View Full Version : Gear advice for newbie.

09-03-2008, 02:04
I've always had a fondness for hiking...although, my version of hiking has always been the short(1-3)mile trails here in NE GA and some in NC,TN, and SC....recently I have become very interested in doing some longer range stuff...I want to start out with some overnighters and then move on up to weekend trips and a week long trip here and there(my ultimate goal is to one day find the time and $ to thru-hike the AT)....I've looked all over the internet(this site included) and I know the supplies that I need for hiking...but...I was wondering if some of you experienced folks out there would be willing to share some of your wisdom with me on a few gear issues.....Like I said, I know what I need...but...there is such a HUGE selection to choose from out there that it is just mindblowing to this newbie....I'll start off by saying that I want to stay as "cheap" as I can on all items....but, I don't want to buy crap that needs replacing after a couple of trips either.

As of right now I'm ready to start purchasing some items....I'm going to start off with the basics....a pack, tent, and sleeping bag.

Pack: I'm looking for a pack that is big enough to hold supplies for a 5 day long trip(maybe even a thru hike one day) but not so big that it's overkill(preferably an internal frame)

Tent: I'm looking for a relatively lightweight 2-man tent that is pretty easy to set up and stands up to the elements

Sleeping Bag: I'm looking for something lightweight maybe 30 or 35 degree rated(I am a hot natured person and I have read that this rating is good for even mid to low 20s for a warm sleeper..and I figure I can just sleep on top of it in the hot weather months).

Any help on this matter(links would be great :D) is greatly appreciated!

09-03-2008, 06:06
A lot of choices out there. Too numerous to list them all. Much of it comes down to personal preference and prejudice. I have or would seriously look at:

Any ULA pack. I have a P2 but it is no longer made. ULA is not available from the manufacturer until Dec. but some local outfitters such as Mountain Crossings have them in stock and will deal via mail.


Tent: Hubba Hubba is popular from MSR, Big Agnes Seedhouse 2
Tarp Tents: Check out the offerings from Henry Shires, Six Moon Designs, Gossamer Gear, Antigravity Gear - all offer real nice options and I would trust any of their products
Tarps and/or Hammocks: Campmore for cheap tarps, Speer Hammock, Hennesy Hammocks, ENO, Clark, plus others. Check out the hammock forums if any interest in them.


For sleeping bags:

Down - anything from Western Mountaineering, Marmot, Feathered Friends for high-end. Lower priced from Campmore (their 20* bag is well liked), The North Face, Mountain Hardware

Synthetic - I have an EMS Velocity 35 which is very light, compressable, drapes well, and sleeps warm for me.

http://www.ems.com/catalog/product_detail_vertical.jsp?STYLE_GROUP%3C%3East_i d=1408474396003143

This will get you started, I'm sure others will give their opinions, and I have by no means made an exhaustive list here. Like I said, it will all depend on you own personal preferences and prejudices.

Have fun, but keep in mind the gear will not make the hike. You can have just as much fun hiking and be just as successful whether you spend $500 on gear or $5000. No matter what you get, you carry it, it doesn't ever carry you! :D

09-03-2008, 06:11
I believe there are many threads on this subject as well as some articles.
Probably best if you read them.
Lots of choices. some good, some only good in the eyes of the retailer.

09-03-2008, 07:53
There is no consensus list of "perfect gear." If there were, we'd all be carrying it.

The sad reality is that many backpackers do end up replacing most or all of their gear as they gain experience on the trail. Given that, my advice would be to not spend a huge amount of money on any one item right now. No matter how much I love my gear, it might not be right for you. (Heck, judging from how often I buy stuff, my gear isn't even right for me!)

I would look for solid, functional, fairly light, well-priced gear for now. Examples: the Campmor 20-F down sleeping bag (http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___40066) meets all those criteria. It's not the best bag out there, but it'll work well for several years. The REI Cruise 60 pack (http://www.rei.com/product/747520) is a decent size, light weight, and not expensive. For a tent, check out the sale rack at REI or REI Outlet for a basic 2-person dome. Try to keep it under four pounds, like this (http://www.rei.com/outlet/product/766994). Or look for a Tarptent Squall for sale on the used gear forum.

The key here is to avoid spending big bucks on top of the line equipment when you really don't have the experience to evaluate it for your own needs. When you get that experience (which starts on your first overnight), you'll be in a better position to look at high end gear, and you won't have spent so much money on your initial purchase. That starter gear comes in handy when you take a friend backpacking, or of course it can be sold on the forums or on eBay.

You can also look on the front page of this web site, and find the articles links on the left hand side. Under Gear, you'll find a good article on Cheap Gear. (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?p=206678#post206678) Very helpful.

Welcome to Whiteblaze and to the hiking community. Good luck.

Tipi Walter
09-03-2008, 08:24
For the backpacking newb I'd recommend using the internet for research only and going to an actual backpacking store for hands-on experimentation. Talking to a clerk in person and checking out what gear they have will make the whole process much easier. Of course, when I started out there was no web so I was dependent on my local gear shop and ended up with all North Face stuff as it was one of the brands they carried.

