One time I wanted cool outside gear so badly I got a job at a Patagonia retail shop. On my first day, the floor manager told me that I got hired because I didn’t ask about the employee discount during the interview. Score. We commenced a training activity that involved learning all the special features of a $600 ski parka. Six hundred dollars? I asked about the employee discount. It wasn’t enough to come anywhere close to me being able to afford the ski parka.
Outside gear conjures tantalizing fantasies of fresh air escapes to the Catskills, living life to the fullest while on a kayak on the Hudson, taking in a breathtaking view on a high peak in the Adirondacks, but it can come with a hefty price tag. Anyone who has spent a night in a leaky tent on an even-leakier air mattress knows that good gear makes all the difference, but how do you procure it without taking a part-time job telling rich people about hidden zippers? Lucky for us, New York is a city of renters, and that applies to camping gear too! Check out these Brooklyn-based outfitters that will rent you great gear for a steal.
You can get anything delivered to your door in this city, including your rental camping gear. The NYC-based online camping retailer Traverse Outfitters offers round-trip delivery for a $20 fee, or free if you spend $99 or more.
The longer you keep your gear, the greater your discount: two-person tents start at $26 the first day and go down to $8 each day after, sleeping bags are $18, then $7, backpacks $22, then $6 (with a two-night minimum for overnight rentals). Traverse Outfitters knows how far cleanliness goes when it comes to turning out happy campers, and hand washes their sleeping bags, camping pads, packs and tents after each use. Come wintertime, hit them up for snowshoes too. They don’t maintain a storefront, so call or email for availability.
Gear to Go Outfitters
159 Seventh Ave., Park Slope
Gear to Go also has a very appealing “try before you buy” system where you can rent the gear you need and then apply 50 percent of the rental fee towards the purchase of a new item of the same type. Two-person tents start at $70, sleeping bags at $25, backpacks at $55. They also supply cooking ware, headlamps, compasses and other assorted camping stuffs. Three-night minimum rental. Check out their guided trips to all the beautiful places, from the Catskills to Norway.
NYC Beach Bus/Rent Ride Return
514 Atlantic Ave., Boerum Hill
in-store rentals, online coming soon
The good folks at the NYC Beach Bus already offer Rent Ride Return, which outfits beach bus riders with umbrellas, beach chairs and more; now, they’re renting camping gear at their storefront on Atlantic Avenue. They offer very affordable one day, four-day or one-week rentals: three-person tents go for $35/day, $75/four days, $90/week, and four-person tents for $45/day, $90/four days, and $110/week. Owner Scott Leibowitz told us he has a single one-man tent that he’ll rent out for free exclusively to anybody who’s going on an overnight motorcycle trip; maybe that’s you?
Sleeping bags, backpacks and fishing rods all go for the same rate of $25/day, $40/four days, or $55/week. If you’re car camping out to a lake, pick up a stand up paddleboard or kayak for $80/day. They expect to have the gear available online in a couple weeks; in the meantime, swing by the store, peruse the goods, play the owners in ping-pong and definitely try their homemade ice cream, in flavors like grapenut and Nutella crunch, and cookies (lemon ricotta, cherry chocolate chip). Put them together for an ice cream sandwich, ($5). Leibowitz also told us they’ve recently obtained state certification to issue fishing and hunting licenses; for more details, inquire at the store.
If you don’t have any gear or desire to borrow some and set up a campsite yourself, try Tentrr, which does all the work for you for less than the cost of a hotel room. You just show up to the campsite and enjoy. Find out all about Tentrr here.
Now what? Once you’re outfitted, check out these six places you can go camping near NYC without a car. Or let the Brooklyn-based Destination Backcountry Adventures help take the edge off your “nature deficit disorder” with one of their overnight wilderness trips.
Additional reporting by Kate Mooney.