Buying second hand outdoor gear is a great way to keep costs down and reduce our impact on the environment. However, there can be a lot to consider including safety and durability.
Before we jump in, there are a few items that should never be bought second-hand:
- Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs): Flotation offered by a PFD can reduce with age and can be affected by how well it has been looked after – which is hard to judge when buying second-hand.
- Ropes, harnesses: There is no guarantee that the rope hasn’t been stored incorrectly or taken a lot of falls even if it looks in good condition. 2nd hand harnesses rarely come with their original safely instructions, something which is always important to have.
- Helmets: Helmets are designed to protect you from one accident and not a series of them and so they should be replaced after every incident. Many people don’t bother taking these precautions though and as damage isn’t always visible you don’t know if a 2nd hand helmet has already served its purpose. It is also important to properly care for a helmet including minimising dropping it, and exposure to high levels of heat/cold – all things which can reduce its efficiency.
Great places to buy second hand gear
- Adventure Queens Outdoor Kit Exchange FB group
- Outdoor Gear Exchange FB Group
- Vinted – A platform which allows you to buy and sell clothing. I have had great success in finding baselayers, cycling jerseys and even rucksacks on here! When using the app, try searching by brand or a specific item of clothing to get the best results.
- Gear Trade – A website which enables users to buy and sell a vast variety of outdoor gear.
- Charity shops – Some charity shops in areas which attract a lot of outdoors activities (e.g. Peaks, lakes) have a good selection of outdoor kit.
It is always good to remember that buying second hand gear online often means you can’t return it after purchase.
What to look out for when buying second hand gear
- Waterproof degradation – Over time waterproof clothing degrades in effectiveness. It’s worth noting this when buying second hand, and potentially reproofing the garment before use. Most brands have guidance on their websites as to how to do this.
- Boots and shoes may need a bit of extra love – Buying second hand walking boots can be a great way to minimise blisters, but it may also mean that the leather is older and softer, so needs waxing more often. Also, it is a good idea to look at the tread/lugs on the bottom of the boot to check that there is enough grip and life left in them. We all walk differently so be aware that different points of the inside/outside of the shoe may be worn down, which may impact your gait/comfort.
- Tents/Bivvy bags – Always check for any signs that the tent has or hasn’t been well looked after. If it smells musty/damp, has mould or discoloured patches or has a flysheet that looks damaged – it’s best not to buy. Also, be aware that the waterproofing on a tent degrades over time and that it can be quite tricky to reproof them. It’s always best to ask the owner how much the tent has been used, on what terrain and where its been stored. Be sure to check the tent’s poles before purchase – bent or broken poles can mean the tent doesn’t go up in the way it is intended and can put pressure on the fabric, making it more prone to damage.
This Guest Blog Post was written by Jessie Stevens, AQ Environmental Queen, map nerd and snack addict who loves all things outside. Cycling is her first love, however, she’s recently got into kayaking and climbing. Jessie particularly interested in how we can make the adventure space greener and more diverse.