Man backpacking in used backpacking gear

All the tips and info you’ll need for buying used outdoor gear like an expert!


Let’s face it: outdoor pursuits can require a lot of outdoor gear.

And buying lots of this gear can be pretty hard on your bank balance. It can also take its toll on the environment.

Did you know that the clothing industry – including outdoor clothing – is one of the biggest polluters in the world?

We don’t think limiting your time outside is the answer though. Actually, we think spending more time outside is key to a sustainable future, just making sure to opt for ethical adventures and shopping wisely.

This is where second-hand outdoor gear comes in.

Opting for preloved equipment can help you facilitate heaps more adventures whilst cutting down costs and unnesessary harm to this beautiful world. Because, more often than not, if you buy cheap, you buy twice. You lose money in the long run, it creates sensless waste and polluted environments.

Nowadays, people are really starting to consider the budget of natural resources as well as the budget on their bank accounts. That means, there’s never been a better time to pick up used camping gear, hiking clothing or equipment for your next adventure!

BUT

It’s not just as easy as giving something a new lease of life. With outdoor products, you’ve got to consider safety too. You gotta shop cautiously, look in the right places and sometimes going second-hand might not be the right option.

Keep reading to find:

This article contains affiliate links. Making purchases through them will never cost you more but will help to support Veggie Vagabonds – thank you!

Girl hiking in used hiking gear
The right outdoor gear makes so many more adventures possible. Going second-hand can be the perfect box-ticker!

1. The Pros and Cons of Buying Used Outdoor Gear

We always think it’s best to be honest and up-front about stuff. Sometimes buying second-hand is an ace choice. We’ve found loads of sweet used camping gear and used cycling gear for tours. We’re also VERY keen on rummaging through second-hand shops.

But, sometimes it might not be the best decision.

These point wills help you decide for yourself.

The Benefits of Buying Used Outdoor Gear

  • It’s cheaper
  • SO much better for the environment
  • Nowadays it’s pretty easy to find a good variety
  • Many outdoor brands now have their own pre-owned section, with products that are professionally cleaned and safety-checked
  • The quality can be great (sometimes products haven’t even been used)
  • You can meet interesting people with a shared interest if you buy from individual sellers
  • It’s cool to think you’re giving something another life
  • Sometimes you can find last season’s products which might be better
  • Good quality older products are very often better than new poor quality products
  • A great idea for first trips, rather than shelling out on equipment that might not be used again

The Negatives of Buying Used Outdoor Gear

  • Items might not have a warranty
  • Less variety and might be hard to find your size
  • The possibility of seller fraud – you need to be careful!
  • Items could be damaged or have little life left in them
  • Can be more time consuming to find the right thing

A few to bookmark…

Our Big Guide to Ethical Outdoor Clothing & Equipment

Tips for Going Zero Waste Outside

The 7 Leave No Trace Principles & Why They Matter

Easy Tips for More Sustainable Hiking

All Our Green Adventure Resources!


Climbing with used climbing gear
If you’re going to buy second-hand climbing gear, make sure you know what you’re looking for!

2. When NOT to GO Second-Hand

Like we said, sometimes used outdoor clothing and equipment isn’t the right choice. These are a few things to consider:

Safety

This is the big one really. Outdoor equipment needs to keep you safe.

For equipment like climbing harnesses, climbing ropes, winter outdoor gear, ice climbing or camping equipment you plan to use in tough conditions etc. it has to be safe.

When you’re buying new, these items are checked by professionals and have a warranty.

If you buy from an individual seller (you’ll find lots of places to buy used outdoor gear further down) items likely won’t get this thorough a look over.

For this reason, unless you know what you’re doing, you need to be extra cautious buying outdoor safety equipment second-hand from individual sellers.

Reliability

Unfortunately, scamming is a thing. Even within the awesome outdoor community. You’ve got to be sure you’re buying what you think you’re buying and that it’s in the condition that’s described.

This is one to consider if you’re buying from online private sellers, especially if you won’t get the chance to inspect the gear.

Hygiene

This is down to personal preference, I guess. Maybe you don’t want to pick up a used pair or running undies or jock straps…

Man wearing Teryx Atom
Absolutely love the Arc’teryx Atom LT – you can find it much cheaper on the Arc’teryx Used Gear section

3. Where to Buy Used Outdoor Gear

Like we said at the start, there’s never been a better time to find ace second-hand adventure items. We’ve listed some of the options, starting with online and then face-to-face.

