Easy methods to Retire Your Gear

by jpc_touring-bicycle

Nothing lasts endlessly. Good issues appear particularly fleeting. Love. Youth. Hero dust. Powder stashes. And sadly, our gear. From the second our gear is manufactured, it begins to degrade. By no means thoughts how lovingly it’s cared for nor even how little it’s used: The vast majority of as we speak’s out of doors gear and attire is comprised of a mix of artificial polymers which have a predetermined lifespan straight out of the field.

In fact, with correct upkeep and storage, gear can final many years. However even then, stuff occurs. Goathead thorns pierce sleeping pads within the night time. Heavy storms snap tent poles. Zippers fail. Tires flat. Boots blow out. Finally, be it from age or accident, gear reaches retirement. However how have you learnt for certain that your gear is on the finish of its life? And the way do you get rid of it responsibly as soon as it has?

On this information, we offer tips on learn how to assess when to retire your gear, donate it or promote it secondhand. If, after studying, you’ve decided your gear is unsafe, unusable or unsanitary for others to recreate with, we’ve included concepts on learn how to recycle, upcycle, downcycle or (as a final resort) get rid of your gear.

Donate, Resell or Restore Your Gear if Attainable

To find out whether or not your gear is able to be retired, ask your self: Would I give this to a buddy? For instance, should you just lately went over the handlebars and smacked your (helmeted) head right into a tree, you wouldn’t need your buddy carrying that helmet, would you? Bike helmets are solely designed to mitigate the affect of 1 crash. After that, it’s unsafe to rely upon that helmet for defense. Most gear consignment retailers (together with the REI Co-op Re/Provide program) don’t settle for used security tools—assume helmet, climbing harness, and many others.: In the event that they don’t belief the gear’s integrity sufficient to resell it, you in all probability shouldn’t go it on both.

However, say you may have a like-new pair of path runners that simply don’t work on your ft however can’t be returned. Your running-curious neighbor would possibly actually admire a fresh-to-them pair of sneakers.


If the merchandise is appropriate sufficient to present to a buddy, first take into account organizing a neighborhood gear swap or donating. Neighborhood gear swaps are alternatives to maintain purposeful gear in use and out of a landfill. If you happen to’d relatively donate your gear, search for grassroots organizations that redistribute out of doors gear freed from cost and prioritize those that have been traditionally marginalized by the out of doors trade, reminiscent of folks of coloration, LGBTQ+ and other people with disabilities. The Gear Fund Collective and the Eugene Gear Collective are two wonderful organizations doing simply that. Gear libraries are additionally nice candidates for receiving used gear donations. Try The Mountaineers in Washington, Thrive Exterior Grand Rapids in Michigan, Get Outdoor Leadville! Gear Library in Colorado and the Katahdin Gear Library in Maine—or do an internet search to discover a gear library nearer to you. Or your city may need a corporation like Seattle’s Bike Works and Mr. Michael Recycles Bicycles in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, which repair up donated bikes and elements with a view to divulge to people in want or promote at low price.

Resell or Commerce In

Outside gear is dear, and there’s no disgrace in desirous to recoup just a little little bit of your gear funding. There are dozens of platforms the place you’ll be able to resell or commerce in your gently used gear and attire. REI Co-op Members can commerce of their used gear for retailer credit score. Arc’teryx ReGEAR, Patagonia Worn Put on, The North Face Renewed and Stio Second Flip are only a few of the reward-based trade-in applications that manufacturers supply for his or her used gear and attire. You can too promote many gadgets your self by means of on-line consignment platforms like Geartrade and Rerouted, or by means of native brick-and-mortar retailers like Colorado’s Boulder Sports activities Recycler; Outside Change in Idaho; and The Gear Room in Utah. 


Perhaps your gear’s present situation is lower than very best—assume sizable holes or tears, lacking or damaged elements—however doesn’t essentially represent grounds for disposal. At the very least, not but. Some gear might be repaired and restored to its authentic performance. Try our Care and Restore article library for complete how-to directions on all the pieces from patching bike tubes to fixing jacket zippers, and far more.

