As a newbie backpacker, I struggle with the thought of shelling out a thousand bucks to get the right equipment for this new hobby. However, what are my options? I can slowly learn and purchase equipment when I know what I need. But what if you want to go on a trip of a lifetime now and just don’t have the equipment?
So, should you buy or rent gear for your first backpacking trip? If you are new to backpacking, then renting gear is a great way to get started. You can rent gear at several reputable online and offline shops. Also, most packages come with the essentials such as a tent, backpack, and sleeping gear. It’s an affordable way to try-before-you-buy.
Two reputable online gear rental companies are Outdoorgeek.com and campcrate.net. While most first-timers may cobble together equipment from a friend for their first backpacking trip we lay out the pros and cons for renting gear. Also, we explain what you need and offer some suggestions on reputable gear renting companies.
What are the Pros and Cons of Renting Backpacking Gear?
For your first backpacking trip, it is important to gain an understanding of your equipment needs well before embarking on your outdoor adventure.
Talk to your more experienced friends, call up a hiking club, or call your local Girl/Boy Scouts leader. Now that you have a better idea of what this trip will be like, here are the Pros and Cons of renting backpacking gear:
Many outfitters allow you to have your rental fee go toward the purchase of your gear at their shop.
Rentals Shipped To You:
Outfitters will ship your equipment to you and then when you are done with the equipment just put it back in the box and ship it back. Some companies cover the cost of the shipping or shipping is included in the rental feel.
Depending on your needs, day trips where you only need a backpack vs. multi-day backpacking adventures when you require more specialized gear, companies offer different package levels to choose from.
Packages start at around $60 and can go up to $250. To clarify, these higher prices are for the specialized gear that you would need in rainy or snowy conditions. I.e. a 4-season tent.
Different Length Rentals:
Rentals can be as short as 1-3 days or up to a full month.
One Person or a Large Group:
Rent for yourself or for a large group at discounted pricing.
Shipped or Rented At Your Destination:
Carrying equipment on the plane can get costly and cumbersome, however, some companies will ship to your destination or you can pick up at their shop where you will be backpacking.
Unsure You Will Like Backpacking:
If you aren’t sure, then renting is a good way to get your feet wet instead of plunging deep and purchasing all the equipment you need.
Many people are shedding “things” from their life. If this is you renting might be the perfect option; rent when you need it, return it when you are done. You will have the freedom of not storing items that you may not use for another year.
If you rent frequently the price adds up. Purchasing equipment after you get an understanding of your needs wants, and desires are less costly in the long run.
Most backpacking rental packages come with standard or basic gear so you don’t get to choose from a large variety.
Rental Price Not Going Toward Ownership:
Renting from local shops may not have this option. However, if you think you will purchase after the rental period then look for a company that will apply your rental fee toward the new gear.
Most rental companies will rent up to a month but not longer. therefore, if you intend on hiking the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, or Colorado Trail you will have to purchase or borrow your gear.
I know this is in both lists. If you wish to pursue backpacking as a hobby then it is much easier to have your equipment sort out what you need and throw it into the back of your car.
Choosing the Right Colors:
If you are picky about what you like in regards to color then renting is not for you. Rentals are standardized to keep the cost down for the company.
If you are still reading then maybe you have decided to go rent gear. So, what gear should you rent? What are the essential items that you will need for your first backpacking trip?
What Are The Essential Backpacking Gear Needed For Your Trip?
I once slept out in the wilderness with only a sleeping bag and tent. The weather was warm in the Southwestern desert and we were only there to sleep the night and move on to our mountain bike race.
I don’t expect that you want to go so bare-bones on your backpacking adventure. So, here are the essentials that you will need to rent or have before your trip.
Renting a tent comes down to 1-person vs 2-person and 3-season vs. 4-season. Basically think about who you will hike with and when you will be hiking.
These come in an ultralight, lightweight, and traditional. Most of the backpacking rental packages provide lightweight backpacks.
Think about the temperature when you hike. Sleeping bags come in different thicknesses and materials that keep you at the right temperature for the hike.
