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Too many needs... Tent, pack, bags, etc

9:40 a.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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Hello All... I'm new here and desperately in need of direction. :)

I've been researching the last few weeks trying to figure this out.

and now I feel like i'm in information overload.

I don't live remotely close to any actual Sporting goods stores so i'm pretty much relying on the internet at this point.

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The Plan: 70-90 day cross country roadtrip with camping/backpacking 65% of the nights. The trip stretches from Florida across the southern US all the way up the Pacific Coast then over to Glacier NP south to Yellowstone and on through Mid/Southern Colorado on home to the Midwest.

The People: 36 yr old Male - 6'4" - 265 lbs & 29 yr old Female - 5'0" - 130 lbs.

The Problem: We have nothing as far as gear other than a comprehensive First Aid Kit so far {on top of the fact that neither of us has been camping in years}

The Timeline: we have until April to get everything we think we need. the trip starts at the end of April and will probably stretch into mid-July.

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My thoughts are to first purchase backpacks for both of us that way as we start buying more gear we'll know if it'll fit and how much weight we can handle. Then the next priority is the tent. So that's where we'll start.

Tell me if i'm way off base or if it just sucks or if i'm in going in the right direction...

Backpacks :: Willing to pay up to $150 ea

For me:

http://www.amazon.com/High-Peak-4500-5300ci-Internal-Backpack/dp/B000TRPTHS/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I5Z3TLRNSOK4E&colid=1S2X916HSVZ7M

For him:

http://www.amazon.com/High-Sierra-Trail-Graphite-Tungsten/dp/B000OZG8DE/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=IYEKIEMYU9X0T&colid=1S2X916HSVZ7M

or

http://www.amazon.com/High-Sierra-Sentinel-Pacific-Tungsten/dp/B000OZCBOY/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=IOMPVWDWJGUBO&colid=1S2X916HSVZ7M

Tent :: up to $250

We want to be able to at least sit up in the tent and don't want to be too cramped. so probably a 3-4 person tent. and I'd like something with a low-imact color like green, tan, grey ... but everything i find seems to be ORANGE! or RED! or YELLOW!... or at least the rain fly is.

Thanks

9:49 a.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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If you set aside some time and search on these topics at Trailspace (the search box is in the upper right hand corner) you should be able to narrow this down. There are 10 years worth of backpacking discussions here.

First thing you're going hear is to never buy a backpack for overnight outings without trying it on first. This is especially true if your body shape doesn't fit within the "average" that most packs target.

That's just for starters.

9:52 a.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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Temperature wise I think the lows will be 30s to 40s though there is the always the possibility for hitting in the 20s whilst up north (glacier np/yellowstone)

9:56 a.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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First thing you're going hear is to never buy a backpack for overnight outings without trying it on first. This is especially true if your body shape doesn't fit within the "average" that most packs target.

Yep.. i've heard that... but it seems at odds with my options. but i am taking a trip up to KCMO this week and will be hitting up some of the shops they have. though the reviews i've seen seem to suggest rather lackluster selections as far as backpacks.

11:00 a.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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I would suggest buying your pack last. But all of your other gear first, and then buy a pack to fit your gear.

Also, be wary of low quality brands, they are money pits for the most part. Spend just a little more to get a quality product. Some of the big backpacking gear makers are Kelty, Gregory, Osprey, Arc'teryx or however it's spelled, Mammut, REI, EMS, MSR, Black Diamond, Nemo, Thermarest, Big Anges, Marmot.

There are a bunch of other brand also, but basically if you find a store , for example REI, that sells these then most of the products they carry will probally be of a better quality in general. In my opinion gear made by companies such as swiss gear, ozark trail, etc should be avoided at all costs.

Buying all of your gear online will take lots of research, make sure to look at reviews on multiple sites, and ask specific questions here with regards to your options for each specific piece of gear. Buy from a reputable dealer with a good return policy, such as REI. It costs 20$ to become a lifetime member of REI, but it is well worth it and they have one of the best return policies in the market.

I would make your purchases somewhat in this order. Pretty much everything below water filtration can be bought any time you want. But your main purchases of tent-water filtration should take priority, and buy a good quality item.