If you happen to’re not the DIY kind, REI Co-op has its personal restore consultants who can repair absolutely anything (inside motive) from any model. Fortuitously, it’s turning into extra frequent for manufacturers to have their very own restore providers: Bedrock Sandals, The North Face, Huge Agnes, Patagonia and Mountain Hardwear all have repair-don’t-replace initiatives.


Generally, nevertheless, used gear is past rescue. The next part is meant to deal with these gadgets: the irreparable, unsellable, unsafe, undesirable and in any other case unfit gear (could their adventurous souls relaxation in peace). Right here’s learn how to know the indicators and signs of when your gear is really prepared for retirement and options for learn how to preserve that gear out of the landfill.


Upcycle, Downcycle, Recycle

There are a number of methods to maintain unusable materials within the round financial system and divert it from landfills. 

Upcycle To recycle an merchandise in a manner that modifications or provides worth to the ensuing product, or to create an object of worth from a discarded object. For instance, a journey equipment made out of an previous bike tire and a sleeping pad. 
Downcycle To recycle an merchandise in a manner that ends in a lower-value product than the unique, but nonetheless has worth sufficient to stop it from being discarded. Rubber boot soles would possibly turn out to be filler materials for playgrounds and different surfaces, and material shreds may be used for insulation. 
Recycle To course of an merchandise in a manner that reduces it to its part materials with a view to produce a brand new product by reusing the fabric. 

We’ve beneficial a couple of concepts for upcycling, downcycling and recycling for a number of the most generally used (and abused) gear in every class. Attempt these out earlier than you throw out your gear.  

Here’s a record of the actions and kit listed on this information: Click on on any hyperlink to leap forward or proceed scrolling to learn extra.



Indicators and Signs Holes and tears within the ground, physique or rainfly which can be bigger than the palm of your hand. Glue that’s degrading and peeling across the seams. Flaking or sticky residue on the rainfly, which signifies delamination.


Attain out to the tent’s producer to inquire about brand-specific end-of-life applications. (Tentsile, for instance, collects its previous tents to ship to design college students at Utah State College’s Outside Product Design Division). Inexperienced Guru Gear out of Boulder, Colorado, collects used tents for upcycling into a variety of motorcycle luggage, backpacks and different merchandise. You could find a taking part Inexperienced Guru recycling associate at greengurugear.com, or ship your tent on to the tackle supplied on its web site.

Repurpose previous tent materials your self by chopping out a groundsheet on your subsequent tent, or by stitching a stuff sack out of the tent’s mesh-free sections. You can too vogue a kite or backyard stakes out of previous tent poles.

Water Filters

Indicators and Signs Stays clogged even after backwashing. Is understood to have frozen resulting from chilly publicity. Is greater than 5 years previous and has not been saved correctly or used usually. Some manufacturers have a filter take a look at that can assist you to decide whether or not or not the filter fibers are secure to make use of.


Sadly, the one non-landfill possibility for water filters presently is to ship them right into a mail-back recycling program, a lot of that are for-profit. (Do an internet seek for “water filter recycling” for choices.)

Inflatable Sleeping Pads

Indicators and Signs Holes or tears which can be too giant to successfully be repaired with glue and a patch equipment. Leaking valve.


Some manufacturers will restore put on and tear like punctures and leaking valves, so name your producer first to see what providers they provide. At the moment, nevertheless, no model offers end-of-life recycling choices for inflatable sleeping pads, so if it’s past fixing, your finest wager is to repurpose your pad. Reduce it open and create a small groundsheet, portray tarp or seat protector. You can too reduce the mattress up into smaller items to create patches for different gear and attire.


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Indicators and Signs Holes within the toe field or any mesh materials. Soles which have little to no remaining tread (assume bald tire) or are separating from the shoe. (Keep in mind that some boots might be resoled, usually a number of occasions.) 


