If you enjoy playing outside (biking, rock climbing, even something as simple as hiking), equipment is required. And equipment is often expensive. Fortunately, it doesn’t always have to be that way.
Cost and access are the two biggest barriers to entry into the nature. Perhaps you live in a small town with no equipment store or resources where you can buy a harness. Perhaps you are working a minimum wage job but still want to go outside. Or maybe you want to jump into a new sport or need to upgrade your bike or skis but use your savings to pay back student loans.
In any case, outdoor gear is even more fantastic when it is affordable. Because that means more of us (junkies and beginners alike) can access and enjoy it.
Here are five places to shop when you want to buy used outdoor gear at an affordable price. Also, check out our tips on buying used equipment at the end of this article.
Patagonia Worn Wear Used Equipment
I’ve admired Patagonia’s worn clothes Program for a long time. The brand makes everything from small stains and zipper smear to completely redesigned products (vests, jackets, pants) out of leftover materials. Or as Patagonia puts it simply: “These are garments made from other garments.”
There are several ways to shop for Worn Wear: online from the Worn Wear website, or online or in the Patagonia store with trade-in credit. (Yes, swap out your old Patagonia clothes and jackets and get credits to buy new gear in the future.)
Worn Wear also has a mobile van unit that would travel to various cities and events prior to COVID to provide their repair services. You will meet with a Patagonia repair professional who can fix loose threads, broken zippers, torn bags, and more. The services are free. Grab a zipper or a tough tape plaster or two, and hug your repaired gear.
In 2020, Patagonia made an important change to its website that includes a “Shop Used” button that allows you to purchase used equipment directly from the brand.
What we found: Worn Wear is fantastic and their clever “Recrafted” collection comes in a range of color and size options. The only downside, of course, is that it’s only available for Patagonia branded devices.
Check out Patagonia Worn Wear
Geartrade is an easy-to-use, nationwide platform that connects buyers with sellers looking for outdoor gear. The website looks and crawls like a retail website: you can search by item type or brand, or in a sales area. You set your price (although Geartrade has an algorithm that makes recommendations based on the novelty and quality of the equipment). You can even calculate shipping costs and include them in your quote.
What we found: Geartrade can be a mixed bag, but the platform works well. And the brand claims you can save up to 90% (based on the value of equipment listed and sold).
An interesting feature? When you buy, you can get a seller an offer below the asking price and essentially barter. When you sell, you can open all or some of your offers to accept “Offers”. This is a great feature when you want to sell certain items of clothing or equipment quickly and are ready to purchase a piece of equipment in a certain price range.
Take a look at Geartrade
Isella Outdoor has gained quick traction in several circles. First, it works with a shipment structure. They get a fair price, as does the seller, and Isella makes a small cut that she uses for equipment grants for others. It’s a win-win-win situation.
Second, Isella is committed to fighting the toxic equipment culture while promoting diversity. They focus on providing equipment for women and non-binary people. The website also has a great mix of apparel and hardgoods, as well as a selection for both gender neutral and plus sizes.
What we found: We had one of our coworkers try Isella and she loved the platform. Gear is easy to list and find, and founder Mallorie Estenson is constantly adding new perks and categories to the website. One restriction: you need an email and a PayPal account. Also, plan ahead and list and purchase equipment seasonally.
Our favorite aspect of Isella Outdoor? The new “singlesShop where you can buy a single glove, a single pole, even a single shoe or ski! It’s an amazing resource for adaptive athletes, but also for the rest of us. (Missing a left inner glove? Isella has one for you!)
Check out Isella Outdoor
REI used gear
Seven months after a global pandemic, REI wisely lost its annual member garages (a physical event where REI members can usually buy, sell, and trade equipment). Fortunately, the retailer brought something better to market – their own Online shop for used equipment.
Sounds great? In theory it is. You are (presumably) already a REI member, already have an account and want to shop at this retailer. This is one of the easiest ways to get money back on used equipment. (Oh, and returns, shipping, and crediting are very easy too.) So that’s all great.
The used equipment store includes clothing, accessories such as gaiters, sleeping bags, backpacks, tents, and bike bags. But since it’s the first year of the program, it’s not quite the smorgasbord for used equipment we were hoping for.
What we found: It’s okay. On the plus side, it’s not just used REI equipment, but every brand or item REI has ever sold. The disadvantage? It’s not a real “shop”. REI is pretty limited in the items it will take back. (You will want to visit Trade-in page and see what products you need to see if they are eligible. We found that while many items are populated, most are not trade-in eligible.)
Check out REI Used Gear
The north face renewed
The north wall The Renewed program was launched in June 2018. It is a collection of refurbished clothing to be rediscovered. The north face uses a combination of returned, damaged, or defective clothing items to create new and functional items. Every garment is inspected, washed and optimized in the brand’s renovation workshop.
In 2019, The North Face put together a design residency to expand the program and its offerings. The Remade collection was the result – an addition to Renewed, where much of the garments were repaired to circular standards.
North Face’s range of used equipment only includes clothing (for men, women and children) and chalk bags. Similar to Patagonia Worn Wear items, The North Face Remade items come with a one-year warranty.
What we found: Some of our employees have tried Renewed and found that the prices on used items are excellent. (We’re talking 50% off market price for ThermoBall jackets.) Like Patagonia’s Worn Wear program, it’s only The North Face branded gear. That being said, The North Face Renewed still has plenty to choose from.
Take a look at the renewed north face
Tips on buying used equipment
- Shop smart. Do your research, find sales, and broaden your search (find smaller brands / shop). Make a note of your non-negotiable items: size, price, etc.
- Be careful when buying hardgoods. Look for details. Unless you’re buying new products directly from a brand, there is likely no guarantee. So make sure that all parts / aspects of the transmission are working properly. Take a close look at the profile of used shoes, look for hull damage on a kayak, etc. All of our recommended used equipment locations are already checking items for this reason (and prohibiting “broken” equipment).
- Don’t be afraid to invest in “used” ones. It should go without saying, but you’re buying something used! It can’t be perfect. Many websites even mark items as “new,” “like new,” “used carefully,” “well used”, etc. to give you an idea of the quality of the equipment. Better still, the price tags will reflect that. If there’s something smaller, like a loose thread, a broken zipper, or a fade, that’s fine! Fabric, buttons and zippers are included easy to repair. And if you’re not into the latest colors, save here too.
- Join or create a gear shift. Do you know some friends with similar clothing or shoe sizes? Do you want to keep your search for used equipment local? Organize a neighborhood, family and friends, or swap jobs.
- Use the used outdoor equipment network. Do you have a jacket that you love but that doesn’t fit exactly? Ready to sell this replacement helmet? Buying used equipment is only half the battle – you can sell it too! Take part in a buyback program of these brands or visit the websites above to sell your used equipment to someone else – and give them a new life.
Copper Mountain expands the ski program
Are you looking for more opportunities to ski off the beaten track? Copper Mountain has a new uphill program just for you. Continue reading…