If you have way too much gear or no longer need your outdoor clothing, tent, sleeping bag, or any other camping gear, consider donating them to organizations instead of sending them to the landfills.
You can also consider repairing, reusing, repurposing, or recycling your gear. But if you do want to donate your camping gear, we’ve compiled a list of organizations that would love to accept them.
Everyone who has gone camping knows the feeling of packing their camping gear over and over again—weighing the decisions between luxury and necessity, comfort, or lightweight packing. To help you avoid this situation, read our article to learn how to save space and reduce your camping gear.
10 Places to Donate Camping Gear to
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Camping gear can get quite expensive which is why we recommend that you donate the equipment that you’re no longer using. It’s better for the environment and you get to help someone in need at the same time.
1. Gear Forward
Gear forward is a non-profit organization that provides gear to youth groups, non-profit community organizations, and charities. They encourage people to donate outdoor gear and seek partnerships with retailers and manufacturers to encourage customers to donate any of their unused gear.
You can donate them most camping gear and equipment, like your sleeping pads, sleeping bags, backpacks, tents, etc. Just fill out a form on their website and they will contact you to inform you where you can ship the items. You can also contact them on their social media pages.
Freecycle is a non-profit movement where you can list your unused camping gear. The organization is made up of more than 5,000 local town groups with over 9 million members worldwide.
To list your items, just sign up on the website, join one or more local town groups, make a post about the items you want to give, and other members will reply to arrange a pickup. That’s how you can save your camping gear from ending up in a landfill.
3. The Mountaineers
The Mountaineers is an organization that provides outdoor programs for anyone aged 6 to 99. They rely on donations to provide gear to their participants so they can enjoy the outdoors safely.
Check their website for a list of gear you may want to donate and e-mail them to arrange drop off. If you are around Washington state, you can drop your donations at the Seattle Program Center.
4. Portland Gear Hub
Portland Gear Hub is a non-profit organization that provides funding for existing youth development programs and has grown into much more. Their staff and volunteers help sort gears, repair kids’ bikes, and more. They also offer affordable youth and adult programs, like bike maintenance classes, group rides, etc.
If you are interested in donating, they have a list of gear they do and do not accept. For instance, they accept Nordic skis, boots, poles, snowshoes, winter apparel, outdoor apparel, ice skates, bikes, bike components and accessories, tents, sleeping bags and pads, backpacks, climbing shoes, and chalk bags.
Donations are tax-deductible, and if you are around Portland, Oregon, you can drop them off at the Portland Gear Hub shop or contact them via their website.
5. Teens to Trails
Teens To Trails’ mission is to connect high school students to life-changing outdoor experiences. To do so, they work with schools to give teens an opportunity to enjoy the outdoors.
They accept donations such as washed outdoor clothing, camping and backpacking gear, and even guidebooks. Donations are tax-deductible and can help support their programs.
To donate your gear, just fill out the form on their website and they will e-mail you to arrange a pickup, drop off, or shipping.
6. City Kids Wilderness Project
This is another non-profit organization that aims to enrich life experiences for DC children. They operate school year and summer programs and focus on overcoming challenges and future planning.
If you can donate, here are the items on their wish list:
- Foam sleeping pad
- Sleeping bags
- Sleeping bag liners
- Nalgene water bottles
- Camping sporks, bowls, and mugs
- Large camping pots and skillets
- Coleman 2 Burner Camping Stove and fuel
- MSR Whisperlite and fuel
- Dishwashing bins
- Dry bags
- Gravity filters
- Electric lanterns
- Gear bins/bags
- Rain gear, including pants, jackets, and ponchos
- Long underwear bottoms
- Wool socks
- Durable couch set
- Sleeping cots
- Shampoo & conditioner
- Hand sanitizer
They also accept gift certificates, gas cards, white copy paper, and laundry detergent. Check out their website for more information and to know who to contact for donations.
7. Outdoor Outreach
Outdoor Outreach provides opportunities for young people to explore the world and discover what they are capable of. With their outdoor programs, they are giving the youth access to outdoor spaces where they can share new experiences, build their confidence, and discover their strengths. They also connect them to a support system to show them that they matter.
