My family's summer resolution is to go camping more, but it would cost a small fortune to buy all of the camping gear we'd need—and we need everything! Luckily I discovered that you can rent camping gear, which means that we can try out the equipment without committing to buying anything. If you’re in the same boat as we are, you may find these five places super valuable.
1. Outdoors Geek
Rent camping equipment for $20 or less—I'm talking almost any kind of camping gear you'd need including tents (like a Marmot Lime Light 3 Person Tent for $36 for 3 nights—the retail cost is $239 plus!), camping chairs (such as the Helinox Chair One Camp and Backpacking Chair for $10 for 3 nights—it retails for $89), food, coolers, camp tables and cooking pots. You can even rent a whole camping package for one price (the basic 3-day package is $85).
After you’re done with the equipment all you have to do is put it back in the box it came in, slap on the return shipping label, and drop it off at any UPS location. Shipping prices vary based on the weight of the equipment you’re renting, but you can expect to pay about $1 per pound.
Another fun thing to consider: Outdoors Geek has a "Try It" before you buy it program. If you decide you just can't part with the camping gear you rented you can choose to buy it! They’ll even give you a 10% discount and count your rental fee toward the final costs!
2. Mountain Side Gear Rental
Mountain Side is another awesome site where you can rent camping gear for super cheap. I found a Mountainsmith 0 Degree Sleeping Bag with a rental fee of $17 for 3 days (normally retails for $139) and camping food for under $8! Mountain Side also offers camping kits. These kits cost a bit more than Outdoors Geek (a basic 3-day kit costs $135.44), but you gets tons more products with your order. Some of the gear included are a camp stove, a coffee pot, a tent, sleeping bags, a lantern, a first aid kit and a cook set.
Shipping is via UPS and varies based on the weight and the delivery type you select. I found that renting the basic supplies (a tent and backpack) costs about $20 shipping.
Lower Gear offers more than just sleeping bags and tents for rent—you can even rent trekking poles and handheld GPS units. On my last camping trip I managed to score a really great Osprey Volt 60 Camping Backpack for $29 for 3 days (normally retails for $179), a PocketRocket camping stove for $9 (retails for $35), and an ALPS Mountaineering 2 Person Tent for $25 for 3 days (retails for $153!).
As with the other rental stores, LowerGear ships via UPS and costs vary depending on the weight of the items.
4. Local colleges
More and more universities and community colleges are renting out camping equipment—even to the general public! However, if you’re a student, the discount is pretty sweet. At my local university I've found sleeping bags for $8 ($4 if you are a student), a compass for $2 (or $1 for students), and a 4-person tent for $14 ($7 for students). The prices are significantly lower than if you rented from an online store, and there are no pesky shipping or return fees. However, you may find the selection a tad more limited than what you’d find at one of the online rental stores.
The quality of rental products at REI is excellent—and the best part is that you get to inspect the gear before you rent it. The REI staff is available to answer any of my camping-related questions, even if it's not related to the products I'm renting! They even offer free classes at some of their stores to teach the basics of camping.
What kind of prices can you expect when you rent equipment at REI? My local REI rents tents for $24 and under, camping stoves for $6, and sleeping bags for $15.
Related: 9 Clever Duct Tape Camping Hacks