There may be at present no downcycling possibility for climbing boots comprised of polyester, so your finest different is to get artful. Upcycle your boots into planters on your backyard or make a cool DIY birdhouse out of a boot. Baxter Wooden will take rubber boots from any model and downcycle them in Michigan, the place the rubber scraps will likely be used to make supplies like playground surfacing, roads and kickboxing bag filler.

Rain Jackets

Indicators and Signs Oil from human sweat glands. (Be aware: This may be washed off with waterproof pleasant technical material detergent, however except your jacket returns to 80–90% of its authentic performance, it’s an excellent candidate for disposal.) Seams which can be starting to peel aside. Flaking on the inside of the jacket. Any rips, tears or holes which can be greater than 1 / 4.


For the sewers on the market, technical materials like these utilized in rain jackets are perfect for making a motorbike seat cowl or a rolltop stuff sack or laundry bag (excellent for moist, damp or muddy garments). If you happen to’re not good with a needle and thread, you’ll be able to ship your previous rain jacket—and some other technical out of doors attire you may have that can also be on the finish of its life—to the style model For Days for recycling. For $20, you’ll be able to stuff one of many firm’s Take Again Baggage with as much as 15 kilos of any model’s no-longer-wearable attire and ship it again: After going by means of an intensive sorting and evaluation course of on the For Days facility, a big majority will likely be resold or downcycled, and solely a fraction are discarded in landfills. In trade for getting a Take Again Bag, For Days gives you $20 towards something from the model—which feels a tad pro-consumerism, however at the least all the pieces For Days makes is 100% recyclable. (And we’re all for transitioning to a round financial system, even when it occurs one closet at a time). So far, Take Again Baggage has helped divert 1.2 million kilos of clothes from landfills. Provided that it takes as much as 200 years for artificial and chemical-treated textiles to decompose, closed-loop initiatives just like the Take Again Bag are welcome alternate options to sending out of doors attire to the landfill the place decomposing material can leach chemical compounds into our soil and groundwater.
Gas Canisters

Indicators and Signs Empty.


If you happen to stay in Seattle, the MSR restore store will accumulate empty gas canisters from any model as a part of its Gas Canister Recycling Program. In trade, you’ll get 20% off MSR IsoPro™ gas canisters. However should you don’t stay in Seattle, it’s really fairly easy to recycle your canisters by yourself. Be certain the canister is totally empty of gas, then use an authorized software such because the Jetboil CrunchIt to securely puncture it. Recycle the canister anyplace that accepts blended steel recycling. 


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Biking Tubes and Tires

Indicators and Signs Tubes with holes and tears greater than a dime. Tires which have clearly worn tread, have giant tears within the sidewalls, cracked rubber, a number of plugs, bubbles or sliced knobs.


Inexperienced Guru Gear accepts previous tubes as long as they aren’t puncture-resistant and do not need slime or sealant on them. Go to greengurugear.com and navigate to “tube upcycling” beneath the “About” dropdown (and observe that there are transport prices for donating tires). Alchemy Items additionally accepts used tubes and, equally, doesn’t take tubes with slime or sealant. Used tubes are additionally an awesome substitute for straps, a bicycle chainstay protector or patches for future punctured tubes.

Used bike tires are sadly a lot more durable to recycle. Some bigger cities, like Park Metropolis, Utah, and Boulder, Colorado, have recycling facilities that take bike tires and tubes (typically for a small price), however smaller municipalities virtually definitely is not going to settle for bike tires. Some Liberty Tire Recycling websites downcycle tires to create recycled commercial-grade rubber merchandise reminiscent of crumb rubber (which is utilized in asphalt, operating tracks and turf fields), pavers, mulch and panorama edging. Whereas Liberty has a community of assortment facilities all through the USA (and some in Canada), it primarily offers with automotive tires, and solely choose places settle for bicycle tires. Even then, they might solely settle for bicycle tires in bulk—100 minimal—for a per-tire price. If you happen to’re near a group middle that accepts bike tires, work together with your native out of doors neighborhood or bike store to host a tire assortment day. 

