5 Reasons to Buy Used Outdoor Gear from REI Co-op

Have you ever wanted to try something new outdoors, like car camping or an overnight backpacking trip, but were intimidated by the cost of buying all new gear – like a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad?

Or what if, after buying all that new gear, you decide that sticking to day hikes is more your jam and now you’re stuck with a bunch of gear you don’t know what to do with?

We’ve got good news — you can shop the REI Re/Supply used outdoor gear site instead! Outdoor enthusiasts can score gently used, pre-loved products including backpacking tents, camping gear, hiking boots, and more at a hefty discount!

The gear assortment comes from REI returns, as well as items that are traded in by other REI members. Since this gear is used, this means that inventory is constantly changing, so even if you can’t initially find what you’re looking for, keep checking the site.

Buying used outdoor gear is a great way to be a more eco-conscious outdoors person – and also save money so you can budget more for your outdoor adventures. As devoted REI Members, we’re stoked that our favorite outdoor retailer is making it even easier for the Co-op community to get used versions of the best gear on the market. Below, we share the top reasons to shop REI Co-op’s RE/Supply used gear site.

Sponsored by REI Co-op

REI Co-op is our favorite outdoor gear retailer and a long-time supporter of our work here at Bearfoot Theory. We appreciate their 1-year return policy, their Member-only coupons, and the fact that REI Members receive 10% back on their purchases every year. We only recommend products we truly love and think you will love too.

1. Buying Used Outdoor Gear is Cheaper

It’s no secret that buying secondhand outdoor gear will result in a lower price and for some items, this could be a big price difference. Price is one of the biggest barriers of entry to the outdoors since gear can be expensive and adds up quickly when you’re new to the outdoors or to a specific outdoor activity.

Even though enjoying the outdoors is often free or inexpensive, getting the proper gear definitely isn’t, and if you’re trying to save money or simply can’t afford a big-ticket item, buying used outdoor gear is the way to go.

At REI Used, they sell pre-loved, gently used items from name brands like Patagonia, The North Face, Arc’teryx, and more that have been closely inspected, so you can still score quality items for a fraction of the cost. Some of these items have only been worn once or twice, and feel almost brand new!

Instead of dropping a lot of dough on expensive new gear, save your money to splurge on an incredible trip.

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Download Handy Outdoor Packing Checklists & Trip Planning Guides

Here are a few of our favorite sections to browse on REI’s used gear site. Act now because these items have limited availability and check back often because the available gear is rotating often.

Used Backpacking, Hiking & Camping Gear:

Used Outdoor Apparel:

A group of backpackers sit taking a break on the trail. Several backpacking packs are sitting on the ground nearby.
Buying used cuts down the high-cost barrier of entry to the outdoors

2. Used Outdoor Gear is Better for the Environment

As outdoor enthusiasts, sustainable living and reducing our environmental impact is top of mind to ensure we are doing our best to protect our oceans, rivers, mountains, and our planet as a whole. It is no secret that the health of our planet is in danger between rising global greenhouse gas emissions, warming temperatures, rising ocean levels, and deforestation. As individuals, it can be hard to know what we can do to slow down this trajectory and affect change, but there are easy ways to change everyday buying habits and make an impact by reducing our consumption.

The retail industry is the second largest polluter in the world, right after the oil industry. According to REI’s website, one garbage truck’s worth of textiles is landfilled or incinerated every second. From water and air emissions to discharges from factory operations, shipping, and more, the production of new outdoor gear leaves a hefty carbon footprint, whether we like it or not.

Although many outdoor gear companies, including REI, have begun to implement positive changes like reducing waste, harnessing solar, utilizing organic and recycled materials, and lowering water consumption, creating new gear still has a big environmental impact.

So instead of going for that new pack straight away, check out what might already be in REI’s used gear shop just waiting to be found. Shopping for used camping gear gives a second (or third, or fourth) life to gear that might otherwise end up in a landfill. Plus, according to REI, buying used instead of new typically avoids carbon emissions of 50% or more. Switching to used outdoor gear gets you what you need and also minimizes your environmental impact at the same time – win-win!

A woman sits on a rock facing a lake. She is wearing a hiking sun hat and day pack
Buying used gives gear a second (or third!) life

3. Buying Used Outdoor Gear from REI is Convenient

REI’s Used Gear website makes the entire buying process convenient by curating used outdoor gear in one place and making it easy to shop and order online.

Garage sales, thrift stores, and sites like Craigslist have been around for years to find deals on secondhand outdoor gear, but it takes time to find what you’re looking for (if you’re able to find it at all!), and product quality is not guaranteed. REI used gear has been inspected for quality and it’s easy to browse the site and find exactly what you’re looking for.

