Assessment of existing gear for newbie

9:29 p.m. on August 14, 2014 (EDT)
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Hi all,

I'm VERY new to backpacking camping - well camping in general but I'm planning on doing more through meetup groups.   I want to make sure the stuff I currently have is sufficient.  At this point I'm not worried about cooking equipment such as stoves, etc. because I would be going with a group of people  so I would just pitch in some money and use theirs for the time being.


I own a expedition backpack rather hiking backpack - the main difference is not having the hoops for a tent/sleeping bag - rather the bag I own can be converted into a duffle bag.  I'am able to configure the pack so I can carry a tent, yoga mat (for sleeping pad), tent, clothes and food.  I also have a rain cover it.

I can't find that exact one i have but this one is pretty close: MEC SUPERCONTINENT 75 TRAVEL PACK

Sleeping Bag

This is the one I have:  MEC AQUILINA SLEEPING BAG -7C (WOMEN'S)I also have a sleeping liner.


 Eureka Spitfire 2 Tent: 2-Person 3-Season plus footprint

Sleeping Pad

I don't have one - I was thinking of using a yoga mat for now - any advice on this would be appreciated particular in the thickness.

8:11 a.m. on August 15, 2014 (EDT)
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Function is of course important but weight is a primary concern when you are the one who has to carry everything you'll need. The MEC pack you listed weighs about 6.5 pounds.  It will work for you, but at the expense of a few pounds.  If your pack looks like the one you mentioned be careful to keep the loaded weight close to your spine and not in that pouch hanging off the back of the pack.

Your sleeping bag looks pretty good at a tad over 2 pounds which is not bad at all for a 20°f/-7°c  and should keep your plenty warm on casual three season trips.

TheSpitfire 2 is a bit on the heavy side for one person though not terribly bad if you are sharing it and splitting up the weight.

You definitely could take these with you on some starter trips to see if you really want to get into backpacking.  If you find the answer is yes then you can start upgrading your equipment to suit your style and budget with a pack probably being your best bang for the buck.

I'd suggest you try sleeping on your yoga mat at home or try a one night car camping trip if your back yard won't do.  You will be the best judge of if that will work for you or not.

If you are relying on others for a stove to start I'd recommend making sure you bring some food that doesn't need to be cooked as a back up.  Team work can be great but most folks find it safer to be totally self reliant so your trip isn't ruined by something the other person forgot :)

Good  luck on your adventures and keep asking questions. There are a lot of experienced folks here happy to help you avoid learning things the hard way. Be safe, be smart and have a great time getting out there!

11:47 a.m. on August 15, 2014 (EDT)
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I think theres several things you have to consider, and they are completely personal.

How many times are you going to go, and how much do you value performance or comfort.

You may want to consider a proper hiking pack that weighs less. That would make your overall experience quite a bit more comfortable.

Your tent I think is perfectly good, so I wouldnt bother upgrading that.

Your sleeping bag is also good, so again, thats great.

Sleeping mat.... well are you one of those people that can sleep anywhere? If so then you dont need much, but may want to consider a better mat simply to keep you warmer... like a Therm-A-Rest solite or ridgerest with the reflective coating. If you want more comfort though, then I would look into either an inflatable or Self-Inflating mat. All depends on what you want.

3:00 p.m. on August 15, 2014 (EDT)
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Back in the 1980's I went on many week and two week long hiking trips in the White mountains of new Hampshire with some friends.

I remember on one trip this guy used a "travel backpack" sorta like yours. It worked out fine.

The only thing that matters is that you are comfortable carrying it loaded!

If you haven't yet carried it with this kinda load, Fill it up an go for a stroll around the block or so, and let us know how it feels. 

Otherwise, Leave the tent footprint home to save some weight, you don't need it.

Hopefully you don't need hoops or anything for attaching stuff to the outside of the pack, except maybe your sleeping pad. If that thing is 75 liters it should be plenty big to get everything inside.

The Yoga matt sounds great to me, but then I sleep fine on cheapo foam pads.

The advice to set yer tent up in the backyard, roll out yer pad and bag and spend a night ( or several ) out there is VERY GOOD ADVICE!  Surprising how few folks actually try this though...

