View Full Version : Ultra-Cheap Gear

10-23-2005, 21:33
I love to go as light as I can, but I also like to keep it light on the wallet. A plastic pop bottle works better (for me) than any other water container, and I just found a 1 ounce LED light for $2 at the drugstore. Any other lightweight and ultra-cheap winners out there?

10-23-2005, 22:45
The texsport willowbend pup tent. <$20 You might have to be extra dilligent with the seam sealing and touch up the waterproofing but even with all that 35 sq. ft. of complete shelter for <$40. Pitched with hiking poles - 2 lb, 12 oz., stakes cords and all.

10-24-2005, 05:59
While hiking, I believe prefiltering my water (yes, even the best spring water) before I hit it with Aqua-Mira is worth the time it takes to do it and hauling the stuff I need to do it with. (No dead bugs or grit in my water that way, unappetizing even if safe.) I do that with a small very lightweight collapsible food-grade funnel I get at groceries for about 0.99 cents, and about 3-5 coffee filters per day on the trail. The coffee filters come in a huge package (250-1000) for a buck or two, so I bought ONE package of coffee filters, and just count out and pack only about how many I'll need for my hike. On my through-hike, I'll have some filters in each of my mail drops, as their weight is nearly negligible, and I wouldn't need to abandon most of even small packages of filters in hiker boxes or trash cans.

Auntie Mame
10-24-2005, 08:22
At the risk of repeating others' comments on this list, I feel that being willing to end-run the industry and accept very minor differences in weight, "breathability", and so forth, can work well. One can hike with large nylon windbreaker, simple coated poncho, budget poly longies, and an ext. frame "youth" pack... I'd wager a trip with this would be fine. Add in a Goodwill merino pullover, and a lightly stuffed down vest,available for 3.99 each...

10-24-2005, 10:48
Check out this link from an earlier discussion on WB: http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/archive/index.php/t-5594.html

10-26-2005, 03:11
There's also a Backpacking Cheap group on Yahoo! with good info...

10-26-2005, 06:45
A 2 litre (quart) plastic milk jug with the top cut off, makes a great water container around camp, and it fits nicely in many pack side pockets.


10-26-2005, 10:39
make or modify your own:cool: neo

10-27-2005, 00:16
Thrift store or Salvation Army for nylon clothing, I found a really nice backpack for ten bucks, and an LLBean GoreTex jacket for $8.50! I also once found a pair of Vasque Exodus shoes for five bucks.
And for social occasions off the trails, I got a Brooks Brother's suit for $40, and several Harris Tweed sport jackets for under $10. And the money you spend goes to help the deserving poor!
Learn to sew, even if you have to borrow a sewing machine, tarps and ponchos are easy to make.

10-27-2005, 00:29
No one's mentioned the alcohol stove yet. A SuperCat stove will cost you about 25-40, and maybe 5-10 minutes of labor.

10-27-2005, 07:41
From Big Lots:
1 ltr BPing cook pot with lid, $5.00 (also came with a cup, sauce pan & lid, fry pan, handle. I don't use them)
Lipton noodles & sauce $0.25 each.
Other dried foods for much less than retail.
Bug net for the head, normally $5.00 at campmor (plus shipping), I paid $1.23
Aqua shoes $2.50
Big Lots hints:
I don't buy batteries from them, the shelf life is, , , , limited.
If you see it today, and need it, get it. Tomorrow it may be gone.
We have 3 stores near home or work, if you can, shop all for your needs, as different Big Lots carry (sometimes) different stuff.

Thrift store:
Merino wool sweater vest, large, $1.00

PBS auction: a nice very light rain jacket by Totes, I think I paid about $12.00 for a $30.00 jacket.

And naturally, My soda can stove, about $0.20. I make my own stuff sacks. Hiking kilt was $5.00 worth of material & about 3 hours my time. Ground cover is a piece of an old "Pup tent" I stupidly washed causing all the seams to disapear (the cotton thread had rotted). Gatorade 1 L bottle for my water bottle.

And probably some other stuff I cannot remember.

You don't have to use expensive stuff to have a good hike.


10-27-2005, 08:13
i found that the $2 photon type led lights don't last very long. I know the originals are expensive but i've had one last 2 thru hikes already. (changed batteries once in between) The cheap ones might get you a month.
Also, i've hiked with people who have made EVERYTHING that is needed out there already, including: tent, pack, sleeping bag, spoon, cookpot (cheap aluminum one with the handle removed from a thrift store, i guess that's really not making your own) raingear (garbage bag with duct tape where it might tear), clothes, shoes (modified sandals), etc. (i hiked with a guy once who just found old lighters and just flicked the bic without any fuel to see at night with his other hand held in between the lighter and his eyes. He did the whole AT that way)
So, if you have a decent thrift store nearby, you could possibly outfit yourself for less than $50. (the sleeping bag would still cost for down and nylon, thread, and zipper) (my friend did the CDT with his homeade sleeping bag/down coat combination that was VERY impressive) Another friend took a duffel bag and sewed pack straps on it and did the whole CDT that way. made his own tent too.
You don't have to buy the stuff in the magazines.

