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Topic: Backpacking 101, Basic info on getting your gear together< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 29 2010, 12:44 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Welcome to the gear forum, where you can find all kinds of hands-on, hands-off, first, second, third, twentieth opinions on any piece of backpacking gear you can come up with. You are no doubt contemplating your first post. You might be about to ask what kind of [insert gear item here] you need for your backpacking adventures. To help you jump past some of the initial questions you will be asked... consider the following before you post and please include any information you think will help others help you.

Where do you want to be backpacking?
A big variable, this will have a huge impact on gear choices. Location, terrain, any and all details on what you need; on trail, off trail, up mountains, through deserts, in jungles —what are you using the gear for?

When you will go?
Combined with where you go, this can alter the range of suggestions of appropriate gear, particularly shelters and sleeping bags. Winter gear is radically different than 3 season gear in some regions, in others not quite so much.

Your budget
How much you want to spend? and how much you are willing to spend in order to get what you need (usually as little as possible, but remember sometimes the safest and most appropriate item is not always the cheapest)!

What weight of [item] do you anticipate needing?
What total backpack weight are you shooting for? It seems the longer one backpacks and actively seeks to refine the gear list, the more weight matters. Part of being comfortable on the trail can be not carrying more than necessary. Might be worth considering this up front; the answer to this question will probably change though... and if you don't have any idea, don't worry about it yet.

Other steps you can take that a forum or online article can't help you do:
  • go to a local outdoor sports outfitter that offers pack fittings - have them take your hip/back measurements and write them down. Many brands have different size ranges and it's important for a pack to fit correctly. While you are having measurements taken ask to be shown how to adjust a pack properly.
  • don't be too brand-fixated, too worried about color, or other superficial features. For shelters, filters, sleeping bags and anything to do with your survival, function should be top priority. Including what's on your feet, your primary mode of travel.
  • if you are having some sort of physical issue, feel free to seek out others on the forum who have similar issues to commiserate -- but remember that a real diagnosis and treatment should be obtained in person, from a professional with the appropriate licensing/certifications.

    For general gear lists, and much more information to guide you through assembling your personal gear list, check the Gear forum or post a question. You will get help.

    PS: I did NOT write this, I just fixed it up and posted it to help; the content was generated by an interested participant.


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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 29 2010, 1:08 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

    For backpacking newbies, gear acquisition is often the first thing that comes to mind.  A backpack.  A sleeping bag.

    My advice to newbies is to first read up on backpacking before spending money on any one gear piece.  Sure, it's important to evaluate each piece, but it is also important to evaluate how well all the pieces will work together as a system!  So read up and go through a couple of rounds of gear selection -- before actually buying anything.  Some good backpacking books to read:

    o  The Backpacker's Handbook - Townsend - Third Edition.

    o  The Complete Walker IV - Colin Fletcher & Chip Rawlins

    o  The Ultralight Backpacker - Kestenbaum


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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 29 2010, 1:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

    Sizing and fit issues are far more important for more than just packs too, only hinted at here. Certainly more than what weight someone thinks they may want. It's what they will end up with due to sizing considerations often, which then translates more to budgets and prices.

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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2010, 1:18 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

    Personally, I think that color IS important. I buy my gear with colors specifically designed to stand out in snow, on the forest floor, and as a backup emergency signaling device.

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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2010, 1:29 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


    (Tigger @ Jul. 30 2010, 1:18 am)
    QUOTE
    Personally, I think that color IS important. I buy my gear with colors specifically designed to stand out in snow, on the forest floor, and as a backup emergency signaling device.

    Diva.

    :p
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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2010, 2:01 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


    (SmokeyBear @ Jul. 29 2010, 10:29 pm)
    QUOTE

    (Tigger @ Jul. 30 2010, 1:18 am)
    QUOTE
    Personally, I think that color IS important. I buy my gear with colors specifically designed to stand out in snow, on the forest floor, and as a backup emergency signaling device.

    Diva.

    :p

    More like a clumsy diva who drops things...Luckily, my down jacket is at least reversible so it's not always that obnoxious gold color. I think I'll paint my knifes obnoxious red...hmmm. Oh, I should take a picture of my new Bright Red/black/white knee length shorts I bought for summer hiking. They're really annoying. I look like a misplaced basketball player when hiking now.


