Jersey girl (but I don't fake tan!)

12:09 a.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
5 reviewer rep
14 forum posts

Words can't describe how excited I am to have stumbled upon this site! My name is Allie. I'm a 21 year old college student living in North Jersey, where I've grown up. I've been wanting to backpack forever. My parents spent a lot of time out west and their stories and pictures have captured me. However, both my parents had cancer while growing up, and I lost my dad to it, so they've never been able to share their joy with us kids. 

The biggest thing that's been holding me back from just doing it I guess is community. I love my friends and they humor me when I drag them out for day hikes, but it stops there. There is no overnighting it or longer trips requiring a real pack weight. I've looked into NOLS and Outward Bounds the past 4 summers, but between work/lack of funds it just never seems to work out. But I'm tired of excuses! I recently acquired a 60:75 Lowe Alpine pack, and I have a 0 degree sleeping bag already. It really needs to be broken in! I've thought of attempting some overnighters in the spring on my own, just starting small and working my way up. But I don't like the fact that I'd be completely alone (not even a dog in tow). And I'm very inexperienced. The internet and books can only take me so far. 

So I guess what I'm asking for is any advice for a young, female beginner. I don't have a lot of cash, but I know I need equipment for cooking, filtering water, a tent, etc. It gets expensive so quickly wandering around REI, EMS, or Campmor! So any advice for cheap-ish equipment and just how to meet safe people with similar interest would be great! 

Thanks for any and all help :)

1:18 a.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
271 reviewer rep
1,878 forum posts

Welcome allielibs!! Awesome you sound excited...Alllie you don't have to go to NOLS or Outward Bound to be honest...have you asked about any outings or class's the REI in New Jersey is haveing? They do have class's and outings as well...As for  gear you can buy it on Ebay, Craigslist and here in the classifieds and alot of us link things we find to this site...If your in North Jersey your towards Washington Twp? you have Jenny Jump state park as well as the Appalachian trail towards the Delaware Water Gap..You have Sandy Hook down on the shore that has overnight camping I believe. The class's means you would meet people with the same interest as well learn some new skill's..

1:26 a.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
244 reviewer rep
5,249 forum posts

I began backpacking on my own with cheap equipment I bought at stores simular to Kmart and Walmart. My first tent was a small I-pole tent I paid $20 for, my pack was equally cheap and was a orange external frame. My sleeping bag was my old Boy Scout one I had had for more than 10 years. BTW this was all back in the later 1970s when I started hiking and camping on my own.

My boots were a pair of steeltoed ones I had from a job at a lumber yard and they lasted me about one summer in 1977, before I bought my first real backpacking boots.

I used ex-plastic soda bottles for water bottles. I did'nt buy a camping stove at first and relied totally on campfires and an old cookpot I got from my mother.

Over the period of my first solo trips I eventually bought and replaced my cheap gear with popular gear from the big company's.

But now that has all changed, with the invention and popularity of hiking since the 70s. You can find very good gear from places like here at Trailspace, off your local Craigslist and even Ebay. 

All of my current gear, tent,sleeping bag,stove and cook gear, clothing for weather and such is very light at about 15 lbs. If your gear is lightweight and you carry either dehydrated foods or the common storebrand foods in repackaged Ziploc bags, hiking can be a very enjoyable lifestyle.

6:41 a.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
113 reviewer rep
172 forum posts

Before buying gear, maybe looking for a way to go overnight with other people will be a good idea? REI or collage clubs etc? in that way you can see for yourself that it's an activity you want to do, and most people will have a tent and a stove so it'll save you buying the gear.

If you already know for sure you are happy about the idea of doing solo overnights, and you want to save the money, try to keep it simple.

Good gear adds a lot to the comfy, but you can always add to your gear kit later on, as you go. Drops will clean your water, and are cheap and light, making a good start, the same with a foam mat. About cooking - a small gas stove and a pot will serve you well, and it won't cost too much. I always find tents to be a hard buy, but I think that if you are a starter and need to save, look for a 2nd hand one, is a good place for that. I'll keep an eye open in for a stove, but a msr pocket rocket goes for about 40$ and will last for ever...

You have a pack and a sleeping bag, boots will be the next most important thing on my list, and where I'll spend my money - I hate bad footwear. Try them on, and try to make sure it's a "real" outdoor brand specializing in boots.

7:23 a.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
2,590 reviewer rep
1,630 forum posts

Welcome to trailspace Allie!

