Meet Rexchanger, a Utah Start-up Making Adventures More Accessible



Rexchanger’s founders teamed up to create a premier outdoor gear rental service. From left to right: Cara MacDonald, Tyler Sanford and Sam Tyler. Image courtesy Rexchanger.

By Abigail Bowé, Arts Writer


If you count yourself among the most dedicated of outdoor enthusiasts, you may likely resonate with the words of famed poet and ecologist Henry David Thoreau: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.” For University of Utah student Cara MacDonald, the drive to discover the great wide world is more than just a hobby. Combining her love of the outdoors with a passion for marketing, MacDonald became one of the founders of Rexchanger ⁠— a company that her team calls “the Airbnb of outdoor gear” ⁠— which successfully came into fruition just this year.

“My passion for outdoor sporting began when I was a kid,” MacDonald explained. “My parents have always been outdoorsy and took me on many cool adventures over the years, from river rafting to backpacking.” Later, she came into contact with Western Governors University student Tyler Sanford and Brigham Young University student Samuel Tyler, who’d been wanting to create an app for equipment rentals together. MacDonald jumped onto the opportunity right away. “I felt as though it had a ton of potential and that there were a lot of very cool and interesting things we could do with it,” she said, reflecting on the proposal. “Neither of them had much in the way of marketing and design experience, so I offered to help them start the company.” The group eventually named their business Rexchanger, a portmanteau of “recreation exchanger,” and the idea took off.

Courtesy Rexchanger

As MacDonald’s instincts told her, the start-up glows with the promise of becoming a genuine game-changer in Utah’s sports and recreation industry. Most outdoors fans know how ridiculously expensive it is to rent a kayak from a shop which can afford to mark up prices all it wants by keeping its own inventory. Rexchanger’s use of a peer to peer exchange-based model feels like nothing short of a breath of fresh air.

Do you own a hammock that you rarely use? Put it up for an insured rent on Rexchanger so that it collects money for you rather than dust. Want to try out kayaking while running short on cash? Rexchanger brags rental prices 40 percent lower than those of traditional renting services. Or maybe you’re looking for a piece of rental equipment that you can’t find anywhere. Well, Rexchanger is currently working to make less common items available for their customers’ borrowing too. “Our most recent acquisition for the app has been two Kokopelli Packrafts,” MacDonald said, “which are a new and very fun way to experience river rafting.”

Simply put, Rexchanger makes Utah adventures accessible where they haven’t been before. It removes the exclusive barrier costs of many recreational activities that its users may not be able to otherwise afford while allowing those who own equipment to save money when they can. As the company continues to grow, the number of Utahans enjoying themselves out in nature will too.

Courtesy Rexchanger

MacDonald’s experience as a student at the U has helped her to forge Rexchanger’s path from ideas to a company. For instance, she first discovered her favorite activity, rock climbing, on campus at the Life Center’s climbing wall. Moreover, she noted that her college experience blossomed in tandem with her joining and launching of Rexchanger. “The entrepreneurship resources at Lassonde,” the U’s start-up program, “completely changed the game for us,” MacDonald said. She added that Rexchanger was able to grow through the Rush to Revenue program and received funding through Get Seeded events, all via the university. “[Lassonde] brought in multiple experts who gave us irreplaceable advice.”

Today, Rexchanger is finding new footing outside of the university and is coming to stand on its own two feet. Recently the startup made an official appearance at Salt Lake City’s Questival, a nationally hosted scavenger hunt race and outdoor recreation celebration hosted by gear producer Cotopaxi, a company known for donating funds and grants against worldwide poverty. Coming soon, Rexchanger will also look to create its own chances to do good. “We are incorporating as a Certified B-Corp in the fall and will be giving a portion of all our profits to water conservation foundations in Utah, including ‘Save Our Rivers,'” said MacDonald. “We hope to be stewards and caretakers of the outdoors.” As for other innovations and changes that Rexchanger has in store for the future, MacDonald said that they will have a fully functioning rental website by August, intend to raise the insurance amount that they guarantee to equipment owners and have plans to release an upcoming equipment delivery option for renters. “It’s incredibly satisfying to see the idea of Rexchanger becoming a reality,” she said.

Courtesy Rexchanger

MacDonald and the other Rexchanger founders hope that as they improve they will “expand to other states eventually.” However, the team describes their company as a “Utah start-up through and through,” and to MacDonald, it seems as though the Beehive state represents the heart and soul of Rexchanger. “Tyler, Sam and I are all from Utah and feel very passionately about what this state has to offer in terms of the outdoors and community,” said MacDonald. She added that “Utah will remain Rexchanger’s home base.”

For the time being, Rexchanger is still a small business and is in need of more participants to loan out items. Materials which they currently have available includes a fair range of camping accessories, backpacks, rafts, skis, mountain bikes and a variety of special packages that include entire sets of equipment.

“I’ve rented out gear on [Rexchanger] myself since we launched last month,” said MacDonald. “It’s great to see our hard work make something that’s actually useful.”

Rexchanger is available to download on Apple and iOS.


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