Try More, Pay Less: REI to Grow Gear Rental & Used Offerings in 2019

Nearly half of REI’s 154 stores will help pilot a sweeping expansion of gear rental and late-season markdowns for 2019 and beyond.

Snowshoes are helping pave the way for REI in the coming year. That’s because this week, the Seattle-based outdoor retailer announced it will begin a broad expansion of, and investment in, its gear rental program. And its pilot product will be snowshoes.

But the brand assured the program will grow well beyond snowshoes, calling the move “the beginning of a significant expansion” of its gear rentals. While many locations have long offered independent selections of gear to rent, 2019 will bring more consistency and timeliness to the products on offer across stores.

“Factors such as price and storage space can be barriers to getting outdoors,” Peter Whitcomb, director of new business development and head of REI’s rental program, said in a statement. “Offering rental gear makes it that much easier for people to learn a new hobby, check out new gear, connect with friends, and get outside.”

REI Gear Rental

The expanded program will start with 70 REI locations across the country. And while REI seeks to add more consistent offerings, the brand said exact offerings will vary according to each location’s activities and customers.

REI said it will continue to add new products throughout 2019 and that most gear available to rent will also be available for purchase. But the rental expansion will also bode well for late-season sale offerings. According to REI, “gently used” rental gear will find its way into REI’s used gear and garage sales as new products hit shelves.

And while all customers will be able to rent gear, REI said co-op members will receive discounts on rentals.

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This announcement follows news earlier this month of Arc’teryx’s free gear library, which allows customers to try out select gear at no charge. If all goes well, these moves might not only get people outside more often but also attract new people to outdoor recreation. Eager to try it out? Check out this list of REI’s current gear rental locations.

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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie - from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.

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