I need a crash pad in January for some bouldering in Joshua Tree. And I don’t want to own one. A peer to peer rental would be perfect. But I didn’t even think to look. Instead I reached out to a brick and mortar gear rental business near Joshua Tree.
Last week I was talking to two women in Toronto who are thinking about starting a gear sharing company. They wanted my perspective on the industry. And I realized that my perspective is that this area has failed to gain traction. So much so that it’s not useful. I assume I won’t find what I want where I want it.
Only after talking with the Toronto founders did I search around for a peer to peer crash pad rental.
What I found: Of the 14 active peer to peer gear rental businesses I knew about last year, only 7 remain in operation. And I found two crash pads: one in Asheville, NC via FriendWithA and one in Salt Lake City, UT via Yoodlize. You can see my complete list of the remaining businesses under the Adventure Gear category in my peer to peer travel companies spreadsheet.
No doubt some of these failures are due to the pandemic. But these companies didn’t have much traction pre-Covid. It’s really hard to create a network that offers a multitude of things, in lots of places. I want a crash pad. Someone else wants a camera. Another person wants a surf board. And we all need these items in different places. It’s not like home exchange, where everyone is offering the same thing: a home. Or peer to peer car rental, where everyone is offering cars. Or peer to peer boat rentals.
Peer to peer gear rental requires matching people with the specific gear they want in the specific place they need it. Logistically this requires a lot of people participating, offering lots of gear in lots of places. And so far I don’t think anyone has successfully solved the fundamental problem of participation. There’s no doubt a lot of idle gear sitting around in closets, garages, and storage sheds. But getting that gear listed on a network where people will look for rentals doesn’t happen magically with the creation of these networks. I don’t have the answer to this problem, but I do hope someone smarter than me can solve it. Until then, I’ll be renting my crash pad from the gear store in Joshua Tree.