What Camping Gear Can You Buy Used, and What Needs to Be New?

Camping can be expensive — especially camping comfortably. What can you buy used to save a little money and keep stuff out of the landfill? What should you absolutely buy new? Here’s a rundown of gear that falls into each category.

Buy These Used

  • Cookware – Pots, pans, plates, bowls, cups and eating utensils all make sense to buy used, as long as they’re not charred or so beat-up that they won’t cook evenly. Cast iron is especially good to buy used, because it lasts forever (and it’s much cheaper used). If you find an old and rusty cast iron, you can bring it back to life with these instructions.
  • Cookstove – As long as the used cookstove works and operates safely, it’s fine to buy used. If you’re not backpacking and need something like a Coleman stove, you can get a used one inexpensively. It’s not too difficult to repair if needed, either.
  • Backpack – Backpacks can be expensive, and buying a used one could save you a lot of money. However, a backpack really needs to fit your own back, so don’t buy a used pack without trying it on first. Also, examine zippers, the frame, and the belt if there is one. If the zipper is rusted or the pull doesn’t work, you should probably skip it. Repairing a broken zipper can be expensive in and of itself. If the frame is bent, the pack won’t fit you properly, so pass on that as well.
  • Flashlights, Tables, Stools – As long as this equipment is in good working order, buy it used and save some money!

Buy These New

  • Sleeping bag – Most folks might feel comfortable buying a used sleeping bag. But I have friends who did that right before a big trek, only to discover when it was too late that the bag was full of bed bugs. I prefer to buy a new bag if I need one, even if it’s expensive.
  • Jacket and Hats- I prefer to buy a new jacket and hats rather than used primarily for hygiene reasons. If I need a new jacket and don’t have the money for full price, I shop at outlet stores or wait until end-of-season sales.
  • Water Bottle – This might be a personal preference, but I prefer a new water bottle over a used one. They’re generally inexpensive new, but if you want to buy used one, make sure to thoroughly clean it first.

Possibly Buy These Used

  • Tent – If you’re considering buying a used tent, check to make sure it has no holes, has a rainfly, and has all the stakes, ties, and other pieces it needs to provide adequate protection against the elements. The reason I put it in the “possible” column is because tents can get very mildewy if they’re not dried out properly in between uses. Before you buy a used tent, give it the sniff test. If you pick up a whiff of mildew, don’t buy it. Once mildew gets into a tent, it’s very hard if not impossible to get it out.
  • Camelbak – A Camelbak is a backpack that contains a “reservoir” with a long straw so that it’s easy to drink water as you hike or bike. It’s fine to buy the backpack used. But the reservoirs can get mildewed if they’re not kept clean. If you come across a used Camelbak you like, still replace the reservoir.

To find used gear, check out Craigslist, eBay or any of these online used equipment sites recommended by GearGuy.


John B
John B2 years ago

Thanks Diana for sharing the info.

Dennis Hall
Dennis H2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

william Miller
william Miller2 years ago


Olga Nycz-Shirley


Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

LF F2 years ago

Camping, ugh. We're having 200 degree, well maybe only 100 degree weather but it feels like it.

Janet B.
Janet B2 years ago


Ruth S.
Ruth S2 years ago