Pretty much everyone is familiar with craigslist as a way to access cheap or even free items. Not everyone is as familiar with freecycle. Freecycle is a way to give away items you no longer use or obtain those you might be in need of.
The main site of Freecycle.org can guide you to a local groups and give you information about themselves. Individual groups use different means of contacting those who sign up and have their own specific rules. Most of the time, these rules are fairly similar such as the condition of things getting offered or how many items may be taken based on how often you donate.
How does this differ from normal recycling or thrift stores? Well, you aren’t likely to get a working computer or perfectly good backpacking equipment with normal recycling and you will always have to pay something for a thrift store (though by all means check them for some amazing deals). As the name implies, Freecycling is always free and is generally in very good condition in my experience. If any item has an issue, it is usually noted in a clear fashion so that the person accepting it is aware of something they may need to repair.
If you have never checked it out, go ahead and take a look. Sign up if it seems interesting. There is never a cost or obligation, so there isn’t anything to lose. I have given quite a few things away in this manner and gained several very nice items I was in need of as well. My experience has been that furniture and clothing are the most common items, but it can vary greatly from one area to the next. Your area may have certain items that show up regularly as well as the rare item that you will want to jump at claiming.
If you are interested in backpacking, as many of my Mother Earth Monday readers are, and you notice good backpacking equipment showing up, jump on it! Backpacks, camp stoves, filters and other such items are always rare in my experience. They are almost in like-new or good condition and if you need one it is a god-send to find it at no cost. Good luck and good hunting!