Tent

Sleeping bag

Sleeping pad

Stove and cookset

water filtration/treatment

Hiking boots

Clothing-fast drying and insulating

First aid kit

survival/repair kit

Pack-For the $150 you were looking at on Amazon, i would instead buy a Kelty pack, you can get alot of there packs for that price, and they are the best bang for your buck in my opinion for that price range. I use a kelty redwing 3100 and a kelty coyote 4750, and I couldn't be happier.

I strongly advise against buying any of the items you linked from Amazon, you get what you pay for, and you don't want to skimp on your main items.

11:36 a.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks very much for your tips...

Man, I really wish I lived in a town where we had something better than a Big 5 sporting goods store.

Best/Closest stores are about 3.5 hrs away.

I like the shopping list. I've been attempting to prioritize my needs and staggering the big purchases over the next few months. That way i'm not blowing so much cash at once.

also... what goes into a survival/repair kit?

11:51 a.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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pfemm,

You say your roadtrip has a timeline of 70-90 days and a route that starts in FL, crossing the southern part of the US (3000 miles), up the Pacific Coast (2000-2500 miles, depending on the stops), to Glacier, Yellowstone, and south through CO (500 or so miles, depending on stops) and over to home in the MidWest (where in the MidWest? could be another 300-500 miles). This totals something on the order of 6000 or more miles, which is something like 100-200 hours of sitting in the car (some of the mountain roads will be pretty slow, though some of the interstates have 70-75 mph speed limits). That sounds pretty ambitious to me to include even a tiny portion of the interesting places along that route, especially if you include backpacking treks long enough to really enjoy the areas. Just to list a few of the places with great 2-5 day backpacks along the way -

FL - some good places like the Everglades (canoe)

GA/TN/NC - Smokies need 3 or 4 days

AR - Ouachitas deserve at least an overnight backpack.

TX - Hill country has some good backpacking, and of course Big Bend and the mountains around Ft Davis and Alpine offer great multiday backpacks.

NM - a plethora of places in the Sandias, Sangres, Jemez (a 3-day in Bandelier gives interesting visits to Anasazi sites), and more

AZ - Grand Canyon, of course (count on 3 days to the Colorado and back to the Rim) - Gary can add more here; plus the White Mountains and up in 4 Corners

CA - (I am skimming around Utah and Nevada, each of which has a year's worth of backpacking in "backpacking Fantasyland") - Just sticking to the "biggies" - Big Sur, Sequoia/Kings Canyon (especially the East Side, but the western part is good, too), Redwoods NP, Yosemite ("everybody" goes there), Shasta, to name a few (I live in CA and have been in only a tiny percentage of the great backpacking places)

OR - again, a plethora

WA - when going to the Cascades (Sisters, Jefferson, etc etc), don't forget the Olympics. Plus North Cascades is a MUST.

Turning eastward (we'll skip going over the border to Canada, which also has LOTS!)

ID, MT - you already listed Glacier, but there's more, much more

WY - Yellowstone (if you can really deal with the crowds), but go to the Wind Rivers and Tetons - each worth 3 or 4 days of backpacking

CO - well, when you head south from the Tetons, might as well dip into northern UT and the Uintas, then zigzag back and forth in the Rockies, all the way down to the San Juans. Remember that CO has something like 50+ 14,000 ft peaks, most of which are great hikes, with many multiday backpacks available.

Well, that's just a sample. You clearly have to pick and choose. A backpack, even for someone as rusty as you say you are, should be at least 3 days (2 nights) to be really worth while. And you list a LOT of driving.

Tom and Rambler have excellent suggestions - pack is the last thing. Get the cook gear and stove first (you can review your backcountry cooking on day hikes), then the sleeping bag and pad (you can do some overnight camping using a tarp at the start - a good skill to develop in any case), then the tent, and packs last. Be sure you get your boots early on, using an experienced bootfitter. It is really worth a trip to somewhere with a good bootfitter (an increasing number of the REI and EMS stores are getting trained bootfitters, and every state has at least one of these, often more).