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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2010, 9:47 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


    (Tigger @ Jul. 29 2010, 10:18 pm)
    QUOTE
    Personally, I think that color IS important. I buy my gear with colors specifically designed to stand out in snow, on the forest floor, and as a backup emergency signaling device.

    I color coordinate my gear, too. Easier to find in a pack.
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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2010, 10:11 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

    I can't color coordinate since I outgrew my Granimals

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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2010, 10:22 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

    Buy the nicer gear the first time so you don't have to replace the cheap gear in two months!

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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2010, 11:35 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


    (SheepDog @ Jul. 30 2010, 7:22 am)
    QUOTE
    Buy the nicer gear the first time so you don't have to replace the cheap gear in two months!

    About the best advice you will get is that. Buy the best you can afford. Don't talk yourself down to a cheaper and lesser quality item.

    There is little as sucky as an item failing. Cheap stuff loves to do that - and right when you need it to work.


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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2010, 1:05 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

    "Then came the gadgeteer, otherwise known as the sporting-goods dealer. He has draped the American outdoors man with an infinity of contraptions, all offered as aids to self-reliance, hardihood, woodcraft, or marksmanship, but too often functioning as substitutes for them. Gadgets fill the pockets, they dangle from neck and belt. The overflow fills the auto-trunk, and also the trailer. Each item of outdoor equipment grows lighter and often better, but the aggregate poundage becomes tonnage."
    ~Aldo Leopold~


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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2010, 1:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


    (sarbar @ Jul. 30 2010, 7:35 am)
    QUOTE

    (SheepDog @ Jul. 30 2010, 7:22 am)
    QUOTE
    Buy the nicer gear the first time so you don't have to replace the cheap gear in two months!

    About the best advice you will get is that. Buy the best you can afford. Don't talk yourself down to a cheaper and lesser quality item.

    There is little as sucky as an item failing. Cheap stuff loves to do that - and right when you need it to work.

    Well, the top end is pretty top end (pure Spectra packs, etc..).  Maybe an 80% solution is more appropriate, until one becomes a gearoholic that is.

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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2010, 1:38 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

    For the two weekend per year backpacker that "replace in two months" works out to fifteen years, a one week a year summer outing and you get 8.....

    One look at park backcountry visitor specs shows an interesting pattern on that.
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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2010, 8:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


    (sarbar @ Jul. 30 2010, 10:35 am)
    QUOTE

    (SheepDog @ Jul. 30 2010, 7:22 am)
    QUOTE
    Buy the nicer gear the first time so you don't have to replace the cheap gear in two months!

    About the best advice you will get is that. Buy the best you can afford. Don't talk yourself down to a cheaper and lesser quality item.

    There is little as sucky as an item failing. Cheap stuff loves to do that - and right when you need it to work.

    I hear what your saying. I am replacing my gear, but I am also finding that there will always be something "better"...

    Just saying. :)


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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2010, 8:51 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


    (STICK @ Jul. 30 2010, 8:16 pm)
    QUOTE
    QUOTE
    Cheap stuff loves to do that - and right when you need it to work.

    I hear what your saying. I am replacing my gear, but I am also finding that there will always be something "better"...

    Not so fast young Jedi.....  Montbell SS UL with an Exped Downmat, can't beat it!  IMHO of course   :D


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    QUOTE
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    LTC (RET) Dave Grossman, author of "On Killing"
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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 30 2010, 10:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

    I really liked my Helium and my synmat. Now I am liking my Helium and my NeoAir. Now I am thinking the NeoAir and a Nunatak Expedition quilt. But then I'll need something warmer than the NeoAir, so I may just have to go with the DownMat, or maybe one of those nice Kooka Bay down mats. But then there is that sweet looking quilt Ray just posted about earlier today for summer. Would go well with my NeoAir....

    Where does it stop?!

    :O


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    (STICK @ Jul. 30 2010, 10:09 pm)
    QUOTE
    I really liked my Helium and my synmat. Now I am liking my Helium and my NeoAir. Now I am thinking the NeoAir and a Nunatak Expedition quilt. But then I'll need something warmer than the NeoAir, so I may just have to go with the DownMat, or maybe one of those nice Kooka Bay down mats. But then there is that sweet looking quilt Ray just posted about earlier today for summer. Would go well with my NeoAir....

