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#191195 - 06/30/15 07:52 AM Just getting started
Dechion Offline
newbie

Registered: 06/29/15
Posts: 7
Loc: SE Wisconsin
Well, as this is my first post I figure I should at least say hello.

*waves and offers coffee*

For many years I have pretty much spent all my free time doing things with or for my kids. Well, they are all grown now, and I'm looking at getting back to some of the things I enjoyed as a kid. Obviously backpacking is one of those things, or I wouldn't be here. smile

I have been looking at putting together a set of gear while I also work on getting myself into shape to do some backpacking. One thing I have noticed as I have been doing this is that the rule of thumb for gear seem to be:

"Lightweight, good quality, inexpensive.... pick two"

That gives me a challenge. What if I find that its not for me? The last time I went was over 30 years ago as a teenager with some friends. I really don't want to invest a pile of money before I know I'll stick with it, and yet inexpensive gear seems to be either horrible quality or weigh a ton.

For instance when I dug around for what I already had available one thing I found was a little 7X7 dome tent I already had with my car camping stuff (looks new, probably used a time or two when the kids brought friends along). That would definitely work, but even without the bag or pegs its weighing in at about 5lb.

that seems to be nearly double what I'm seeing others say they are carrying. Heck at this rate I'll end up with a 30lb pack just for a weekend trip.

Anyhow, I just figured I'd say Hi as I'll be hanging out here while I work towards getting back out there. I know that what gear I bring with is less important than the fun I will (hopefully) have.


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#191199 - 06/30/15 11:45 AM Re: Just getting started [Re: Dechion]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2941
Loc: Portland, OR
Heck at this rate I'll end up with a 30lb pack just for a weekend trip.

That's ok. It is often a good idea to start out with whatever bits and pieces you can scrounge up for your first few trips, augmented by a few purchases of new gear. Very few. The real trick to going lightweight in the beginning is what you leave out of your pack. Novices are subject to a thousand doubts, fears and temptations which all turn into unnecessary stuff to lug along.

After you get some experience under your belt you'll make MUCH more discerning investments in gear than you could at the moment. So, don't fret too much over the gear at first, and choose some short, easy overnights to ease into it.

The real advantage to having the lightest pack possible is that it extends your range by conserving your energy. You can still backpack with a 30 lb pack. I do it often. But my 30 lbs take me for a week, not a weekend. Because you'll be starting with weekends, not weeks, you won't need the absolute lightest pack right away. Carry your 30 lbs, don't overextend yourself by choosing a destination 15 miles up a steep trail and have fun learning the ropes. It's all about getting out there and any way that accomplishes that goal is a good first step. smile


Edited by aimless (06/30/15 12:48 PM)

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#191201 - 06/30/15 12:51 PM Re: Just getting started [Re: Dechion]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
That "pick any two" conundrum is certainly valid.

What you might do is consider just what's meant by "good quality", and look for creative ways to keep costs down. One big way is to find options to try out gear choices before you buy, whether renting or borrowing.

There's a term/philosophy in backpacking called "dirtbagging", maybe not a great marketing choice, but it just means getting creative to get much or even most of the quality + light weight virtues for a lot less money.

This article is somewhat out of date now, but outlines the ideas very well, and certainly some of the specific ideas will still be valid:
http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthre...6678#post206678

Paul Mags writes up a pretty good "getting started" set of articles that IMO does a good idea of steering new backpackers away from some of the traps that we tend to fall into:
http://www.pmags.com/backpacking-a-beginners-primer
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#191212 - 07/01/15 07:37 AM Re: Just getting started [Re: Dechion]
Dechion Offline
newbie

Registered: 06/29/15
Posts: 7
Loc: SE Wisconsin
Ya know, the more research I do the more I realize just how close I am to a full set of gear. Too bad I won't have much if any opportunity to actually get out for an overnight until next spring.

It seems that minus a decent sleeping bag, which my lovely wife already told me I might be seeing for my birthday next month, pretty much everything else I actually need I either already have or I can make for myself.

Side note, I love tinkering with things, making things, repurposing things, etc. It drives my wife nuts sometimes, but I find it fun. As a for instance, the soda can stove I made recently she saw as playing with the garbage, I saw it as fun! and useful fun even! (ended up making two, to test two slightly different designs out out)

~Brad

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#191213 - 07/01/15 08:07 AM Re: Just getting started [Re: BrianLe]
bluefish Offline
member

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 678
A lot of gear is aimed at propelling you and your light pack to dizzying heights and astounding distances. Not necessary just to have fun. My wife and I have a great time but would never bother with a trip report on most sites, as they would be laughably tame and decidedly under-achieving. To start, 30 lbs, is not that bad, if you choose a trip that has an elevation gain and distance that makes that weight tolerable for your physical condition. Take whatever advice you can to make your pack lighter, but don't sweat the minute details and ounces. Get out there, and expand from there. It's a great feeling to be tens of miles from the nearest road, or many thousands of feet above the trailhead, but, you can have a wonderful time a couple of miles into a quiet wood. It's also better to test gear and skills where it's easy to bail if you have to. Only time out there will tell you what you level of gear is needed for your sense of comfort and safety and what you want to accomplish and see . Take the initial advice offered and put together what you can, but the real deal is getting out there. Keeping your initial hikes on the easy side, may help you in the long run (or walk).
_________________________
Charlie

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#191215 - 07/01/15 10:09 AM Re: Just getting started [Re: Dechion]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6490
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Welcome to the forum! (Waves back, and thanks for the coffee!) laugh

Here's an updated version of the inexpensive gear list that BrianLe links to: PMags $300 Gear Challenge. It dates from early this year. Note that with careful "dirt bagging" and checking the thrift stores, you may be able to spend a lot less.