I kinda wonder how heavy the Yoga pad is though.

Coleman and similar outfits sell an inexpensive ( about ten bucks ) closed cell sleeping pad that I find works just fine. They can be found many places, are cheap and only about 8 ounces or so. If you sleep well on a foam pad, and the Yoga pad is heavy, this is a cheap way to lighten the load a bit.

campmor -


 Edit - Before I'd tell any beginning backpacker to buy any gear, I'd probably tell 'em to go to Walmart and blow less than 15 bucks on a digital scale -

Something like this -

Then weight every bit of your gear. Use a big magic marker and write the weight on each object. You can make a list in a notebook and total the weight of everything up.

You don't have to be ultralightweight or anything, but it is very helpful to be aware of the weight of things from the get go.









6:28 p.m. on August 15, 2014 (EDT)
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I would say obsessing about weight is a slippery and costly slope. You dont need to weigh things down to the gram, you can just use manufacturer specs which are all over the internet to get a rough idea.

Certainly something a beginner doesnt need.

Just my opinion, take it as you will.

9:17 a.m. on August 16, 2014 (EDT)
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After 40 years of backpacking I have found my personal experience with it has been the best information. It doesn't take long after going on serious long multi-day/week trips to figure out works best for you.

I have had many packs,tents,types of sleeping bags,pads,camera's,binoculars and clothing for different seasons.  I have tried winter camping in the high Sierra for 5 months, summer hiking, spring and fall trips. Done multi week  to month long trips carrying everything I needed to stay out as long as I could carry the food for.

You will gain experiences and be the veteran backpacker if you stick to it and take your time and don't let bad weather and other weird experiences mess with your head.

I also do bicycle trips cross the USA 2500 to 5000 miles a year. I started hitchhiking for 5 year then took to bike touring and being on my own instead of learning to drive and having to have all the more money for a budget. I live about as free as one can be under my own power on the road and trail.

In 4 weeks I am doing a 1850 mile trip across 5 states back to my winter home in SE Arizona.

You will get into the swing of things and come to love the "Freedom of the Hills", I know you will jst as all of us here at Trailspace can tell you!


1:53 p.m. on August 16, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks everyone! Sorry I should  make a couple of clarifications - that backpack isn't the one that I have - it's the most similar one I could find in terms of design/style (e.g. it's not top loading and coverts to duffle bag), but mine is not as big. I will take it the first couple of times and see how it goes, otherwise I can find pack designed for multi-day hiking.

As for the yoga mat - I have 3 different kinds that vary in thickness, I was going to take the thickest which is a closed cell foam, I believe it's this one:  GoFit Premium Fitness Mat with Carry Strap- (3/8" Thick x 24" Width x 72" Length).  I've found a couple of ways to attach it securely to the outside of my pack.  

I live in an apt so unfortunately sleeping in my backyard isn't an option - however funnily enough yesterday I took my medium-thick yoga mat to the park to sit on while I read but I fell asleep, didn't feel anything underneath me - mind you it was on grass.

5:34 a.m. on August 17, 2014 (EDT)
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As long as youre comfortable then thats all that matters. I would say my only concern with the yoga mat would be the insulating value.... but depending where you camp it probably wont matter too much.

If you dont want to spend too much, one of these has pretty decent R-value.

10:24 a.m. on August 17, 2014 (EDT)
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Thanks again all - I've ordered that sleeping pad and will see how it compares to the yoga mat.  I've also found a used North Face Vigor Mule 65 L pack - will check it out to see how it compares to my pack - which I have to admit isn't really ideal for camping gear but I've found ways to configure so it does.

OK I think I'm all set  with the basics now.

Out of curiosity - I'm assuming I can't post any URLs because I'm new correct?

6:33 a.m. on August 18, 2014 (EDT)
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I think you will be much happier with the north face pack for actual hiking/backpacking overall. You may have been able to get by with the other, but i think you made a good decision. Same with the sleeping pad. Yoga mats work great for Yoga, or just sitting on, but they are much heavier and dont insulate as well as a purpose built pad. My wife used a yoga mat on our first trip together insisting that it would work fine. Lets just say she came around by morning.

Not sure about the url thing

June 1, 2020
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