    Where does it stop?!

    :O

    It stops when you just break down and buy what you really wanted in the first place, hence my original post!   :D

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    QUOTE
    "Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident.  Then there are the wolves and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy.  Then there are sheepdogs!"
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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 31 2010, 7:12 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


    (SheepDog @ Jul. 31 2010, 4:46 am)
    QUOTE

    (STICK @ Jul. 30 2010, 10:09 pm)
    QUOTE
    I really liked my Helium and my synmat. Now I am liking my Helium and my NeoAir. Now I am thinking the NeoAir and a Nunatak Expedition quilt. But then I'll need something warmer than the NeoAir, so I may just have to go with the DownMat, or maybe one of those nice Kooka Bay down mats. But then there is that sweet looking quilt Ray just posted about earlier today for summer. Would go well with my NeoAir....

    Where does it stop?!

    :O

    It stops when you just break down and buy what you really wanted in the first place, hence my original post!   :D

    No it doesnt. Next year they come out with something that is so "new and improved" that it is really what you wanted in the first place, but it wasnt around when you bought.  It is an addiction that never, ever stops. Then you wind up with a bedroom in your house that has more sleeping bags, packs and tents than most of  your local independent gear shops carry.

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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 31 2010, 10:53 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


    (MississippiRob @ Jul. 31 2010, 6:12 am)
    QUOTE

    (SheepDog @ Jul. 31 2010, 4:46 am)
    QUOTE

    (STICK @ Jul. 30 2010, 10:09 pm)
    QUOTE
    I really liked my Helium and my synmat. Now I am liking my Helium and my NeoAir. Now I am thinking the NeoAir and a Nunatak Expedition quilt. But then I'll need something warmer than the NeoAir, so I may just have to go with the DownMat, or maybe one of those nice Kooka Bay down mats. But then there is that sweet looking quilt Ray just posted about earlier today for summer. Would go well with my NeoAir....

    Where does it stop?!

    :O

    It stops when you just break down and buy what you really wanted in the first place, hence my original post!   :D

    No it doesnt. Next year they come out with something that is so "new and improved" that it is really what you wanted in the first place, but it wasnt around when you bought.  It is an addiction that never, ever stops. Then you wind up with a bedroom in your house that has more sleeping bags, packs and tents than most of  your local independent gear shops carry.

    Yep, not to mention that it is good to have a summer set up, a 3 season set up and a winter set up.... Maybe not necessary, but is nice....

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    PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 31 2010, 1:05 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


    (StephanCal @ Jul. 30 2010, 6:47 am)
    QUOTE

    (Tigger @ Jul. 29 2010, 10:18 pm)
    QUOTE
    Personally, I think that color IS important. I buy my gear with colors specifically designed to stand out in snow, on the forest floor, and as a backup emergency signaling device.

    I color coordinate my gear, too. Easier to find in a pack.

    I use a strip of yellow or red duct tape on stuff sacks and some items I want to stand out (trowel).  They are easier to spot and I can make notes on the duct tape (this is a trowel :)).  Notes help me know what things are in which bag, because no mater how many times I pack each trip is a little different.
     
    I'm thinking about switching to reflective tape, especially on those items I might need to find quickly at night (bear spray).  Probably should put a small piece on each side of my map pouch.  During a rare night hike I dropped a map and never did find it.
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    (MississippiRob @ Jul. 31 2010, 7:12 am)
    QUOTE
    you bought.  It is an addiction that never, ever stops. Then you wind up with a bedroom in your house that has more sleeping bags, packs and tents than most of  your local independent gear shops carry.

    Hey, when were you in my bedroom?

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    (hikerjer @ Aug. 15 2010, 3:04 pm)
    QUOTE

    (MississippiRob @ Jul. 31 2010, 7:12 am)
    QUOTE
    you bought.  It is an addiction that never, ever stops. Then you wind up with a bedroom in your house that has more sleeping bags, packs and tents than most of  your local independent gear shops carry.

