Rent a tent: Camping gear marketplace startup aims to crack the code for outdoor equipment rental

June 12, 2023

GeerGarage, founded by a Microsoft product manager, is building an outdoor equipment-sharing marketplace, reports GeekWire.

The Seattle startup is gearing up to scale beyond its Western Washington roots, with plans to roll out its lend-to-own program and raise venture capital.

CEO Adam Wise dedicates much of his free time to backpacking, camping and biking around the Pacific Northwest and California. But like other outdoor enthusiasts, he has come to realize that his stockpile of tents and other recreational equipment spends most days collecting dust in storage.

This revelation inspired him to found GeerGarage. The platform matches renters with lenders who have gear like tents, bikes, and stand-up paddleboards.

The bootstrapped startup is gearing up to scale beyond Western Washington. The company is in the process of pitching investors and accelerators. It’s also rolling out a new lend-to-own program, through which approved lenders can get free outdoor gear.

GeerGarage is among a bevy of companies embracing the so-called “circular economy,” or the business model of sharing or leasing products rather than selling new ones. It’s part of the company’s broader mission to make outdoor activities cheaper and more accessible, Wise tells GeekWire.

The growth plans come as the camping and outdoor recreation market is climbing. Revenue volume is expected to reach more than $120 billion by 2027, according to market research.

GeerGarage works by connecting renters with nearby lenders through the platform. The company is unlike Airbnb because it does the matching for users, similar to Uber. If a user is planning a weekend camping trip for two people, for instance, the startup might connect the renter with a lender offering a suitable tent for those specific dates.

Wise said the startup’s matching tool is built on the insight that people do not care about the brand, color, or make of the gear they rent. He said the company’s main focus instead is helping renters find the gear needed to have the outdoor experience they want. The idea is for the platform to be as flexible as possible.

The company makes its money by taking 60% of each transaction. Users might make a “couple hundred dollars” per month renting gear on the platform, Wise says.

The startup will face competition from major retailers such as REI and Walmart, both of which offer recreational equipment rentals. There’s also startups like Quiptu—pitched as an “Airbnb for outdoor gear”—which raised pre-seed funding and is rolling out in Miami.

Arrive Outdoors, an online camping gear rental site, raised $4.75 million in 2020. And Seattle-based GearHouse gives users unlimited access to outdoor equipment rentals for a $105 monthly subscription.

For the immediate future, Wise says, “We’ve been spending a lot of our time focusing on getting the recipe right, from both the product perspective and the go-to-market as well.  Once we’ve got that recipe, the plan is to roll this out and scale up—ideally in every city throughout the United States.”

Research contact: @geekwire