I am always glad to see more people getting involved in the great sport of backpacking.

As far as equipment goes there are many low cost methods that you can use. For cooking you can make one of many alcohol stoves. Just do a search for a fancy feast stove, pepsi can stove etc. You can checkout which is a pretty good site and has easy instructions on how to make several different types. These stoves burn denatured alcohol that is found at most any hardware store. For a cost example, a fancy feast stove costs like 39 cents and takes about 5 minutes to make, well maybe 10 counting time to read the instructions. A 32oz container of denatured alchohol costs about 7$. For a pot you can easily get  by with a cheap and light alluminum pot or tea kettle from walmart etc.

I would keep an eye out on the for sale/classified sections here on trailspace, on, and They are all fairly active and good deals on used gear can usually be found. You can get by using a bandanna as a prefilter and using drops or tabs to purify your water, aqua mira etc. For a tent is where there is not really any cheap alternative, other than renting to make sure you like the tent before you buy it. Footwear is another place to make sure you make a wise choice and get something that fits you well and is comfortable.

As far as backpacking with people goes. I am just a little ways away in CT if you ever want to take a weekend trip sometime or meet up for a day hike. There is actually a group of 4 or 5 of us planning a trip in Harriman State Park in NY for March 4-6. There is a good possibiity for lots of snow on the ground still and some chilly temps. So that isn't for everyone, but in the case that you are you are welcome to come. We have plenty of extra gear if you want to borrow anything to try something out before making a big purchase.

I would say that gear questions would be best handled by inquiring about a specific type of item or two at a time, that way you get specific answers and not a broad spectrum of responces.

Good luck with gearing up, and hope to see you out there on the trails!

7:29 a.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
2,590 reviewer rep
1,630 forum posts

Speaking of used gear deals, there is a MSR Hubba Hubba tent for sale on for 175 OBO. Very good tent in my opinion. The small hole/tear in the bug netting mentioned is easily patched.

9:05 a.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
389 reviewer rep
1,124 forum posts

For a starter kit I would recomend an alcohol stove. You can buy the Trangia for around $17. Look for wind screens on ebay. There are some home made ones that work well for $5. For pots and pans, there are those old BSA kits that you can find at second hand stores $3. Or one step up Texsport has a nice SS kit for around $17. For a very nice starter tent Alpine Designs Hiker Biker tent. It is made by Northpole. Make sure you get the one with a full rain fly. The single wall one is not very good. Water treatment is another story. I live in an area where I can use a inexpencive Coghlan's $24. But you might need a better one.

This is a very inexpencive start, and will last you years. As your cash flow gets better you can invest in higher dollar gear that will do the samething as your starter set-up. :)

Welcome to trailspace!

You will need a lighter sleeping bag as well for summer camping. High Peak has some good and cheap ones.

Keep an eye on ebay. The deals are there if you arnt in a hurry.

11:03 a.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
775 reviewer rep
2,162 forum posts

Welcome to TrailsSpace, Allielibs!

I can't reply to your request for info right this minute, as I am a under deadline  at work, but I am sure the guys above have given you lots of great advice. I will give a real reply as soon as I get the chance

Good to have you here, it is a great community!

11:09 a.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
171 reviewer rep
223 forum posts

Ebay will save you loads of money if your patient, that’s my best advice too. And I second that the most important piece of gear you own are your boots/hiking shoe. As for starting out in the woods on your own, that’s generally not a good idea. You’ll be better off joining a group or an organization close to where you live. Going on your first trip with a friend can be reassuring and who knows maybe he or she will like it. You like rock climbing? Maybe some of your climbing buddy’s would like to join you? That’s another circle of people to pool from for hiking partners, plus you usually get to climb too!

If you ever move north enough (Quebec), give a shout. We can orient you in the right direction or the right people. If you wish, you can also join us on one of trips. Me and my friends are always happy to help visitors discover our province. From its secret charms and her great people to the vastness of our landscape. The mountains aren’t all that high but we manage. ;-)

Welcome to trailspace Allielibs.

1:53 p.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
848 reviewer rep
3,902 forum posts

Welcome to Trailspace, allielibs! I'm glad you found us.

I'm sorry to hear you lost your father early, but glad you have found an activity that inspires you.

To meet people, I highly recommend looking within your college community first. Many colleges have outing clubs or other groups that plan trips. If there is one, join it. You'll meet people and, depending on the club, you may be able to rent or borrow gear.

