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How One Company is Making Affordable Outdoor Gear Even More Accessible

Eddie Bauer's new rental operation makes it easy to use gear without spending a fortune.

By now, we’ve all heard about how more Americans are getting outside than ever before. The twin drivers of the Covid-19 pandemic, which shut down or shrunk bars, sporting events, and concerts, and a general rise in hiking interest have resulted in more people on trails, which also means plenty of new hikers. Here’s the thing, though: Diving headfirst into the backpacking life can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, and that’s just for one person.

One way to mitigate that cost is renting equipment. While third-party companies renting out gear fairly common, direct-to-consumer rentals are less so. That’s why Eddie Bauer’s new program, in partnership with Arrive Outdoors, is interesting. Via a link on Eddie Bauer’s website, budget-conscious backpackers, or those only making one or two trips per year, can rent gear from the company, ranging from hiking boots to jackets to packs to tents. A pair of hiking boots costs $9 per day, while a 20°F down sleeping bag goes for $13.50. Shipping is available to anywhere in the United States.

Eddie Bauer is promoting the program as a way to make gear accessible to hikers who may not be ready or able to spring for a setup of their own. 

“It’s our goal to make the outdoors more inclusive and accessible to all communities, and we see the Eddie Bauer gear rental program as a great step towards eliminating some of the barriers to outdoor access,” said Kristen Elliott, the company’s vice president of marketing, in an email. “We can now bring technical apparel and gear to more people, at an approachable cost, and ensure more people can get outside.”

Elliott also said that Eddie Bauer will most likely expand the rental portal’s offerings to cold-weather gear—which is typically even pricier than three-season stuff—come winter. (Even now, you can rent the company’s bomber Katabatic tent for $35 per day.) For warm-weather backpackers planning their first excursion in the snow, it’s a new way to make sure they’re not left out in the cold.