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Re: Buying backpacking equipment. Any tips?

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Buying backpacking equipment. Any tips?
October 16, 2014 06:12PM
I am looking to buy a backpack, stove, sleeping bag, etc. Websites to research?
I tried a search here, but not much luck so far.

Looking 70 liters or more for the backpack. As a dad, I have a feeling that I will be carrying more than my share, so probably will need a pack that is big.
I am 6 foot(19 inch torso), the pack size is on the upper range of medium / lower range of large, depending. I went to REI and tried on a couple.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/22/2014 08:01AM by snorkus.
avatar Re: Buying backpacking equipment. Any tips?
October 16, 2014 06:33PM
Let's break this apart...

Sleeping Bag: Where, and when, do you plan to backpack? I have a 40 degree, 20 degree, and 0 degree bag. The 0 degree is only useful in the Sierra in winter. 20...typical for 3-season Sierra use, though I was happy with my 40 last weekend in Little Yosemite. 40...very useful in areas closer to the coast. So let's assume you're buying one bag to start, you'll want something in which you can survive during the worst of what you could encounter while being happy in the normal case.

Some of the other items will depend on the "where and when" question, for example tent, stove, water filter/purifier/whatever, etc.
Re: Buying backpacking equipment. Any tips?
October 16, 2014 07:15PM
Lots of venues, sales, end-of-the-year, on-line places to buy gear...lots of options/ lots of opinions -
If you can honestly say you are in this for the long term, not just a passing fancy...(You're sure?)*

After you have searched, done your due-diligence homework... (workmanship - size - weight - fit - cost - reviews)...narrowed things down to but a few "wise" choices,

Always buy the better...never skimp/settle on the major pieces.
(It will save you having to buy things a second time).

*...if not sure, rent or borrow first.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/16/2014 07:16PM by markskor.
Re: Buying backpacking equipment. Any tips?
October 17, 2014 09:38AM
Quote

If you can honestly say you are in this for the long term, not just a passing fancy...(You're sure?)*

My present backpack is a Kelty external frame backpack that is about 25 years old (gulp) from my late 20's early 30's. I am more getting back into it and need to seriously update all of my equipment. As I get closer to retirement (55) next year, I know that I want to do more outdoors stuff.

I plan to 3-season backpack in the Sierra, mostly summer for now, but will get into fall and Spring.
Re: Buying backpacking equipment. Any tips?
October 17, 2014 12:18PM
"I know that I want to do more outdoors stuff. I plan to 3-season backpack in the Sierra..."


The thing is, good backpacking equipment can get expensive, but lasts...Cheap stuff works too, for a while... but doesn't last.
Great gear (read light, well-made, works well) and you are confident - styling!...
Cheap gear...well, not so much.
If long term use anticipated - always buy the best that you can afford, first time around.
A good rule to follow is keep your Big 5 items - Tent, pack, bag, pad, stove - as close to 10 pounds (or less) for summer High Sierra, and the rest will take care of itself.

If I was buying everything new, going Sierra high, 3-season, and had the available cash to spend on anything I wanted today...
Figure ~$2,000 - and that's "on sale"/ careful shopping, (or more), especially if you buy cheap first, realize why that was a bad decision, then rebuy the good stuff again later on...
(FYI, this is how we all did it.)
Western Mountaineering sleeping bag - I carry the Badger.
Tarptent - Rainbow?
Pad - Prolite+ short -
Backpack - McHale or? (I carry an older Gregory Deva...size 60)...bottom line whatever backpack selected: contains all gear needed, fits you best, holds the weight comfortably all day, and hopefully, is the lightest..
MSR Windpro or other remote canister stove...I actually cook.
YMMV.

Bearikade Weekender...
Water treatment ?
fishing gear?
Waterproof rain shell?
fleece?
Down vest? (again WM.)
Boots/trail runners?
Headlamp?
Tilley?
Sun glasses?
...adds up quick.

Always think fit first, weight a close second, good quality/durability third,, and then cost last.



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 10/18/2014 12:47PM by markskor.
avatar Re: Buying backpacking equipment. Any tips?
October 21, 2014 07:48PM
Quote
snorkus
I plan to 3-season backpack in the Sierra, mostly summer for now, but will get into fall and Spring.

On the sleeping bag (and yes, if you buy the gear in stages I'd put having your own sleeping bag towards the front, but behind a good pair of boots) I'd look for a 20 degree (roughly...20...25...ish) bag, if you're spending money and not allergic to down I'd go there. It can freeze in the high country even in the summer so you should expect that, but it won't drop far below freezing and you won't want to swelter on warmer nights.

You've probably seen lots of threads here regarding water filtration/purification/etc...I don't truly think there's a single question to that answer as it depends on likely conditions. In the Sierra I'm mostly happy with my SteriPen Opti (the "opti" part is important), but filters are preferable if you think you may also encounter more stagnant conditions (and they're critical for glacial waters, or in areas with unique water-critters like the tapeworms on Lake Superior's Isle Royale).
Re: Buying backpacking equipment. Any tips?
October 20, 2014 09:18AM
If you're doing camp centered hiking and will be spending a couple years lugging other people's stuff, then brand and such really don't matter. I'd focus on cost and buy used.

Craigslist is a wonderful place to find used equipment. For example, I've got a little used, large internal frame pack - about 7 pounds - I used 15 or 20 times for short trips in winter for sale - new about $300. I'm asking $70 for it. I, like many craigslist sellers, don't want the hassle of mailing something, so look local. You can put in an ad asking for used backpacking equipment. Don't give out your phone number - use the email method of contact.