If there isn't a group, you may still be able to join up with like-minded individuals informally. I would definitely check with your student activities leaders, if you have such a thing at your college, or see if there are other ways to ask around.

If neither of those work out, look into trips and classes (as Denis mentioned) run by other local clubs, nonprofits (outdoor clubs, land trusts, etc) and outdoor stores in your area.

Basically, you want to network, safely, to find like-minded people, if you want some company outdoors.

As for going it alone, that's definitely an option if you feel prepared for it. Start small. Tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back. Be safe.

Hopefully this info is a helpful start. Please feel free to ask more questions or share more.

1:55 p.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
775 reviewer rep
2,162 forum posts

Ok, I can’t be much help with specific advice on connecting with people local to your area, nor good places to venture near you, but I can throw out some ideas for rounding out your gear to get you set up for your first overnight or weekend trip.

I completely relate to being on a budget, and have endured the woes of finding inexpensive solutions. Here are some things I would recommend:

>Water: Either the MSR SweetWater ($90 Amazon), or the Katadyn Hiker Pro ($70 Amazon) A fair number of people use Aquamira tablets or drops, and do not use a filtrations system beyond a coffee filter or bandana, But I prefer having a quality reliable filter.


*3 season use: Alcohol Stove. Trangia is alright, but you can get more heat and better efficiency from a DIY type pressurized stove. I make different sizes- a coke can size will boil a quart of water in 7 min, and burn for 30 minutes. Larger ones can burn for an hour. You can find lots of info online to make them yourself, or you can buy them, I’ve made kits for friends that I’d sell for $25 (Stove, Kevlar priming wick, Pot Stand, Layered Foil Windscreen)  

*4th season use (winter): I would recommend a white gas canister stove. MSR makes some great ones. The MSR Whisperlight International (multi fuel) can’t be beat at $90 (amazon) Look for them in classifieds, ebay etc, to get even better deals


*inexpensive- Stansport and Texsport both make 1 person cooksets (non-stick or stainless) that can be found for under $20 ($19 amazon)

*Full size- the MSR Balcklight or Duralight cooksets are very good, and the Balcklight can be found on sale right now, because they are fasing them out ($28 The Brunton Vapor set can be found easily for under $30

~A couple notes: the 1 person cookset is very small, and has attached plastic coated foldaway handles, which makes cooking over wood fire almost impossible. Also the small size really is only suitable for personal cooking.

  The Vapor has a high temp plastic pothandler, which will work fine on a stove, but again, not over a wood fire. The MSR sets come with a light, excellently crafted pothandler made from aluminum, which can be used over any heat source.

>Sleeping pad:

A sleeping pad may not seem important, but the compressed insulation of your bag under you provided virtually no heat retention. On snow or ice, or just in cold conditions, a sleeping pad is vital to provide insulation. The comfort doesn’t hurt either ;)

If you want a compact inflatable pad on the cheap, Stansport makes one for $23 (amazon)

If you want even cheaper and don’t mind strapping it to your pack, the blue closed cell foam pads are actually unbeatable for the money at about $10-15. You can spenp much more for Thermarest, Big Agnes, etc. if you want to


 I will defer to others to recommend the biggest bang for your buck for a tent. With tents, Cheap usually means it’s crap. I have a 3-person 3 season tent by Eureka that is ok, but not great, that I was $150 new. I Also have an off-brand 2 person tent that is surprisingly well made and featured, that I got for $30 on clearance. But the problem is that without the experience to know what features and construction details are important, knowing if something like that is a good deal or not is very difficult.


As others have said, quality boots are important, and worth spending a little on. Look  for full leather, vibram soled boots. I would go try on a bunch of boots a good retailer with experienced staff, figure out a couple that you would buy, and then search for hot deals on those.


As you probably already know, the “rule” is NO cotton. It absorbs and holds water- if you get wet in cold or even cool temps, that wet cotton can kill you fast. Wool is king, capilene is queen, and polypro is more like a shabby prince. Just go with synthetics or wool and you’ll be golden.

>Rain Shell/Outer Wear

There are so freaking many different companies, all with multiple types of rain shells and membranes, it is crazy confusing, and they seem to all be ridiculously expensive. So here’s the trick. Shop the Sales. Go with respected brands, that doesn’t mean “name brand” but known and respected. REI makes their own shells that are great.  Also avoid “fashiony”  jackets. Look for ones that are more practical and technically focused.

