You love the great outdoors but hate shopping at outdated camping stores. We get it. The fluorescent lighting, the aisles of random overstocked gear, the salespeople who look like they haven’t seen the sun in years. It’s not exactly an inspiring experience for nature lovers and weekend warriors. Luckily, camping stores have gotten a much-needed makeover. Gone are the days of cavernous warehouses filled with last season’s leftovers. Camping Stores 2.0 are popping up around the country, focused on curating the best gear for your needs and getting you out the door and onto the trail as fast as possible. From high-tech outfitters with gear you can rent to test out to outdoor boutiques with gear picked by local adventure guides, there are lots of new options that will reignite your passion for shopping and get you excited for your next adventure. The camping store experience has been long overdue for an upgrade, and the new generation is finally delivering. Your perfect gear and your perfect adventure are calling – will you answer?

The Rise of Online Camping Stores

Online camping stores have revolutionized the way we shop for outdoor gear. No more hoping your local shop has what you need in stock—now you have the world at your fingertips.

With a few clicks, you can browse thousands of products from major brands and read reviews from fellow adventurers. Compare specs, prices, and features to find the perfect tent, sleeping bag, backpack or whatever else you’re after. Many sites offer great deals and discounts for buying in-season or past-season models.

  • Shop on your schedule. No more rushing to stores before closing time or on weekends. Buy supplies for your next trip whenever it’s convenient for you, day or night.
  • Save time. Forget driving all over town only to find what you want isn’t in stock. Search for exactly what you need and filter by availability to see what can ship right away.
  • Learn from experts. Many sites have buying guides to help you choose the right gear. Learn how to select a hiking pack or kayak from the pros.
  • Stay up-to-date. Keep an eye on the latest products, technologies and styles so you always have the best and most modern gear for your adventures.

While local shops still have an appeal, online stores make it so much easier to get fully equipped for any camping or hiking excursion. They really do provide the ultimate outdoor shopping experience. The convenience simply can’t be beat.

In-Store Experiences: Beyond the Transaction

These days, camping stores are about more than just buying gear—they’re destinations for outdoor enthusiasts and experiences in themselves. Many feature interactive displays, classes, community events, and spaces for customers to test products before purchasing.

In-Store Classes and Workshops

Stores now offer free or low-cost classes on everything from wilderness first aid to stargazing. REI, for example, provides over 10,000 classes each year at stores across the country. These hands-on courses are a great way for people of all skill levels to learn new outdoor skills or improve existing ones.

Community Gathering Spaces

It’s common for stores to have lounges, fire pits, gear repair stations, and event spaces for the local outdoor community to come together. Some even have full-service restaurants and bars! Moosejaw, a popular chain, is known for its quirky lounges featuring giant chairs, old-school arcade games, and a sense of humor.

Product Testing Areas

Before you buy that fancy new tent or backpack, wouldn’t you like to see it in action? Many stores now have designated areas where you can set up tents, climb rock walls, and test out other gear before purchasing. REI’s flagship store in Seattle even has an entire bike test track!

While the core purpose of these stores remains the same, the experience of shopping in them has evolved. Combining retail with education, community-building, and adventure in an interactive way allows outdoor enthusiasts to fully immerse themselves in the sports and activities they love. The end result is customers who feel more connected to the brands they buy from and the adventures they embark on.

Catering to Specific Camping Interests

These days, camping stores are catering to specific interests and gear needs of their customers. They realize that not all campers have the same requirements. Some are more interested in certain activities like:

  • Backpacking and hiking: For lightweight gear like compact tents, sleeping bags, portable stoves, and dehydrated food. Many also offer accessories like hiking poles, water filters, and trail maps.
  • Canoeing and kayaking: Provide equipment for paddling adventures like canoes, kayaks, life jackets, paddles, and roof racks. They may also carry gear for portaging between lakes and rivers.
  • Rock climbing: Focus on gear for scaling rock walls and cliffs like ropes, harnesses, belay devices, climbing shoes, chalk bags, and crash pads. Some may even have indoor climbing walls for practice and training.
  • Cycling: Cater to cycle touring and bike packing by providing bikes, panniers, bike racks, cycling clothing, repair tools, and maps of bike-friendly routes.
  • Overlanding: For self-reliant vehicle-based camping, they supply equipment like rooftop tents, camping fridges, solar panels, satellite phones, and navigation devices. They target those who want to get far off the grid.
  • Glamping: For a luxury camping experience, they provide high-end tents with real beds, linens, lighting, outdoor furniture, portable showers, camping stoves, and other amenities. They cater to those who want to camp in comfort and style.