There are also useful articles and gear lists on the home page of this site, left hand column. Also look at Phat's sticky post at the top of this Beginner's section.

Another excellent article, also very recent: 10 Tips for Beginner Backpackers
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#191221 - 07/02/15 02:50 AM Re: Just getting started [Re: OregonMouse]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
One thing to keep in mind is that you don't need to buy the best of everything to get out and have a good time. "Best" may also mean different things to different people, so when evaluating something, be sure to get more than one opinion.
Buying used gear or clothes or last year's models can be good ways to save. I've written about this before, and a search should turn up some of those posts.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#191241 - 07/04/15 06:28 PM Re: Just getting started [Re: Dechion]
Dechion Offline
newbie

Registered: 06/29/15
Posts: 7
Loc: SE Wisconsin
Well, there I was going thru what I've been able to put together from things I already own, and I found an old Buck knife I bought about 10 years ago on clearance at Kmart for like 8 bucks.

Turns out that not only does it weigh in at only 4.5 oz, but apparently its actually a limited run knife and actually worth a few dollars. Now to decide if i want to take it with or not :-P

(Its a Bucklite Goliath model 446 if anyone is curious)



Edited by Dechion (07/04/15 07:09 PM)

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#191257 - 07/06/15 03:07 PM Re: Just getting started [Re: Dechion]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3915
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
The common approach to knives here is to carry only one, and it doesn't need to be a big one. Your's sounds like a nice option.

Some people like multi-tools with a built-in knife, but I don't carry those. I used to, but I never used it. I used to also carry a small kitchen knife for cooking and eating, but I finally wised up and leave that at home now too.

I still carry a 4" Rapala Fillet knife. I think it's only about 1.5 ounces. I made a sheath for it out of nylon webbing that probably weighs close to that too. It came with a heavier, leather sheath.

But three knives was way more than I could use or needed and I'm sure glad that was brought to my attention. All that little stuff can sure add up to pounds fast.
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#191263 - 07/06/15 08:47 PM Re: Just getting started [Re: Dechion]
Dechion Offline
newbie

Registered: 06/29/15
Posts: 7
Loc: SE Wisconsin
I'm actually kind of torn between the buck at 4.5 oz with its 4" blade and my Gerber shortcut at 2.5 oz. It has a small blade, file, screwdriver, tweezers, and in place of the normal pliers on a multi-tool it has a decent pair of scissors.

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#191266 - 07/07/15 07:54 AM Re: Just getting started [Re: Dechion]
bluefish Offline
member

Registered: 06/05/13
Posts: 678
If you don't plan on fabricating things from native materials, you really only need something to cut light material (mostly packaging). A razor blade will do that. I carry a small Gerber composite handled lockback that was my Dads that's under 2 oz.'s and realize that's probably overkill for what we do.Your multi-tool sounds useful. Pack that and see how it performs for you.
_________________________
Charlie

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#191273 - 07/07/15 05:02 PM Re: Just getting started [Re: Dechion]
Dechion Offline
newbie

Registered: 06/29/15
Posts: 7
Loc: SE Wisconsin
I'm actually pretty surprised with all I've been able to find either in the basement with my car camping stuff or just around the house that I could repurpose.

The rain suit I have in the saddle bags on my motorcycle for instance, will serve just as well as a rain suit for backpacking.

The multi tool I mentioned I bought on a whim once when I needed a pair of scissors. (I think it was on sale)

the tent is left over from my kids bringing friends car camping, the blue sleeping pad is from cave camping with my sons scout troop, the poly long johns are just a normal winter item, and the list just keeps going.

actually, now that I think about it I think I still have a boy scout mess kit laying about someplace. I wonder what that would weigh in at.

This may sound odd, but I'm having a ton of fun just figuring out how to put my gear together.

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#191278 - 07/07/15 09:35 PM Re: Just getting started [Re: Dechion]
aimless Online   content
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2941
Loc: Portland, OR
This may sound odd, but I'm having a ton of fun just figuring out how to put my gear together.

This, my fellow backpackers, is how it all begins. It ends with an unrepentant gearhead, a very full gear closet, and a wife struggling to resign herself to the inexplicable madness that's descended upon her husband. grin

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#191280 - 07/07/15 10:05 PM Re: Just getting started [Re: aimless]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1487
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Hi, my name's Glenn, and I'm a gearaholic. It's been 4 days since my last purchase... smile

There are worse things. However, I probably didn't help my recovery when I selected the owner of the local outfitter store as my sponsor. His idea of a 12-step program is me finding a parking spot that is twelve steps from the front door.