Also, just cause it’s not fancy or new doesn’t mean it won’t do you well. For many years, until a couple weeks ago actually, I used a silnylon amy surplus poncho as my rain gear. I replaced it with a $500 NF Gtex jacket set that I got here on trailspace classifieds for about $250.

Ok, sorry- I didn't mean to throw that much info out there, but I hope it helps!

2:29 p.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
171 reviewer rep
223 forum posts

Good point on safety, again bringing a friend can be a life saver.

4:13 p.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
5 reviewer rep
14 forum posts

Thank you so much everyone! These tips and advice have been amazing. I've discovered many other websites to look into in the process and have been reading up on all the different equipment and options out there. Again, thank you all for your time and expertise!

I currently attend a community college, and ironically there really is no "community" in it. There are a few religious and ethnicity clubs but not much else. Certainly nothing outdoorsy, so I've been forced to look elsewhere.


Rambler-if I'm not intruding, I'd certainly be interested! Run it by the people you're going with and let me know what you all think about a beginner tagging along.

I have a pair of Merrell Vibram/Goretex hiking boots I got 2 years ago. With wool socks, should they be warm/dry enough for March hiking? 

5:17 p.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
2,590 reviewer rep
1,630 forum posts

You are more than welcome to come Allie, we always have an open invitation for anyone to join us. When ever you have the time shoot me an email and I can send you all the details and we can see what gear we need to scrounge up for you.

Your boots are certainly fine, I would recommend having at leat 1 preferably 2 more pairs of socks to rotate through and or layer. The temps for the first part of March typically are highs in the low 40s and lows in the mid 20s. So typically cool, but not a deep freeze by any means. There is always the possibility for temps much lower depending on the weather patterns closer to time.

Like I said, shoot me an email when you have the time and I can get you all the details and we can go through your gear and see what you would need.

Look forward to hearing from you. My email address is, it is also in my profile here on trailspace.

6:57 p.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
265 forum posts

Well a warm welcome allielibs from over the "pond". We have a trekking organisation that has made some "mountain rules" for save walking. They are here:  So the first I would aquire is a good map and compass (or gps if funds allow), for the navigation is essential.

Gonzan mentioned used military gear, and this is usually quite good and very cheap. I know several who rely on this gear for years. What about friends and family? Sure someone has some used gear you may have, just check it is not too old and brittle.

The thing that needs breaking in is not the bag, but rather the shoes. Use them for more and more extended time, and watch for wear on the feet. Tape up the feet if neccesary. The bag is 0 degrees, but do not be astonished if you feel cold in it. Most US producers are more optimistic in their rating than the EU rules of testing proves. A 0 degree bag in US becomes often a 15 degrees bag here.

As you said, internet cannot give you outdoor experience, but I would strongly advice for having a friend on the tours, preferably one with some experience. And here the help of internet and Facebook, Twitter aso is good. Are there no hiking group you may join? If not then just go out anyway, just start small and easy and you'll be fine.


9:25 p.m. on February 10, 2011 (EST)
38 reviewer rep
1,902 forum posts

Welcome Allie. I know you can only learn so much from books and the net, but sites like this one can help. Don't get too caught up with gear quite yet. Find some gear lists-many sites have them for various seasons.

Find a couple of good books. One I recommend is The Complete Walker, the "bible" of backpacking.  TCW was first written in the 1968 and over these many years, the original author, Colin Fletcher, introduced a lot of people to backpacking. Fletcher died in 2007, but the book lives on in the Fourth Edition.  Fletcher approached backpacking gear as systems- shelter, kitchen, navigation, sleeping, first aid, etc. and it is not about a particular piece of gear, but how everything works together.

Don't buy gear at random because of price or it just looks neat, think about how it will work with what else you have.

The same for clothes. You can't carry one of everything, so you need to see how what you have layers together, from your base layer (basically underwear), insulation (for colder temps) and outer layer (rain gear, wind gear). For summer, you obviously don't need as much-lighter shelter, lighter bag, fewer layers than for colder weather, but you still need to plan what to take for those "just in case" times.

As for finding hiking companions, a club like the Sierra Club would be a good start. As already mentioned, REI may run classes, maybe a local YMCA. Start small-maybe car camping in a well traveled park, then work your way up to a hiking trip.  If you are totally inexperienced, I wouldn't go out alone, not because it's dangerous, but it helps to have someone along who knows more than you.

