Where Can I Donate An Old Tent?

Help those in need by donating your old tent
Help those in need by donating your old tent

So you were rummaging through a camping stash and found that gritty old tent you haven’t used in forever.

Instead of just chucking that poor tent into the dumpster, have you thought about donating it? Tons of organizations would be stoked to get their hands on your used outdoor gear, even if it’s seen better days.

That raggedy tent might not cut it for your outdoor adventures any more, but it could seriously help someone else out.

Let’s break down all the details on where to donate old tents, old outdoor gear, sleeping bags, hiking boots—all the camping goods you don’t need anymore. So let’s dive in!

Why Donate Your Gear?

There's only upside to donating your old tent
There’s only upside to donating your old tent

There are so many legit reasons to pass on your retired outdoor setup to a new loving home instead of sending it to the landfill:

  • It keeps useful things out of the trash: high-quality outdoor gear is built to last, but it inevitably deteriorates over time. Donating your stuff extends its lifespan

  • It hooks people up with affordable adventure gear: brand-new camping, hiking, and climbing gear costs a fortune. Your donations make it accessible and affordable

  • It supports good causes: a lot of these donation programs funnel gear to homeless shelters, relief efforts around the world, scout troops, and other great initiatives

  • It declutters your life: donating unused equipment you’ve upgraded or outgrown frees up storage space

Where to Donate Tents

There are many organizations all over collecting donated outdoor goods in usable condition in communities across the country.

Here are some of the top spots to donate old tent material, sleeping bags, camp stoves, or any other gear you’re trying to get rid of:

Gear Forward

Gear Forward is a non-profit that provides critical resources to frontline workers and disaster relief teams by gathering donations of outdoor apparel, climbing gear, camping equipment, and more.

They distribute all the goods globally, wherever emergency efforts are happening.

The Gear Closet

Run by the big outdoor retailer REI, The Gear Closet accepts donations of gently used camping, hiking, climbing, paddling, skiing gear, and outdoor clothing and accessories.

They then distribute all those donations to local non-profit partners doing good work.

Local Homeless Shelters and Charities

A charity organization makes a tangible difference in the lives of those in need
A charity organization makes a tangible difference in the lives of those in need

Super easy—just donate your unwanted camping supplies to a local homeless shelter or charity, helping out those in need. Tents, sleeping bags, cook sets, warm outdoor clothes—those things are crazy useful for people without housing.

Scouting Organizations

Donating old gear helps support the development and exploration of youth groups
Donating old gear helps support the development and exploration of youth groups

Kid scouts and camping clubs are always in need of affordable outdoor equipment for their adventures.

Reach out to local Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and other scouting groups to see if they can put your old tent, used safety equipment, backpacks, compasses, and other gear to good use.

Outdoor Retail Stores

Some outdoor retail stores will actually accept your donated used gear to then resell it or give it away. Call ahead to spot local camping or hiking shops to ask about any donation programs they’ve got going.

Online and App Gear Swaps

Can’t find any local places taking tent and gear donations near you?

No worries, the internet provides plenty of options to gift away your unwanted outdoor gear:

  • Facebook Marketplace: give it away locally through this online swap

  • Geartrade.com: this gear swap site has a “Free” section, so there are really no excuses

What Condition Does It Need to Be In?

Consider the condition of the items you're providing
Consider the condition of the items you’re providing

Different donation programs have varying requirements on what kind of shape your items needs to be in for them to accept it.

But in general:

  • Most are flexible with taking well-worn but still functional items like tents, tarps, packs, jackets, boots, and other products

  • Safety gear, like ropes or harnesses, needs to be in like-new condition with minimal wear and tear

  • Places usually won’t accept things with major rips, broken parts, missing components, funky smells, mold issues, and such

Just be real about the state of the gear you’re hoping to get rid of. Inspect everything closely before dropping it off, so you don’t waste anyone’s time.

How to Prepare Your Items for Donating

It may be time to get your old camping gear ready for their next journey
It may be time to get your old camping gear ready for their next journey

To make sure your donated camping outdoor goods end up being genuinely useful, take some time to properly spruce everything up first

  • Give it a deep clean: clothing, tents, sleeping bags, and packs should be washed first

    • Either hand-wash or use a gentle cycle, just make sure it’s spotless and fully dry before donating it

  • Fix any easy repairs: do basic fixes like sewing up small rips, reattaching loose straps or buckles, and replacing any missing stakes or tent poles

  • Sort and pack neatly: group all like items together and pack them up nicely in boxes or bags before drop-off so nothing gets lost or damaged

  • Include all the little extras: make sure you’ve got all parts and accessories included, like stuff sacks, footprints, rain flies, pole sections, and instructions

Upcycling Hacks for Tents and Gear

Upcycling your tents and gear results in unique, personalized items
Upcycling your tents and gear results in unique, personalized items

Of course, donating isn’t your only option if you’re trying to get rid of old camping equipment.

If you’re the crafty DIY type, you can repurpose and upcycle those old tents and gear around your home and backyard:

  • Turn sleeping bag shells into cozy dog beds

  • Sew ripstop nylon tent fabric into sturdy grocery totes

  • Upcycle tent floors into cute picnic blankets or play mats

  • Reuse old tent poles as tomato plant stakes for the garden

  • Fashion busted backpacks into funky throw pillows for the patio

  • Turn compression sack fabric into legit toiletry bags

With some creativity and basic skills, you can give those retired tents’ accessories a totally new life as decor or pet beds, gardening tools, and more. The possibilities are endless when you get scrappy!

Final Thoughts

Don’t just let your old tents and outdoor goods take up precious real estate once you’ve upgraded or stopped adventuring.

Great organizations are ready to give your gently used camping stuff a second life with scouts, homeless support, disaster relief, conservationists, and other groups getting people out in nature.

With some basic cleaning and small repairs, your retired gear can keep bringing stoke to people exploring and appreciating the great outdoors for years to come.

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