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Pudwoogie
02-21-2012, 03:18
I am rather new to the whole scene. After reading many articles I have noticed that gear for the most part is all about personal opinion.

My question would be this:

What would you recommend for a newbie hiker? Gear, shoes, accessories, ect.

What I am trying to avoid is buying gear that is targeted at those of us who are new to this. I am a rather big guy so I know that gear in my size will more than likely be hard to find (6'2" and 300lb)

Thank you for your time!

TOMP
02-21-2012, 03:50
I guess it really depends on what you want to do. Do you want to day hike, weekend, or multi-day trips. Do you want to hike and then car camp or are you interested in backpacking.

Most gear is really personal but also most good gear is interchangable as far as brand and will do the job. Assuming you want to be a backpacker, I would get a good light tent (like MSR Hubba, since you are a big guy I would pay attention to the size of the solo tents some would be uncomfortable for large men), a decent pair of boots (brands such as but not limited to La Sportiva, Scarpa, Asolo, etc..) (unless your a trail runner person then just use whatever sneakers you already have until you have some experience), a decent 55L pack (from a decent brand gregory, black diamond, golite (some are frameless so be aware)), and something to carry water if you dont already have it and some aquamira drops. I wouldnt get a kitchen until you know this is something you want to continue to do. Oh and get a sleeping bag, but if you start backpacking in warm weather you can buy any cheap old thing to start with to save some money, just dont expect to use it in cold conditions (I still use a 25 dollar sleeping bag during the summer, works fine).

This way you dont spend too much but at the same time dont buy things that will need replacing either. Also I would start with short trips because its easier to be comfortable with a bare bones setup for 2-3 days but might be taxing over a week.

Also this thread might help you out.
http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?81152-Cost-of-outfitting-yourself&highlight=

Winds
02-21-2012, 04:15
Hiking and backpacking can be a whole world apart from one another. Don't plan to buy the cow before you test the milk. Hiking doesn't require much gear, or even knowledge for that matter to get moving and enjoy the outdoors.

And welcome here!

JAK
02-21-2012, 08:39
The biggest mistake that I made gear wise was the backpack. Generally speaking a 5-7 pound pack cost more that a 1-3 pound pack, but is next to worthless once you realize that it is too heavy for your needs and you can get lighter packs that are still comfortable and just as big for half the price. They still make packs like this because novices are willing to pay more for heavier stuff. Same with things like far-west type jackets, which are also worthless for hiking. Another common mistake is tents that are too heavy. You can get a light tent or tarp without spending alot of money. Sleeping bags are something you might spend more money on to save a pound, but I got a 40oz bag rated to 20degF on sale for $50 at Marden's in Maine. It's only about half a pound heavier than a bag that might cost $400 or more. Clothing wise, you don't need alot. As a general rule, don't buy two of the same thing, and don't pack two of the same thing, except socks maybe but even then I bring 3 pairs of 3 different socks.

You don't have to go ultralight, but functional gear is generally light, not heavy. Also, some gear and clothing that might be suitable for car camping or atv camping or boat camping isn't suitable for hiking.

JAK
02-21-2012, 08:54
At 6'2" 300 pounds you should still be able to find suitable gear, but it is harder in some cases. I am 6'0" and have hiked as heavy as 230 pounds. It is even more important to use lighter gear when you are heavier for your hieght because your feet and ankles and knees are already carrying alot. Keep the gear light and keep the trips shorter until you get the experience and learn what your capabilities are. As the weight comes down the capabilities go up, especially if you keep the gear and clothing light even if you can start carrying more. Effort is a combination of total weight on feet, including body weight, multiplied by distance. Vertical gain adds to the effective distance by about a mile for every 500 feet of cummulative elevation gain. A rugged section might have as much as 1000 feet of gain for every 2 miles of hiking, so it effectively doubles the effort. What goes up must go down and the downhills add to the wear and tear, not so much the effort, but definitely the wear and tear especially when encumbered. So give yourself credit where it is due. If you are carrying 320 pounds in total over 5 miles with 2500 feet of gain, you are putting in a very big day. More than I would want to do. You should consider starting out with trails that are not too flat, but more moderate, like 500 to 1000 feet of gain over 5 miles. Too flat is almost harder, unless on a bike.

JAK
02-21-2012, 09:12
When I started switching over to lighter and cheaper and more practical gear I got most of my ideas from Sgt Rock's website. He post on this site also and has written several articles and seems to knows the Benton Mackay Trail particularly well. I hope to hike down that way myself some day. Cheers.

www.hikinghq.com

JAK
02-21-2012, 09:14
Strike that.

