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  1. #1
    John B's Avatar
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    Default Why buy when you can rent?

    The Sunday edition (9-16-19) of the NY TIMES, Travel section, has an article on renting hiking and camping gear. https://nyti.ms/2URSXLJ

    For those new to hiking, it may be better to rent gear for a couple hundred bucks to make sure that you like it before spending potentially over a thousand only to learn afterward that you simply don't enjoy it as much as you thought you would. And if you're just hiking from time to time and are short on space, another benefit is not having to store stuff.

    REI, Outdoors Geek, and Arrive, to name but three, rent top-line hiking gear and will ship it directly to your house. You can rent "packages" of gear (tent, pack, sleeping bag, stove, etc) so that you don't have to pick and choose, which is pretty nice for those who are new to hiking.

    My former secretary spent $$$ on a treadmill that she was 100% sure she would use. You can guess what happened. I'd bet that if truth be told, a substantial percentage of those who buy gear thinking that they will use it a lot end up going out once or twice before the gear migrates to the basement to join the rest of the clutter.

  2. #2
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    I largely agree. This is a classic "know thyself" situation. When I began hiking ... it was more of a resumption after a 30 year layoff. So I bought gear, and it has not sat unused. But I had done it before, though very long ago, and I really couldn't have known whether I'd stick with it this time. I have though, but if I hadn't enjoyed the fine camaraderie of group hikes, and friends I've made through those, I'm not sure I would have stuck with it.

    Some universities and colleges have outdoor programs that rent such packages. I'm not sure how many (if any) rent to the public at large, versus members of that college community, but they're out there. Once I was hiking with a friend and we saw 3 young fellows sporting matching Kelty Trekker 65 external packs. I thought I was in a time warp, but all it was, was that they had rented from the local university, which stocked such packs. And probably CCF too, I forget, but when you're renting you want the most durable stuff as you can get!

    Thanks for posting this. I was unaware of rental programs other than the kind I just mentioned.

  3. #3
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    I'm old fashion, and I like to own my gear. My gear is my best friend on the trail, it is extension of who I'm when I'm in the woods.

  4. #4

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    If you need a special piece of gear for a one time outing, renting can make sense. Why spend $350 on a pair of plastic double boots if you can rent them for $50 (and a $300 deposit)?

    I suppose for a first timer, or for a special trip, renting a backpacking package deal could be worth it. I just looked at the pricing and it seems reasonable. Basic backpacking package starts at $160 for 3 days. Once you get past 2 weeks, it becomes less cost effective.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5
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    What in the world are " plastic double boots" and why are they so expensive?

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by stephanD View Post
    What in the world are " plastic double boots" and why are they so expensive?
    Winter mountaineering boots. Not made in huge volume, and important for safety.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Feral Bill View Post
    Winter mountaineering boots. Not made in huge volume, and important for safety.
    Well...I think I will stick to my Oboz...

  8. #8

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    I could never rent. As long as I can afford to buy my own gear I will enjoy to do so


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  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by stephanD View Post
    What in the world are " plastic double boots" and why are they so expensive?
    Sometimes called Bunny boots (white ones), or Micky Mouse boots (black ones), they are designed for -20F to -60F.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunny_boots

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by gpburdelljr View Post
    Sometimes called Bunny boots (white ones), or Micky Mouse boots (black ones), they are designed for -20F to -60F.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunny_boots
    Not the same thing, though used for similar purposes. Plastic double boots are more for technical terrain. Mouse boots are for warm feet come what may. Mouse boots were the standard for northeast winters for years. As they are surplus, availability is spotty. Interestingly, the US military has contracted for new mouse boots for the first time in 20 or 30 years. Nothing does the job better. They are very heavy and bulky. I am, if you have not guessed, a fan.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  11. #11

    Default

    Renting a bear can makes sense. Renting a backpack does not.

  12. #12

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    Well I bought almost everything three times before I settled in on my current gear choices so in a sense I rented those earlier choices. It takes a while and experience to get it dialed in.

  13. #13
    Garlic
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    A rental shop just opened up down the street from me: https://www.mountainsidegearrental.com/

    I like the concept for many, especially travelers. In my own journey, I wasted very little money on owning gear. I was always able to sell used gear for a good price, even before the internet came around. Once or twice, I even made a small profit, like with my special 25th anniversary REI ice axe. I was involved with gear testing for a while, and often sold that stuff.