5:20 p.m. on February 11, 2011 (EST)
40 reviewer rep
560 forum posts

A couple of good general backpacking books for you to add to your library - don't be intimidated by the titles.  Good basic information about gear and what to expect as well as what to do out there.

Mountaineering:  Freedom of the Hills

The Mountaineering Handbook, Craig Connally  ISBN 0-07-143010-5

The second will more than save you on the cost of the book by suggestions on selecting gear for general backpacking (as well as heavy duty mountaineering).  Besides it is a good read and a great companion to Mountaineering:FotH.

I second the REI if near you.  They have trips (for newer backpackers) all the time in the general area, as do most of the Sierra Club chapters.

If you make it out to California and the Sierra (July-Sep), we always have something going that we can fit you into.  Much of the equipment can be shared such as pots/pans, stove, water filter, and tent if we know ahead of time that you don't have a full kit.  Or sometimes they simply are overjoyed to find somebody they can offload older (but serviceable) stuff.  Your 0 degree bag will be a bit of overkill in July/August in the Sierra (and Rockies).  Your pack if it fits well and boots (if comfy) sound just fine.   Good choices so far.  The advice to not buy now but look at what others have and what they like or don't like about it is sound.  Many are moving up and looking for ways to get rid of their excess equipment too.

No shortage of places to look at and interract.  Here is another general one:

And others such as the following are out there that are more specific in a geographic area.  These are examples for the Sierra:    ** this just for Mt Whitney and area **

Always willing to give advice on being out there, sometimes joining in if times match up.

xpeacock at pac bell dot com



7:33 p.m. on February 11, 2011 (EST)
102 reviewer rep
2,993 forum posts

..The biggest thing that's been holding me back from just doing it I guess is community...

Many college campuses have formal and informal hiking and climbing groups.  Often they have equipment you can check out as you would a library book.  They definitely can school you on outdoor craft.  Your dean of Students may be of help directing you to these folks. 

I was a budding trekker when first introduced to one of the groups on our So Cal campus back in the 1970s. Those connections crafted my mountaineering skills, eventually introduced me to some gonzo climbers from Bolder, Co. and on to a decade of adventure, and high jinks above tree line including some of the highest peaks of North and South America.  I  am friends still with two of these folks, and trek with one of them on occasion.  Even if your objective is the simple pleasure of sleeping out under stars in a dark sky or spending the afternoon watching clouds float through a mountain pass, college outdoor groups are a fine place to connect with like minded souls, perhaps even life long friendships.


12:55 a.m. on February 12, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
155 forum posts

I'm coming in a bit late.

I know what you mean about community colleges not having clubs. That is a big negative on those types of campuses.

But how about the people going to the school that look a bit crunchy and grungy? You know, the outdoor types? You hanging with them or talking to them? I can say that because I was one of the crunchy, granolas. lol. I mean usually you can find them standing out in the green playing hacky sack or just chilling and reading. I would just suggest talking to some of those folks. You might be a bit shy, but for the most part, outdoor folks are relaxed and always ready to just talk.

If that doesn't work, check out whatever large university there is nearby. I remember when I was going to the community college, I used to go do stuff with the big university kids. Fact is, I thought to myself I was transferring there eventually, which I did, and the large universities are so big they don't care. They aren't checking student ID's. They just want people to show up.

Other than that, I would get on the internet an google to see if there are any hiking clubs in your area. That's another way.

But its kind of weird finding hiking partners sometimes. Its like a relationship. It just happens. For me, I've been without hiking buddies for years. I get on here and I'm about to go out with some guys here Sunday. I put up a Facebook post a few months ago about a snow hike, found a guy who wanted to go, who then invited his friend. Now we're all buddies and planning several hikes this spring and summer. And I've got a guy from work who wants to go with me on a hike this spring.

You just got to put yourself out there. Let them know you are available to hike. -P

9:17 a.m. on February 13, 2011 (EST)
271 reviewer rep
1,878 forum posts

Allielibs-I justed hiked yesterday with a guy from Monmouth County NJ. He came down here to Virginia to hike with us.He's looking for people to hike with to.I am going to try and hook up with him when I hit NY-NJ during My AT Thru hike your more than welcome to come along .he can oly do a couple of days.But hiking is hiking.I will be posting while on the trail here on Trailspace...

