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The Reincarnation of Gear

Keith sits in his Mohawk tandem canoe (about $1,000 new; $375 on Craigslist, along with oars and PFD); he’s wearing a Dockers shirt ($28 new; $3.50 at Goodwill) and Bugle Boy shorts he found in his ’88 Honda Civic wagon.

As the Princess Bride taught us, when true love is involved, something mostly dead can always be brought back to life. That’s why I give a loving wink to my car full of used sports equipment. Some might call it junk in my trunk. I call it the Reincarnation of Gear.

The Reincarnation of Gear brings once loved, now discarded outdoor equipment back into play. Thrift stores, eBay, Craigslist, gear swaps, garage sales, the trash and even mom’s basement are excellent ways to start or expand an outdoor hobby. Bonus? Never breaking the bank. Here’s how to cash in.

Gear swaps. Oct. 4 is the Five Rivers Outdoors GearFest in Dayton – jam to live music, sleep it off with free overnight camping and (drumroll) grab your goodies at the best used gear swap around.

Follow your compass to the Kingsdale Center in Columbus Oct. 11-12 to hit up the Outdoor Source’s lavish gear swap. You can sell or buy, as long as your gently-used goods are dropped off between Oct. 6-10. If they go, you’re looking at 80 percent cash or 100 percent store credit. Cha-ching!

Muscles still aching from your rock climb? Then let your fingers do the walking and hit up an online source like or go Canadian, eh, at Mountain Equipment Co-op at (click the Online Gear Swap link).

Thrift stores. Whether it’s a Goodwill, Salvation Army or similar, these local score-a-ramas are easily found with a simple online search. Not only are you snapping up bargains, funds from your purchase go to those less fortunate. And we’re not talking the sucker who missed out on that Prince tennis racket you snagged for a dollar …

eBay. I bid you to try this; is an outstanding way to pick up some of your smaller, more detailed gear like belay ropes, fishing lures or, heck, even boxing gloves. eBay works with a stickler of a rating system that holds their sellers (and buyers) accountable. With purchase protection an automatic from PayPal, this method is Sold!

Garage sales. Grab the kids, grab a bagel and grab a deal. While garage sale-ing isn’t a journey of Christopher Columbus-esque (used compass, anyone?) proportions, it’s well worth the adventure. Do your research in local papers ahead of time or drive around and scout the signs. Tip: The early bird gets the ski equipment so push off at 6 am.

Ground scores. Keep your eyes peeled and pointed downward. On every hiking trail, there’s a chance for a score. Hats, sunglasses, bicycle pumps … but do your fellow adventurer a favor – don’t take those tracking ribbons off the trees.

Trashy treasures. See that fishing pole lying by the side of a dumpster? A common method in city living, givers will leave items they don’t want to schlep to the thrift store. In the suburbs, check the curb. Note: If the boat, bike or any other large item is chained down, it’s not a score, it’s theft.

Mom’s basement. This is figurative, my friends, so cut those apron strings and shop around! If there’s something you’re in the market for, mass e-mail your friends and volunteer to Pick Said Item Up. As proven above, your treasure is always someone else’s trash.

Cynthia Rice has a movie popcorn addiction she atones for with tennis, hiking and yoga. She lives in Lexington, KY.