12:39 p.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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A couple side notes:

- I agree with Rambler, Tom, and Bill, but I do have some other suggestions that might help. Though I have been an avid outdoors person my whole life, I have only in recent years had the income to spend on properly outfitting myself on a very small budget. So I it has been a much shorter time for me since I was a "Gear newbie" than for the other guys.

I understand how VERY daunting it is trying to learn what you need to buy and get any idea of the "outdoor gear landscape." I 100% agree that it is better to buy quality gear upfront and save yourself money from buying twice once you find out the cheap stuff just doesn't cut it. On the other hand, I have known people who have owned a Kelty backpack that suffered failure after failure. There are many brands who's quality falls in between Ozark Trail and Gregory- I know what it is to be on a VERY tight budget.

I have no experience with the "high peak" products, and cannot comment on their relative quality or lack there of. However, I have owned two of the "High Sierra" backpacks, one of which is still my main pack. I am well aware that it is not the highest quality or lightest pack, and I am sure something on it will tear or break someday before it should. But at present it has held up quite well for several years of hard use and in many conditions. I do not think the Long Trail 90 would be a bad introductory pack for your husband if the quality is the same as mine. But with less tried-and-true companies, you do have the potential for inconsistent quality.

But some of my main thoughts are about the "buy a backpack last" concept. For someone who has become familiar with various products this is definitely the best advice. But without having working knowledge of how the size, weight, and volume of all the gear items actually translates it might be a better idea to familiarize yourself with packs first. Someone just getting started isn't going to really grasp how small and light things need to be, or conversely how much room for some things they have. I would recommend making at least one trip to a good outdoor store before you settle on virtually ANY of your main items. And be sure to leave yourself at least 3 to 4 hrs for each visit. Go to the store and really familiarize yourself in person with how much things weigh, how large they are, etc. then get EVERYTHING you would take on a trip and then, right there in the store, take it over and try to put it in the available backpacks. You will get a very clear idea of what kind of pack you need, and also what size/weight your other items need to be.

You can still wait to get the packs until after everything else, but I cannot express how much you will learn from doing this exercise. If you buy everything without seeing firsthand what you are dealing with, you are likely to be very surprised when you order your gear separately and then try to put it in a pack.

Also, find someone who REALLY knows backpacking well and take them with you if at all possible, at least when you try on backpacks. I have not found many store personnel who really know how to custom fit a pack. When I first bought an internal frame pack I did not know how to properly adjust and configure it so that it fit properly. At the end of my first weekend using it I was disgusted and wanted to throw it away, thinking I had wasted my money. But after a friend showed me how to properly adjusting and configure the pack, it fit like a dream and was very comfortable! You will also need to fill up the packs with the same weight you will be carrying- trying on an empty pack will tell you virtually nothing about how well it will fit.

One last thing- before heading out on your trip, take the time to become compeltely familiar with each and every peice of gear. It will be a huge stress and argument-maker if you get out there in the elements and things "don't work right." That may take going out on some short weekend trips before your grand adventure. But at the very least set up and use everything at home, and know how to trouble shoot and fix everything :)

1:27 p.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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Bill- Thanks for all those suggestions. So i said 70-90 but it's really much closer to the 90 day time frame...

The whole thing started because we're relocating to another state and decided that we might not get an opportunity like this (no house, no jobs, everything in storage)

So if we need more time it'll be there. (also there will be opportunities for my husband to work along the way)

And I've been (albeit slowly) researching areas we will be visiting for the last several months... I intend this trip to be well prepared but incredibly flexible. a map and a long list of opportunities :)

The mileage will probably end up being more like 9000! i have mapped out various possiblilities on multiple occasions and it is a very doable trip without too much rushing about. We have been stationary for much too long and my wanderlust is getting hard to beat down :D

I am really interested in Southern Utah (Zion, Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, etc) But I think that our longest stay in any area will be the Pacific Northwest. So if you've got any more good suggestions for those places I am all ears {or eyes :) }

I don't like crowds. I'd much rather camp somewhere someone's not blaring their music.

Here's the Basic Direction we'll be taking:

(we won't be driving more than 500-600 mi/day)

Beginning at Home straight to the Florida Panhandle

Apalachicola Forest is the furthest into Florida we'll go.

