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Trash or Treasure? 5 Times To Buy Used Gear

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New or used? It’s an old question that applies to many products, including outdoor gear. The arguments for purchasing new or used equipment are lengthy on both sides, but these are five times it makes sense to buy used.

Your First Time: Your girlfriend has never mountain biked, or your boyfriend’s never touched a snowboard. It’s all excitement — until he or she sees the price tag of a new ride. Purchasing expensive gear for a new sport can be a major turn off. Fortunately, used gear is often much more affordable and comes pre-scuffed, so beginner crashes are a lot easier to stomach. You might even have funds left over for lessons.

When You Learn Fast: So what if it’s only your second day? You’re going to hit that expert line and crush it. Whether you’re a fast learner, or just think you are, you might want to buy used gear to get a feel for what equipment you really need. When you upgrade, which you’re bound to do soon, recoup the investment by selling your first setup online. Use the cash for what you really want. That’s a win-win.

When You’re A Child: They just keep growing. One month they’re adorable in those brand new boots, next month, the boots are painfully small. Why shell out big bucks for something they won’t be able to wear longer than the warranty? Buy used. Feel better. Save cash and buy the tykes ice cream instead. Plus, what’s cuter than a 3-year-old in a 90s onesie? (Exception: Children who compete at a high level or simply crush at their sport may benefit from the “latest and greatest” technology available.)

Broke But Stoked: New gear is expensive, plain and simple. Satisfaction from being the owner of a new board is doused by the sight of an empty bank account. But what if you could upgrade your quiver with the perfect powder board for your “sick day” and still have money for rent? The answer: Buy used gear. You’ll feel better about splurging on that third pair of poles (they were neon pink!) because a steal is always worth it.

Exception: Used gear is less expensive, but it still isn’t free! Don’t take out a second mortgage for a second mountain bike.

As An Expert: When it comes to your sport, you know the gear inside-out. So when you examine used equipment, you know how to spot wear, abuse and potential failure; you also know how to spot a bargain. Combine your knowledge with the fact that everything from canoes to camp stoves are neglected by people who tried an outdoor sport and just didn’t like it, and you have thousands of opportunities for awesome deals. Just a few minutes on Craigslist should score lightly used gear for your next adventure, so long as you know good from bad. Luckily, you already do.

Buying Used Bonuses: It takes a little more work and eduction to buy good used equipment, but the advantages stretch beyond the checkbook. Buying used is sustainable and stretches the life of equipment that could prematurely end up in a landfill. And how cool will you look in those retro wool pants from the 1950s? Just don’t tell anyone how great they are … and have the market to yourself. Oops.

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