Check out lowergear.com. It's like Netflix for backpacking equipment. Want a Garmin 60Cx to download a hike for that trip? For $49/week, you get the GPS and a self-addressed label to ship it back after you return home. Lowergear.com also rents new models of tents, bags, packs, bear canisters, cookware, and headlamps.
Check out our special section, BACKPACKING 101, for more helpful tips about beginning backpacking.