June 18, 2024

Camping gear rentals in the American Southwest

The nationwide brand REI has a pretty good handle on camping gear rentals in California, but it recently discontinued its rental program in Las Vegas, a major hub for Southwest road trips. Where else can you rent camping gear for trips around Las Vegas and the national park? Below is a list of current options.

Renting camping gear in Las Vegas

If you’re not passing through Las Vegas, skip to the below sections for a list of rental locations in California or other rental options around the Southwest. Going to Colorado? That’s a whole other blog!

The concept of hiring camping gear may seem relatively new, but it’s been around for a while. You don’t have to lug your gear from home or to purchase new or used gear upon arrival. At the end of your trip, you’d have to look for ways to take the gear back home or to get rid of it before leaving your destination. Now there’s a third option: Rent your gear and simply return it to the rental company at the end of your trip. You get quality gear without all the headache!

Now that REI rentals are no longer on the table, here’s a comparison of the three brick-and-mortar locations that still rent camping gear in Las Vegas.

Description of each location

A small local business in Las Vegas just a mile from Harry Reid International Airport. Basecamp Outdoor Gear is not a gear shop – it is strictly focused on rentals and sustainability.

They rent:

  • Complete car camping and backpacking packages
  • Car camping and backpacking gear a la carte (tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, pillows, etc)
  • Camp kitchen gear (stoves, coolers, pots and pans, mess kits, utensils, etc)
  • Camp furniture (tables, chairs, hammocks, etc.)
  • Lanterns and headlamps
  • Backpacks, daypacks, child carriers
  • Trekking poles, yoga mats, bouldering crash pads

A well-established business in Boulder City, NV, on the way to the Hoover Dam, specializing in kayaking trips below the dam. Desert Adventures is an outdoor gear shop that runs outdoor training events and a variety of guided tours.

They rent:

  • Basic camping gear (tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, pillows, etc)
  • Camp kitchen gear (stoves, coolers, pots and pans, mess kits, utensils, etc)
  • Small tables, chairs, and lanterns
  • Portable fire pits
  • Portable toilets
  • Marine radios

The main university in Las Vegas has a Recreation and Wellness Center that rents outdoor gear to the greater population. UNLV’s location is just minutes from Harry Reid International Airport.

They rent:

  • Car camping and backpacking gear (tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, etc)
  • Camp kitchen gear (stoves, coolers, pots and pans)
  • Tables, chairs, shade canopies, lanterns, and headlamps
  • Backpacks, daypacks, bear boxes
  • Canoes, kayaks, bikes, snowshoes and all necessary accessories
  • Bouldering crash pads, chalk bags, and helmets

Reservations, communication, gear pick-up and drop-off procedures

Reserve online
Similar to online shopping, add the items you want to the cart and provide payment at checkout

To get in touch: call and leave a message, text, email, whatsapp, Facebook messenger, DM on Instagram, complete the contact form on their website. Lots of ways to get in touch. They will answer you right away.

Gear pickup and return procedures: During business hours, message Basecamp Outdoor Gear in one of the ways mentioned above to let them know you’re about an hour away. Someone will meet you at the shop to give you the gear and explain how it all works.

Other perks only at Basecamp Outdoor Gear:
  • One-way return shipping available for most items if you pick up your gear in Las Vegas but end your trip in a different city.
  • After-hours pickups and returns available 24 hours a day. When needed, Basecamp Outdoor Gear will provide you with the necessary information to retrieve your gear.
  • Pay-it-forward shelf at the shop stocked with gear and non-perishable food left by previous campers. Grab whatever you want for your trip and restock the shelf when you return with whatever you haven’t used.
  • Camp fuel recycling for used propane and isobutane cylinders.

Over the phone
Call them, talk to a knowledgeable sales person about your trip, reserve and pay over the phone

To get in touch: call and leave a message or email and they will answer the next day.

Rental gear can only be picked up and returned during business hours.