    Even when I consider something totally used up, I can often find someone who'll give me $25 (or a case of beer) for it. (Maybe the dogs need a sleeping bag.) Once I got a used mountain bike for a heavy REI dome tent. Used gear trading can be fun.

  14. #14
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    Many rental shops sell off their inventory at the end of the season for cheap. They usually set the rates so the gear is paid for (at their cost) if it gets rented out a couple of times. I used to go check out the used rental gear sale at a local store that rents to see what flaws were visible in the new models they normally rent. If I see a stack of 10 rental snowshoes all with the same flaw its good indication that its design flaw.

  15. #15
    Registered User HeartFire's Avatar
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    You should always find out if and how items are cleaned between users - sleeping bags - lice etc -

  16. #16

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    Rental can be a good idea. It's not great for sleeping bags (cleanliness, price, bulk), since you can get a synthetic starter bag pretty cheap and resell it if you move on
    Tent/cooking gear and trying some packs can't hurt as rentals

  17. #17

    Default

    Local REI supplies bag liners with each sleeping bag rental. I think Rental is a good option for folks going out the first time. Buying a kit for overnight backpacking will likely cost you over $650 to $750 if you get decent stuff. Renting lets you figure out if getting in the backwoods is something you enjoy. If you are then hooked, you can get your own stuff. People going out for the first time with friends who are regular backpackers can get into a pricey situation if they buy.

    In truth, you will probably buy lighter stuff within another 2-3 years, anyway if you love being out there.

  18. #18
    John B's Avatar
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    At REI, a lightweight kit for 3 nights is $160. And yes, the gear is cleaned (sleeping bags, too) between rentals. Good grief.


    • 1 2-Person Lightweight Backpacking Tent
    • 2 Lightweight Backpacks
    • 2 Lightweight Sleeping Bags
    • 2 Lightweight Backpacking Sleeping Pads
    • 2 Backpacking Pillows
    • 2 Lightweight Camp Chairs
    • 2 Pair of Carbon Trekking Poles
    • 2 Rechargeable Headlamps
    • 1 MSR Pocket Rocket Stove Kit (fuel sold separately)
    • 1 Gravity Water Filter


    Seems like a reasonable price for first-time hikers before laying out major dollars to purchase. You can rent by the piece, too -- bear cannister's go for $5 for 3 days, down or synthetic sleeping bags, lanterns, etc.

    Outdoor Geek sells its "gently used" equipment at a steep discount. I'd guess that other gear rentals do the same.

    A nice option to consider.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by stephanD View Post
    I'm old fashion, and I like to own my gear. My gear is my best friend on the trail, it is extension of who I'm when I'm in the woods.
    Adapted from, and with apolologies to, The Rifleman's Creed:

    This is my backpack. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My backpack is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
    Without me, my backpack is useless. Without my backpack, I am useless. I must fit my backpack true. I must hike longer than my enemy who is trying to outhike me. I must arrive at the shelter before he does. I will ...
    My backpack and I know that what counts in long distance hiking is not the hills we climb, the the water we filter, nor the trail towns we stop in. We know that it is the gear that counts. We will own lightweight gear ...
    My backpack is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its
    suspension and its pockets. I will keep my backpack (marginally) clean and ready, even as I am (probably un-)clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will ...

    Before I stop for lunch of peanut butter on tortillas, I swear this creed. My backpack and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.
    So be it!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainDudeman View Post
    Adapted from, and with apolologies to, The Rifleman's Creed:

    This is my backpack. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My backpack is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
    Without me, my backpack is useless. Without my backpack, I am useless. I must fit my backpack true. I must hike longer than my enemy who is trying to outhike me. I must arrive at the shelter before he does. I will ...
    My backpack and I know that what counts in long distance hiking is not the hills we climb, the the water we filter, nor the trail towns we stop in. We know that it is the gear that counts. We will own lightweight gear ...
    My backpack is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its
    suspension and its pockets. I will keep my backpack (marginally) clean and ready, even as I am (probably un-)clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will ...

    Before I stop for lunch of peanut butter on tortillas, I swear this creed. My backpack and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.
    So be it!
    Believe it or not, this is the first time I read those lines. I do not own any fire arms. In my politics I'm a proud tree hugger liberal. Never heard of the Rifleman's Creed. Saying that, peanut butter and tortilla wraps are my favorite breakfast on the trail.

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