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Help on Affordable Gear for Getting Started


I have been on a lot of day hikes and am looking to get more into the backcountry style camping. I don't have any of the overnight equipment that might be required, but I have been shopping around. The problem I am having is that there are too many choices, and some of its very expensive!

Has anyone heard of I have been thinking about picking up some of the basics there - prices seem decent. I want to get a basic setup for this summer (sleeping bag, tent, air mattress). Thoughts?



Not sure if this is a genuine question or you are advertising that site, but if money is an issue I'd suggest looking for bargains on used gear. Between Craigslist, EBay and other online gear selling locations there is a lot of good stuff to be had out there at less than retail price.

The prices on the site you posted are not especially great once you consider that the products seem to be unbranded knock offs of recognizable products. Looking like real gear doesn't mean the materials and design will actually function in the real world. Spend a little time bargain hunting and you could likely find real products supported by makers who put their name on their product for the same money.

If you are seriously looking to buy equipment for backpacking, I would strongly suggest thrift stores.  Among the items you can buy there for VERY little money are: aluminum pots for cooking, plastic dishes for eating, fleece outerwear, water bottles if you don't use soda bottles, lightweight emergency raingear, decent synthetic t-shirts, pants, and long-legged shirts, etc.

If you are lucky you might also find a good old external frame pack for under $8 like I did.  

What I would not buy at a thrift store is a sleeping bag (you don't know how it has been treated or used, and it may have lost most of it's loft) a tent (may have pinholes or lost its waterproofing) or stove or water never know.

If you are patient, good things come your way.

not familiar with the site or the quality of its gear.  a couple of red flags, though.  first, they only refund your money for returns made within thirty days - that's not enough time to use the gear and figure out if it lasts and if you like it.  second, no mention of any warranty. it's a very bad idea to buy new gear with no sense of whether the company truly stands behind what it sells.  many outdoor gear manufacturers and sellers offer a lifetime warranty.

buying used gear is the least expensive way to go, if you have some idea of what you are looking for.

if you are committed to buying new rather than used, get gear with a lifetime warranty.  REI sells tents and sleeping bags for less than Talusgear, as an example.  

You can get started camping in the summer for very cheap (also light since you don't need much). Here are some examples of cheap gear I use and prefer in the hottest days of the year...

I use a gathered end hammock that I whipped together using a pair of shoe-strings and 3 yards of fabric for $15 (1.6 oz HyperD from Ripstop by the Roll for $5.50/yd is a good material to use for hammocks). I hemmed the edges of the hammock and did some other things but you don't need to.

To rig the hammock I bought Tree Huggers + Whoopie-Slings + Whoopie Hooks for $35 from Dutchware...but you could probably go cheaper as I was looking for low weight + size + ease of use.

To keep the buggies away I bought 6 yards of .5 oz no-seeum from Ripstop by the Roll for 6.75/yd. I wanted a zipper entry and more protection on the bottom so there was some more sewing involved and a few extra bucks for a zipper...but for $45 the ENO Guardian is almost the same thing.

For a tarp I use a Golite poncho-tarp rigged asymmetrically over the hammock for $50 which you can't get anymore...but has a similar model for $20! As a tarp the poncho is a little "bikini"...but if you create the "V" when you rig the poncho you can get a very snug fit to the hammock and stay dry with the added protection trees provide...and a poncho is my preferred rain-gear in summer for ease of use and ventilation.

To rig the poncho I bought $10 worth of 1.75mm Dyneema and a pair of Tarp Flyz for $15 from Dutchware...but the Flyz are unnecessary (I only use one)...they just make rigging faster.

 I typically sleep in cotton boxers and t-shirt to stay as cool as possible...but for extra warmth I bring a yard or two of thin fleece that you can get easily for $10 or less...fleece works well with the sweat and humidity of summer.

The total cost of this system is around $150 and is well tested between the months of June and August in the Midwest river-valleys I play in. I use this collection of gear because it works best in the warmest parts of the year in terms of overall comfort...the cheaper price was just a fortunate benefit.

Since your just beginning I would do as LoneStranger & balzaccom said. As your beginning do not get sucked into the nonsense of buying new gear when there is so much used gear out there. So if your looking at a new $500 tent, the previous model of that tent can come times be had for under $100. First I would decide what you needs are and what you like. It's really silly to spend hundreds of $'s on say a hammock and then find out that you hate sleeping in a hammock. Then you have a hammock that is used and the next guy gets a screamin deal on a once or twice used hammock. You can rent equipment if you really think you need to try a tent or a pack.

