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Outdoor adventuring made easy through new gear library

Evan Groen was patching up a pile of tents donated to the Dalhousie Outdoor Society (DOS), when he came up with an idea. Here was all this gear, sitting around, not really being used. What if he started a gear library?

The system would be similar to the Dalhousie Bike Centre: gear, loaned out to students, for free. Groen, a fourth-year Sustainability and International Development Studies student and president of the DOS, set out to make the gear library a reality.

With a grant from DSUSO (Dalhousie Student’s Union Sustainability Office), Groen purchased more gear. In addition to the 18 tents they already had, the DOS added backpacks, Therm-a-Rests, sleeping bags, stoves and pots to their growing collection.

The gear library’s goal is to make the outdoors more accessible to students. Groen says three problems are preventing students from getting outside: “one being transportation, the other one being they don’t have any experience and the third one being they don’t have any gear.”

The DOS was already addressing the first two obstacles, by providing organized trips with transportation and trip leaders. And the library would address the third.

Groen knows not having any gear can hold people back from spending time outside. And gear can be expensive, even if it’s rented; not necessarily a priority in a student’s budget.

Since Groen first started lending out gear in July, students have flocked to the DOS library. Some weeks, they even ran out and had to turn people away.

Kerewin Powers, a 3rd year Dalhousie student, says the gear library provides an excellent way for students to explore the outdoors. “It’s awesome. A lot of people can just get the gear they need, to go outside and do their own trips.”

Powers says it allows students not to have to spend money on gear. For those who travel back and forth a lot from province to province, she says, owning gear is impractical anyway. Powers has used the gear library twice.

Through the gear library, the DOS is giving more people the chance to break out of their everyday routine by spending time in nature.

“Doing certain activities, whether it be kayaking or rock climbing, or going on a long backpacking trip, can provide some challenges in a different way, and balance out a very academic life,” Groen says.

Borrowing gear is simple; you send in a request, and a member of the DOS lets you know when to come pick it up. Any student can borrow gear, no matter their level of experience.

If you have no experience, the DOS encourages you to come on one of their trips, where you can learn the necessary skills, such as tent setup, site selection, and how to keep warm in cold weather.

With a pack of borrowed gear and some advice from the DOS team, the great outdoors is only a step away.

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