11:49 p.m. on February 14, 2011 (EST)
19 reviewer rep
160 forum posts

Hey Allie as another young person I was strapped for cash for gear to. Become a bargain hunting snipper. I learned to find things on the classifieds on dozens of sites, eBay, craigslist and clearance sales at all the big stores. Places lime REI have gear swaps too regularly.

A recent score of a mountain hardwear synchro jacket with tags on it for 45$ on eBay. Guy bought it, never wore it.

Another idea, friends with gear always helps, lol.

7:13 p.m. on February 15, 2011 (EST)
2,590 reviewer rep
1,630 forum posts

Hey Allie, trying to make plans with the rest of my group for the trip March 4-6 in Harriman State Park, NY. If your still interested please get in touch with me in the next day or so. We are in the process of making plans, and need to know who all is coming and what gear people need that are borrowing.

Hope to hear from you soon, we would love to have you along.

11:05 p.m. on February 15, 2011 (EST)
53 reviewer rep
134 forum posts

You might check with the Sierra Club in your area, they do organized trips in some areas. And  you could probably find an AT trail crew close to you, who would be glad to take you out in exchange for some trail work.

11:25 a.m. on February 16, 2011 (EST)
271 reviewer rep
1,878 forum posts

Allielibs- I came across this when I was searching for something and thought you might be interested.

this is an opertunity to learn  and to also recieve free gear as well.

11:32 p.m. on February 21, 2011 (EST)
118 reviewer rep
291 forum posts

Hey Allie,


Welcome to the great outdoors of NJ and beyond. Lots of good advice already about gear so I'm not going to repeat that. So far as groups and organized trips and such the prime organization to belong to around here is The New York/New Jersey Trail Conference NYNJTC

Lots of good reasons to belong and plenty of events to join in on. The membership even gets you discounts at all the local outdoor shops. One of the best things for planning trips is the maps the NYNJTC publish for the area as well as many good books. You can buy them at Campmor or Ramsey or order them from the trail conference.


Sounds like a good opportunity to go with Rambler and his group. Don't sweat the gear. Beg, borrow & improvise, but just get out there and get started. Also, like Whomworry said, many colleges loan/rent gear and I know for a fact that Campmor has some rental stuff too.


Have fun and feel free to pick my brain, I know the area pretty well.

11:46 p.m. on February 27, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
82 forum posts

If you are looking for a decent website to track gear prices I like to use

They show you a wide range of prices, and you can click on the prices to go directly to the site of the company selling it. Also, you can set it to price alert you if a piece of gear you're eyeing up goes on sale somewhere.

9:44 p.m. on March 16, 2011 (EDT)
5 reviewer rep
14 forum posts

I got the "the complete walker" and it is amazing! Interesting and amusing to read I am learning so much!

I also joined the Sierra Nevada chapter in my area as well as appalachian mountain club... so basically I am VERY excited for the weather to warm up so I can get outside!


Thanks for all your help everyone, and let me know if anyone is doing any shorter trips in the northeast!

4:12 p.m. on March 17, 2011 (EDT)
280 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts

Start with less, do small trips to begin with, review/refine/make note as you go and keep an eye out for deals/discounts. Join REI membership and take advantage of their multi year member sales and also keep an eye on this bargain hunters website

12:54 p.m. on March 26, 2011 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
10 forum posts

Best advice I can give is less is more. Cut down your load, most people take too much gear. For newbies borrow gear if possible, wear running shoes, cook on a fire or don't cook at all, take things like pop tarts, jerky, foil pack tuna, chicken, flat bread, make PBJs.

5:58 p.m. on March 26, 2011 (EDT)
102 reviewer rep
2,993 forum posts

Best advice I can give is less is more. Cut down your load, most people take too much gear. For newbies borrow gear if possible, wear running shoes, cook on a fire or don't cook at all, take things like pop tarts, jerky, foil pack tuna, chicken, flat bread, make PBJs.

 I'll provide a counterpoint to this advice; for example wearing running shoes while shouldering a pack on rough trails is an excellent way for many people to end up bruising the bottoms of their feet.  Thus choose mission appropriate footwear.  Also trimming weigh at some point becomes an exercise of making the walk bearable at the cost of camp comfort.  Face it a pack is never light enough to say you look forward to slinging it on your back.  Some consider the walk the main part of their trip; I mostly endure it, looking more forward to relaxing in camp after washing the trail grit off my carcass.  In that vein, the steak at the end of the day will taste that much better than power bars and other NASA style nutrition, and the time spent in good company with some wine or other spirits around a fire (or lantern in no fire zones) will provide greater inspiration to return another day, than spending the evening hunkering down in your bag in a cramped tent, because you decided not to bring a jacket.  But these luxuries weigh more.  What I am saying is you have to decide what you enjoy most about your trips, and equip accordingly.  You will be forced to make some trade offs, no matter what, you can't have it both ways.  Me?  I train harder, so I am better able to tolerate muling a heavier pack to my destination.  Owning the lightest gear possible also helps.


