roommates since we often don’t have much space for personal storage.

Repairs and replacements

If you own your own camping gear, you’ll be solely responsible for dealing with the wear and tear of your equipment. While you can’t just go out and trash a rental tent without penalty, when you rent, you don’t have to worry about doing repairs on your tent after each trip. Although we hope our gear will last forever, we all know that wear and tear will take its toll, so if you buy a tent, stove, or another expensive piece of camping gear, you’ll have to pay to repair or replace it at some point. By renting, you remove this stress from your already busy life.

Campsite with tent and gear on the ground.

Where to rent camping gear

Now that you understand why you should rent camping gear, it’s time to talk about where you can rent it. Thankfully, in the United States, there are plenty of great and affordable places to rent camping gear. For the most part, modern camping gear rental happens in one of two places: a brick-and-mortar store or online.

Brick-and-mortar stores

Generally speaking, most outdoor gear stores have some sort of camping gear rental program. Larger outdoor gear chains, such as REI and Eastern Mountain Sports, have extensive gear rental programs, where you can borrow anything from a kayak to cross country skis.

Since these companies have locations across the United States, it’s fairly easy to pop right into one of their stores and pick out the gear you want right before you head out on your trip. They usually have fairly competitive rates and plenty of availability, but it’s best to call ahead and check to make sure they have the gear you need a few days before your trip starts.

Besides large outdoor retail chains, most small mom-and-pop outdoor gear stores and outdoor guiding outfitters also have a fleet of rental gear. Usually, their selection is a bit more limited and they often have slightly higher fees than a larger chain store, but if you’re unsure what you want to rent, the service and expertise you receive at these shops is second to none.

Additionally, if you get to your campsite and realize that you’ve forgotten some important piece of gear, most mountain towns and popular outdoor destinations will have a small gear shop in town that will be more than happy to rent you gear at the last minute for your trip.

Online

Back in the olden days, you could only rent camping gear by going into your local outdoor gear store. Thanks to modern technology, however, these days, there are a number of different websites specifically dedicated to renting outdoor gear.

Some of these companies, such as Gear to Go Outfitters and LowerGear Outdoors, also have brick-and-mortar locations, but for the most part, these rental companies operate wholly on the internet. One of the most popular sites for camping gear rental is Outdoors Geek, which even gives you the option to buy the gear that you rent after you test it out, which is great for those of us who are indecisive with big purchases.

One of the benefits of an online gear rental service is that you can choose and order your gear without ever leaving the comfort of your home. This is a great option for people who are too busy to head to a store or for those of us who live in remote locales where the nearest store is a fairly long drive away.

That being said, online gear rental is best used when you have plenty of time to plan for your trip. Since online gear rental outfitters usually mail your gear to you, you need to plan ahead and rent your gear at least a few days before you head out into the backcountry. If you’re in need of a last-minute piece of gear, online retailers probably can’t help you.

In conclusion

Ultimately, renting camping gear is a great option for those of us with financial or space restraints. Renting camping gear is also a great way to test out big-ticket items before we buy them so we can be sure that we’re spending our hard earned money on the right piece of equipment. Thankfully, it’s fairly easy to rent gear these days, whether you choose to do it online or in a retail store. Happy trails!

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