A Sleeping Pad:
A lightweight pad will take out the undulations of the ground and make sleeping much more comfortable. Pads are lightweight and getting lighter every year.
Plan your meals before your trip. Rentals for this can include a camp stove, waterproof matches, sporks, sponges, biodegradable soap, bowls, and a pot.
Water Filtration/ Purification System:
Filtration systems filter out water-borne organisms that can make you very sick. These include protozoa like Giardia and Cryptosporidium, and bacteria.
Purification systems also help kill viruses like Hepatitis A and E. an important note, you should research the area you are hiking to make sure you understand the pests that you may encounter.
If you are unsure about the safety of these items check out our blog post Are Backpacking Water Filters Safe? Let’s Look at The Science.
Chances are you will have to set up your tent in the dark at least once so having a headlamp is a must for your next adventure.
Food/ Water/ Clothing:
This seems like a no-brainer but many people leave the comfort of the parking lot or home without enough food and water or improperly dressed for the weekend.
Always be prepared to stay longer than expected in the wilderness. Getting caught ill-prepared can do a world of damage to your psyche, trip, and health.
How Much Does It Cost To Rent Gear For Your Backpacking Trip?
After doing a little research I found two companies that rent gear online and will ship directly to you. Above all, I found these websites are easy to navigate and prices and components are found quickly.
I break down a couple of backpacking rental companies. If you want a more in-depth review of backpacking rental companies check out this extensive post. To give you an idea of how much it costs to rent (as of 2019) I break-down pricing in the table below. Moreover, these prices are the base price for 1-3 day rental (Outdoors Geek) and 1 day rental from Camp Crate.
|Day Hiking Pkg|
Hammock Rental Pkg
Fast and Light Backpacking Pkg
Osprey Backpacking Pkg
Basic Backpacking Pkg
Superlight Backpacking Pkg
Couples Backpacking Pkg
Winter Backpacking Pkg
Superlight Couples Pkg
|$69 to $249|
|Camp Crate |
|Camp Crate (1 person), |
Couples Crate (2 person)
Group/Family Crate (3+)
|$92 to $133|
Other Items That You Need (That You Can’t Rent)
Once you have gone through the rental process, you will need a number of other items for your backpacking trip. Fortunately, most of these are common household items; otherwise, you can purchase most items through Amazon.
Get your Camp Gear at Amazon:
- Camp Stove Fuel
- Duct Tape
- Cord or Rope
- Saw or Axe (if not in your rental package)
- Water Bottles and Water Pouch (i.e. CamelBak)
- Moisture-Wicking Layers
- Quick Drying Pants
- Fleece Jacket
- Synthetic or Wool Socks
- Gloves/ Mittens
- Warm Fleece or Wool Hat
- Camp Sandals
- Health Items
- Hand Sanitizer (protect from water-borne illness)
- Toilet Paper
- Quick-dry towel
- First-Aid Kit
- Insect Repellent
- Lip Balm
- Baby Wipes (trust me, these are like a breath of fresh air!)
Other Ways To Use The Rental System
Rental systems aren’t just for backpacking. Many people rent gear and equipment, such as tents, for many occasions. Mountain bike and music festivals, adventurous birthday parties, and even weddings.
In addition, if you want a romantic getaway with your sweetie rent a Glamping Package at Outdoors Geek.
Are There Guided Backpacking Trips for Beginners?
Yes, pretty much every state has several guides. Some of the most common and highly sought after guided trips include Colorado, Appalachian Trail, California, New England White Mountains, and of course, Europe.
Are There Hiking Groups For Beginners?
Yes, beginner hikers will find that hiking groups offer friendship, adventure, and formal and information backpacking education. You can learn a lot in a short period of time while backpacking in a group: favorite gear, how to pace yourself, what to wear during different situations, and gain new friendships.
What Are The Best Foods To Carry On a Backpacking Trip?
The words that come to mind are instant, dehydrated, and dry foods. Packing dense nutrient, high-calorie foods that are lightweight and easy to prepare. Up your protein, fat, and nutrient-dense carbohydrates while lightening up your pack; Dehydrating foods like apples, jerky, and vegetables (for soups) will lessen the load tremendously.