Courtesy of Xscape Pod
Photo by Matt Gross/Unsplash.com
Get everything you need for your next camping trip without spending thousands of dollars.
Whether you’re not ready to invest in a garage full of gear or simply don’t have room to store it all, these rental companies will equip you with top-of-the-line tents, sleeping bags, stoves, and more.
With sleeping bag sunsets and morning coffee in the pines, a weekend camping trip is the stuff of summertime dreams. But for many first-time campers—and anyone with limited storage space—buying everything you need for a stint in the great outdoors can seem like an impossible hurdle.
Enter camping gear rentals: While some will let you rent one or two items missing from your packing checklist, others will bundle everything you need for a camping trip into a campground-ready box, then deliver it to your doorstep or your destination (including hotels or Airbnbs). Each of these outfitters swaps out gear on a regular basis to keep the selection up to date, which makes rentals a great way to test the latest camping gear before investing in your own. While all equipment gets a thorough cleaning between each trip, sleeping bags and sleeping pads get special attention: Those are whisked to a professional cleaner or treated with an anti-microbial spray before heading back into the field.
Portland-based Xscape Pod rents comprehensive camping “pods” that include a tent, 30-degree sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, sleeping pad, camp chairs, headlamp, and fire starter, and it packs all your supplies into hard-sided pods that are easy to slide into the trunk of a car. Campsite chefs will appreciate well-appointed cooking kits with camp stove, cooler, lightweight pots, pocket knives, and roasting skewers. (Hello, s’mores!)
For backcountry adventures, it also offers a backpacking pod, which includes a backpack and other, lightweight camping gear to set you up for an overnight trek in the woods. Additionally, you can rent gear à la carte if you’re only missing an item or two.
Pods start at $149 for one person and $199 for two people for a one- to three-day trip. Shipping is included for orders $349 and over. Otherwise, nationwide round-trip FedEx shipping is a flat rate of $50. Pods arrive the day before your start date; if you choose a one-day rental, you’ll have until 6 p.m. the day after your departure date to get your gear in the mail using a return shipping label.
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Going to Portland, Oregon? You can pick up a pod at Xscape Pod headquarters to save on shipping costs.
Most gear rental companies offer a few types of prepacked camping kits, but variety is where Denver-based Outdoors Geek shines, starting with budget-friendly basic packages that include a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. On the other end of the spectrum are luxe, glamping-inspired setups with a two-person sleeping bag, a table and chairs, and a spacious Santa Fe bell tent. The eight-person tents supplied in family camping packages sleep your entire clan, and you can add kid-pleasing games and hot chocolate too.
If you already own some gear, Outdoors Geek is also a good place to rent extras—its comprehensive gear collection dwarfs that of other outlets and features big-name brands such as Marmot, the North Face, MSR, and Big Agnes.
Basic camping packages with a tent, sleeping pad, and sleeping bag start at $69 for a one- to three-day rental period, while stylish “fancy camping” kits are $268 and up. Round-trip, nationwide UPS shipping is extra, or you can pick up your kit at Outdoor Geek’s Denver location.
Arrive Outdoors in Los Angeles is a gear rental service that stocks equipment from Marmot, Nemo, Black Diamond, and other top brands, and its sustainability-driven mission helped the company snag Outdoor Retailer’s 2019 Inspiration Award. Pick the gear you want item by item or order camping packages that bundle basics with creature comforts like Helinox camp chairs, heavy-duty Yeti coolers, and full cooking kits. Or go even bigger and build a chic site equipped with hammocks, solar-powered mood lighting, and a stainless-steel grill that turns your campfire into an open-air barbecue.
Arrive Outdoors also has on-call staff who can help with gear selection and trip-planning advice by phone or chat.
Generously stocked, one-person camping sets start at $187 for one to three days. Round-trip FedEx shipping is included for orders over $49 and in-store pickup and local delivery are available in Los Angeles.
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With 168 locations in 39 states across the United States, REI is one of the easiest places to rent camping gear from—especially if you need it ASAP. REI rentals come either à la carte—great if all you need is a bear canister or an extra camping chair—or as part of a kit, complete with tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, coolers, chairs, table, and headlamps. You can generally expect to receive REI-brand gear, like the REI Co-op Half-Dome tent, though some stores may be able to swap for a different brand if you want to test something specific.
The only downside is that not all REI rental locations take online reservations (you have to call to check on availability and reserve gear) and they don’t ship gear like the companies mentioned above. However, for last-minute adventures and small odds-and-ends, REI’s convenience and affordability is hard to beat for campers who live near a store with this option.
A basic two-person car camping kit from REI starts at $114 for the first night and $27 for each additional night for members, $171 for the first night and $40 for each additional night for nonmembers.
Renting a camping gear kit is a flexible, low-effort way to test out camping for the first time, or avoid loading up your checked luggage while flying to your destination. However, there are other ways to spend a night outdoors, even if you don’t own the equipment.
If you’re spending the night at a drive-in campsite, you could skip the tent entirely and rent a fully equipped camper van or RV for your camping adventure. Many developed campgrounds throughout the United States, including those at national and state parks, have special sites to accommodate RVs (although you should check on the park’s website before making a reservation).
Camper vans are a little more flexible because you can usually park them in standard, non-RV campsites. For both, rental companies like the West Coast’s Native Campervans and New York–based Wayward Campers provide everything you need—stove, bed, fridge or cooler—to spend a night (or more) comfortably outdoors.
Read more: Where and How to Rent an RV in the U.S.
What if we said that you could book a campsite that comes with a fully set-up and equipped tent? At the signature glamping sites on Tentrr—available in over 40 states—that’s exactly what you get: A ready-to-sleep-in safari-style tent, complete with other camping essentials like chairs, grill, and a bed. Although the platform generally works with private landowners, you can find several of its setups in state parks in Maine and New York.
This article was originally published on July 17, 2019; it was updated with new information on May 11, 2021. Jessie Beck contributed to the reporting of this story.
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