For many people, nevertheless, bicycle tire recycling is frustratingly nonetheless out of attain. Think about Washington, D.C., for instance, which has an enormous bike scene and at present doesn’t have recycling choices for bike tires close by. A streamlined and inexpensive assortment course of by means of bike tire producers or retailers appears lengthy overdue. 

Whereas we await higher options for our bike tire recycling woes, take into account making hen feeders out of your previous tires. Try bike gear and attire firm Liv’s DIY upcycling information.

Bibs and Chamois

Indicators and Signs Holes or tears. Spandex that’s so see-through it’s virtually translucent. 


If there aren’t any holes or tears in your bibs but your butt crack could be very seen by means of that once-solid black spandex, there’s nothing mistaken with persevering with to put on your bibs beneath a pair of dishevelled shorts. But when the bibs are falling aside on the seams, or the chamois has disintegrated, you’ll be able to ship bike shorts off for downcycling in a For Days Take Again Bag. For $20, you’ll be able to stuff one with as much as 15 kilos of any model’s no-longer-wearable attire and ship it again: After sorting, a big majority will likely be resold or downcycled, and solely a fraction will likely be discarded in landfills. (See the “Options” beneath the Rain Jackets class for extra specifics on this program.) H&M additionally presents free in-store garment assortment and can recycle any kind of attire or textiles from any model. 


Indicators and Signs Worn throughout a crash (even when your head didn’t essentially make contact with something). 5 years or older. Main scratches, dents or imperfections that point out it might have been concerned in a crash. Deteriorating foam.


Since bike helmets are usually product of a lot of totally different plastics, foams and different artificial supplies, there are only a few commonplace recycling choices for them. Recycle Utah in Park Metropolis recycles bike helmets by means of its automotive seat recycling program: Your native recycling middle could have one thing comparable. There are additionally personal recycling corporations that supply mail-in applications.

To recycle at house, you might be able to disassemble your helmet and recycle the person parts, just like the plastic shell, the inside expanded polystyrene foam and the nylon straps. See this recycling information from Bern Helmets on learn how to safely take aside your helmet. In any other case, you might all the time flip your helmet into a dangling basket or planter.


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A well-loved pair of dirty Brooks Catamount shoes

RunningRunning Footwear

Indicators and Signs Holes within the toe field or mesh material. Soles with no tread and/or which have begun to separate from the physique of the shoe.


The Nike Recycling + Donation takeback program is one broadly obtainable possibility for recycling trainers. Verify your native Nike retailer to see in the event that they settle for any model’s sneakers for recycling. Footwear which can be deemed unfit for resale are downcycled into Nike Grind, a recycled manufacturing materials used to make all the pieces from playgrounds to turf fields. The Native Footwear Remix Mission accepts the model’s sneakers again after carrying with a view to donate pairs to these in want, or grind them as much as make materials for playgrounds, amongst different issues. Nonprofit organizations like Soles4Souls and One World Operating settle for gently used athletic sneakers for donation to these in want.

Hydration Reservoirs and Bladders

Indicators and Signs Leaks within the reservoir seams. Damaged hose connection factors. Everlasting harm from mould.


Though there may be not at present a widespread recycling program for hydration reservoirs, that doesn’t imply manufacturers aren’t actively in search of options. Contact your hydration reservoir’s producer to see whether or not they supply take-back recycling applications or initiatives. 

Another choice is to go DIY and upcycle your previous reservoir. Upcycle designer and CamelBak ambassador Nicole McLaughlin has remade unusable CamelBak hydration techniques into wearable attire reminiscent of a reservoir jacket and purposeful skirt. Try McLauhglin on Instagram for extra concepts on learn how to upcycle your previous out of doors gear. Get impressed, then get artistic!

Health Trackers and GPS

Indicators and Signs At the very least 7 years previous or older. Doesn’t cost. Doesn’t maintain a cost. Cracked display screen. Doesn’t sync to trendy health apps.