That should be www.hikinghq.net

4Bears
02-21-2012, 09:19
:welcome One thing to remember is a hike is not a race. As stated earlier you can go heavy and spend more money later to go lighter later or start light to begin with. My first 6 day hike as an adult, my pack weighed a back breaking 65 lbs. with food and water, my last hike 27 lbs., my next one most likely sub 25lbs, as long as I get a lighter tent. There are many folks on here with much more experience than I and I personally have gleaned much knowledge from them just reading posts.

KnotHere
02-21-2012, 10:27
Hiking and backpacking can be a whole world apart from one another. Don't plan to buy the cow before you test the milk. Hiking doesn't require much gear, or even knowledge for that matter to get moving and enjoy the outdoors.

And welcome here!

I agree with this. I am in my 3rd year section hiking and find myself making changes and improvements all the time. I didn't know what I would like in the beginning either so it was a $50 pack from walmart, $20 solo tent in found on some online closeout, etc. I have done a lot of reading on this forum as well as other sites, some listed above. By finding out what I didn't like (and not spending much money doing so) I found out what I do like. It's still a huge learning curve and I actually enjoy that part of it.

JAK
02-21-2012, 11:06
I agree also that hiking is not a race, that there are diminishing returns once you have lost enough body weight and gear weight to be able to hike at least 10 miles per day. Up to the point of being able to hike 10 miles a day though, in rugged terrain like many parts of the AT, I think everything you do to reduce your body and gear weight helps alot, not just to get 10 miles in if you want to, but also to make the hike more enjoyable even if you are happy hiking 5 miles. I've hiked 5 miles in a day with my eyes at my feet all day and it ain't as much fun as being able to hike 10 miles while looking around. Sure the steep parts will still wind you, but they won't knock the stuffing out of you. The downhills become a whole lot more enjoyable and less dangerous also. Diminishing returns for sure, but 10 miles per day is a good target to work towards. Beyond that everything is gravy.

moongoddess
02-21-2012, 12:06
Gear is all about personal opinion largely because everyone's bodies are different. A shoe that works well for you might be agony for me, for example. Or another example: frameless ultralight backpacks that lack a hip belt. Some people love them. I won't ever be using one, no matter how light I can get my load, because I know it will cause me severe neck pain. I MUST have a pack with an internal frame and a hip belt which will effectively transfer the pack weight onto my hips. Different bodies, different packs. It takes a certain amount of experimentation to work out what gear will work with YOUR body and YOUR hiking style. JAK gave you some good tips, though. Watch out for overly heavy "bomber" packs and tents! There are a lot of them out there. When you're ready to buy a tent, you might want to check out Lightheart Gear; they make a lightweight tent specifically designed for big and tall people (the SoLong 6). You can buy a lightweight day pack now for your short hikes, but wait to buy your backpacking pack until AFTER you've bought all the rest of your gear. You want the lightest pack you can find that fits all your gear and is comfortable on your back. Buying a pack is a lot like buying shoes; expect to try several different models on before you find the one that feels right to you. And don't forget to have fun! That's the whole point of this, after all.

peakbagger
02-21-2012, 12:53
Not sure where you are realtive to the Smokies but the best way to figure out gear is to go hiking with a hiking group. I believe the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club may be an option or possibly meetup.com may have some hiking groups in that area.

Raul Perez
02-21-2012, 13:31
I did a whole video series on hiking gear starting from the feet up to the head and then packs, sleeping systems, etc. I also geared it to help newbies make better decisions and to achieve a lighter pack weight. Here's the series hope it helps you out:

http://watermonkey.net/hiking-101-complete-gear-video-series/

Raul
(Water Monkey)

Winds
02-21-2012, 13:43
I did a whole video series on hiking gear starting from the feet up to the head and then packs, sleeping systems, etc. I also geared it to help newbies make better decisions and to achieve a lighter pack weight. Here's the series hope it helps you out:

http://watermonkey.net/hiking-101-complete-gear-video-series/

Raul
(Water Monkey)


Awesome Paul. I will look forward to viewing those later today myself.

Cheers!

dbs1crew
02-21-2012, 15:30
Just a heads up you can get a nice Golite pack for pretty cheap from their website. Im about your size (6'3 260lbs) and the Golite Quest Large ($79.99) fits me well.

Emily Harper
02-21-2012, 15:34
Get on the trail, then come back and spend your money. I wish someone would have mentioned Ray way back packs to me before I went hiking.

Pudwoogie
02-23-2012, 07:55
I want to thank everyone for their input. It really is nice and refreshing to have so many people respond and be so friendly. One of the reasons I was drawn to this is the helpful nature of everyone Ive met on the trails.

Theosus
02-23-2012, 08:14
Get on the trail, then come back and spend your money. I wish someone would have mentioned Ray way back packs to me before I went hiking.

