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Three things are true about triathlon gear:
- It gets better every year.
- Better gear is hard to resist.
- Old gear often ends up in the landfill, even if it only needs minor fixes.
Now, there’s a fourth truth: Your used gear can have a second life helping others. Whether you’ve got bike jerseys that don’t fit or a wetsuit that has given you one too many chafe marks, now is the time to clean out the gear closet and make room for the stuff that does work. Here’s where you can donate your used tri gear to help someone else’s multisport dreams come true – all while while making you feel good about upgrading to the latest and greatest.
Where to donate used triathlon gear
Local college tri teams
If there’s one thing college kids love, it’s free stuff. See if your local college has a collegiate club or NCAA team that could put give your bikes, wetsuits and helmets a new life. Visit the USA Triathlon conference clubs page for a breakdown of all conferences and collegiate clubs, and to find one near you.
Newbies in need
Beginnertriathlete.com has a forum where you can post your old gear, and beginner triathletes can claim it and pay for shipping. There are also multiple Facebook groups for triathletes where gear swaps are encouraged, especially in the name of helping beginner triathletes get into the sport. Be sure to check with the page moderators about what is – and isn’t – allowed when offering up gear. Some have rules about what kind of gear is allowed in swaps, while others restrict posts about gear giveaways to a specific day of the week.
Tri charities for kids
Ask your tri community about local charities that help get kids into tri. For example, Exceeding Expectations used tri gear donations to help inner-city kids from San Bernardino, Calif., move their lives in a positive direction through triathlon. Fins in Bins collects goggles, swimsuits, and swim training tools for youth swim groups and summer camps.
Gearing up around the world
Mail your used running shoes to One World Running, who will clean and refurbish them before delivering them to runners in impoverished areas around the world. Since 1986, the organization has collected, washed, and sent hundreds of thousands of athletic shoes, along with T-shirts, shorts, medicine and school supplies to developing countries.
Local tri community
Contact your local club, race directors and tri shops about where to donate your tri gear – they’ll be connected in the community and will know of people who could use your stuff. Some clubs, like New York’s Empire Tri Club, even host periodic gear collection drives to donate to organizations like the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
Cairn Gear Up, Give Back Program
Your used gear can help fund outdoor experiences for children and adults with disabilities. Cairn (which is owned by Outside) collects gently-used gear for running, cycling, triathlon, and other outdoors activities, which they then clean, repair, and resell. Proceeds from their Gear Up Give Back program go to Outdoors for All, a nonprofit that supports adaptive and therapeutic recreation for children and adults with disabilities.
Recycle or downcycle
I:CO (short for “I Collect”) partners with global retailers like Adidas to offer incentives for donating used clothing and triathlon gear, which is then either exported to second-hand markets or “downcycled” as insulation or upholstery stuffing.