KitSplit offers more than its already unique combination of a peer-to-peer gear rental platform with a traditional store-to-shooter online storefront that allows renters to compare all possible options. Can’t find the gear you need? KitSplit’s customer service will source it and find a way to get it on the site for you to rent. Too daunting or taxing on your schedule to list your gear yourself? Send KitSplit a gear list, and they’ll list it for you. You can set the prices or let them recommend that part based on availability and prices in your area. KitSplit brings full-service treatment to the business of connecting people with the gear they need.
Since originally launching in the Tri-State (Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York) area in November, KitSplit already offers a portfolio of over $40 million worth of gear, while it has also expanded to Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.. Regardless of where they’ve officially launched (which are cities in which KitSplit offers increased support and features such as local courier delivery and community events), KitSplit rentals are available anywhere within the U.S. The company uses statistics on how much gear is listed in each city to help it decide where to officially launch next; so, putting your gear up will certainly help increase the likelihood of KitSplit offering events such as those it held in the past at YouTube Space New York and with the Lincoln Center Film Society in your area.
Insurance is required, but renters can use their existing equipment insurance by submitting the appropriate information to KitSplit. For those without insurance, coverage starts at as little as one percent of the equipment value for a one-week rental. That's the same as what a postal company would charge to insure a shipped package, and this is gear you're going to take out into the field and use as opposed to simply let sit in a box. One last alternative for those renting for five days or less is to put a deposit for the value of the gear on a credit card or debit card with a limit (or account balance, in the case of the debit card) that allows for that amount to be held for the duration of the rental period. Either way, those renting gear are assured their equipment will be protected.
A quick tip for those considering purchasing additional insurance, however: if your rental gear is worth less than $500, it may be best to simply put down a full deposit on the item since the starting deductible for KitSplit's coverage is $500. This way, you won't forego the amount of the insurance, but you'll still be protected identically (which is unfortunately not really at all with such a deductible). Naturally, most rentals will likely be for gear that costs much more than $500, and if you don't have the extra cash or credit to put on hold, insuring a $500 item isn't the worst of options; it just doesn't cost that much at all. But this is still something to keep in mind.
An intimate experience is guaranteed by the fact that gear is listed and rented locally. Aside from the local delivery services offered in cities where KitSplit has officially launched, gear isn’t shipped to sellers several states away. You still meet up with the business or individual from which you’re renting, providing plenty of opportunities to expand your network of industry creatives and great local shops.
KitSplit’s fees are 15 percent on the seller’s end (3 percent of which goes to transaction fees) and five percent on the renter’s end, which often puts it at 20-30 percent less than most other options. Unfortunately, KitSplit does throw a “Buy Now” Amazon link at you when it can’t find the gear you’re looking for in your area, but aside from this, the site is quite clean and easy to use, even featuring an always-available chat dialog. I did find some issues posting to the site using Safari, but Chrome worked quite well. And while I appreciated the default option to include industry-standard weekend and week-long rates, you can disable that if you so please. I like having it this way to reward renters with a little discount for renting longer, but it's nice to know you can still have it your way.
One slightly worrisome detail is that while your address is not displayed directly, the map shows a very accurate Google-generated that is simply too accurate for my comfort. Thankfully, the address area will accept an address without a street number, which helps put the pin at least slightly off of your actual studio or home's location. In the future, it would be great to see a natural and more generalized view of addresses more similar to what sites such as AirBNB display.
The gear that’s available also ranges widely, including everything from Google Glass and sandbags to full studios and offerings for drone rigs complete with operators. Still, the obviously video-centric gear offerings are a consequence of the founders’ slightly heavier experience and network with the medium and industry, but you can still find or list plenty of photographic equipment as well. Regardless, it’s actually refreshing to see more video gear on a site that both requires and offers insurance as opposed to the odd who-knows-what-you’re-getting Craigslist rental deals that support many budget-conscious or student filmmakers.
KitSplit’s star portfolio of larger companies that use its services on one end or another (including Hearst Media, Condé Nast, NBC, and more) also helps take away any skepticism that might tarnish hasty first impressions of a rental or listing service that seems as though it has all the answers. Indeed, other high-profile filmmakers’ foundations and studios such as VII Photo Agency, Magnum, and Milk Studios continue a trend that seems to help KitSplit’s early growth spurt.
What I Liked
- Overall a great experience and concept
- Excellent customer service
- They'll list your gear for you
- They'll find gear you want to rent, even if it's not currently on the site
- You set your own prices, but they'll help you with that if you want them to
- Everything is guaranteed to be insured or at least to have a full deposit put down
- They offer insurance if you don't have it, and it's quite affordable too
- Excellent selection of all kinds of gear and even studio space in bigger cities as well as in those where KitSplit is officially launched
- Slight concentration toward video-gear rental (a rarity that is underscored by the popularity of Craigslist as a listing service for gear rentals)
What I Didn't Like
- Iffy performance using Safari (They're working on this, but for now, use Chrome instead)
- Deductible for rentals of gear worth less than $500 doesn't make much sense (just put a deposit down instead)
- Addresses aren't displayed, but the location map still shows a very accurate, Google-supplied pin on the map (remove the street number for increased address privacy)
- Still somewhat small in a number of cities where it'd be nice to see more gear
Still relatively early in the game, KitSplit continues to expand to new cities, and now may be a great time to test out the service that is doing everything the right way. Check out what kind of gear is available near you, or simply send them a gear list to get started renting out your own gear at KitSplit.com.