I buy all my gear used, all of it. often a tent or pack that was bought last year and the person has to sell it for what ever reason. Just as the best time to buy snow tires is in the middle of spring and summer so is it best to but camping/hiking gear at the beginning to the middle of winter. Sometimes the very best time is just at the end of the camping/hiking season people sell their brand new gear so that they can go buy skies/splitboards, snowboarding equipment. If your careful in what you buy you most certainly can entirely gear up with some of the best gear, used and older of course, for under $300 easy. it won't be the lightest and the bestest of gear that is often designed to impress you and your buddies.

There is always EBay but I get so very much of my stuff off of Craigslist. I find that the very best Craigslist sites are Seattle, Portland and Denver............and all the surrounding areas around those three cities.

I will be selling most of my backpacks. I would guess that I have 15 large packs and many many smaller packs if your interested.

Remember if you buy a $425 tent for $50 then you got a great deal. If it's a good tent but not what you want then not only will you be able to get your $50 back when you sell it, but you might get a few extra bucks. Or lest say you buy that tent for $50. It's a two man tent so it fits you, your gear and your dog. But then you meat the camping/hiking woman of your dreams so you need a 3 man plus gear tent. Now you have a two man back up tent for on $50. If you can tell us where your going hiking/camping/backpacking...........the likely seasons.......... and what your needs are some of us here would most likely be helpful in recommending used gear that is on line.

Remember you in no way need new gear with the exception of footwear. But even with footware I very often find once or twice used footwear or even new in the box that is being sold by an individual that just did not get the chance to use it.

Remember to make a list of all the things you want, but more importantly need, in descending order of what you need to get on the road. Try and not get side tract on the stuff you think you want but don't need, at least in the beginning. When you find that great deal on what ever it is you looking for be sure to ask if they are selling anything else as so very often people will for what ever reason have bought the very best or really nice gear and they are selling it all and sometimes you can get a great deal on buying multiple items from the same person. Be sure to not get to locked into a certain brand or item and you will find all your gear very quickly.

jrenow said:


To rig the hammock I bought Tree Huggers + Whoopie-Slings + Whoopie Hooks for $35 from Dutchware...but you could probably go cheaper as I was looking for low weight + size + ease of use.


 Don't want to hijack the thread, but I have to say, that suspension is amazingly easy to use. I'd never slept over night in a hammock before this year, but that set up is idiot proof :)

Not knowing where you will be camping/backpacking, the seasons and your wants and needs................ here is a quickie example of cheap but good gear.

example of used gear on the cheap.

tent: $80 4.5 stars

Sleeping bag:

10 degree Polarguard 3d insulation stuffs large but it's a good bag for cold nights.

Backpack: $75

Dana Design Glacier Backpack Large Camping Hiking Mountaineering Pack - $80 This is an outstanding deal from a store in Seattle.

Sleeping pad:

Themarest pads $30 $40 $45 $40

Please remember these are just examples and one can find even better deals on desired equipment if one is willing to learn the gear and then find and close the deal.

When you do decided what your looking for I have a couple of tents,a bunch of backpacks, some Thermarest pads, and maybe some sleeping bags. I only have quality, but older gear of which the names are recognized in the industry as quality time tested items and brands. I still have my first North Face Ring Oval Intention that I bought back in 1979.

Dale...welcome to Trailspace!

I would echo all of the above suggestions and also add (unless I missed it) to try to borrow some gear at first (backpack, tent, stove) to see what you like before investing.  If you know someone who has been backpacking a while, they probably have extra gear hanging around.  I have lent out my backup/older stuff for years to newcomers.  Until you find what style of backpacking fits your wants/needs free is a great price.

Dale...welcome to Trailspace!

I would echo all of the above suggestions and also add (unless I missed it) to try to borrow some gear at first (backpack, tent, stove) to see what you like before investing.  If you know someone who has been backpacking a while, they probably have extra gear hanging around.  I have lent out my backup/older stuff for years to newcomers.  Until you find what style of backpacking fits your wants/needs free is a great price.


