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Where to Rent Camping Gear

Condé Nast Traveler logo Condé Nast Traveler 9/23/2020 Megan Spurrell
a tree next to a body of water: Man is sitting around a campfire and just relaxing, snow on the ground © petejau Man is sitting around a campfire and just relaxing, snow on the ground

Over the past few months, many of us have gone full-throttle with outdoor activities: we're buying bikes, we're picnicking more than ever, we're heading to national parks, and, notably, we're camping—some of us for the first time ever. And no wonder: There's appeal in hopping in the car with your family or bubble and bedding down in a gorgeous natural space

With the months ahead uncertain, it's likely that this trend toward fresh air (and vacationing away from other people) will continue. But before you go out and scoop up all the new camping gear you might need, consider treating it like any other hobby and ease on in. Camping gear rentals, offered by an increasing number of regional and national outlets in the U.S., make it possible to try out what you need before investing; and, if you're not sure if this hobby will continue post-pandemic, it's better not to go hog wild at REI for just one or two trips. Plus, for those quarantining in small city apartments, renting may be the only reasonable way to get a hold of gear you have nowhere to store.

Many gear rental companies can ship everything from tents and sleeping bags to camping stoves and headlamps within a week or so of your trip, making it possible to pull off a last-minute escape on short notice. Below, the best places to rent camping gear for your next excursion.

All products featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Arrive Outdoors    

New to camping? No problem. Arrive Outdoors, which offers camping, backpacking, and even ski and snow rentals, is a one-stop shop for the basics. If you just need an item or two—say, a sleeping bag, a camping stove, or perhaps trekking poles or binoculars—they've got it. But where the brand really delivers is with their camping and backpacking sets, which are designed for groups of one, two, and four, taking out any guesswork for new campers. In each camping set you'll find everything you need for a group of your size, including a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, headlamp, and camping chair for each person, plus shared essentials like an appropriately-sized tent, cooler, lantern, stove, and pot set. 

Their products are all from reliable outdoors brands you've heard of—think Marmot tents, YETI coolers, ENO hammocks. And their prices are fair, though they vary quite a bit depending on how long you plan to rent the item for (a camping set for one is advertised as starting around $7 per day, though renting it for just a weekend clocks in around $26 per day). Keep in mind that if you want your gear a day or two before you head out, you will have to pay accordingly. 

Rent from Arrive Outdoors: arriveoutdoors.com     

Xscape Pod       

Portland-based Xscape Pod is designed around the idea of giving you a grab-and-go kit with all the essentials—they have pods for camping, backpacking, and, inspired by COVID times, camping in your backyard. Each comes with a tent, sleeping bags, cooking supplies, and more, all of which pack into a literal pod (save for the ultra-light backpacking kit), and are customizable for groups of one through eight. Their pods, stacked with great gear from brands like Big Agnes, are pricier than Arrive's offerings—the camping pod for one starts at $149 for one to three day trips, and shipping is $50—but the pricing is clearly tiered based on average trip lengths from a weekend to two weeks (for larger groups or longer trips, you'll need to message them directly about a custom shipment). When you calculate your rental price, you only need to pay for the days you'll actually be on the road, though: they'll make sure the pod gets to you at least one day before your trip. They do à la carte rentals, too, offering items from backpacks and camping chairs to solar chargers and water filters. 

Rent from Xscape Pod: xscapepod.com

Outdoors Geek 

Family-owned Outdoors Geek doesn't offer a very sleek shopping experience (the site feels somewhat like a government website), but they've been around for decades. And don't let the unassuming façade fool you: In addition to offering rentals on standard camping gear like tents and sleeping bags, the glamping rentals are what make Outdoors Geek really stand out. Because, let's face it—not all of us are outdoors people, even if heading outside is our primary means of travel right now. 

For a simple upgrade to a sleeping-bag-on-the-ground situation, check out the Dome Tent glamping rental, which comes with a tent, a queen air bed with real sheets, and a camping table to use as a nightstand (currently priced at $281 for a one to seven day rental). Or up the ante with the Bell Tent and Safari Tent glamping setups, both of which start around $400 for a week and go up to nearly $700, and come with luxe spacious tents with solid floors. The price varies depending on whether you want just the tent, air mattresses and interior bedding for four, or perhaps sleeping bags for six, though one thing's for sure—if you've got a spot big enough to put this thing, you won't regret it. 

If you need more of the basics (say a dry bag, hiking boots, or sleeping bags for the family), they've got those too, with an option to purchase rental items that you loved. 

Rent from Outdoors Geek: outdoorsgeek.com       

REI     

If you're headed to REI anyway, then good news—they offer rentals, too. And not just on camping gear. They've got hiking essentials, snow gear, cycling and climbing must-haves, and even paddling rentals. Everything is straightforward at REI, down to the pricing, and options are streamlined: Choose between a basic backpacking kit, lightweight backpacking kit, and the classic car camping kit, all of which are designed for two people and around $175 to $250 for the first night, and under $50 for every additional night (members get a good chunk off that price). 

For those in need of individual items, they've got those too, with basics like camp stoves, tents, and bear canisters. The only catch is that items available vary by location, with only certain stores currently open—so do your research beforehand to confirm that the REI near you has what you need for pickup. 

Rent from REI: rei.com

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