Agreed. There are probably some great hikes near you that you don't need a pack for, short out and backs. My wife has an old LL Bean school book bag that would hold a lunch, water and first aid kit for a day. The thing about being 6'3 and 300 pounds, if you start hiking you might not be 300 pounds for long.
I take my loaded pack on every "hike" now, even if it's 4 miles out and back on a local trail in town. It looks funny, sure, but I'm building endurance and carrying the extra weight even on short hikes hopefully is building muscles in my legs that I need later.
So far no one's mistaken me for an Occupy Wall Street bum...

moongoddess
02-23-2012, 10:28
The thing about being 6'3 and 300 pounds, if you start hiking you might not be 300 pounds for long.

That's a very good point. When the time comes that you're ready to start looking for a backpacking pack (as opposed to a small daypack), look for models that allow you to swap the hip belt out. That way you can replaces an overly-large belt with a smaller one if you lose a lot of weight over the course of your backpacking adventures.

Live_for_hiking
02-23-2012, 12:07
My recommendations:

1. Don't buy online. Go to a store and try things on. Buy online or via catalog only after you've tried an item.
2. Measure your back and load up a pack in the store.
3. Consider renting before buying. REI and EMS will rent backpacks, tents, sleeping pads, etc that you can find for purchase in their store.
4. Stores like REI and EMS offer lower cost, well-made, alternatives to the big name brands.
5. Day hiking to start will help build endurance and help you figure out your basic layering system.
6. I'd encourage a backpack with a suspension system. You are likely to pack more than you need at the beginning.
7. I'd encourage using a tent and not a tarp at the start.

I am a big guy myself and I strongly encourage you to listen to the advise about day hiking before loading up a backpack for overnights. I believe so much in that advise that as I start my hiking season this year .... I'm day hiking with no pack this Saturday and Sunday. No overnight.

Lastly, enjoy yourself and welcome to the life-style.

Spokes
02-23-2012, 12:18
You in Ten Mile, TN? Might want to consider taking a trip down to spend the day to see Winton Porter and the fine folks at Mountain Crossings in Neels Gap, GA. Pick their brains. Call first to make sure Winton will be there. Should be about a 2.5 hour trip.

If you want to thru hike this is really about all the gear you need (page 4 of the article. Ignore the popup). Add a trash compactor bag for a pack liner. Gloves and fleece hat are a given.

http://www.backpacker.com/november_08_pack_man_/articles/12659

GrassyNoel
02-23-2012, 19:20
I found this site slightly too late before I bought some heavier gear than was necessary. Last overnight hike I hauled 42 pounds, 22 miles in 2 days. It would have been more enjoyable with a lighter pack! For this weekend's overnight trip, my pack is 24 pounds, only minus water. I learned the hard way, which for someone as stubborn as me, is a lesson I will not forget. But without buying MORE gear, I was able to shave a lot of weight off the pack. What I, foolishly, didn't really take into consideration first was that A) every little ounce adds up, and once you start your first steep incline, this will become all too apparent! "It felt fine walking around my apartment..."

I will concur with others that you don't need much to start. I went on a dozen day hikes with a light pack before I bought proper backpacking gear. You learn what you need, what you don't, and what you might like to carry if a compromise is needed. Of course, the only snag I encountered is that some of the lighter gear is more expensive. My REI backpack and tent are heavier than a lot of what people carry here. It will still do me in good stead in the meantime, I'll strengthen my core and legs (looking at the positives!), and I'll wear them out and buy lighter next time. I can't imagine being able to thru-hike anytime soon, so this works for me well in the meantime. If I ever do thru-hike, I'll be a deft-footed hiker of steel by then. :)

Wolfie2nd
02-24-2012, 19:35
Here's how I was thought spend your money wisely... Now this is just my 2..... Do some short day hikes.. Find out if its something you want to devote a lot of time doing.. Now do you want to spend a few hundred $ and get gear that is heavy& bulky find out that you that you love it and want to go every chance you get an now want better stuff an now go out and spend triple on new & better gear... You can hook your self up with top notch gear for about 1000.. If you love doing day hikes save your money so you don't have to buy gear twice...
For example my pack set up for winter down to 5 F weights 26 lbs including food and water for 4 days..
Make wise well thought decisions for the start saves in the long run..

BlakeGrice
02-26-2012, 00:12
Go light with everything. Period. Pounds=Pain

Rif
02-26-2012, 11:31
Although very new to this myself I would agree with the "go hiking first" viewpoint. I am getting back into this after a 30 year hiatus and am also a bigger guy at 6' 6" and 245# Finding gear that fits is not always easy. LL Bean and Cabela's and to a small extent REI have things for taller or larger folks but it will not be the UL stuff.

I just started doing longer and longer day hikes. My initial gear was just decent boots and a small lumbar pack. After each trip I had a better idea of what was missing.....a decent hat, warm gloves, better wind shell, rain gear, etc..... I would make do with what I already owned but once out for a while saw the shortcomings and new what to look for next. I thought trekking poles were silly. A few falls and realizing how unstable my 55yo right ankle was got me to realize they had their place.

