Are There Backpacking Gear Swaps Online?

If you’re a beginner backpacker, you might be concerned by the amount of equipment you need to get your hands on. From backpacks to hiking boots, and everything in between, there’s a lot to consider. This leaves many wondering if there are backpacking gear swaps to take advantage of.

There are backpacking gear swaps online. There are many ways to obtain used backpacking gear, be it through locally sponsored swaps, single-subject flea markets, national outdoor gear chains, and the ever-popular online gear swaps.

Below, we’ll go through these different options in more detail. This way, you’ll have an idea of just how many choices are out there for those that want to swap out some of their old gear, and we’ll go through the advantages of using online gear swaps too.

Can You Buy, Rent, Or Sell Used Hiking Gear?

In the spirit of the rugged outdoors, hikers love to swap, sell, and repurpose pre-loved hiking equipment. Buying and selling are the main options for finding used gear, although you may be able to rent poles or tents from your nearest outdoor equipment retailer too. If you want to try before you buy, many companies rent backpacking gear for a modest price.

The best way to go about buying used gear is to do your homework. Know what to look for in the gear you’re buying, be it hiking boots, backpacks or any other gear. Get familiar with brand names that have stood the test of time, and basically just learn what makes one piece of gear more favorable than the other.

Likewise, as a seller, know the approximate value of your gear. See what it’s going for on eBay or on other online swap sites, so you don’t sell yourself short. Be willing to drive a hard bargain, but bear in mind the buyer is also trying to get a good deal, so you need to have some leeway.

What Are Gear Swaps And How Do They Work?

A gear swap is a trading marketplace. The typical gear swap is a Wild West for pricing, haggling, and snapping up good deals before they’re gone. You can easily end up with an amazing deal or a knockoff product from China, so keep your wits about you. Again, it all comes back to doing your research and knowing what to look for.

Brick And Mortar Gear Swaps

Brick and mortar gear swaps can be hosted by individuals and are sometimes sponsored by local companies. Therefore, if you live in an outdoorsy community, chances are there’s some kind of gear swap happening in your area.

Local Gear Swaps

Local gear swaps act as single-subject flea markets and you can usually score great deals on equipment, particularly if haggling is allowed.

In-Person Gear Swaps

In-person swaps are also hosted by bigger companies, like REI’s famed Garage Sale. The gear in these sales has usually been returned to the store by customers or has some light cosmetic damage. Prices will be slightly higher than the community gear swap, but your spoils will usually be nearly brand new.

Offline Gear Swap Tips

Mark your calendar – Lots of the swaps only happen once per year and you don’t want to miss it.

Get there early –The most lucrative swaps are like Black Friday for outdoors people. For this reason, granola-munching patrons will line up hours in advance!

Bring cash if you can – Community-run gear swaps are refreshingly technology-free, so it’s best to have money on hand. Using cash can also help you stay within a strict budget if need be.

Online Gear Swaps

If you prefer the convenience of a few clicks, online gear swaps are a great place to find exactly what you want. Various websites have platforms for people to post photos of their gear and other people to bid on it. In most places, you can search by brand name, model, and year.

Websites like eBay have a formal bidding process, whereas some other sites just allow you to message the seller and settle on a price. While you won’t be able to check out the gear in person, online gear swapping saves time and energy rummaging through other people’s rejected clothing.

Rules To Follow When Swapping Backpacking Gear

Basic Etiquette For Sellers

Be Clear In Your Description

Gear swaps come with an inherent basic etiquette. If you’re a seller, be as clear as possible about what you are selling and what condition it’s in.

For online swaps, this means including the price, a list of features, and any defining details you can find about the name, model, or size of your item. Therefore, it is a good idea to provide clear photographs of the item from all angles. Many people will also verify that the item belongs to them by including a paper note in the photograph with their username and the date.

Be Honest About The Condition

Be honest about the condition of your item. Did someone spill grape juice on the sleeve of that sweatshirt that will never come out? Did you scrape up the butt of your pack by sliding down a rock face? Items with cosmetic or even more serious damages could still be of great value to the buyer, but it’s important to let them know ahead of time.

Add The Reason You Are Selling

An unnecessary but nice addition to your post is telling the buyer why you chose to sell the item. If it didn’t fit well or had some other flaw, explain this. You could save someone else the same trouble that you went through.

For Buyers

Research Before You Buy

You wouldn’t go on a thru hike without doing some research ahead of time, so don’t buy something without doing your research either. Look up reviews of the product online. Check out the company’s own website as well as other online retailers and gear review blogs. Make sure you know what you’re getting before you hand over your money to a stranger.

Ask Questions

When you find what you want, ask questions. Verify the size of the item and inquire about any damages. If it’s a piece of clothing or a backpack, try it on if possible or go to a store and try the closest item to it to make sure the fit is right. Trust me, you will be happy that you did!

Try Haggling

Any garage-sale-savvy mom knows the ticket price on a used item is merely an inflated suggestion. The value of used gear is subjective. How rare is it? How badly does the seller want to get rid of it? Use this information to strike a bargain both you and the seller are happy with. In some cases, the price will be non-negotiable, and you also need to respect that.

List Of Online Gear Swaps

Swapping gear online is the most convenient way to go. Do a little hunting and you’re bound to snag a good deal. Some websites specialize in hiking, while others have a variety of categories for all of your outdoor needs. Below are some useful places to start.

Backpacking Light

This site has a great place to score a deal. It operates as a forum and has an active community, which can be a plus for getting your questions answered. Bear in mind that you need to be a member to create your own post.

Gear Trade

Gear trade has lots of categories of outdoor gear and usually carries the bigger brands. For this reason, they present a good starting point.

REI Used Gear

REI has a section dedicated to gently used products that have been returned to them. “Gently used” can mean anything from well-loved to brand new without tags.


Another good outdoor gear swap outlet, MEC acts as a forum for people to post their own gear.

Outdoors Geek

Outdoors Geek is a gear swap and also a place to rent gear. If you’re not sure you want to buy something, rent it to test it out!


Switchback specializes in cycling gear but also has marketplaces for hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities.


r/geartrade is a perfect place to find good deals, but they usually go fast!

Where Else Can You Buy Used Gear?

The internet is ripe with places to find used gear. Don’t be afraid to step out of the box a little to find the good stuff. The cheapest deals can sometimes be found on websites that don’t typically sell outdoor gear because there’s no precedent for what things should cost.

Some non-traditional places to look for backpacking gear swaps include:

  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Craigslist
  • eBay (Note – Watch out for knockoffs!)
  • REI Garage sales
  • The North Face Renewed

In the true spirit of the outdoors, don’t hesitate to keep it local! Thrift shops or used outdoor gear shops are a great way to give back to your community while you do your shopping. When you’re ready to recycle your old outdoor gear, you can give it right back to the place you got it too.

Final Thoughts

There are backpacking gear swaps online, as well as offline. Online gear swaps are great places to search through lots of items quickly, and you’ll be able to find people from all over the world trying to sell their old gear. However, in-person gear swaps can be just as lucrative as well.