Buying Directly From the Original Retailer

Did you know, there are several outdoor brands which re-sell items online? This is often the best way to find good quality products with virtually no risk. The brands below are well worth checking out!

A Special Mention for REI Used Gear (N. America only)

REI, the outdoor retailer behemoth, lead the way with eco-friendly initiatives and is a brilliant place to find awesome second-hand nuggets.

Quite often, they are returns and in immaculate condition. Sometimes they’ve been traded in when people want to upgrade.

REI lists any faults or flaws in the items on the website, so there are no surprises. Used items run approximately 50% below the regular price, depending on condition.

Also, REI is a membership site; If you plan on shopping there often, it will be worth the investment. Membership allows you to sell as well as buy used gear. If you want to trade in your equipment, you get a gift card for your trade-in to use towards REI sale, REI Co-op or full-priced items. Click here for more info on the REI Program.

Other Online Stores & Outdoor Gear Exchange

There are several websites specifically for buying and selling used outdoor gear. For UK adventurers, unfortunately, there ain’t many options (but there are other ideas further down!). In North America, check out the guys below.

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Used camping equipment on mountains
Our second-hand Trangia pans have had a long and fruitful life. Still going strong!

Social Media & Online Communities

Another place to find deals on used camping and hiking gear is social media platforms, like Facebook Marketplace, Facebook groups, Reddit and forums. You’ll find lots of people just reselling used items but also outdoor gear swap shops and gear trading.

A word to the wise: be cautious with your purchases and make sure you know what you’re buying. Our gear buying tips further down can help.

These are some of our favourites:

You’ll find plenty more for specific outdoor pursuits, just take a search.

Other Online Shops

  • eBay – eBay not only has a vast selection of used camping and hiking gear, it probably has some of the absolutely best prices you are likely to find. A word of caution, this is where you will want to thoroughly check out seller reviews before you purchase.
  • Gumtree, Preloved & Craigslist – these are online marketplaces where people sell used items. You can normally find some awesome stuff at bargain prices. You can also pick up in person to check them out.
  • Apps like Depop & Vinted – a bit more fashion-based but you can still find some good preloved outdoor clothing.

In-person options

You can find heaps of second-hand adventure gear at the places below and often your money is going to a good cause.

  • Charity shops and consignment stores
  • Jumble sales/car-boot sales/yard sales
  • Local markets

Have you thought about renting? If you’re just going to be using the item once, sometimes renting can be a good option. Companies like Outdoor Gear Hire in the UK and Outdoors Geek in the US have some cool options.

Girl cycling in second-hand cycling gear
Gearing up for a first bicycle tour? Going second-hand can be the best way to get kitted out

4. Tips for Buying the Best Second-Hand Outdoor Gear

More often than not, the pros outweigh the cons. Still, you’ve always got to shop right. These tips can help:

  1. Research your gear – make sure you’re buying a good quality item by checking online reviews and feedback. If you find something in person, do a quick check on your phone for original prices, details, reviews etc.
  2. Know the product you’re buying – check the specs and details of the product before you buy. Many items have similar names e.g the Latitude 400 and Latitude 4000 which are easy to confuse but are designed for different things.
  3. Do a thorough inspection – be sure to check the product is in good enough shape, is safe and still has enough life left in it.
  4. Go with a knowledgeable buddy – if you don’t feel confident looking at second-hand gear in person, why not go with a knowledgeable friend who can give advice.
  5. Is it worth the price? – sometimes going second hand isn’t worth the value. If an old item is priced roughly the same as a new one, it’s probably not worth it.
  6. See if you can try the product before – if you see used outdoor clothing or gear online, why not pop into an outdoors shop and see if you can try on/use it first.
  7. Ask about a returns policy – does it still have a warranty? Is there any policy for faults?
  8. Look at the seller’s history – if you’re buying from sites like eBay or even Facebook Marketplace, check out the seller’s profile to make sure they’re legit and trustworthy.

A final note on minimising waste…

If we don’t change some consumer behaviors, we will soon find ourselves in hot water. Unfortunately, this could be literal hot water as oceans and temperatures rise.

We value these places we’re exploring. It’s only right we help protect them too.

It’s all about making earth-friendly choices as well as getting kitted out and finding a good deal.

A few simple solutions

  • Buy higher-end items and buy once – see it as an investment
  • Get what you want the first time (don’t make do)
  • Look for good quality used items
  • Re-sell your used items and keep them out of landfills
  • Upcycle old gear – maybe those old climbing ropes could be used for DIY or scrambling rope?
  • Donate your gear or support companies like Gift your Gear
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