10-27-2005, 08:36
I've been really sticker shocked at some of the prices of gear. Its crazy! I think its one of the reasons I liked Ray Jardine's book and all the DIY links- not everything has to be the latest/greatest/most expensive.

And I like to "recycle/reuse/renew" when I can. We reuse gatorade/aquafina bottles all the time- I don't envision changing for my section - cost= $0 I am using a cat stove cost=$1.50

BigLots is great - so is Ocean State Job Lots if you have one near you.

The important thing is to figure out what gear is most important to you. And what you want to improvise vs. buy new. For me finding a comfortable pack is paramount. I was in a car accident in Feb and I sustained a nagging back injury, so my quest is to find a comfortable pack regardless of price - and it looks like the $99 Kelty at Dick's is the winner-not the least expensive/not the most-but its what I need.

I'm really disgusted at the price of outdoor clothing. I know they are made to last and all but $100 for a tshirt? Nuts. I am a terrible seamstress if it involves anything but straight lines but I think I am going to bust out the sewing machine this winter and give it a whirl.

10-27-2005, 20:34
I got some free, cardboard binoculars at work that fold flat. They were a promo for the new Lemonysnicket book, so they say "Look out for unfortunate events", but the price was right. I buy inexpensive yarn, and use JoAnn's 40 or 50% off coupons. I've crocheted a hat and scarf for cold weather, but I'm going to do a new one with ear flaps. I just got a pattern for an expandable "grocery bag" that can be used for a number of things. (I'm learning mittens and things.) I can bring a skein and hook. I can make what I need, and then when my needs change, I can rip it out, and reuse the yarn for the new project. The soda bottles are a great idea, but I already have water bottles, and a bladder. I've decided to use my rice bowl and chop sticks, instead of a cook kit. I'm going to use a cook pot from an old cook kit, though (from Girl Scouts). I don't think I'll need much. My sister might let me borrow an old pack, and I've read that people have successfully used cheap running shoes on the flatter parts of the trail. When my boots give out, I'll probably do that. I'm going to try to make Jardine's quilt. I'll probably need a lot less in the summertime. Has anyone made a netting tent?

10-27-2005, 22:34
Another note about Big Lots. They typically get their deliveries on a specific day of the week. So find out the day the truck gets unloaded, it will give you the best opportunity for unique items.

10-27-2005, 22:43
Another note about Big Lots. They typically get their deliveries on a specific day of the week. So find out the day the truck gets unloaded, it will give you the best opportunity for unique items.

Ah! Good point, "MY" Big Lots gets deliverys on Wed, the best time to go is when they open Wed AM. Not too early, takes a bit of time to unpack & display.


10-28-2005, 10:25
I'm really disgusted at the price of outdoor clothing. I know they are made to last and all but $100 for a tshirt? Nuts. I am a terrible seamstress if it involves anything but straight lines but I think I am going to bust out the sewing machine this winter and give it a whirl.The best place to get inexpensive clothing is Wal-Mart, Marshalls, TJ Maxx and/or thift shops (Salvation Army, Volunteers of America, Thrift Shop, etc.). You can easily get all but maybe WB raingear for less than $40 for an entire setup (base layer, fleece, insulation layer, hat, goves, socks, etc.).

Wal-Mart carries a couple of sport brands that are basically clones of most of the big name synthetic brands. At the end of the season that stuff goes for $5 a shirt, $6 for a fleece, etc. That's where I buy backpacking gear for my kids (that and Once Upon a child). The key is to visit these places often, say 1-2 a month for a few months. Eventually you find a gem.

If you have an outfitters that does an "Used Gear Sale" check it out. They had several external frame packs at mine for less than $10. And decent internals for less than $20.

Since you are not doing your thru until next year, you should have plenty of time to get a good buy.

I honestly think the most expensive items are the bag and shelter. The rest of the items can be had for pennies. Even, then, if you shop a few clearnance sites you can probably pick up a great bag for less than $80 and a great one person tent for less than $50.

That said, it is fun to make your own gear. I have made a down quilt, a custom designed 2# 3+ person tarptent like shelter (used when I hike with my kids), stove, stuff sacks and am now in the process of making the Minima Vest (for snowshoeing).

If you want to make your own gear, the best place online (by far) is DIY board over at www.backpacking.net (http://www.backpacking.net) and the DIY section of this board is a distant 2nd.