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How To Host An Outdoor Gear Swap

how to host an outdoor gear swap

The goal of an outdoor gear swap is simple: declutter your gear closet, keep items out of the landfill, and provide the community an accessible way to “shop” sustainably.

 

Not only do gear swaps offer participants a FREE way to expand their gear collection or try out new outdoor activities, but they also cultivate a sense of community. Sharing adventure stories, exchanging tips and tricks, and bonding over a mutual love for the great outdoors make the gear swap experience! There’s something truly special about connecting with like-minded individuals who share your passion for the outdoors!

 

Over the past two years, I have organized two successful outdoor gear swaps in Phoenix, Arizona, and I can vouch for the joy and excitement they bring. With over 200 RSVPs for each event, the turnouts were phenomenal, and we swapped great gear!

 

Since you’re here, I assume you are inspired to host a community outdoor gear swap! Yay!

 

This blog will guide you through hosting your outdoor gear swap, from back-end logistics to finding sponsors and tips for day-of coordination.

 

Before you dive in, I want to note that there are so many different ways to host community swaps. I’m new to this, so I’m sure I’ll learn better, more efficient ways to host events as I go. I’ll be sure to keep this blog updated!

 

That being said, here’s how to host an outdoor gear swap:

Outdoor gear swap phoenix, arizona

Hey! I wanted to let you know that this post contains affiliate links! By purchasing through these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Table of Contents

How To Host An Outdoor Gear Swap

Determine Event Basics

Who are you inviting? 

 

Do you want the event to be big and public or intimate and private?  

 

Find a location 

 

You’ll need a location big enough for your group. Start by contacting local restaurants, coffee shops, or co-working spaces to see if they have availability/room to host a community gear swap event. You could also check out public parks or community centers in your area. Many parks have designated areas like ramadas for events and community gatherings. 

 

I hosted my gear swaps at Arizona Wilderness Brewing Company in Downtown Phoenix and Tempe Bouldering Project

 

Pick a date for your outdoor gear swap

 

Coordinate a date and time with your venue. I suggest hosting the swap on a weekend morning or afternoon. My previous events lasted two hours, which I found was a good amount of time for everyone to ‘shop’ around and chat over free coffee.

Tell Your Community

Create a digital invitation 

 

If you’re planning a big event, you’ll want an easy way to collect RSVPs. I used Eventbrite for both of my gear swaps! Here’s a look at my event page

 

Include details like date, time, location, and special instructions about the swap. Consider providing a brief overview of what a gear swap entails for attendees unfamiliar with the concept. This will help them prepare their gear, set expectations, and get everyone excited to come!

 

Note: Eventbrite was the only cost I had from hosting the gear swap. Next year, I plan to collect everyone’s registrations with Google Forms and communicate via Flodesk.

how to host an outdoor gear swap

Promote Your Event

 

Now that you have a way to collect RSVPs, you can promote your event to your community! 

 

To promote my event(s), I shared the link in my weekly newsletter and on Instagram stories. I found the most effective way to attract attendees is to create an Instagram reel and use ManyChat to streamline DMs that send the RSVPs to interested participants. 

 

Additionally, the venue shares the gear swap with its customers via social channels, newsletters, in-person fliers, etc. 

Prepare For The Gear Swap

Find sponsors for giveaways

 

To enhance the swap experience and incentivize attendance, consider organizing a giveaway! You could give away small donated freebies like stickers, sunscreen samples (thanks to Kinfield for sponsoring my first gear swap), snacks or drinks, or bigger prizes from donors. 

 

I’m a full-time content creator, so I contacted REI and Gregory, two of my favorite brands I partner with. Both brands were generous enough to send me prizes for gear swap participants! Their gifted prizes included backpacks, tote bags, reusable water bottles, camp mugs, bandanas, and more. 

 

Additionally, a local coffee shop heard about my event and donated canned cold brews for the participants. Thanks again, Cartel Coffee

 

Note: Before hosting my community events, I was an event coordinator for a local outdoor company. I hosted over a dozen wilderness cleanup events across the West, the biggest of which was 300 participants! Thanks to the following email script, our company received gifts from granola bars, candy companies, sunscreen brands, chain restaurants, and a wallet company. 

My name is (name) and I’m excited to share I’m hosting a community outdoor gear swap! It’s scheduled for (date) at (time), hosted at (location). Here’s the RSVP link! 

 

The goal of this event is to foster community engagement, support local businesses, and give new life to outdoor gear. 

 

(Compliment the brand). We would be honored to have (brand) as a sponsor for our event! We’re asking for (requested gift) to give away in our free raffle.  

 

We want to ensure our community knows the brands supporting their passion for the outdoors. As a sponsor, we’d highlight you in our event promotions (stories, Reel, newsletter, etc.) and recap content. 

 

Please let me know if you have any questions or want additional details. Thank you so much for considering this opportunity!

outdoor gear swap
host an outdoor gear swap

Event Supplies  

 

Event supplies are minimal, depending on the event location! Consider folding tables, racks, a laptop for check-in, a cooler and ice for canned drinks, hand sanitizer, and grocery bags/boxes for swappers to use. 

Day Of Gear Swap

It’s important to have someone help you on the day of your event, whether it’s someone from the venue or a friend! 

 

My sweet husband, Dominick, helps me host my gear swaps! He helps me set up, manages the check-in table, helps participants, and gets social media content. I couldn’t do it without him! 

 

Setting up 

 

I suggest getting to the venue at least 30 minutes before the event starts. This gives you time to greet the venue hosts, set up your check-in table and signage, organize tables, create an example gear display, and mentally prepare to help participants swap.

 

Note: Next year, I will bring a large sign explaining the gear swap rules. I’ll use Canva to create something similar to the social media prompts from my first gear swap.

how to host an outdoor gear swap
free outdoor gear swap

Check-In 

 

Once it’s time, start welcoming participants and reminding them of the rules, while telling them where to lay out their gear to swap. 

 

Help Participants Swap 

 

As the host of this gear swap, I felt it was my duty to engage with the participants! I helped them lay out their gear and shop and chatted with them about life, adventures, etc.

 

To me, that’s the best part of a gear swap: connecting with other like-minded people in my area! I met so many cool people who like to rock climb, camp, hike, and give back to our community. 

 

Giveaway 

 

Consider using numbered raffle tickets or your check-in sheet if you are conducting a giveaway. Personally, I use a random number generator to select winners from the check-in list. 

 

Once you start to feel a lull in the swapping, about an hour or so in, start your giveaway! Get everyone’s attention, pick your winners, and enjoy people’s reactions to winning awesome gear! 

 

Donations 

 

Plan for leftover gear by arranging donations to local shelters or organizations.

hiking outfits for women

Final thoughts on hosting an outdoor gear swap

As of 2024, I’ve hosted two outdoor gear swaps in Phoenix, Arizona. I love connecting with outdoorsy people near me and cleaning out my gear closet! I’ve always enjoyed hosting community events and plan to host more in the future. 

 

I hope this helps you plan and host your own outdoor gear swap! Let me know if you have any questions. And if you’re in Arizona, join this newsletter list to be notified about upcoming events! 

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Meet the author

Jacey West

My mission is simple: Inspire you to get outside. I like camping, hiking, mountain biking, backpacking, and exploring National Parks. I’m passionate about sharing all the details of my adventure so you can plan some of your own!

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