The concept of a backpacking gear exchange has been tried before, I recall something on the East Coast not so long ago, but it eventually failed - I don't know the details why.
When I look at the amount of unused or lightly used gear that I have in my closet as a result of my gear addiction it scares me. Multiply that by the number of us that active in the online backpacking blog community and you start to get an idea for how much gear is sitting around and going to waste. It's stagering!
There seems to be a gear backlash movement gathering momentum this year (see JERMM's outside), you've read that I am cleaning out my gear closet and also being very deliberate to buy as little new gear as possible this year, there are many of my peers that feel the same way and have made it one of their resolutions to buy no new gear in 2012. It will be interesting to see if this effects the manufacturers at all - probably not very much.
I've also read a lot more posts about retasking, reusing, and recycling gear rather than simply replacing it just to have the latest and greatest version. Does the gear we have already do the job we need it to? Do we really need to spend $50+ to shave 1gram off a headlamp?
We Have the Know-How
I want to pick your brains about what it would take to possibly design, build, establish and maintain a successful UL gear exchange service. I'm not asking because I want to build one or even own one myself, I'm asking because I would love to make use of one - heck I'm the perfect candidate!
Think of this as harnessing the collective thought power of the online UL community - crowd-sourcing put more simply. As a community we have tremendous amount of experience that spans just about every form of expertise necessary to pull off something like this, we just need to tap into that. Think about what experience and skills you have that could help?
We all see new and amazing online services starting up every week, there are already some great general purpose sites that do exactly what I am suggesting but in a more generic way - Ecomodo, Loanables are two examples that come to mind, I know there are others.
Is There Demand?
I guess the first thing I would be interested to have an answer for is whether or not there is a need or demand for a service such as this? Would you be willing to exchange your gear in order to receive some other piece of gear that you need or want more? If this is a crazy idea not worth pursuing then tell me so, I'm cool with being told it's stupid - but a part of me still believes it viable if done right with all the necessary checks and balances.
What are your thoughts on the idea of a UL gear exchange? Is it worth pursuing and if so what are some of the important considerations or gotchas to avoid? What lessons can we learn from the previous attempts?
Brian is a Charlotte based backpacker, gear junkie, runner, and CrossFit(er). Originally from Southampton, England, Brian has lived in the US for over 20 years, finally settling in North Carolina. He spends as much time backpacking as his busy work schedule and family life will allow.