So getting outside and camping for the first time can be expensive if you buy all of your own gear. But that doesn't have to be the case. There are two ways to borrow outdoor essentials (tent, sleeping bag, ground pad, stove, cook/eat-wear).
The first is asking your friends and family who already go camping to let you use theirs. (But that only works if you know folks who have the goods.) And the second way is to rent your gear from a lending program. In this post, I'll give you some detailed how-tos for both of these tried methods.
The Beg/Borrow (No Stealing) Method
The first thing you should know is that people who go camping, want more people to go camping. So you asking them to borrow their gear for a first time camping trip will get them all fired up. Because it means they get to share adventure stories, tips, tricks and show you the ropes. They'll also help you get comfortable with the gear because they want it returned in one piece.
You may even get this kind of excitement as experienced camper looking to get an extra piece of gear that you don't have in your kit that you want to try. For example, we know some folks with a fancy titanium backcountry sandwich maker that cost like $100. Its owners love lending that thing out, so it gets some extra use because they know it is a total splurge. Win-win for everyone.
Take note if this is the third time you are borrowing a piece of equipment from the same person unless you are a really close friend or it's your mom you should really think about investing in your own gear.
Gear Borrowing Etiquette Checklist
- Note the condition the equipment is in when you borrow it
- If you unfamiliar with how to use the equipment ask the owner for instructions
- Even if you think you know how to use whatever you are borrowing ask the owner if there are any particular ways they want their gear used
- Treat the gear like you've got a really expensive deposit on it and you don't want to lose the $'s
- Make sure it is clean and complete when you return the gear
- If you broke or lost something fess up and ask how you can replace it
- Say thank you and share your stories and memories
Pay to Play - The Rental Method
In the age of car sharing, there are tons of places to rent expensive items rather than plunk down your hard earned cash for the full cost. If you live in a major metro area or destination for outdoor adventure there are likely local outfitters that have rental programs or groups that have lending libraries. But there are also companies that specialize in shipping gear where ever so you'll be on the ground and outfitted.
Most companies let you rent items piecemeal. But there are innovators in the gear rentals like The Camp Kit. Those gals are renting out an all inclusive pack similar to our provisions packs. You also have folks who only rent larger items like REI or Get Outfitted. There are even women's specific rental spots like the Bold Betties.