More important than gear is intent and motivation and these two qualities can get a person outdoors hiking and sleeping even if they only carry a duffel bag and a blanket. Even though this is not answering your question, you probably already have enough stuff in your house right now to go outside in the backyard and sleep. Throw a couple quilts on the ground over a tarp and sleep under some blankets with a pillow and maybe another tarp strung overhead. Find out if you even want to stay outdoors to begin with, and then go looking for gear.

The hardest thing to get is a backpack and so some time should be spent trying on different packs with weight. Ordering a pack online is tricky and works best if you already know what works for you(by trying out in a store). Until you get a bit more experience, I'd say get what's available in your area thru a store and leave the internet mail ordering for another time.

09-03-2008, 11:36
Bigcranky and Tipi Walter make some excellent points about going with decent, reasonably priced gear to start with. Like we all implied, the gear is not the be-all, end-all of a hiking trip. As TW said, getting out for some experience will give you a lot better idea of what your personal preferences and prejudices will be.

09-03-2008, 11:55
I made my pack, tarp and quilt from www.ray-way.com (http://www.ray-way.com). Inexpensive, light, good quality.

09-03-2008, 11:55
Get the gear first and the pack the very last. And don't go to Sporting Good stores looking for gear. Go to backpack specialty shops with people who know gear. You're in Georgia, maybe a trip to Neels Gap and Mountain Crossings would be good, just to see what's out there. Winton is great. Nice trip in the fall.

09-03-2008, 12:09
Unless you plan on serious winter hiking, I recommend a Hennessy UL Backpacker hammock (order it directly from Hennesy without a tarp). A Macat Deluxe hammock tarp from OES (Outdoor Equipment Supply, a "cottage" industry) for shelter and the 3-Season quilt set from JRB (JacksRBetter) for warmth. Like others here have said, get your gear first and then get your pack, it may not all fit if you try it the other way.

09-03-2008, 13:32
Get the gear first and the pack the very last. And don't go to Sporting Good stores looking for gear. Go to backpack specialty shops with people who know gear. You're in Georgia, maybe a trip to Neels Gap and Mountain Crossings would be good, just to see what's out there. Winton is great. Nice trip in the fall.

I agree with Blissful totally (now). I have a 2hr class with Winton and a group of 'leaders' on Friday in fact. He told me as well, buy the gear first then see what sort of pack you will need to hold it all. Everyone in that store is a backpacker so whomever you speak with will have proper knowledge. I too have yet to begin and am collecting gear slowly. Good luck :) Mtn. Crossing number is: 888-689-4647 and is located in Blairsville, GA

09-03-2008, 15:17
The sad reality is that many backpackers do end up replacing most or all of their gear as they gain experience on the trail... No matter how much I love my gear, it might not be right for you. (Heck, judging from how often I buy stuff, my gear isn't even right for me!)
This is the Truth! LOL Take it easy on the wallet, look into making some of your own gear, look into renting gear, READ LOTS here on Whiteblaze, and then when you are ready to make an informed decision, you will have the money you need to buy the gear that you will use and not grow out of.

I started with a large three person tent, an old military surplus sleeping bag, a heavy Coleman dual-fuel stove, and a lot of junk that I didn't need.

Now, I've come to realize that less is more, and made my own hammock from materials from Walmart for less than $20, a Supercat alcohol stove made from $2 worth of recycleables, and a small Kelty backpack bought from a friend for $20.

Look here in the "FOR SALE" forum, you can pick up some great deals that will save you a bunch of money as well.

Oh, and welcome to Whiteblaze!:welcome

09-03-2008, 15:32
Buy the cheapest stuff you can find, then you will get pissed at it and see why the good stuff is good and eventually you will get pissed enough that you will have no problem dropping the cash for the really nice gear.

09-03-2008, 16:58
There are many things that you can buy that will be light (maybe even into the UL category :) that can also be cheap. For a stove, I would recommend a properly setup pepsi stove (with proper stand/windscreen) to anybody for short or long hikes. I have used mine a bunch of times and have NEVER had a problem with it. My complete cooking setup cost me about $60 bucks and it performs very well and is still on the light side (I use a pepsi can stove, 1 bandana for cleaning pot and GSI small "extreme" cookset w/ gsi lexan utensils). As for lightweight water bottles you can go with gatorage bottles. If you don't like drinking from bladders (some prefer not to, including myself) I just use a 2L evernew water bag and fill up my nalgene, etc. Check out the homemade and UL section, there are always great ideas floating around on there. Make your own FAK and try not to go too extreme. Good lightweight wicking clothes can usually be found at walmart, k mart, kohles, etc. for a cheap price.

There are tons of tips/tricks out there, stick around and you will learn some of them :)

09-03-2008, 17:03
BTW, there are many great alcohol stoves out there. I just recommend the pepsi can stove because I have had great sucess with it. It can boil 2 cups of water (what I boil for most of my meals) in about 2 min with less than 1 oz of fuel. Your potstand is key to having an efficient cooking setup. I literally dropped minutes off my boiling time by adjusting pot stand height, etc. And if you use this stove I would recommend a primer pan. I just cut the bottom of a coffee can out and it works perfect because the grooves on the bottom of the coffee can perfectly sit a pepsi can stove.

09-05-2008, 11:43
Thanks for all the info....sounds like some very good advice:)