Verify your particular person model for recycling choices. Fitbit offers free recycling by means of its third-party recycling associate, Reverse Logistics Group. Garmin additionally has its personal shopper product recycling program. Finest Purchase will recycle most small electronics, reminiscent of GPS units.


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Indicators and Signs Deteriorating seams. Giant holes or rips. Threadbare areas and dry rot.


Neoprene wetsuits which can be on the finish of their lives might be despatched to a lot of totally different manufacturers for upcycling and recycling. Yoga model Suga will take your previous wetsuit and switch it right into a yoga mat. If you happen to’re in California, take a look at its assortment bins or ship your go well with to the tackle supplied, and also you’ll obtain a reduction code.

Rip Curl offers free recycling of any surf model wetsuit. Discover a taking part retailer or ship to the tackle supplied.


Indicators and Signs Damaged shafts and blades.


Many arise paddle board and kayak paddles are made out of a mixture of plastic and fiberglass, which makes them nearly unattainable to recycle. As a substitute, strive upcycling your damaged paddle into wall decor, a coat rack, towel rack or curtain rod.

Private Flotation Gadgets (PFDs)

Indicators and Signs Now not offers flotation, or flotation capabilities have noticeably decreased over time. Tears longer than a pair inches in size. Degraded nylon material resulting from elements like extreme UV publicity and extended storage when moist.


At current, there aren’t any branded take-back choices obtainable for private flotation units, so that you’ll must get artistic with methods to repurpose your previous PFD. (Be aware: Verify together with your PFD’s producer to see what foam is utilized in it; some low-end PFDs are made with PVC foam, which accommodates hazardous chemical components and isn’t fitted to reuse.)

When you have a couple of previous PFDs, you’ll be able to reduce up the froth to make a canine mattress or beanbag-style cushion. Attain out to native drama or theater teams to see if they might have any upcycling use for foam, which might be glued collectively to create units and props. Bigger panels of froth can be utilized to make kneeling pads for gardening, whereas the nylon material might be reduce and sewn to make wallets and small zip luggage. 


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 SnowsportsSkis and Snowboards

Indicators and Signs Cracks, gouges or delamination anyplace on the guidelines, tails or edges of skis. Flattened base on a snowboard. Burrs on snowboard edges that can’t be repaired with diamond stone. Dry or peeling snowboard base that doesn’t reply to waxing.


Sure municipal recycling facilities will recycle snowsports tools, particularly if these cities occur to have large ski- and snowboard-related tourism. Recycle Utah in Park Metropolis, for instance, accepts skis and snowboards seasonally, from November 1 by means of the spring. Inexperienced Mountain Ski Furnishings in Vermont accepts used skis to upcycle into distinctive items of ski furnishings. Drop them off in individual should you occur to be in Waterbury, or mail them to the corporate’s tackle. Colorado Ski Chairs does the identical factor, and folk can drop off their previous skis, snowboards and even surfboards in individual at their store in Manitou Springs, Colorado.

For the handypeople and carpenters amongst us, there are tons of the way you’ll be able to upcycle your previous skis and snowboards into ornament, furnishings and, after all, the ever-popular shot ski. Try this roundup from worldwide ski faculty École de Ski (ESI) for a heady dose of inspiration. You can too make your individual ski Adirondack chair—and sure, we’ve got a DIY for that.


Indicators and Signs Any binding that’s now not indemnified (which implies that producers is not going to permit store technicians to service them). Retailers and producers create an up to date indemnification record yearly however don’t make this record obtainable to the general public, so that you’ll must name your native retailers to see whether or not or not your bindings are nonetheless supported by legal responsibility indemnification.


Verify together with your producer first to see whether or not or not they provide buy-back applications for bindings. Repair recycles its snowboard bindings, which you’ll ship to them for 20% off on-line orders. Skimo will purchase again sure binding fashions, providing anyplace from $25 to $50 for a working toe or heel piece. Sadly, Skimo doesn’t settle for bindings which can be in “poor situation.” So should you’re on the lookout for one thing artistic to do with these undesirable bindings, take a look at these candy DIY coat hooks.