New Orleans, LA

Austin. TX

Roswell, NM

Tuscon, AZ

Phoenix, AZ

Flagstaff (Grand Canyon), AZ

Canyonands, UT

Bryce Canyon, UT

Zion, UT

Las Vegas, NV

Death Valley, CA

Santa Monica, CA

Up Hwy 1 or 101, CA-OR-WA

Seattle, WA

Missoula, MT

Glacier NP, MT

Yellowstone, WY

Grand Junction, CO

Colorado Springs, CO

New Home

gonzan - Thanks so much... I would be willing to get up to $200

I agree that buying quality once is much better than cheap+headaches. But there has to be some sort of middle ground between quality and keeping all my appendages intact ;)

I will be visiting a place called Dynamic Earth in Kansas.. (some folks recommended them in another thread here)

Also, find someone who REALLY knows backpacking well and take them with you if at all possible, at least when you try on backpacks

I wish I knew someone... I am probably the most outdoor active person I know. I usually end up having to go hiking by myself.

before heading out on your trip, take the time to become completely familiar with each and every piece of gear. [...] That may take going out on some short weekend trips [..]

I had been thinking about this. I found a camping spot at a wildlife refuge close to where i live. So once we've got all our gear. I'll definitely take a quick weekend trip out there.

1:56 p.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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One thing I forgot to mention about the bigger named brands, most if not all have a lifetime warranty and will repair or replace an item for little or no cost if it breaks, or malfunctions. Most will even do so if it was your fault.

1:57 p.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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You're welcome Pfemm,

I just updated my post, so it might have some more info and details than when you read it.

There are some acceptable options for getting usable gear which will last a few years at least that shouldn't break the bank.

I wouldn't buy anything of lower quality than these brands and items:

>Ledge Featherlite sleeping bags (0 or 20 degree) - their other bags are total crap

>Eureka Backpacking tents

>Either High Sierra or Teton Sports Backpacks (the Teton packs are lighter, but not as durable)

also Kelty and Alps Mountaineering both make some fairly good gear that isn't too expensive.

These Gear items are good quality and not too expensive either:

> Katadyn Hiker Pro (don't skimp to save $10 on the "hiker", go for the added functionality of the "hiker pro")

>Brunton Vapor cookset or MSR Blacklight cookset

>Fenix flashlights and headlamps. They may seem expensive for a flashlight, but you need reliable lights in the backcountry. I promise, you will never consider buying a cheap flashlight again after owning a true high quality light.

2:06 p.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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One thing I forgot to mention about the bigger named brands, most if not all have a lifetime warranty and will repair or replace an item for little or no cost if it breaks, or malfunctions. Most will even do so if it was your fault.

a very good point, Rambler.

3:03 p.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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A 500 mile day rolling over pavement can be quite grueling. I think you'll find it an incredibly ambitious goal to drive that far then hike any appreciable difference. Let alone setup camp, cook a meal, and try to sleep outside on the ground if you don't do it regularly. Then there's the actual seeing and enjoying your surroundings. You're really planning on a brisk pace, which will limit not only where you can go but how much time you'll allow yourself to enjoy the places you'll go.

All in all, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are to be seized for sure. Just don't try to do so much that you don't actually enjoy any of it.

4:14 p.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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A 500 mile day rolling over pavement can be quite grueling. I think you'll find it an incredibly ambitious goal to drive that far then hike any appreciable difference. Let alone setup camp, cook a meal, and try to sleep outside on the ground if you don't do it regularly. Then there's the actual seeing and enjoying your surroundings. You're really planning on a brisk pace, which will limit not only where you can go but how much time you'll allow yourself to enjoy the places you'll go.

All in all, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities are to be seized for sure. Just don't try to do so much that you don't actually enjoy any of it.

500 miles isn't THAT horrid. :) I drive to KCMO pretty frequently and it's almost that. {450mi}. But a good chunk of our doings contain Scenic Byways and drives... we're taking our '05 Subaru WRX STI :)

On the long end this will end up being 9000 miles. If we only drive 500 miles per day and we count those days as only driving days then that leaves 72 whole days for romping/tomfoolery :)

To save on time, We'll be skimming through Louisana, Texas, and New Mexico pretty fast. And as far as siteseeing, we won't be spending too much time in the actual cities we'll be passing through. . Maybe some art or science museums here and there. but mostly just interested in seeing the actual countrysides. and REAL TREES! and MOUNTAINS! it's crazy when you can walk up the highest "mountain" in your area in under an hour! :D

First stop is definitely camping in Florida. I have some old friends who are avid campers there and we'll be with them about 3 days or so.

