Outdoor Gear Rentals?

2:50 p.m. on January 6, 2010 (EST)
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1 forum posts

Greetings,

I'm very glad to have discovered this community and look forward to being a part of it. There was actually something that I'd love to get some feedback on from the fellow members.

I've been hiking and camping for a number of years and own pretty much all of the equipment I have. However, I've recently realized that there are a number of people who only go hiking/camping once or twice a year or maybe just going the first time. For many of them, buying all of the gear may not necessarily make sense.

Quality gear can get quite expensive. It's not hard to end up spending hundreds of dollars just to get outfitted with the necessities (backpack, tent, sleeping mat and mattress). And, let's face it, not everybody ends up re-using that equipment again and again. That said, in general, renting options are typically limited - some shops offer equipment, but the quality and availability can vary tremendously - so people can either try to borrow gear from somebody or end up buying everything.

I am currently in the process of putting together a business plan for an online outdoor gear rental company (similar to lowergear.com and gogitto.com) that will essentially offer individuals and groups an opportunity to rent quality, in-good-condition outdoor equipment at a fraction of the retail price. Essentially, a customer can select the type of gear they are looking for, the duration that they need it for (3 days, 7 days, 14 days, 1 month), and it's shipped directly to them. They use it and simply ship it back when they are done using the attached shipping label. It's simple, convenient and cheaper.

I would love to hear what you think about the concept, if you think people would benefit from it, possible problems that you see with this, and any additional questions, suggestions or feedback you may have. Have you or somebody you know been in a situation when renting would've made sense for you?

Thank you very much in advance,

Boris

8:40 p.m. on January 7, 2010 (EST)
MODERATOR
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1,757 forum posts

Unless you can compete in price with stores like REI that rent gear or can offer specialty items like high end mountaineering tents or WM deep winter bags, I think you will have problems making a go of this.

For one, shipping costs are going to be a big expense. For another, things like packs need to be tried on unless the person knows what they are getting and it is likely most won't.

Destinations often offer rentals. I've rented skis and boots and snowshoes in Yosemite, for example. You can also get bear canisters and other gear from their mountain shop in the Valley. You'd be competing against them. People who go on expeditions or take classes often rent from the guide or outfitter or the specialty gear is included in the price.

Damage will be an issue. I was in a ski shop the other day when a guy brought back three rental snowboards, all of which were damaged and one was beyond repair. He claimed be had no idea what happened and was arguing with the shop owner about paying for the damage. People do weird things with rentals. I knew some people years ago who took the doors off a rental car so they could use it as a camera car. Needless to say, they didn't mention that when they took it back.

I'm afraid you could wind up like the people who thought selling 50 pound bags of dogfood online was a good idea.

I could easily be wrong- it's a big world out there.

August 27, 2014
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