Complete online form
It gets submitted via email and you’ll get a response via email the following business day. If your reservation is accepted, you must pay in full in advance.

To get in touch: call or email. It’s not unusual to wait a while for a reply.

Rental gear can only be picked up and returned during business hours.

Last-minute walk-ins

The website says to reserve online at least 24 hours in advance. This allows the shop to check inventory and schedule employees.

It’s possible to simply show up at the door, but not recommended. The door might be locked and/or the gear you need might not be available. Better call ahead to verify.

If you need gear same-day, simply message Basecamp Outdoor Gear in one of the ways mentioned above. Send them a list of gear that you need and they will check if it’s available. No use in heading to the shop if the gear is sold out.

Best to call ahead at least a day prior.

If you need gear same-day, we recommend that you call to check if the gear you need is available. No use in heading to the shop if the gear is sold out.

The website says to reserve gear at least 24 hours in advance, but in reality it is best to submit the online form at least 14 days prior to the desired pickup date. This is, after all, a university, subject to the academic calendar.

Last-minute walk-ins possible but you’ll have to catch them when they are in the office.

Camping gear rental options in California

Last Minute Gear

Similar to Basecamp Outdoor Gear, Last Minute Gear is a small local business in the heart of San Francisco focused on rentals and sustainability

REI rentals

REI rentals still exist in many locations in California, specifically around San Francisco, Sacramento/Fresno, and LA/San Diego

Sports Basement

Similar to REI, Sports Basement has a variety of rental gear and a number of locations around the Bay Area and Orange County

established campground in a forest, tents and hammock
Established campground in California

Other camping gear rental options around the Southwest

Utah

As far as I can tell, REI is currently the only place that is reliably renting camping gear in Salt Lake City.
In Springdale, UT, outside of Zion National Park, you’ll find Zion Adventures, which is a great gear shop and guide service. They rent a limited selection of camping gear.

Phoenix

Lower Gear is a great local shop in Phoenix – and they ship gear nationwide! They have everything car camping, backpacking, and boating.
The REI Adventure Center in Phoenix also rents camping gear, but only a limited selection.

Flagstaff

A few local gear shops in Flagstaff offer simple items for rent like tent, sleeping pad, and a backpack. If that’s all you need, give them a call or send an email to reserve! None of these businesses take online reservations.

tent chairs and a fire ring in forest
Commonly rented camping items for Southwest roadtrips

Pros and cons of companies that ship rental camping gear nationwide

All the camping gear rental companies that ship gear nationwide are great! Examples are Lower Gear, Kit Lender, and Outdoors Geek. They have top of the line gear, it’s lightweight and versatile, and everything comes with instructions. But there are some drawbacks to shipping gear:

Cons

– Reserve at least 14 days in advance
– No exchanges or additions once shipped
– You need an address to receive the gear and hold it until you arrive to pick it up
– Keep the shipping box and shipping slip in a safe place where it won’t get damaged
– Hard-sided coolers won’t ship cheaply
– Soft-sided coolers don’t keep cold as well
– Car camping tables chairs are expensive to ship
– Small lightweight tables and backpacking chairs are less sturdy and less comfortable for car camping

Pros

– Top of the line gear
– Lightweight
– Portable and versatile
– Comes with instructions

Notes about the cons of shipping rental gear:

You better know well in advance exactly what you want. Not only does the company need advance notice in order to prepare and ship your gear, but they also cannot make any changes to the order once it is shipped! Are you shipping the gear to a hotel? Check with the front desk that you can receive big packages there – and the package might arrive a few days before you.

Summary of locations to rent outdoor gear in the Southwest

Now that REI rentals were discontinued in Las Vegas, many people are asking where else to go. After all, why stress over packing your gear from home or paying overweight fees at the airport? There are still plenty of great options for gear rentals in Las Vegas and around the American Southwest in general. If you start your trip in Las Vegas, be sure to check out our write-up about Basecamp Outdoor Gear.