Backpacking gear is expensive. And no matter what gear you buy when you start backpacking (protip: here's the gear I use), you'll inevitably want to upgrade at some point in the future.
But what do you do with your old gear? Letting it sit in your basement is a waste of money and you could pass it on to someone else who might get years of use out of it.
Selling it in person on Craigslist/Facebook is difficult because so much of the gear is extremely niche. Not to mention, the average once-a-year car camper just won't appreciate your $20, 1 ounce cat trowel.
So to get the most money back on your used gear you have to sell it online. Here's a list of the best places to sell or buy used backpacking gear.
Backpacking Light Gear Swap Forum
- Hard to find gear
- Gear from cottage manufacturers
- High end gear
- Low prices; gear tends to be more expensive
- Casual browsing; good deals go fast so you need to constantly check in
The Backpacking Light gear swap forum is one of the best places to buy and sell used backpacking gear, especially if you want to pick up unique gear from cottage manufacturers.
The people on the BPL forums are really into backpacking so if you're looking to buy or sell gear from lesser known manufacturers this is the best place to find it.
The BPL forum is also one of the more active communities. During an average 24 hour span there are about 30-40 new items posted for sale.
- Finding good deals/low prices
- Wide range of gear for sale
- Easily browsing listings
- Finding historical prices
- More unique/high end gear
- Casual browsing; good deals go fast
The GearTrade subreddit is my favorite place for buying/selling used backpacking gear. I use Reddit all the time so finding deals on the GearTrade subreddit just means I subscribe to that subreddit and it will automatically show up in my news feed as I browse Reddit.
Another way to use it is to use Reddit's search to find the specific item you want. Even if the item you're looking for isn't currently available for sale, you can use older posts to get an idea of how muh the item normally sells for. This is helpful to figure out what a good deal is.
The only (minor) downside is that the gear posted to this subreddit is usually more popular/appeals to a wide audience. For instance, I bought a Kelty Cosmic Down 20 sleeping bag from the GearTrade subreddit. This is a ~$100 used sleeping bag so it's more likely to show up on Reddit than a $400 high end bag.
I've also purchased a Big Agnes 2 person tent for $225 which was about $100 cheaper than other used postings. Reddit is really great for finding deals if you can be patient. It might take a couple months for the deal you want to show up.
The volume of deals on the subreddit is about 20-30 posts per day so it's slightly lower than the BPL forums but still pretty high.
- Finding good deals
- Wide selection of gear
- Avoiding fakes/Chinese products that are being sold as new
- Cottage brands
eBay is known and used all over the world because of it's huge selection. But what makes it so good for general shopping also hurts it as a backpacking specific store.
Looking for high quality used gear is like finding a needle in a haystack on eBay. Their search algorithm isn't very good which means you'll get tons of irrelevant results back.
Most of these search results are either knock off products similar to what you're searching for or things being sold as new. Double check to make sure the product isn't shipping from China which would be a red flag that it's probably not used gear, but a new knock off/replica.
eBay does have a 'Used' checkbox on the left side of the screen you can check but it's not always reliable since sellers can claim whatever they want when posting products for sale.
Also since these auctions are timed, they usually expire after 7 days. So while you'll usually miss out on deals if you aren't constantly checking, it also means you can find some great deals since there aren't as many people looking at them.
If you find a product you want just add it to your watch list then try to place a bid when the auction counter is nearing the end of the auction. I've gotten the best deals by bidding with less than 60 seconds left on the auction.
- Wide selection of gear
- Easy to browse
- Cottage brands
- Backpacking specific; lots of categories overshadow backpacking
GearTrade.com is a marketplace for outdoors gear. They cover all sorts of different outdoors activities so the gear for sale isn't specific to backpacking. The selection of backpacking specific gear isn't as good as what you'll find on Reddit or the BPL forums but there are some things you can find on GearTrade that aren't listed on the other sites.
GearTrade is worth checking out because it's easy to browse and there's a wide selection but don't expect to find as many high end or unique items here compared to the other sites I mentioned.
REI Gear Swap Event
- Hard to find gear
- Good prices
- Online browsing; you have to go in person
- Have to be an REI member
Everybody in the backpacking world has heard of REI but you've probably only used it to pick up new gear or maybe some discounted products from their outlet store.
But they actually have an in person gear swap you can go to. The most recent one from this year was hosted in the following cities:
- Arcadia, CA
- Bloomington, MN
- Chandler, AZ
- Chattanooga, TN
- Columbia, MD
- Greenwood Village, CO
- Madison, WI
- San Diego, CA
- Saratoga, CA
- Tualatin, OR
- West Hartford, CT
Unfortunately I live in Michigan so I couldn't go to any of these events which means I don't have any info on the prices or gear selection or anything.
All I know is I love shopping online and having to go to a physical meet up sounds like a pain to me. But if you live near one of the REI stores that has a gear swap it might be worth checking out. Also you have to be an REI member to attend. The membership costs $20 but you can usually recover that money thanks to the dividends you'll get every year.