You can even buy someone else's good sleeping bag for a reasonable price and know you'll spend $50-75 to have it cleaned. Before my last interstate move I got rid of six packpacks, two tents, a bunch of sleeping pads, and other miscellaneous gear. Thrift stores are good for shirts - an oversized polyesther shirt works great for a trip or two, or more. You can sometimes find other items at thrift stores at a fraction of the cost of new.

If you don't know what kind of socks you like to use, start with Walmart or Costco synthetic socks. Socks need to be fairly tight, not bulky. Blisters are caused by the combination of heat, friction and moisture. If your socks are thin and tight, you are much less likely to get blisters. They're much more quick drying as well. Socks are NOT used to cushion the foot. That's old school - when boots ran 5 pounds and it took soaking them in a pail of water for a couple days and then you'd wear them around as they dried. Now insoles and fabric boots and running shoes are so advanced most foot problems can be anticipated and avoided.

If you're doing camp centered hiking, you'll likely wear fabric ankle high boots. If you're doing trail centered hiking, you'll use running shoes. Typical advice says if you carry less than 30 pounds running shoes are fine. If you're going to be a mule and carry 60 or 70 pounds you'll need to find what's comfortable for you.

You don't need a high quality tent - you're exploring what your needs are, how often you'll hike, and so forth. If you are going to share it with a couple people, look for one that's inexpensive. Camp in spots that are protected rather than exposed ridgelines more subject to wind, sleet, hail, rain and snow. The addage is, "Hike high and camp low." Your camp gear can be lighter if you follow this strategy, especially if you trust your gear more than y our experience.

If you have the money for new, tell yourself that you'll treat yourself in a year or two to better equipment once you find out what kind of hiking you REALLY want to do. It would be silly to spend two grand on bulky equipment for camp centered hiking only to find you really want to do trail centered hiking and hike the Pacific Crest Trail. You'd just have to do it again and begin a gear museum.

Think how much weight you want to carry. Ultralight trail centered hikers typically have a base weight of less than 10 pounds. Lightweight hikers have base weights of 15 pounds or less. Camp centered hikers can have base weights of 35 or 40 pounds, or more! (Base weight is your pack's weight less food and water)

This is all opinion and I'm not making any claim to "T"ruth. you need to figure out what kind of hiking you're going to do, and buying used until you know is one strategy.

Jeff
Arcata, CA
avatar Re: Buying backpacking equipment. Any tips?
October 21, 2014 05:38PM
Gear. Yikes. There is a just a ridiculous amount of choices out there.
And you don't have to spend an arm and a leg to get quality gear.
Don't necessarily buy into the logo. You can get lots of great gear for relatively cheap.

REI has a lot of quality stuff...

For me.. I have a number of Eureka tents.. they are high quality and inexpensive...
and relatively light weight .. I've used them all a ridiculous amount of times... and
they all are still in perfect working condition.

backcountry.com
rei.com
eurekatents.com

from backcountry or rei you can look at all the different brands...
it's just mind numbing...
and then there's the "cottage" gear
Z-packs
Mountain Laurel

etc
etc

For 3-season a simple canister stove is what I recommend.
It's the most versatile.

What is your budget?
Sleeping bag of decent quality will last decades.
Campmor used to sell their own brand...

o... look there too
campmor.com

Had campmor bags for 10 yrs... 20 degree ... about 100 bucks... gave them away
eventually... when bought Western Mountaineering ... on account I go a few
times a year... but there is just ridiculous amount of excellent choices out there.

There should be lots of ideas from people here.. but then again... there also should be
lots of TRs... so go figure.

If you want to know what I use currently I can tell you that. Hit 100 days on last trip.

Life is rough baby ... half a dome fun
Chick-on is looking at you!



Chick-on is looking at you!
Re: Buying backpacking equipment. Any tips?
October 22, 2014 09:39PM
Quote
chick-on

There should be lots of ideas from people here.. but then again... there also should be
lots of TRs... so go figure.

Just sos yous knows I'm not slacking, I emailed him a list. Because I was actually slacking and didn't want to reformat for this medium.... spinning smiley sticking its tongue out
avatar Re: Buying backpacking equipment. Any tips?
October 21, 2014 05:40PM
Buy the pack last. If you buy a pack that has too much space, you'll find things (i.e. unneeded weight) to fill that space. If you buy a pack that's too small, you'll be out of luck. Figure out the rest of your gear and how much space you need, then try on packs with the same amount of weight packed in them, walk around the store for a while, find out what works best.
avatar Re: Buying backpacking equipment. Any tips?
November 02, 2014 06:49AM
Quote
calipidder
Buy the pack last. If you buy a pack that has too much space, you'll find things (i.e. unneeded weight) to fill that space. If you buy a pack that's too small, you'll be out of luck. Figure out the rest of your gear and how much space you need, then try on packs with the same amount of weight packed in them, walk around the store for a while, find out what works best.

I like this piece of advice. Also, when you get to this point you might give consideration to how much the pack weighs empty. Some packs are notoriously heavier than necessary. Gregory is a good example. They are an extremely comfortable fit but you pay for it in weight.
Re: Buying backpacking equipment. Any tips?
October 24, 2014 08:44PM
This sort of goes along with all the other advice, but if you know you really want to start backpacking, get a lightweight down bag. It'll be expensive, but it'll save you a later purchase. Plus, you can use it for car camping too. Watch for sales though. You can find a Marmot Helium, for example, on sale online sometimes for substantially less than the standard retail price. Weighs 2 lbs, will serve you in summer and shoulder seasons, and is an awesome bag all around. Lots of other great choices too. Get a cheapo bag and you could find yourself carrying a heavy, cold sack.
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