Travel Gear

P2P gear rental company Fat Lama expands to U.S.

fat lama

Fat Lama is one of the peer to peer gear rental companies. They launched in late 2016 and have recently expanded to the United States. Fat Lama has also launched campervan rentals in the UK.

You can rent pretty much anything on Fat Lama. And there’s a lot of stuff that is potentially useful to travelers. Sports equipment, camping gear, strollers and car seats, luggage and a lot of photography equipment. If you don’t want to travel with this stuff, or you just didn’t anticipate a need until you got to your destination, peer to peer rental gear networks are a good alternative to buying new stuff.

A few interesting tidbits about Fat Lama: they’ve got over 60,000 users in London, and some lenders earn over $5000 per month through their rentals. They do offer insurance on rentals, up to $30k per transaction. And so far this year they estimate renters have saved over £27.2m by renting through Fat Lama rather than buying the item. That last factoid is probably not so interesting because no one would actually buy a mountain bike instead of renting one for the day. But as with other peer-to-peer services like car sharing and Uber/Lyft taxis, ultimately wide adoption could lead to fewer purchases as people realize they can just rent items they don’t use very often.

This area of gear rental is apparently a difficult business. I wrote about all the startups that failed in this space last year. But it’s a compelling business that is attracting new entrants as fast as old ones fail. As I was writing up this post I read the news that Spinlister, a peer to peer bike, surf and snow gear rental network is shutting down due to lack of funding. Spinlister has been around since 2011, which may say something about the difficulty building a business in this space.

Want to check out all the peer to peer gear rental networks? Filter down to the “Adventure Gear” category on my spreadsheet.