Trekking is a minimalist sport, requiring bare minimum resources. And renting aligns quite well with a trekker’s minimalist mindset.
“I’ve always rented as a trekker. Earlier, in the absence of organised trekking, we used to rent camping essentials. Like tents, cooking gear, kerosene stoves. Sometimes even jackets,” shares Arjun Majumdar, CEO-Founder of Indiahikes.
Over the years, with the growth of organised trekking in our country, trekkers no longer need to worry about these camping essentials (like tents, stoves, sleeping gears). All they need to worry about is their personal clothes, warmers and accessories.
“But we notice that trekkers are spending a lot on personal gears. They were spending more than the trek fee and the flight fare put together. Spending such an enormous amount of money on a minimalist sport like trekking is not okay. Especially when you are trekking only once or twice a year,” says Sandhya UC, co-founder of Indiahikes.
Yet, many trekkers continue to buy trekking gear. Why?
“There is still a lack of awareness when it comes to renting trekking gear in our country. Trekkers are not yet aware that it’s possible, it’s easy and it’s good quality. Many trekkers also do not realise how much cost they can save by simply renting gear,” says Arjun.
“Personally for me, I get very anguished when I see how much harm we are causing to the environment by just buying trekking gear — gears that we rarely use. We are just consuming. Renting saves the environment. Everyone must rent.” concluded Arjun
But why rent? Here are 4 compelling reasons:
1. You spend 1/10th of the buying cost by renting
There is a stunning difference in cost when you compare buying vs renting trekking gear. It is usually 1/10th the cost of buying!
That’s a huge difference. And it makes more sense too because you don’t use trekking gear regularly.
“Realistically, you are not likely to do more than two treks a year. When such is the case, why will you buy trekking gear worth Rs 20,000 and also have the headache of seeing them depreciate?” Sandhya raises a pertinent question.
2. Renting significantly reduces the impact on the environment
Another big reason why renting makes sense is because it is sustainable.
To put things in perspective, take one pair of trekking shoes. If you buy it only you use it. That means all the resources that went into manufacturing that one pair of shoes in the end made a difference only to one trekker.
Shift this scenario to renting. The same pair of trekking shoes — which would otherwise be lying idle for months at home — are used by a minimum of 10 trekkers.
When you scale it up the numbers are dramatic: Every month, around 300 trekkers rent trekking shoes from Indiahikes. They do so using just 30 pairs of shoes, instead of 300.
That means resources used to create 3600 pairs of shoes per year are conserved. The impact of this is huge on the environment.
3. You don't need to worry about equipment maintenance
There’s a third side to it. When trekking gear is not used for a long time, they crumble and become brittle.
When it comes to shoes, the sole hardens, the water-proofing thins down, the outer layer starts to powder off.
Similar is the case with padded jackets. When jackets are left packed for too long the inner-filling starts getting lumpy, they lose their potency. When it comes in contact with even a little moisture (as is the case in our humid country), it starts getting musty. Gloves suffer similar consequences as jackets.
It’s no different with the backpacks. The first to go are the zips. The buckles, too, lose their strength over time. Then the pads and straps become brittle. The stitches become weak. Even if the backpack looks fine from the outside, it has lost its strength from the inside. On your next trek a hard tug can snap a strap — especially the shoulder straps.
Headlamps are another notorious equipment. Very few trekkers take out the batteries after a trek. They stay inside the headlamp. When the headlamp is not used for long the batteries start to leak. Most often they damage the headlamp permanently.
All of these happen within a matter of 5-6 months with average quality gear. Higher quality gear last longer, say 1-2 years, but they too wear off with the passage of time.
The cost of maintaining your trekking gear, tending to their wear and tear on an yearly basis can go up to 20% of the cost of the gear. But if you are renting. This cost is nil. You don’t have to worry at all about maintenance because you are not holding on to the equipment.
4. The quality of your gear does not get affected by your budget
The final point, and this is usually the deal-maker for many, is that renting allows you to access good quality equipment at a low cost.
When you rent you are not renting low quality equipment. Usually these are the same brands that you would have bought if you were buying equipment. For example, shoes from Decathlon, backpacks from Adventure Worx, trek poles from Crosstrek. These are the best that money can buy.
Clearly, rental gear is no longer how it used to be earlier. It is not substandard or unhygienic. The gears are branded, clean and well-maintained.
How to Rent Trekking Gear
If you are trekking with Indiahikes, you have the option of renting shoes, backpack, jacket, trekking pole, headlamp and rain poncho. Here Nandana Kamasani, Head of Experience Coordination at Indiahikes explains the simple steps to follow of renting trekking gears.
Even if you are not trekking with Indiahikes, renting is still a convenient option. India has seen a rise in the number of trekking gear rentals that drop and collect the rented gears from your doorstep. One such company is Sharepal.
Coming to the final thoughts. “Accessible and affordable gear directly impacts how trekking can grow in our country. With renting, trekking no longer remains an expensive sport. Anyone and everyone can trek, whether they’re students who are tight on budgets, or whether they are families who want to trek in large groups. Or even individuals who want to trek more often. It is the way forward for our country,” Arjun says.
So if you are scheduled to go for a trek and do not have the gears yet, we strongly recommend you rent trekking gear.