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Thread: New to Hiking

  1. #1
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    Default New to Hiking

    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!

  2. #2
    BYGE "Biggie" TOMP's Avatar
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    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/show...self&highlight=

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    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!
    Last edited by Winds; 02-21-2012 at 04:19.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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

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    Strike that.

    That should be www.hikinghq.net

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    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.
    "You have brains in your head/You have feet in your shoes/You can steer yourself in any direction you choose." - Dr. Seuss

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    Registered User KnotHere's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Winds View Post
    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.
    -I'm not a hiker, but I will walk for days for the right campsite!

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    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.

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    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.

  12. #12

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    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.

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    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-co...-video-series/

    Raul
    (Water Monkey)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raul Perez View Post
    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-co...-video-series/

    Raul
    (Water Monkey)

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

    Cheers!

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Emily Harper View Post
    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...
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    Registered User moongoddess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Theosus View Post
    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.

  20. #20
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    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.

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