Down Jackets

Indicators and Signs Giant quantities of lacking down insulation. Holes or rips which can be greater than the palm of your hand. Main burns or different harm that compromises the heat and wearability of the jacket.


Though Alpkit presents down jacket recycling, it’s only obtainable in the UK. Stateside, you’ll be able to ship in your unwearable down jackets to For Days through considered one of its Take Again Baggage: For $20, you’ll be able to stuff one with as much as 15 kilos of any model’s no-longer-wearable attire and ship it again. After sorting, a big majority will likely be resold or downcycled, and solely a fraction will likely be discarded in landfills. (See the “Options” beneath the Rain Jackets class for extra specifics on this program.) Or you’ll be able to drop it off at H&M, which presents free in-store garment assortment and can recycle any kind of attire or textiles from any model. Prospects get a “thanks” low cost for selecting to responsibly get rid of their attire. 

You can too stuff the feathers into your individual DIY pillow or pet mattress.


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Climbing gear including ropes, hardware and helmets

ClimbingClimbing Rope

Indicators and Signs Has been concerned in a significant fall with large masses, even when no seen harm is obvious. Cuts, flat spots, stiffness, discoloration or a lot of fuzziness. Learn When to Retire Climbing Gear for extra pointers on when to retire your rope, relying on the quantity of utilization.


Sterling Ropes at present recycles dynamic climbing ropes comprised of nylon 6 or nylon 66. Drop off your rope in-person at a taking part retailer, or ship it to the supplied tackle, indicating that the package deal is for the Rope Recycling Program on the label.

There are additionally dozens of DIY craft tasks for giving your previous climbing rope new life. Try this record for learn how to make all the pieces from canine leashes to rope rugs.

Climbing Footwear

Indicators and Signs Have already been resoled or in any other case repaired a couple of occasions. Holes within the rubber. Extreme tears or harm to the rand, the thick layer that protects the shoe’s higher. Blowouts within the toe field. Delamination of the glue.


Have you ever tried resoling them? No, we actually imply it. Producers like Scarpa make climbing sneakers to be sturdy sufficient to resole two or thrice. In case you are into deep water soloing, take into account repairing your climbing sneakers as finest as you’ll be able to after which retiring them to a lifetime of bliss, water and massive sends.

Climbing sneakers which can be utterly worn out also can go to a Nike Recycling + Donation assortment bin. (See the “Options” beneath the Operating Footwear class for extra data.)

Climbing {Hardware}

Indicators and Signs Damaged or splintered carabiners. Carabiner gates that don’t work correctly. Unfastened, bent or lacking rivets on carabiners and cams. Cracks, corrosion, extreme put on or burrs in belay units, cams and stoppers. Cam lobes keep open and don’t retract, even after lubrication. Deformed stoppers.

Options Practically all steel climbing {hardware} might be recycled at your native recycling middle in blended steel or scrap steel bins. Verify together with your recycling middle for particulars. As long as previous carabiners should not used for load-bearing actions, you’ll be able to nonetheless use them for keychains or as a clip on your water bottle.


Changing Your Gear

Now that you recognize extra about your gear’s finish of life, you may be impressed to spend money on manufacturers that prioritize extra sustainable design and materials choices. Learn Easy methods to Perceive Clothes and Gear Sustainability Options for extra details about issues and certifications just like the Accountable Down Commonplace, Truthful Commerce certification, bluesign® and extra.

Verify model web sites for details about trade-ins, restore providers and/or recycling. In case your favourite manufacturers don’t observe any of those, attain out and encourage them to spend money on these sustainability practices and supply end-of-life take-back applications for his or her merchandise. 

The REI Co-op Re/Provide program is open to members for each trade-ins and purchases. Members who commerce of their gently used gear obtain a present card good for purchases at REI Co-op, and customers on the lookout for used gear will usually discover high quality gadgets provided at a substantial low cost, as a lot as 70% off the retail value.


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