Renting Equipment: Outdoor Travel for Less

by Michaela Mulligan

Niehls Ingram holds a snowshoe, which is used to hike through the snow in the winter months.

Niehls Ingram holds a snowshoe, which is used to hike through the snow in the winter months.

“Should I rent or should I buy?”

This question runs through every traveler’s mind as they try to plan their outdoor trip. For experienced outdoor adventurers the answer is easy: buy the equipment for future use. But, for the novice outdoor traveller, it only brings up more questions. Where do I rent outdoor equipment? How much does it cost to rent? How long can I rent it for? Is it really worth it to rent? Are there trips that include all equipment for one price? Here, I’ll explain all you need to know about renting equipment for the first time.


Where to rent

At most universities they have an outdoor recreation department within their university recreation center that provides rentals. The process is as simple as going into the recreation center or going online and requesting to rent the equipment. Public universities such as Washington State University and Eastern Washington University have rentals available for non-students. At private universities like Whtiworth University and Gonzaga University their outdoor recreation programs are for students only.


At WSU they have a separate outdoor recreation center where students and community members can come in and rent equipment. For holidays and school breaks, they offer specials where prices for a three day weekend are the same as the price for renting for one day.


Eastern’s outdoor recreation program is called EPIC Adventures, Experimental Programs Inspiring Confidence. This program is primarily for EWU students, but it is open for anyone over 18 years old. They suggest that people looking to rent should come into their recreation center and allow 30 minutes to book their rental reservation.


For Whitworth students and faculty, the Outdoor Rec is where they rent their gear. Rental reservations can be made online or in person and the payment is made before you rent out and use the gear. They have a range of gear for climbing, backpacking, snowshoeing, camping and snowboarding.


Gonzaga Outdoors is the outdoor recreation program at Gonzaga that is run by students for students. They have a list of rentals available on their website and resources for planning your own outdoor trips.

Take a walk-2



The prices depend on how long you are going to rent your gear for. Prices go up as the amount of time increases, but some outdoor recreation programs offer package deals. At WSU, EWU and Gonzaga they offer snowboard packages that include a board, boots and a helmet all for one price. For the public universities they have rates for both students and community members. Usually the community price is higher than the student price.


Length of time

Each outdoor recreation program has rates for specific time periods. At WSU they offer prices for one day, a weekend and a full week. EWU does not have specific amounts of time that you can rent gear for. You have to return your rented gear by 10 a.m. on the return date stated in the contract that has to be signed before renting gear. Whitworth has prices for rentals for one day, two to three days, four to six days and seven to ten days. Gonzaga lists rates for one day and a weekend. You can call each outdoor recreation center for more information or visit their websites.


Renting versus buying 

Some people think renting is the better option because it is less expensive than buying the gear; but, others think buying is the better option because you can use it over and over again. Niehls Ingram at Whitworth’s Outdoor Rec says it really depends on how often you are going to use the equipment. “For someone like me who is going to go out snowshoeing probably five or six times a year, it would make more sense to buy it. But if you are going to do it once every year it’s not a bad idea to rent,” Ingram said.



Most outdoor recreation programs plan trips where a student or community member can pay one price for all of their equipment, food, and lodgings. Examples include snowshoeing, ice climbing, mountaineering, ski buses and much more. The trips usually last a weekend or a long weekend and are to national parks or mountains within the area. Abbie Salter at Gonzaga Outdoors says these trips are great because people of all ability levels can do them and you get to explore outdoors. “It’s fun to experience a different area too. We’re from Spokane but the Cascades are so different and they are so close to us, so its really fun to go out there and play,” Salter said.



Washington State University Outdoor Recreation: (509)-335-1892


Eastern Washington University EPIC Adventures: (509)-359-4014


Whitworth University Outdoor Rec: (509)-777-4561


Gonzaga Outdoors: (509)-313-4189


Leave a Reply