    Hey, when were you in my bedroom?

    hey...you guys could always post and sell that"extra" gear you have laying around, on here....

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    PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 05 2010, 8:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

    I think color is important too, but I usually do the opposite of Tigger - if given a choice I will buy clothes and gear items that are earth-colored and don't stand out.  One of the things that stuck with me after taking a LNT master educator course - try to blend in and preserve a feeling of solitude.  

    I do, however, always carry a bright red bandanna, as part of my first-aid kit, in case I do want to stand out or signal for help in an emergency situation.


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    (hikerjer @ Aug. 15 2010, 2:04 pm)
    QUOTE

    (MississippiRob @ Jul. 31 2010, 7:12 am)
    QUOTE
    you bought.  It is an addiction that never, ever stops. Then you wind up with a bedroom in your house that has more sleeping bags, packs and tents than most of  your local independent gear shops carry.

    Hey, when were you in my bedroom?

    :D
    Never, I am talking about my "office" bedroom in my house. 13 sleeping bags for my wife and I and 2 kids who go about once per year. 9 backpacks. 5 tents. It dont stop.

    I have been trying to talk myself into selling some of the extra Gottagamble, but part of the addiction is hoarding. :p


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    PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 12 2010, 1:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

    For colors, I tend to buy whatever color is still available on SteepAndCheap. :p  I got several questions this year about why I went with "all black" rain shells on my last trip to Alaska.  I didn't buy 'em for the color... the pants were 40% off at Neptune Mountaineering, and the jacket was 65% off on SAC, they just happened to both be black.  I'd have done the same with bright red or yellow, honestly.

    Rain shells are--by necessity--a "disposable" item in heavy bushwhacking, so if I don't like the color I'll be replacing it in a year or two anyway.  So c'est la vie, who cares. :p  My current jacket will last at least another year.  The pants are shot (patched like a Raggedy-Anne doll) and need replacing as soon as possible.


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    PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 13 2010, 1:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

    Things you DON'T need to worry about....

    With so much info. to digest, here are a few things you don't need to worry about:

    1.  Should I fold a tent, roll it up, or simply stuff it into its stuff sack when not in use?

    Any of the above is fine -- it doesn't matter.  What matters are that you make sure to:

    a.  clean and thoroughly dry your tent before storing
    b.  store in a place away from heat, sunlight, and moisture.


    2.  Should I get a tent with pole sleeves or pole clips?

    You may hear theoretical pros and cons about either method -- but it makes little practical difference in the real world.


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    PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 13 2010, 1:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

    LOL--I'm like GoBlue--I'll take a bargain even if the color isn't ideal.  Thus the funny shade of green for my rain jacket and at least one fleece.  I'm happy to say that I managed to find a moderately good deal on a new Precip with a decent selection of colors (I found out in a very wet t-storm in Glacier this summer that my rain jacket ain't so waterproof anymore).

    As for the issue of "just buy what you know you want," I've done that.  Many times.  As MRob points out, they keep coming out with new and better stuff, and I have to want all over again.  So I'm not completely sure about telling a newbie to buy the best.  Especially if funds are tight (I bought all my first set-up while a graduate student on an incredibly limited income), maybe just go ahead and go cheap, hunt the thrift shops for "good enough" and expect to upgrade as money comes available.


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    PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 14 2010, 11:17 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


    (RebeccaD @ Sep. 13 2010, 12:56 pm)
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    As MRob points out, they keep coming out with new and better stuff, and I have to want all over again.  

    Ain't that the truth...there is still so much I "need." :)

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    PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 26 2010, 11:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

    Wow.  After the first three posts, I doubt that this really is a bp'ing 101 thread.  Maybe it would be best unstick it?  There is far better material on bp.com main site.  

    - David


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    PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 29 2010, 11:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

    Best advice I have is to keep it simple and prepare for the worst. Fancy gadgets are more expensive and less effective than their primitive counterparts 99% of the time. Instead of the $80 super wind resistant, jet engine lighter, get a swedish firesteel. Learn how to use a map and compass in case your fancy GPS fails. Buy a knife that can take a beating. Remember, humans have been living on this planet for thousands of years without all the high tech stuff we have today. Learn a little bit, and you'll be able to survive too (and carry around less necessary crap)
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