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Just you and the great outdoors- well, that, and all of the equipment that you need to support your safety, nourishment, and comfortability. Gathering all of the gear that you need to go camping can become rather expensive. Fortunately, there are ways to find camping gear for free or at reduced costs.
If you want to find free camping gear, check Facebook for local outdoors groups or Marketplace for items for free/reduced cost. You can also check giveaways, thrift stores (for non-essential gear), share or trade with friends, endorse a product, or find a camping gear library (in some urban areas).
Of course, there are also ways that you can find gear for less than what you would pay in a retail store, although not necessarily for free. Reduced cost options include rental stores or outlet mall options. Be mindful, though, that you are sure to check free camping gear for its structural stability as worn-out gear will not serve you well in the great outdoors. Let’s look further at how to find free camping gear.
Where to Find Free Camping Gear
Finding free camping gear- especially that does not require any mending or reparations- can feel like the score of a lifetime. Fortunately, with the outdoors-loving community being a pretty easygoing and jovial group, there are a few sources for finding free camping gear that are worth checking out. If you are looking to stock up on free camping gear, consider the following options:
If you are not a member of Facebook, then you should consider joining to take advantage of what this social media platform can offer in a variety of ways. One unique way that you might be able to find free camping gear is to check out local Facebook groups on outdoors-related topics. These groups could vary based on their titles (or group names), but by spending a bit of time searching for them, you should be able to find a few hits.
One major benefit of searching for free camping gear within a local Facebook group is that you can establish a connection with other people who are interested in the same hobbies. With fellow campers in the group, you can chat about any of their latest finds or favorite camping spots.
Another benefit to looking in Facebook groups for free camping gear is that, if the group is local, you can check out the gear without having to commit to paying shipping costs. Now, if you are receiving the gear for free, you might want to be cautious about complaining about any faults found on the gear.
Still, it is important for you to know of these faults as they could place you and your fellow campers in a tight predicament out in nature. For example, if there is a small tear in the tent that is repairable, this is something you would want to know before going camping so that you could mend the tear yourself or have it done by a professional. Either way, knowing ahead of time is essential.
Facebook Marketplace is another great reason why you should join Facebook if you are looking for free camping gear. Facebook Marketplace functions similar to Craigslist, but it is much more easily trusted by members because the Facebook profile is connected to a real-life person whose details are linked.
Along with this, you can use the Messenger feature to discuss any trades or offers and to work out the details to make sure you are satisfied before heading towards a purchase (or a free pickup). Using this platform is also helpful because you can look at someone’s commercial profile to see if they have any other items listed. This is helpful to know that you could purchase (or pick up items for free) from the same vendor without having to make multiple trips.
Using various search terms, sorting through categories of “for sale” items, you can often find people listing camping gear for free or at a greatly reduced price- especially as they upgrade their gear or are looking to retire from camping. Regardless of the reason, you can flag a code word in Marketplace to receive an alert when something free that you are looking for becomes available, and then it is up to you to work out the rest.
Another option for finding free camping gear is to enter giveaways from major (and local) outdoor camping equipment stores or companies. You may find that entering with local stores bolsters your chance to win considering the odds compared to if you were a single entry with a larger company.
Still, if you are wary of entering a giveaway, you can always use one designated e-mail address for entering these types of drawings. Then, your normal e-mail will not be filled with these types of updates, but you can keep any giveaway entries confined to one location. Then, it is silly not to enter.
Share or Trade with Friends
One of the best parts about the outdoor community is in its name- it is a true community. Sure, while you are on your camping trip, you will want to be sure to give people their space in the outdoors. However, outside of this, you may find that meeting any outdoorsy friends will help you to find many favorable friendships and connections.
This can be incredibly helpful in finding free camping gear. Borrowing from a stranger might not work well, but if you have established a friendship and a prolonged relationship with a friend, you may be able to ask to borrow or share certain camping gear.
Now, it is up to your friend to decide what type of gear he or she feels comfortable sharing (and it is not fair of you to become upset if they do not want their personal property loaned out to you), but many people are willing to help when possible. For you, this could really come in handy, especially if you are just looking to borrow one or a few items.
Just be sure that if you share or trade camping gear with a friend, you are sure to return their gear in the same (or better) quality than it was when they first let you borrow it.
Endorse a Product
Endorsing a camping gear product might not be a viable option for everyone, but if you have a favorable social media profile, you might be able to work with larger companies to endorse a camping product and consequently get to “test it out” for free.
Again, going back to the importance of working with local businesses, if you have a local company that you can support by endorsing their product to a group that you are interconnected with, this is even better (and far more likely) for you to be able to receive the benefits you are looking for (free camping gear).
Just be sure that if you are endorsing a product you follow the expectations of the company whose product you are endorsing. You want this to be a prolonged positive relationship- so respecting their requests (especially if they are giving you free gear) is incredibly important.
Camping Gear Libraries (*in select urban areas)
Another option that might not be available to most people- but is an incredible resource for those of you who it is available to- is to check out camping gear libraries to rent camping gear for free.
These libraries work the same as general public libraries, except they specialize in camping gear equipment. Consequently, you will need to have a membership ID card (which is usually free of charge), and then you can rent the equipment.
Of course, you will be liable for any damage done to the equipment you are renting, but hopefully this will not be an issue. So, if you live in an urban area, check to see if there is a camping gear library nearby. You will not be disappointed if you find one!
Where to find Reduced Cost Camping Gear
Now that we have touched base on where to find free camping gear, it is important to talk about resources for reduced cost camping gear, as finding these resources can be just as comforting and helpful as finding free gear (especially if the free gear requires any repairs). To find camping gear at a reduced cost, consider the following options:
Thrift Stores (for Non-Essential Gear)
If you are looking to stock up on all things camping-related, you may want to check with your local thrift store as a great first place to start. Here, you might not be able to rely on the quality found in essential camping gear (such as a tent or sleeping bag)- although this is not out of the question. Still, you can find some other gear such as warm clothes, underlayers, or unique tools to help your camping trip to go to the next level.
If you live close enough to commute to a more outdoorsy area, you might consider going to a thrift store that is more likely to have items dropped off by its outdoors-loving community. Again, thrift stores can be entirely circumstantial, but they will offer you incredibly low prices for items that could work to your benefit, so it is worth checking out before spending the big bucks at a retail store.
Outdoor Equipment Company Outlets
If you are looking for a reduced cost camping gear location that is sure not to fail you, you will want to check out any outlets for high-end outdoor equipment companies. Here, at the outlets, you are sure to find incredibly lowered prices, but you gain the satisfaction of knowing that the camping gear you are taking home does not have any defects or tears. (Of course, you should still check this to make sure before bringing your equipment into the wilderness.)
Check for off-season items or look at the clearance section in outlet stores for camping gear, and you will really be set and ready to go.
Outdoor Equipment Rental Stores
Now, if you are looking to purchase off-season or, better yet, last season’s camping gear, then checking out a few local outdoor equipment rental stores could be a great option. Many times, outdoor equipment rental stores are discontinuing carrying certain equipment either because it is damaged and needs repairs or because new equipment is arriving.
In either case, you are able to maneuver a good deal on the items up for sale because their sale is time-sensitive, and you can take perfect advantage of this to prepare your camping gear closet. So, when in doubt, call a few stores (or show up in-person) and ask if they have any old rental equipment that they would be willing to sell- then your options will truly be all on the table.
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