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(Photo: Getty)

Donate Your Used Gear to Help Others Experience the Outdoors

Don’t let your old stuff gather dust or go to the landfill. Put it to work doing good.

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Three things are true about outdoor gear. 1) It gets better every year. 2) Better gear is hard to resist. 3) Old gear often ends up in the landfill, even if it only needs minor fixes.

Now there’s a fourth truth: Your used gear can help fund outdoor experiences for children and adults with disabilities.

It’s called Gear Up, Give Back, and here’s how it works. You identify gently worn gear you’re ready to retire. You go to Cairn (an Outside-owned company) and print a free shipping label. You send products to Gear Fix, which cleans them and does any necessary repair work, then sells them to people who will give them a second life.

So far so good, but if that was all it would be similar to other used gear programs out there. It’s not. Cairn and Gear Fix, both based in Bend, Oregon, match the net proceeds and donate the funds to Outdoors for All, a nonprofit that supports adaptive and therapeutic recreation for children and adults with disabilities.

Each year, Outdoors for All serves more than 3,000 individuals, thanks to the training and support of more than 850 volunteers—and critical funding supplied through this program (Gear Up, Give Back is on track to donate more than $30,000 in 2021). Result: People with disabilities get to enjoy the outdoors through snowboarding, snowshoeing, cross country and downhill skiing, cycling, mountain biking, kayaking, hiking, rock climbing, and more.

“The pandemic has affected everyone—and disproportionately, people with disabilities,” says Ed Bronsdon, the nonprofit’s executive director. “More than ever, Outdoors for All is committed to decreasing social isolation, fostering mental health, and increasing physical fitness through adaptive recreation.”

So no need to be defensive about lusting after new gear.

What can you donate? All gently used outdoor equipment and apparel from reputable brands. Products for hiking, camping, backpacking, running, climbing, cycling, skiing, paddling, and more are all welcome. Find all the details you need to donate used gear at Cairn.

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