By focusing on specific niches, these new wave camping stores are able to provide expert advice and stock specialized gear that big box retailers may lack. They are helping more people get outside by making camping and the gear required for their interests more accessible and user-friendly. The modern camping store has come a long way.

Renting and Repairing Outdoor Gear

Modern camping stores have had to adapt to keep up with today’s outdoor enthusiasts. In addition to selling the latest high-tech gear, many now offer gear rentals and repair services to meet the needs of all experience levels.

Renting equipment is a great option if you’re new to an activity and want to try it out before investing in expensive gear. It also allows you to use high-quality equipment you may not be able to afford to buy. Camping stores typically rent essentials like tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, and sleeping pads. Some also rent recreational equipment such as kayaks, stand up paddleboards, mountain bikes, and climbing equipment.

Repair services are useful for fixing damaged gear or performing maintenance to keep equipment in good working order. Many stores offer repairs on items they sell, as well as gear bought elsewhere. Common repairs include:

  • Patching holes, tears and seam sealing in tents, sleeping pads, packs, and clothing.
  • Re-waterproofing outerwear and tents.
  • Sharpening knives and tools.
  • Adjusting and lubricating zippers.
  • Checking and refilling camp stove and lantern fuel.
  • Re-soling and waterproofing hiking boots and shoes.

Some stores also rent or sell used gear, which provides an affordable option for those on a budget. When gear is traded in, it’s inspected to ensure good quality before being resold. Used gear may show some wear, but will still have a lot of life left for recreational use.

By providing additional services beyond retail sales, camping stores are able to support outdoor enthusiasts at every level of experience. Whether you need to rent or repair gear for your next adventure, or want to save money on used equipment, today’s camping stores have you covered. The next time you need gear for your outdoor excursions, check with your local camping store to see what extra services they offer.

Building a Community for Camping Enthusiasts

Camping stores today are working to build a real community for their customers. They recognize that shopping for gear is often a social experience for outdoor enthusiasts and they want to facilitate that.

\n\n### Online Forums and Groups

Many stores now host online forums and social groups where customers can connect over their shared interests. You might find groups for backpackers, van lifers, overlanders, and more. People share tips, plan meetups, buy and sell used gear, and build friendships. As a customer, these groups are a great resource. As a store, they help build loyalty by giving people a place to engage with your brand and with each other.

In-Store Events

In addition to online community building, stores also host regular in-person events. They have speakers and educators provide free clinics on things like:

  • Using a compass and map
  • Basic survival skills
  • Camp cooking techniques
  • Gear repair and maintenance

They invite brand ambassadors to highlight new products. Some even have adventure clubs that organize hikes, camping trips and more for their members. All of these events and activities turn the store into a hub for outdoor recreation and education in the local community.

Loyalty Programs

A popular way stores keep people engaged is through loyalty programs that offer perks and rewards. Many offer discounts, coupons, and first access to sales for members. Some have points systems where you earn points for purchases and activities that can be redeemed for store credit. Loyalty programs make people feel appreciated and give them an incentive to keep coming back.

Modern camping stores recognize that customer experience is about more than just buying gear. By building a community, hosting events, and offering loyalty programs, they give outdoor enthusiasts a place to connect over their passion. This social aspect creates a lot of value and goodwill, which translates into a thriving, dedicated customer base. The stores that do this well are creating a win-win for themselves and for the camping community.


And that’s what camping stores today are all about: delivering an experience, not just products. They know you want to feel like an explorer, even if you’re just shopping. The best stores make you feel like you’ve discovered some hidden gem, providing inspiration and expertise to help fuel your next adventure. Sure, you can still find all the basics like tents, packs, and fuel. But now the offerings go way beyond the basics. You’ll find the latest gear for every activity, clothing that transitions from trail to town, and snacks to power you through any trek. And when you walk out the door, you’ll be armed with stories and advice to make your next camping trip the best yet. The camping stores of old were places to just grab supplies; the new stores are destinations in themselves for the modern adventurer. They’ve evolved to become an essential part of the experience – just like the great outdoors they help you gear up to explore.

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