The organization accepts new or lightly used gear donations. Just visit their website to know where to mail your items.
8. The PEAK Initiative
The PEAK Initiative helps the youth get involved in activities that can support their passion and nurture their spirit. They offer purpose-driven and experienced-based summer and school year programs to anyone aged 7 to 17.
They accept outdoor and camping gear, as well as non-perishable snacks. You can contact them through their website if you wish to donate your gear.
9. The Cleveland Outpost
The Cleveland Outpost is a place for outdoor enthusiasts of all backgrounds and somewhere where old gear gets a new life. They promote a sustainable outdoor culture by reusing old gear. They accept donations, consignment, and trading. So if you want to donate your gear, you can drop by their store if you are around Ohio or e-mail them for more information.
What they are looking for:
- Paddling equipment & accessories
- Camp cookware
- Sleeping bags
- Bicycle accessories
- Outdoor footwear
- Outdoor clothing
10. Local Organizations
Look for organizations in your local community or ask fellow outdoor enthusiasts about organizations that accept camping gear donations or if they know anyone who needs them. Also, look for local charity shops or thrift stores and youth groups. You can also donate your tents, sleeping bags, or backpacks to a homeless charity.
Donating your outdoor gear can give someone else a chance to get to love outdoor activities, keep used items out of landfills, and free up your storage space.
Before you throw away your camping gear, it’s worth taking a moment to consider whether it has already served its purpose and is no longer restorable or is just tired-looking and only presents minor damages.
Camping equipment is not cheap. If you want you gear to last more than one camping season, then you need to know how to maintain them. Read our article to learn how to care for and store your camping equipment.
Other Things You Can Do
Aside from donating used camping gear, you can also consider the following:
A lot of outdoor clothing and camping equipment can be repaired very easily. With a little patience and some research, you’ll probably be able to do it yourself. However, if the fix is a bit technical, you can either get a local tailor or gear shop to mend it or can contact the manufacturer to see if they offer a repair service. Some manufacturers may charge for repairs, while others will happily do it for free.
If you refuse to let go of some of your torn or tattered camping gear, identify any useful items, like the fabric from your tent, rainfly, zippers, buckles, frame of a backpack, straps, and webbing from your old sandals. You can also salvage metal poles, zipper pulls, hook-and-loop strips, and elastics.
After you have stripped off what you think you can still use, recycle what is left or check in with your local waste authority before putting them in the recycling bin.
Some recycling or upcycling ideas include turning your tent fly into a stuff sack, making a groundsheet, tarp, or kite out of your tent, and turning an old climbing rope into a dog leash, rope swing, or use it for your hammock.
There are many ways to repurpose your camping gear. However, if you do not want the hassle of DIY-ing, you can send them for recycling or donate them if they are still usable.
Check with your local clothes bank if they can take your old outdoor gear and fabrics to be recycled, reused, or repurposed.
If you have unwanted clothing and footwear, The North Face’s Clothes The Loop Program will take them for recycling. You can drop off any brand of outdoor clothing at any of their stores and earn a discount on your next purchase.
You can also send your used camping gear and clothing to REI’s Give Back Box program. You just have to download a prepaid shipping label, pack your gear, and send it.
If you have Patagonia items, check out the brand’s Worn Wear Scheme, wherein you can send or drop them off in exchange for credit that you can use on new items.
If you have cotton and merino clothing that is not blended with synthetic materials, you can simply compost them.
It is not difficult to donate, recycle, or repurpose your old camping gear. With a little bit of consideration and effort, you can come up with many ways of upcycling your gear and find many organizations and people in your local community who might need them.
One of the things that hinder people from enjoying the outdoors is their lack of equipment. Camping gear can be a bit pricy which can make it inaccessible for some people. By donating your camping gear, you are making camping more accessible to more people. What’s more, you’re also helping the environment by not send more items to the landfill, and that’s what you call hitting two birds with one stone.