Did I mention I've been salesman of the month 3 times, and don't even work there?

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#191286 - 07/08/15 09:33 AM Re: Just getting started [Re: Dechion]
JPete Offline
member

Registered: 05/28/09
Posts: 304
Loc: Eastern Ontario
Dechion,

Don't know the exact weight, but the pot from the Boy Scout cook kit is perfect for solo camping and will work for two. It is wide bottomed, which is good for absorbing heat, the aluminum spreads heat well, and it weighs very little. Teamed with a plastic cup and spoon, it is hard to beat, even compared with the high priced titanium products.

I rescued mine from a kit another boy smashed, somewhere around 1950. I bent it back into shape and it still goes with me every trip. It has made two thru hikes on the AT.

I've tried expensive pots and always go back.

best, jcp

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#191292 - 07/08/15 04:33 PM Re: Just getting started [Re: Dechion]
Dechion Offline
newbie

Registered: 06/29/15
Posts: 7
Loc: SE Wisconsin
Hello, My name is Brad and I can definitely see myself becoming a gearhead. smile

So, here's what I've managed to dig up around the house. I think it's actually a pretty decent start.

A 39 liter wally world pack (outdoor products gama 8.0) that I picked up as a carry on bag a while back.

standard blue sleeping pad.

3lb fill basic square sleeping bag (my guess is a 40 or 50 degree bag)looks like it would compress ok if I picked up a compression sack for it.

a 7X7 dome tent. (a bit heavy at 5lb, but I'm just starting out)

nylon rainsuit

poly long johns

a couple pair of marino wool hiking socks.

an old mirro scout style mess kit complete with home made pot stand and a plastic spoon fork thing.

a couple bic lighters

gerber shortcut multi-tool with scissors n such

a couple poly knit shirts

hand sanitizer

extra toothbrush and single use packets of toothpaste.

compass, whistle, small first aid kit, and portable aqua tablets

all of that was just laying around collecting dust, and the lot of it weighs in at just over 16lb. not bad for not having spent a dime yet. Fortunately I took the time to inventory things before just spending the money!



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#191295 - 07/08/15 05:56 PM Re: Just getting started [Re: JPete]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1487
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Before I found my Titan kettle, my favorite cook kit was also from the Scout store: the Cascade (?) cup and the Rocky cup - both variations of the venerable Sierra cup, but more vertical, and with a "hooked" handle that was easier to use. (Colin Fletcher described adding a similar hook to his Sierra cup.) The Cascade cup was about twice the capacity (half a liter, I think) of the Rocky cup, and had a lid. Both were also stainless steel. A bit small, but very well-designed for my needs.

I bought the Titan Kettle to replace the other two because it was both the perfect size and the perfect shape for the way I cook; the fact that it was titanium was just a happy coincidence.

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#191296 - 07/08/15 06:03 PM Re: Just getting started [Re: Dechion]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1487
Loc: Southwest Ohio
And somewhere, an REI employee is crying himself to sleep because he just got laid off... smile

Sounds about like the stuff we all started with - my square sleeping bag was brown - went well with the blue pad, and rolled up to lash to the bottom of my Academy Broadway external frame pack (you know, the one with no hip belt.)

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#191671 - 08/20/15 08:02 PM Re: Just getting started [Re: aimless]
alph2294 Offline
member

Registered: 08/14/15
Posts: 30
Loc: NorCal
I am a newbie backpacker and your advice to just start out with what a person has totally inspired me. I was thinking I'd need to buy a bunch of $$$ ultralight stuff but now I will just start with the pack/bag etc. that I have used for my one backpacking trip (will need a tent) and go for it. Thanks for your encouraging post -- this will get me out on the trails a lot sooner!

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#191672 - 08/20/15 09:08 PM Re: Just getting started [Re: alph2294]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6490
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Hooray!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#191703 - 08/23/15 09:40 PM Re: Just getting started [Re: alph2294]
topshot Offline
member

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 242
Loc: Midwest
Originally Posted By alph2294
I am a newbie backpacker and your advice to just start out with what a person has totally inspired me. I was thinking I'd need to buy a bunch of $$$ ultralight stuff but now I will just start with the pack/bag etc. that I have used for my one backpacking trip (will need a tent) and go for it. Thanks for your encouraging post -- this will get me out on the trails a lot sooner!


No need to necessarily spend high dollars on light stuff if you shop right or make your own (but it's not hard to spend a lot either). This was brought to light 2 days ago when someone commented that their pack, tent (with all stakes and cloth, etc), bag and sleeping pad now weighed just 7.25+ pounds and cost over $1600. I figured up mine - 6.25 pounds and about $350. I use a homemade tarp and got my pad used plus great sale prices on the other 2.

Nevertheless, yes, just get out there and learn with what you got. Play it safer if you don't trust what you currently have.

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