Photo: Mentari Merah Studio/Shutterstock

How to: Sell or Swap Used Gear

by Michelle Schusterman Oct 3, 2011
Sizes change, seasons change, skill level changes – for whatever reason, sometimes your old gear doesn’t cut it anymore.

When it comes to selling or trading used skis, boards or paddles, you’ve got a few routes to choose from. If you’re just looking to make a little cash with a few items, selling online might be your best option. If you’ve got more gear to give up, and/or if you’re into the idea of swapping for some new-to-you goods, a gear swap is something to consider.

Sell it online

Craigslist is an option, but not the only one. You’ll probably reach a better audience going with an organization that deals with outdoor gear specifically.

The process is pretty simple with GearTrade; click “Sell,” upload photos, describe your goods, and assign a category and a price. They offer a couple of cool features, like calculators for shipping costs and percentages off the retail price.

Mountain Equipment Co-op offers a similar service, with the added option of opting to trade rather than sell your gear. Ditto BoaterTalk if you’re selling rafting/paddling gear.

And take that last site’s advice regarding scams: “You should actually EXPECT people to try to scam you when you post direct contact information. Direct and anonymous access to you is what they look for.” Middlemen exist to help keep you from getting screwed.

Attend a gear swap

Gear swaps range from neighborhood get-togethers in the church parking lot to massive events held in conjunction with gear conventions. Check your local newspaper or the calendars for your city’s expo centers to find out what swaps are happening near you.
Northeast US

Princeton, MA: The Ski & Snowboard Sale and Swap is held annually in October. Focus is on snow sports gear and apparel. Opt to receive either 100% of your sale amount on a Wachusett Mountain card, or 80% in cash.

Auburn, ME: The Auburn Ski Swap has been going on for nearly 50 years every November – all ski equipment and apparel is welcomed. The Auburn Ski Association charges 50 cents per item and keeps 18% of the sale.

Okemo, VT: This Ski and Board Swap makes the calender every November in the city of Okemo. You keep 75% of your sales, the other quarter goes to Okemo Middle School.

Southeast US

Charleston, SC: Charleston Watersport held its first annual gear swap in March of 2011. Bring your boards, paddles, and other water gear to swap. The company also offers discounts on products for attendees, as well as food and drink.

Morganton, NC:The Foothills Outdoor Gear Swap Fest charges $15 per table and no entry fee for buyers. In addition to gear, they also encourage bringing boats, ATVs and other watercrafts for swapping/selling at $15 per item.

Kingsport, TN: Backpacking, biking, camping, canoeing, climbing, fishing, hiking, kayaking, skiing, snowboarding – as long your gear can be used in an outdoor activity, it’s welcome at the TN Eastman Hiking and Canoeing Club’s gear swap. No fees for displaying/swapping.

Midwest US
St. Paul, MN: The Minnesota Rovers Outdoors Club hosts two gear swaps a year, with the next one scheduled for May of 2012. Any type of outdoor gear is welcome, and participants can sell or swap.

Osseo, MN: The 7th annual Pioneer Midwest Ski & Snowboard Swap is November 12th, 2011. There’s a $1 fee for each item brought to swap, and the organization takes a 15% commission on sold items, or 5% commission for in-store credit.

Mansfield, OH: The 4th annual Swap and Zozo Fest is October 28th – 30th, 2011. A $1 fee per swapped item is applicable, and The Snow Trails Ski Patrol takes a 20% commission on items sold.

Southwest US

Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech hosts a gear swap in its Outdoor Pursuits Center every March. Outdoor gear of all types and sizes are welcome.

Oklahoma City, OK: OKC Kayak hosts a no-commission gear swap in March, with all items except boats susceptible to the city’s 8.375% sales tax.

Los Alamos, NM: All residents of northern New Mexico are invited to post outdoor gear for sales/swaps on the Los Alamos Mountaineers Swap Meet page.

West US
Boulder, CO: Colorado Kayak Supply hosts a gear swap for kayaks, canoes, rafts, frames and boards in May. Opt to either receive 100% of sales in store credit with CKS or Whitewater Tube Co., or get it in cash minus a 25% commission.

Seattle, WA: The Ski Fever & Snowboard Show at the Washington State Convention Center in late October offers the oldest and largest ski swap in the state. If you choose to sell rather than swap, you keep 80% of the sales price.

Bellingham, WA: The Gear and Bike Swap at The Bike Swap in Bellingham welcomes all time of outdoor gear for swappage. There’s a $2.50 charge per item brought in to sell or swap, with proceeds benefiting two local youth groups.

Reno, NV: The 30th Annual UNR Ski & Board Sale will be held at the Reno/Sparks Convention Center Nov. 10th – 13th, 2011. Participants are welcome to bring gear to sell, and 20% of sales go to the UNR ski team foundation.

Park City, Utah: The 39th annual Park City Ski Swap, one of the oldest swaps in the country, will take place November 4, 5 & 6, 2011 at the Basin Recreation Field House. A 30% commission is kept on sales to benefit the Park City ski team.


Toronto, ON: The Canadian Ski Patrol System hosts largest ski and snowboard swap and sale in Canada every year mid-October in conjunction with the Toronto Ski, Snowboard & Travel Show. There is a $1 registration charge per item, and a 20% commission on all sales.

Ottawa, ON: The Ottawa Ski Snowboard and Travel Show in late October features a used equipment sale. There is a $2 fee per item registered with a limit of 20 items per person, and sellers keep 70% of the profits.

Edmonton, AB: Edmonton’s Ski and Snowboard show in late October includes a gear swap. There’s a $3 charge per item entered for the swap, and 20% of sales will go to benefit the Edmonton Ski Club.

Vancouver, BC: Mountain Equipment Co-op hosts a semi-annual gear swap in its Vancouver location. Warning: this one is popular, many camp out overnight to get in. Bring your gear in the day before to learn about registration fees and commission.

Organize a gear swap

If you know other folks in your area who might have gear they want to get rid of, putting together your own gear swap is doable with a little advance planning.

1. Choose a location – ideally, a pretty big one. Your garage might work, but a big chunk of your grocery store’s parking lot or local community center might work better. Ask about fees/insurance before booking the space.

2. Set a date and recruit volunteers to help you assign values to gear and figure out general bartering rules. Make a list or guide that defines terms like “barely used” or “like new.”

3. Create areas with signs for types of gear – fishing, boating, skiing, surfing, whatever you’ve got coming in.

4. For smaller swaps, going with a general “one for one” rule might work out. But if you’ve got everything from fly hooks to kayaks coming in, set up an exchange system. One way is to buy a large roll of tickets and have your volunteers assign a ticket value to attendees’ gear when they bring it in. Their gear goes into the appropriate section with a clearly labeled ticket “price,” and they spend their tickets on new-to-them stuff.

5. Expect leftovers – best to decide in advance what you want to do with them. One option is to box them up and donate them, another is to let your volunteers divvy the goods up.

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