And I know we'll spend a good 10 - 12 days between the Grand canyon and looping up to canyonlands - bryce and zion. Byway 12. Camping and possibly backpacking depending on how long it took us to get there.

We don't plan on backpacking more than 3ish times during the whole trip. Mostly just car camping. But definitely backpacking in Oregon & Washington. We'll spend at least 10 - 14 days there i think. More if he works.

It's really not as crazy as it sounds :) I do know I don't want to go through this whole thing having not experienced much. I've had too many road trips that were too concerned with getting there as fast as possible. and I want this to be the opposite. No obligations. Just time.

6:44 p.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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You didn't really specify the time of year, but I gather from one comment, you are starting about April. 90 days means May June July. Be aware (VERY AWARE!) that FL to east TX will be 90/90 weather, the rest of TX will be much drier, but will be in the 100F range, with NM, AZ, and southern UT close to that. Death Valley will be in the 120F-140F range (I have camped a few times in Death Valley in the May-Sep/Oct time frame, but then I was born and grew up in the Sonora Desert - and Phx is MUCH more humid than when I lived there, thanks to all the Eastern dudes and tenderfeet who insist on having their English lawns and landscaping in the middle of a desert.

So go prepared for both hot/humid and scorching hot/dry weather.

WRX STi, eh? Well, you can make time in that (although our friend, Ellen, gets pretty lousy gas mileage with hers - but she has a "lead foot", especially driving around her neck of the woods in the Sierra north of Tahoe). But do watch out for the guys with the flashy lights, especially in GA, FL, AL, MS, and TX. They like talking to the drivers of fast out of state cars (we lived in MS for 10 years, right across the street from a Mississippi Highway Patrol officer).

I recommend against CA Hwy 1 north of the SFBay Area unless you plan a very slow and leisurely sightseeing drive and plan on stopping at Redwoods NP. Pt Reyes National Seashore has a number of great short backpacks, though (like most of the National Park and National Forest system, you may need reservations for the campsites, including the backpack campsites). If you go to Pt Reyes, it is easy to hop across to US101 and follow it up to Humboldt Redwoods State Park and further up to Redwoods NP. Prairie Creek Redwoods and Del Norte Creek Redwoods State Parks are just north of Redwoods NP. This puts you far away from the Sierra (Sequoia Kings Canyon NP and Yosemite NP), but does avoid the crowds at that time of year.

Being that close to the coast also puts you far west of the Cascades when you enter Oregon.

Lots of stuff to consider here, but you did outline a very ambitious trip.

7:58 p.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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go prepared for both hot/humid and scorching hot/dry weather.

To prepare for weather, I've been using this "search" engine, wolframalpha.com, for weather information on various locations. You can type something like "Weather Death Valley May 2010" and it will give you the average temperature, highs/lows and other information in that time frame. It's pretty awesome :)

although our friend, Ellen, gets pretty lousy gas mileage with hers

Yeah.. my husband has a pretty lead foot too :) comes with having the car i guess! but on a good day he'll get close to 26 mpg.

I recommend against CA Hwy 1 north of the SFBay Area unless you plan a very slow and leisurely sightseeing drive and plan on stopping at Redwoods NP.

I know it's super slow but I heard it's so worth it and We don't really mind the pace and I don't think we'll be trying to do 500 miles per day then. Both of us have been in the midwest a LONG time and my husband's only been to the ocean TWICE in his whole life! so we will definitely be taking our time up the Pacific NW. Plus we are definitely stopping in at Redwood NP for a few days.

Lots of stuff to consider here, but you did outline a very ambitious trip.

I know there is SO MUCH Everywhere. It's really been amazing researching all the different areas. Like a kid in a candy store... you want to grab everything :)

but if this trip just leaves me with good memories and the need to go back to places for more thorough exploration. It'll be good enough.

