Giving gear another go-round

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Late winter is the perfect time to make sure your camping gear is ready for the upcoming season. Filling out your supply list with used gear is one way many campers get the essentials without blowing their summer trip money. Through online sites as well as two local gear consignors, Chattanoogans have more options than ever when it comes to snagging a deal on great equipment. But there are some things to look for, whether you’re at a shop or garage sale, in order to make sure you are getting a square deal.

Mary Beth Sutton of the Gear Closet on Cherokee Boulevard and Jennie Bartoletti of Four Bridges Outfitters on North Market have these tips for people buying used gear:

Backpacks

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The first thing Sutton looks at on a used backpack is the padding at the hips and shoulders and the buckles. Padding wears, buckles break and neither is easy to replace or repair, she says.

Bartoletti adds that it’s important to look at all of the straps to be sure the previous owner didn’t cut or glue them to fit his or her body.

Sleeping Bags

While some people might shy away from the idea of a used sleeping bag, Sutton says most can be cleaned enough to be good as new. “It depends on how OCD you are,” she says. “Just wash the stew out of them to get all of the heebie-jeebies out.”

Used bags are popular at both shops, but Bartoletti always recommends turning the bag inside out and having a good look so you know what you’re getting into.

Tents

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When looking at a used tent, worry about holes, but not so much about poles. Bartoletti suggests holding a tent up to the light to try and notice light coming through any holes. “You want to look at the floor of the tent and the flies,” she says, citing those two specific areas as the most prone to damage.

Sutton says that most tent manufacturers have a good selection of replacement tent poles at affordable prices, so one broken support is no reason to write off a potential purchase. “It’s easy to replace poles,” she says. “If you’re getting a really good deal on a tent, that’s not a deal breaker.”

Both dealers said that if a tent has some age on it, a fresh coat of waterproofing is a good idea.

Stoves and other gear

For most other gear, Sutton says try to inspect it well in person before buying. Be sure used stoves or lanterns hold pressure if they are the type that require pumping.

The biggest thing Bartoletti and Sutton advise is to be sure all of the pieces are there. While things like tent poles are readily available, specific parts on stoves, water filters or other gear may not be. And of course, the more you get to try out the item before purchasing it, the better.

“Make sure everything does what it used to do,” Bartoletti says.

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