Lombardi Sports (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Just recently, locals learned that one of the oldest and most beloved sporting goods stores in the Bay Area is closing its doors for good in January after 66 years. After being hampered by two consecutive poor ski seasons due to the California drought, San Francisco’s Lombardi’s Sports is currently undergoing a storewide clearance and no longer offers equipment rentals. Fortunately for San Franciscans and other Bay Area residents, there are still many other sporting goods stores around that continue to rent out a wide collection of outdoor equipment, whether it’s wetsuits and bicycles or snowshoes and snowboards. Here are some of the best places to rent outdoor gear in the Bay Area, some with multiple locations.
610 Old Mason St.
San Francisco, CA 94129
Ask any local what’s the best place to buy or rent affordable sports equipment and more often than not, the answer is the Sports Basement. First opened in 1998 in an old, rundown warehouse not far from AT&T Park, Sports Basement has expanded to six Bay Area locations, including its flagship store in the Presidio that’s scheduled to be relocated nearby and the newest location opened just last month in Berkeley. All of the Sports Basement locations offer a variety of equipment rentals, including camping gear, bikes, wetsuits, skis and snowboards. Mentioned as among the Top 10 US Retailers by Triathlon America and Top 100 Outdoor Retailers by Outdoor USA Magazine, Sports Basement is also a consistent annual winner in the Bay Area for Best Sporting Goods Store, Best Athletic Shoes, Best Ski/Snowboard Shop and more from several local media sources.
2777 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94705
Any Mountain has been a local favorite for more than 40 years. Based in Berkeley, the outdoor sporting goods stores has expanded to seven locations across the Bay Area and recently added another store in Sacramento. As the name suggests, Any Mountain specializes in ski and snowboarding equipment, in addition to camping gear and footwear. The rental department is only open for the ski season but carries top brand names such as Salomon, Burton, Leki, Nordica and Swix. Other Bay Area locations include Redwood City, Fremont and San Jose.
Mel Cotton’s Sporting Goods
1266 W. San Carlos St.
San Jose, CA 95126
First opened in the South Bay in 1946 and well before it was called Silicon Valley, Mel Cotton’s is one of the oldest sporting goods stores in the Bay Area. The family-owned business was also one of the country’s first sporting goods stores to rent gear for lovers of the great outdoors. Located just a few blocks from the San Jose Diridon train station and SAP Center, Mel Cotton’s has a very extensive list of equipment rentals, including camping gear and kayaks in the summer and ski and snow packages in the winter months. Mel Cotton’s Sporting Goods is frequently mentioned as the best for outdoor gear in the annual Best of Silicon Valley reader poll.
14 E. Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Larkspur, CA 94939
Outback Adventures offers a variety of outdoor equipment rentals from kayaks and stand-up paddleboards to skiing and snowboarding. With the primary location in the North Bay community of Larkspur, Outback Adventures is noted for offering rental equipment not ordinarily found in other competing stores in the Bay Area. Among the otherwise hard-to-find rental items are telemark skis, alpine touring skis, splitboards and ski/snowboard car racks, in addition to a nice variety of camping and backpacking rentals. Describing itself as the most comprehensive outdoor adventure guide service and skills training outfitter in the Bay Area, Outback Adventures offers a number of trips, classes and tour activities, including kayaking tours and classes, rock climbing and snow classes and trips.
Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.