Thanks for all your suggestions... I'm greedily filing them away :)

8:46 p.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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Get two headlamps! I wouldn't leave without headlamps and extra batteries. That is my small piece of advice.

10:49 p.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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Kansas City area, Overland Park Ks, has a Backwoods store. Backwoods is a good place to shop for gear. They carry the quality brands and all of them I have visited(4 stores in 3 states) have been very knowledgeable and helpful. There is also the possibility of checking out the gear at a store and then searching the internet for a better deal. Just make sure the online product is EXACTLY what you looked at and not an older version which may be different. I have occasionally seen 'outdated' packs at Backwoods with significant savings as well.

11:42 p.m. on August 11, 2010 (EDT)
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After leaving New Orleans (on your way to Austin) you will be going thru Baton Rouge then Lafayette LA. Both places have great outfitters (The Backpacker and Masseys in Baton Rouge, Pack-n-Paddle and The Backpacker in Lafayette). Good quality equipment and knowledgeable people. I have spent many a dollar at all of them.

Bill, what part of MS did you live in? I am from Picayune.

7:04 a.m. on August 12, 2010 (EDT)
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First of all it sounds like you guys realy want to relax. And you dont have any experiance backpacking. If it were me I would count more on car camping with many day hikes, as backpacking might not be your thing. Backpacking with all that gear can tire one out, and if you arnt in shape...... Day hikes of 6 miles or more will get you out to some very nice areas. Remember it isnt a race, relax and enjoy. I backpack alot. But many of the places I go to are less than a 5 mile hike. It gets me out away from people. And I have plenty of time to relax. You might want to get yourselfs a good car camping tent first. After a week on the road you will know wether you realy want, or need, to backpack. You can allways buy your gear on the road. No reason to buy stuff you might not use more than once.

7:47 a.m. on August 12, 2010 (EDT)
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Lots of stuff to consider here, but you did outline a very ambitious trip.

Which was really my point as well. There is likely "sufficient" time to complete this trip. The concern I'd have is whether or not there's time to enjoy it.

9:36 a.m. on August 12, 2010 (EDT)
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Backpacking with all that gear can tire one out, and if you arnt in shape......

Both of us workout regularly and I hike quite a bit Fall - Spring usually anywhere from 2 to 6 hours at a time (no idea how many miles that equates to tho) and since I've always wanted to go backpacking I usually end up loading my daypack down with quite a few pounds to get an idea of what it would be like to carry weight whilst hiking. It's also the reason I wanted to get the pack sooner than later. So that I could load it up and get acclimated to it during this fall and if i needed to make changes i had time.

Day hikes of 6 miles or more will get you out to some very nice areas. Remember it isnt a race, relax and enjoy. I backpack alot. But many of the places I go to are less than a 5 mile hike. It gets me out away from people. And I have plenty of time to relax.

That's all I'm interested in this go around... Just a quick zip away from people for 2-3 days (maybe 3 times over the coarse of the whole trip more than likely somewhere in UT, OR, WA, MT, or WY). For future backpacking trips unassociated with epic roadtrips, we may want more. but not for this one. :)

9:42 a.m. on August 12, 2010 (EDT)
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Yock- I'll come back in a year and let you know. But I think with the right attitude almost anything can be enjoyed. :)

10:06 a.m. on August 12, 2010 (EDT)
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Be sure to consider lightweight gear options. If you get extremely light gear, it will be extremely expensive and extremely fragile, but there are middle of the road options.

Pack: ULA Ohm or Gossamer Gear Gorilla

Tent: One of the Tarptent models, ranging from around 2.5-3.5 lbs Also consider a Golite Shangri-La 3 with "nest" (inner bug tent).

Bag: At least 600 power down by a reputable manufacturer such as Western Mountaineering or Marmot

A down bag will be lighter, more comfortable, and last longer. Keep it dry. A wet synthetic bag will be nearly as cold as a wet down bag, but will dry faster.

Water bottles: Gatorade bottles

Survival kit: You really don't need much. What's in your backpack is your survival kit. If you lose your pack, you'll need knowledge and skills to keep you alive, not gear.