The gear lists are great and provide a good base but it is still each persons preference based on how they operate. One needs to get out a bit, try different ways to operate then develop their own patterns for how they will travel, cook and sleep. At first it all sounded great, after a few months I realized some people's methods just would not fit me and others seemed ideal for how I am.

Be realistic with your time and budget. I wanted the lightest gear and the most versatile but realized the walking was more fun for me than the camping. My schedule allows for plenty of day hikes and evening walks but very little time for over nights. My gear focus now goes into what makes the walking part fun, cool, warm or dry as needed. Small versatile packs and shoes and clothing for the day's trek. Not much point in a huge investment for the overnight gear. By being realistic I put my funds where they gave me the most rewards even though I was tempted by the fancy shelters and cookware.

A multi week adventure and even a thru hike are in my dreams for sure but for the next year or two I am focusing on what will actually be accomplished.

Tony

xcess
02-26-2012, 15:27
You in Ten Mile, TN? Might want to consider taking a trip down to spend the day to see Winton Porter and the fine folks at Mountain Crossings in Neels Gap, GA. Pick their brains. Call first to make sure Winton will be there. Should be about a 2.5 hour trip.

If you want to thru hike this is really about all the gear you need (page 4 of the article. Ignore the popup). Add a trash compactor bag for a pack liner. Gloves and fleece hat are a given.

http://www.backpacker.com/november_08_pack_man_/articles/12659
Spokes thanks so much for posting this link,it provided me with quite of bit of info.The article dealing with Mts Crossings was especially useful and I suggest that everyone new to taking on the AT should read this article.

Derek81pci
02-26-2012, 17:22
I disagree with the "don't buy online" comment. You get the absolute best deals online I've found. I do agree that you should go to a store first, such as REI or Gander Mountain, Dicks Sporting Goods, etc, and try things on; get a feel for what things actually are and do. Making your own items is another way to save a TON of money. With that comes testing though, test it again and again. Bought items have had research and trials behind them. Don't get on the trail and start having your "cottage" gear shred to pieces, like some frugal folks have in the past. Get out there, try things, evaluate, and shop smart. I bought the majority of my gear (mostly all brand name - not that that means anytghing) from online resources like Campmor.com n(amazing site for "hot deals"), REI, and a host of other sites. Best of luck to you and see you on the trail!

MaybeTomorrow
02-27-2012, 15:26
I wonder what else these stores do not allow inside. Strollers? Baby front packs? wheel chairs, walkers, canes? Black people? Its a slippery slope.

Zigzag
02-27-2012, 23:05
I've been backpacking since the 60's. Still have some of my old gear. Amazing how light things are getting. Many mainstream gearmakers are starting to make some really good stuff. That said, lightweight gear will not be as durable. Aim for a pack weight (with food & water) of 25-30 lbs. Trying to go ultralight can get very expensive very fast. I got a lot of good info from Ryan Jordan's book, lightweight backpacking & camping. Do your homework, visit as many stores as possible & don't take anything as gospel. Buy a good postal scale & weigh everything. My local EMS has gotten used to me bringing it with me when I shop. I have found that most manufacturers are inaccurate with their weights. Buying on-line works well for me because anyone I deal with has a good return policy. Finally, buy between seasons when new gear is coming in & last year's models go on sale.

dave_phillips
02-28-2012, 21:41
I also second not buying online - you really need to try out a lot of your gear in the store. Certain smaller "mom and pop" stores also let you bring something home to test out for a night (nothing that will get dirty, but things like stoves, etc.). You can't get that service from online.

The main thing I would spend money on if you are going for multiday hikes (eventually) are shoes, a backpack (probably at least a 3000 cubic inch size or above), and water microfilters (http://www.watermicrofilters.com) or purifiers. My personal favorite hiking boot is a Limmer boot from 15 years ago, but you could probably shop around for some good deals now before the season starts.

Wolfie2nd
02-29-2012, 07:47
Well you can at least try on your pack in the store make sure you get a good fit then buy on line.. As far as water filtration goes scratch the bulky filter and go with aquamira 2oz compared to 12+ oz also forget white gas stoves and butane, white gas is bulky and heavy and butane hates the cold... I would go with something like a caldera cone by trail design.. With the option to burn alcohol wood or esbit tabs all in a complete kit including a bowel weighing no more than 6oz.. For a tent I would recommend something from tarptent light and very packable.. Now this is just my opinion..

BlakeGrice
02-29-2012, 16:36
buy everything as light as you can or you will hate yourself later. Don't think that just because you CAN hike with 60 pounds, you should. Spend money on a good lightweight sleeping bag, pack, tarp/tent, and sleeping pad.