Technology startups tend to fall into two classes; they either focus on the next social selfie sharing app or actually make something that is useful, like Uber or Square, but rarely do you see a technology startup that makes something for the outdoors or adventure enthusiast crowd. That is why I was particularly happy to hear about The Outdoor Exchange (a.k.a. OX), a startup that is making it easier to take up or enjoy outdoors activities that require you to buy gear, by taking the headaches of price, storage, and commitment out of outdoor gear.
The Outdoor Exchange, which launched in January of this year, offers a subscription-based gear lending service that offers about 100 items in their gear lineup, with everything from camping essentials like tents and sleeping bags to specialized gear like kayaks and paddle boards. They are based in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, and currently only serve that market, where gear can be picked up on the same day, but smaller gear can be shipped nationwide. Delivery is also available to local trails and lakes. The OX even offers a custom inflatable roof rack to help you get your loaned gear to your destination. The service is also targeted at those that want to try new outdoor activities, but don’t want to commit to the gear upfront, or people that do not have a place to store the gear, and finally those that do not get out enough to justify the expense of buying the gear outright.
Originally conceived after co-founder Dariusz Jamiolkowski bought a kayak for himself, with the desire that all of his friends join in on the kayaking action. However, none of his friends owned kayaks, and buying or renting one was an expensive proposition. and his wife to use. He had wanted all of his friends to come out kayaking with them, but none of them had kayaks, and because kayaks were expensive to buy or rent for a one-time excursion, no one wanted to go with them.
Personally, I cannot wait for them to expand to more markets, especially the West Coast; I know lots of people that would sign up for the service if they had access to the gear. If you are on the east coast or just want to support The Outdoor Exchange, they are currently running an Indiegogo campaign to raise some money and sell initial memberships to the service. Memberships start at $100 per year for individuals, giving them one free gear rental per week. The OX also offers family memberships for $250 per year, giving a family up to four gear rentals.