10:43 a.m. on March 27, 2011 (EDT)
118 reviewer rep
291 forum posts

Best advice I can give is less is more. Cut down your load, most people take too much gear. For newbies borrow gear if possible, wear running shoes, cook on a fire or don't cook at all, take things like pop tarts, jerky, foil pack tuna, chicken, flat bread, make PBJs.

Ouch! Wearing running shoes in this area would be a big mistake and likely result in a turned ankle very quickly. Depending on where your going, our terrain is mostly harsh, angular, glacial till with gnarly exposed tree roots & a healthy helping of mud, acorns, leaves, & moss covered exposed bedrock & shale. A pair of solid backpacking boots with good ankle support is a must here.


Imagine walking on this in "Running Shoes"




Beyond that, I agree very much with Whomworry. Your body gets used to carrying heavier stuff and soon it's no more work than lighter stuff. But it is true that most beginners bring far more than needed. We've all done it and learned from it over time.

6:56 a.m. on April 12, 2011 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
1,343 forum posts

 Hi allielibs and welcome to trailspace,  One thing I've learned about equiptment is I never have enough, but yet I always have way to much ;-}. As usual lots of good advice up above.  I've been out of hiking/camping/backpacking and for a while and jsut getting back into it.  Some of the newer gear is overwelming both in price and updating, mostly pricing.  I am a firm believer in getting quality equiptment on the cheap.  I don't know how it is in your neck of the woods but here in the GNW (Great North West) the first place I hit up is Goodwill, Salvation Army.  One thing I aways find there is camping kitchen gear for almost nothing sometimes other great gear as well.  I'm always watching craigslist and ebay as well.  Best to buy stuff in the off season.  It sounds like you need most everything.  mikemorrow  started a started a PIF (Pay It Foward) in the classified section.  I have a couple of items that might work for you to get you started.  If you find you can use them I'll send them to you for the price of shipping.  I have two pieces of polar fleece (polypile) that I orderded of of ebay that ended up being to small for me.  It's stuff the army uses in layers and is warm, warm, warm.


Army Military ECWS Bear Suit Fleece Bib Overalls Med/Short

go to these sites and you get the specs.  Both sizing and

Remember that these are made for the military so there on the thin side (skinny side).  The bibs are short in the legs so that they come to the top of a pair of armyboots.  This stuff is designed to be layered.  Usually polypro long johns to wick moisture.  Then this stuff with a outer layer and then a water proof shell but can be used in any comb that you wish.  These sites will give you the measurments you need.  I also have a small camping coffee maker I can send you.  This is the warmest fleece I have ever owned.  Might find more stuff as I dig thru my stuff but this is what I have for now.  let me know if you need any measurments.

4:41 p.m. on April 16, 2011 (EDT)
848 reviewer rep
3,902 forum posts

One thing I've learned about equiptment is I never have enough, but yet I always have way to much ;-}.

An excellent gear summation.

12:31 a.m. on April 19, 2011 (EDT)
53 reviewer rep
134 forum posts


My son isn't too fond of the heavy boot thing.

6:48 p.m. on June 17, 2011 (EDT)
34 reviewer rep
9 forum posts

You should check out some of the local hiking clubs in New Jersey.  I belong to the Outdoor Club of South Jersey ( We usually do a handful of backpack trips each year along with hiking, biking, paddling, cross country skiing, and car camping.  There are several somethings going on most weekdays and every weekend. Even if I know absolutely nobody on a trip, I still "belong", so you can go by yourself and still be with people you can trust. The club runs "beginner" backpack trips that are good for newbies and also good for experienced backpackers to test out new equipment. 


Also check into the AMC, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, and the Sierra Club.

June 21, 2018
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

More Topics
This forum: Older: Best Tent For My Babies Newer: nylon zip off pants w/6" short inseam
All forums: Older: Big Agnes Air Core Mummy sleeping pad Newer: Wanted: Arc'teryx Rain Pants and Evernew Titanium Pot