In August, Seattle resident Kath Weekes was planning a day-long run through The Enchantments with a visiting friend from New York City who did not own a running vest or hiking poles. Weekes herself was fairly new to the sport and while she had her own equipment she certainly wasn’t sitting on extras. So she decided to check out the smooth launch of Gear, a new outdoor equipment rental service designed to do more than just give you an overpriced pair of skis.
With concierge trip planning to help you make the most of your time outdoors, a comfortable lounging area to browse maps, and a small but growing catalog of premium amenities fully packaged and ready for the job. trailhead, Gearhouse aims to become Seattle’s new premier destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
“We had a few different vests to choose from, and they had a bunch of the essentials, which was delicious,” Weeks said. “In each bag there was a moleskin blister, an emergency bivouac bag, Nuun tablets and a compass.
After the trip, Weekes shared his comments on the vest – which prompted the company to trade it in for a new model – and pasted a photo of his run on a notice board with information for anyone. considering tackling the same route.
This combination of turnkey rental, responsive customer service, and community building are the building blocks of Gearhouse, which officially opened in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood on September 1. Evan Maynard, 30, is the mastermind behind the sole proprietorship. .
“We want Gearhouse to be a place where you can get gear, knowledge and a friend base if you don’t have that network at work or in your building,” he said.
Currently priced at $ 35 per month, membership includes unlimited rental from the material library, flexible pickup and return time, Maynard’s personalized trip planning ideas, use of a wax bench ski and bicycle repair rack; and access to the clubhouse for events, courses, maps and guides.
Unlike a certain three-letter consumer co-op a few blocks away, Gearhouse’s backpack rentals are fully stocked, right down to instant coffee and sunscreen, which Maynard values at $ 1,500. equipment, but available at the much lower price of a $ 35 monthly membership.
Maynard was spurred in part by his own experience of living in a crowded 500 square foot apartment on Capitol Hill while still wanting to engage in a wide variety of outdoor activities, as his well-equipped parents did during his upbringing in northern California.
“I looked at my equipment closet and it was really big, but there were sports that I hadn’t played in a long time because the equipment was a barrier,” Maynard said. In his case, he was slow to become an off-piste skier and decided he would never own a paddle board because he didn’t have storage space for something he would only use. a few times a year.
In the spring and summer of 2021, he operated Gearhouse from a pickup truck and met clients in apartment buildings or on parks and rides. Storing rental equipment in his apartment didn’t really alleviate his overcrowded closet situation, and at the end of the summer he moved the operation to a 1,800 square foot garage and playroom around the corner. from Republican Street and Yale Avenue North to South Lake. Union.
With a ski waxing table, bike tuning station, trail maps and guides galore, picnic tables, and a small kitchen, Maynard hopes Gearhouse will become “a third space for outdoor enthusiasts. air ”, where they can not only pick up and drop off rental equipment. , but also meet like-minded adventurers and hone their skills.
Gearhouse has hosted meetups for trail runners in the past and has a list of fall events, including a screening of last year’s Banff Mountain Film Festival and a workshop on how to wax and tune skis and skis. snowboards. On the notice board where Weekes posted his enchantment information, other members took notes offering additional permit spots to coveted destinations like Mount St. Helens. Maynard also plans to offer coffee and take-out burritos for winter outings and is waiting for a liquor license to start serving beer for post-adventure outings.
But at its core, Gearhouse is all about the gear. Maynard is a sidekick of the quick and light mindset – he’s the kind of guy who took six years to reduce his backpack setup to a paltry 9 pounds. He wants to offer newcomers the opportunity to avoid trial and error.
“We are trying to bring you the pinnacle of sport,” he said. “High performance equipment makes a big difference to the enjoyment of what you do. “
Gearhouse offers boutique brands like Gossamer, which Maynard swears by the 60-liter Mariposa pack. Casual activities like backyard games, golf clubs, and tennis rackets round out the three types of bear canisters and personal locator beacons you can rent. As the seasons go by, Gearhouse will begin stocking more snowshoes, cross country skis, ice axes, shoe crampons, ski crampons and splitboards.
Maynard’s terminology – “high friction experience,” “use case,” “iterative” – betrays his engineering background (he moved to Seattle in 2014 to work for Blue Origin), but that mindset l ‘Helped streamline the travel planning and equipment rental process. to five simple questions so that, as he puts it, “you don’t have to spend four hours on the Washington Trails Association website after working 60 hours a week.”
Weekes, who works in marketing for Amazon, considers herself lucky not to run out of hardware storage space in her Georgetown townhouse, but the thought of wreaking havoc in someone else’s garage. is attractive. “Last winter I stacked fake books on my dining room table to cut my own climbing skins,” she said. “I never waxed my own skis because I didn’t want that stuff all over my house.
And as she scours the Gearhouse library for possible rentals, items like a one-person tent and crampons beckon like arrows missing from her quiver of outdoor gear. “I have a lot of gear,” she said. “But there is always something else that I need.”