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Beginner Looking For Gear

Hello, I am Luke.

So, a buddy and I really want to get into hiking, camping and fishing in the Appalachian area of western North Carolina. I am personally looking for an insiders view of the equipment I need to get started. To give you a better idea of what we are looking to do; we are looking for a weekend trip to hike in, camp close to a good fishing spot (stream, river, creek, etc.,) and hike out. This will be a Friday through Sunday trip. We will be looking to bring tents (one each) and the essential to make all of that happen. If you have any recommendations I would be open to listen.

Thank you for any help you may be able to come up with. 


Do you have any gear already and how much money are you looking to spend? The Great Smokies are full of fishing opportunities that don't require a long walk to a campsite, so you can get away with less expensive(heavier) gear.

Used gear

Military surplus


Heavier, less expensive gear as Jason suggests may be the way to go if you plan a short hike. Be careful you don't go too cheap and heavy and have a bad experience lugging a mule load up and down mountains.

Used and surplus gear is a great way to start. Look into rental equipment too...REI and other stores sometimes rent gear and credit the rental to purchases of similar gear (or used to).

Ppines other option of donation or a loaner is a good idea too. If you know some backpackers see if you can borrow and try equipment out. I loan out stuff all the time to friends and coworkers.

Your big 3 (tent, pack, and sleeping bag) are where most of the weight is but make sure you consider other of a pack, room in the tent, and real temp rating of the bag (some mfgrs are accurate others are not). Check reviews on Trailspace to get some guidance.

There are a ton of opinions out there as well as so many options, but lots of experience on Trailspace if you have questions.

Lastly enjoy exploring equipment but don't fret it too much. As long as you use common sense and don't push the limits of whatever gear you find, getting out there and trying things out is the best way to figure things out.

Other recommendations are spot on.  You can save a lot of weight if you are willing to share a single two person tent.  You will be warmer, as well.  Don't spend a lot of money until you have a good idea of what suits you.

craigslist can sometimes be a good resource for used gear - worth giving anything you buy privately a close look.  so can the outlet sections of some websites, and so can some factory stores if you live near one that actually has factory goods with blemishes that prevent them from selling retail.  

some stores sell good used gear - international mountaineering equipment in NH for example.  hit or miss what you'll find, but usually good quality gear for a good price.  

Amazon got lots of it. Just do some research for gears that you need. Like what Andrew F. said, Some stores sell good used gear too. 

Sign up to outdoor retailer email lists. Most times you get an introductory coupon for a percentage off. That's a great way to save some money. Then they will notify you about sales or coupons. I have never paid full price on gear. And end of season sales are great ways to save some money as well.

Sierra Trading Post has low prices. I am of the impression that their merchandise is more overstocks, last year's models, etc but I could be wrong.

Steep and Cheap sells gear in "lightning sales" -- one particular piece of gear at a super-low price but only for the next xx minutes kind of thing. They have an app you can download that will alert you to what's on sale for the moment.

Massdrop has been getting some really good ultralight equipment from name brands. They feature various items that must get a minimum number ordered to activate the "drop", and often they have different price tiers (if they get 20 ordered it will be $50, if they get 40 ordered the price drops to $45, that kind of thing).

 Starting out, I am not sure you even need a tent, at least if you  pick good weather windows.  How far you will travel is another key variable; the shorter the trip, the less specialized your gear needs to be.

Stat out with short trips, and work out what will be important to you as you go longer.  If you go down the road most of us have followed, you will eventually spend significant money on key items, particularly sleeping bag, boots, and back pack

Hey Luke, great question. I've tried to find the answers to that question for years myself. Here are a couple of things that might be worth a look.

I would recommend some water sandals/shoes if you'll be by water that you'll be wading in. 

Since you'll be fishing, get a hold of some poles that are collapsable or that come apart in 2 pieces. Just put them behind the cinch straps that are on the side of your packs (newer internal frame packs). That way, you can free up your hands on the trail.

You can usually find both at any thrift store in the area. 

If you're going to eat the fish, bring salt! I've caught the most lovely fish in the past and then they taste bland without the salt. 

Hope this helps!

Jesse (Go time!)

Facebook has backpacker flea market group. You said wnc. I live in Asheville. Try second hand gear. They are in west Asheville. And from time to time craiglist has good deals.

It is very easy to make a list of what to bring, the hard part is learning what not to bring.  Make a list, remove as much as you can from the list, think about it, take a day of thought and take even more off the list. Put all of your gear spread out on the floor for a day or so, remove some more stuff. At that point you will still bring something or two that you never use.

May 11, 2021
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