10:38 a.m. on August 12, 2010 (EDT)
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Scout mom - I will look into that store. i'm hoping to be able to go check some places out tomorrow.

OhioHiker - Thanks for the tips! :)

9:55 p.m. on August 12, 2010 (EDT)
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My main point is that I dont want you to spend a crap load of cash. I used a duffle bag for my first year and had a blast. Its not what you have, its all about the adventure. The main thing is to be save. I still backpack on the cheaper side. Check out my reviews. My favorate tent is slill the 24.95 one! LOL

2:32 a.m. on August 14, 2010 (EDT)
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A multi month trip with most of the nights spent camping out…

My first thoughts are if you have prior experience in camping, as your post claims, you should realize certain gear purchases are best made where you can personally fit the item. Packs are definitely one of these items. Likewise experience will guide you to determine price is a secondary consideration on some gear purchases, such as back packs. Hopefully you folks have actually tested the packs you reference; it would be silly to buy off the internet, going on price and a marketing blurb. About the only thing we can tell you of value is the durability of these items, but then you should have some idea about judging quality, since your prior camping experiences help develop an eye for what works and what doesn’t.

My second thought is you don’t buy a pack and use it to determine how much gear you need. That is akin to buying a house and using its size to dictate how many children you will raise. The size of your pack should be determined by the type of venue and your comfort requirements. Personally I like comfort, and carry more than twice the weight of personal gear some Trailspace members claim to carry. Thus based on your prior experiences, assemble a list of items, go to a store and collect these items, then see what bag accommodates your kit, AND fits you body.

Lastly, you asked for our advice, yet do not consider the notion of personally trying out a pack as “one of your options.” That is simply delusional, unless your options include the willingness to be disappointed, wasting money on bad purchases, and letting bad equipment spoil your trip. Stating schedule limitations and lack of nearby merchants as rationale to your purchasing strategy is akin to claiming you intend to find a suitable groom within six weeks, selecting from the village population or a mail order registry, because don’t have time to date and intend to start having babies next year. I suggest you use your free time to pursue other pleasures, if you lack the time necessary to properly prepare for an extended outdoor vacation. I live in LA, yet travel to Utah when making major telemark ski equipment purchases, because that is the closest place with a good selection of this type of gear, where I can try before I buy. I once passed up participating in a fantastic once in a lifetime expedition, because I needed new skis, yet did not have the time to properly shop and demo new boards. One need only ski once in a lousy pair of boots or squirrelly skis to realize the merits of test driving certain equipment. Take Tom’s advice, a back pack is one of those items you want to test before you buy.
Ed

1:15 p.m. on August 17, 2010 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
12 forum posts

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions and help...

I was able to visit Backwoods and the Dynamic Earth stores in Overland Park, KS.

They were pretty awesome... I've never been to an outdoor specialty store that didn't specialize in just hunting and fishing.

I also found out that there's a Backwoods store much MUCH closer than the other stores i was looking into. I'd never heard of either store before. So this is great.

So... I'm sold. Backpack last and in person.

best analogy I got for why to purchase the pack after everything else. Was from the sale guy at Dynamic Earth.

Something like this...

"If you get a bigger pack than you actually need... it's human nature to full it with everything you can get your hands on. And you end up spending A LOT of money on a bunch of things you don't really need and then weighing yourself down with them. BUT! if you have all the stuff you need, you can just drag it all here and we'll fill the right sized pack for all your stuff."

I know myself... and i would absolutely get carried away and buy a bunch of junk to stick in an oversized pack. :)

Also... of the packs I checked out at in person... I think I'll end up paying the extra $$ for an Osprey.

I have to say... anything that I could essentially "Buy today and run over with a lawn mower tomorrow and still have it replaced" sounds good to me.

So Sleeping bags, Tents, and pads are first on my list for purchase.

12:18 a.m. on August 18, 2010 (EDT)
87 reviewer rep
2,224 forum posts

A good start to a grand trip!

Ed

12:24 a.m. on October 15, 2010 (EDT)
27 reviewer rep
82 forum posts

How has your trip planning and gear collecting progressed so far? Would be interested in hearing which products you are choosing.

April 23, 2014
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