What Phil said. I have lots of tents that are either mint, valuable or both..........and from past experience know that when you lend equipment out it often does not come back in the condition that it left my house in. So I keep a few tents, packs and sleeping bags around for people to do trips with me or if they are visiting and want to go out on their. Free is the best price when deciding what your needs are so that you don't have to sell a brand new piece of equipment for one third the price you got it for to a guy like me.

The only thing you really need to know is that most of what's sold in "outdoors" stores is totally unnecessary for having an enjoyable and safe time in the backcountry, and all of it is totally overpriced.

The less you take, the happier you will be. 

I honestly would suggest thrift stores for what you need. The reason is that not only can you often find some real gems in charity shops, as a beginner, you aren't going to be travelling into dangerous areas (or, at least, you *shouldn't* be), so weight isn't as much of a concern. You also shouldn't be going out into cold and wet weather as a beginner, so your gear will be lighter for that reason, as well.

You will need:

1. A way to carry your stuff. Most people use a backpack. 
2. Some sort of shelter. I use a cheap poly tarp, a bit of 1/8" cord, a few tent stakes, and the knowledge of how to tie a few good knots.
3. Something to sleep on. This can be a foam sleeping pad, or a hammock. You still need the foam pad for the hammock, if temps are going to be below 60F at night.
4. Something to sleep *in*. Most people use a sleeping bag or quilt.
5. Something to carry water. A Nalgene bottle or two is traditional, but there are cheaper, lighter alternatives.
6. Something to eat. For an overnight or weekend trip, you can bring food that doesn't need cooking, or you can bring fresh food that will survive a day without refrigeration. You don't need to spend a zillion dollars on dried or freeze-dried food. 
7. If you bring food that needs cooking, you will need some way to cook: a stove and a pot, at the minimum.
8. Decent footwear. Lighter is generally better, up to a point.
9. Clothing appropriate to the weather, and remember you will be out in it for 24 or more hours at a stretch, so heat and moisture management are important.
10. A basic first-aid kit. This might be as simple as good bug repellent and a few plasters/bandages
11. and because this one goes to 11, a way to deal with your bodily waste products.

A level head, patience, caution, and prudence go a long way in the backcountry. Don't panic, and don't get lost.

Seriously, don't get lost. And if you do get lost, don't get yourself lost-er.

Once you've been out a few times using your thrift store make-do, you'll have a *much* better idea of what you need and want, or you'll have hated the experience and been thankful you didn't invest $1000 in fancy gear you no longer need.

So, here is how I do it. Craigslist Seattle. I just bought a Sierra Design Trios AST for $50. I know right? It retailed for $425 and I bought if for $50 and sold it to my buddy who knew nothing about tents but wanted me to find a perfect bomb proof tent for him. Well, thank god he's my mechanic. So I sell it to him for .........I know..........$125.........less than Ebay price.........equal to Criagslist price, so then I use that money to buy a tent,........I buy a Exped Gemini II tent for $140 dollars,........on Craigslist Denver, at $448-$648 which is new on line. Really!  But you do not have to buy stuff at the local Thrift store, or the local Goodwill either. With just a little bit of help from people on this sight you do not have to but the newest, bestest, equipment to go out and camp/backpack/hike, or what ever it is your doing. For very, very little money..........if you want to invest the time and energy, you to can have the very bestest equipment that the world has to offer from just a few years ago, or last year..........Our you can go out and buy a new car or truck for $48,000-$92,000, or that new tent for 4,5,$600- $17,000.  It's a new world  and you have to figure out if this is what you want to be doing. Or with careful planning and a bit of knowledge you can buy a brilliant car or truck................or tent............... that is barely broken in for one third, fourth, fifth the price and have the very same thing. Do not...........unless you want to, not, get caught in the bullshit cycle of American and world consumerism. I know I'm beating a dead horse, but some times you have to do that when a new person arrives at the corral. #justsayin ..........................


So check out this 3 season tent.............but more, much more importantly for all of the people that have posted and not posted their tent reviews....................check this review out.  I bought this, new and modern tent because cause of this review on Trailsapce for $140.............The best and well written review I've seen so far...........


high reading suggestion:

Backpackers and Hikers Handbook by William Kensley, Jr

he founded Backpacker Mag. He makes it very clear in the beginning that one can get out there without much money. Lots of good info in that book 

October 25, 2020
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