There are four condition levels for items sold online through REI’s used gear program – excellent, lightly worn, moderately worn, and well worn. Items are discounted according to their condition level and most items sold online are in excellent condition or lightly worn.

Among the gear that’s up for sale, REI’s used gear section includes a wide array of footwear, like hiking boots, climbing shoes, winter boots, running shoes, and more. What’s the benefit of buying a previously-owned pair of shoes, you might wonder? Well, they’ve already been cleaned and broken in for you – what a time saver!

Just think of it as if someone had done you the favor of walking around in your new hiking boots to soften them up — which, in a way, they kind of did. The new best blister prevention for outdoor footwear? Buying a used pair. And don’t worry, you’re not going to find an old pair of stinky used shoes like you might be imagining, just gently used ones that still have plenty of life in them.

We’ve personally bought items from REI’s used gear site including hiking boots, insulated jackets, baselayers, and hiking backpacks, and have been more than happy with everything.

A woman wears a pair of hiking boots  on a hiking trail. There is a lake and mountains in the distance.
Imagine buying hiking boots that are already broken in!

4. You Can Try Out Something New for Less

All the research in the world can’t replace the value of time and experience. Until you’ve gone out on a multi-day backpacking trip or overnight kayaking trip, you won’t really know what kind of gear works best for you, or if you even like the activity! Before fully committing to a new outdoor activity and spending a lot of money investing in new gear, why not buy used outdoor gear to test out?

Buying used outdoor gear, especially if you are new to the outdoors, relieves the pressure and your expectation to make the perfect purchase every time. Don’t get us wrong, we think you can get pretty darn close and even nail it with the gear advice we share here at Bearfoot Theory, but buying used outdoor gear makes the process of trying out new products or outdoor activities a bit easier and less of a risk. Plus, if it doesn’t work out, you can still trade in your used gear with REI’s trade-in program and receive REI credit toward your next piece of gear!

Two women set up a MSR backpacking tent
Used gear is perfect for beginners testing new outdoor activities like backpacking

5. REI Used Gear Can Be Returned

REI used gear can be returned up to 30 days after purchase, so you can shop knowing you’re covered if it doesn’t end up working out. How convenient is that?

Maybe you didn’t get the size quite right or the hiking boots you ordered aren’t a good fit for your feet. No worries – you can easily initiate a return online and mail your purchase back for a full refund.

How the REI Used Gear Program Works

If you’re already an REI Member, you know that they have the best return policy in the outdoor industry. So what happens to that gently used gear that didn’t work out for the last person? The REI Used Gear Site is where it is now ending up. REI inspects the gear for quality to ensure all product features (like zippers or snaps) are in working condition. Then, it will rank the item into four different condition levels:

  • Excellent: Practically new; likely never worn outside
  • Lightly Worn: Trail-tested a few times; minor wear visible
  • Moderately Worn: Used for a season; visible wear
  • Well Worn: Broken in; visible wear

The condition of the item can be found directly above the “Add to Cart” button on REI’s website. Items are priced according to their condition level and all items have plenty of adventure left in them. Items that are in “excellent” condition may have only been used once or twice, so when you think of it like that, some of the “used” gear is practically brand new! So check it out, save some money, and then explore our Destination Archives to plan a trip with the money you have left over.

REI Co-op Used Gear thumbnail

How the REI Trade-In Program Works

REI Co-op members can trade in gently used outdoor gear in exchange for REI gift cards – how amazing is that? REI accepts gently used gear that REI has sold in the past 6 years including most men’s, women’s, and kids’ clothing and shoes, as well as gear like sleeping bags, backpacks, and tents – you could receive up to 50% of the retail value. The best part? You can trade in gear that you didn’t even buy from REI (as long as REI also carries that product, of course).

So how does it work?

If you prefer to do an in-person trade-in or want to save on shipping costs, you can simply bring your used gear to your local REI store.

Otherwise, you can easily process the trade-in online!

First, you’ll search for the item online, then REI will give you the trade-in value. After you accept, REI will send you a shipping label (or even a full shipping kit including packaging if you don’t have any available at home) so you can mail in your items. In return, you get an REI gift card for the trade-in value (minus a $6 shipping cost), and your used gear gets a second life! This process could not be any easier (you don’t even have to leave your home!) and is an amazing way to clean out your closet.

REI trade in process

Have you ever bought used outdoor gear or tried REI’s trade-in program? How was your experience? Leave us a comment below!

The post 5 Reasons to Buy Used Outdoor Gear from REI Co-op appeared first on Bearfoot Theory.

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