Posted by: IdahoHiker

NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/21/09 06:36 PM

I have been reading through threads for 4 days now on this site and decided it was time to post for the first time, so here goes.

I used to go backpacking quite a bit when i was younger with my parents but since I have headed to college and haven't had much time to go. I am looking to really get back into backpacking. I do own some odds and ends things from about five years ago(most of which were close to being outdated when i got them). So my things are pretty old.

I have a kelty hurricane 4900 backpack. I KNOW 6 lbs 7 oz, way to heavy. I intend to get another pack later in the year when i have the funds. but for now it isn't really a concern. What i am really looking for is advice on is getting a new sleeping bag and some hiking clothes. For my situation i will be hiking early summer through late fall doing 3-5 day trips. I would love to hear recommendations on sleeping bags that you guys have or have heard about( please keep in mind i am in college)

As for clothes, I was raised with just grabbing a pair of regular sweats, a couple pair of shorts, 3-4 socks, 3-4 underwair, 3-4 shirts, and a sweat shirt. No weight was considered, it was just kind of a grab some crumby stuff out of the drawer and pack it up type deal. I would really like to hear what kind of things you guys pack for clothes and any recommendations you would have for me when i go out and buy my own clothes.
Posted by: grandtheory

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/21/09 07:43 PM

The first thing I would do is to check with your school to see if they have an outdoors program. If they do, it is likely they will have gear that you can rent and organized trips you can take with your peers. This allows you to try before you buy (although the gear may be dated). I participated in Appalachian State University's outdoor program when I was in college and I got to take a lot of cheap trips to some great places (with some really heady ladies).

Next, I would prioritize. Make a list of the items you need, starting with the basics required for camping/backpacking. And start keeping an eye on to find some good deals.

Finally, I would go to the Ultralight Gear Store on (at the bottom left side of the page) and click on the type of gear that you are researching. Then click on the "Table" tab. This will allow you to compare each piece of gear (weight, packing size, material, etc).

Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/21/09 08:26 PM

i checked out the tables list and it is going to be a huge help. I have already kind of prioritized what i need to get together to finish my gear collecting. I will probably keep my pack for a while even though it is a bit heavier. my tent i own is a small cabelas bivey that weighs around 3.5 lbs (still a little heavy but will due the job fine for now). My sleeping bag is definetly too heavy i think coming in around 4 lbs and i would really like a new one since it is very old and crumby(zipper breaking and stuff like that). I have a good first aid kit that is small and has more then enough things in it, that i made myself. I am in the process of making a alcohol stove out of the budwieser can like or whatever that guys website is. this will let me cut my heavier stove i have for backpacking out saving me almost 2 lbs. I already have a nice pot with a spork and several other cooking items i carry.

I don't have a filtration system yet. i have been poking around the idea of a gravity one and have taken a liking to them, but i am not completely fixed.

And last things i need are articles of clothes. What woudl really help is a list of things taht you guys carry like. 2 pairs of socks, 1 light jacket- fleece or... , one pair of pant zip off shorts, etc. like a list like that would do wonders for me i think. then i can start keeping an eye out for things.
Posted by: Jimshaw

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/21/09 09:02 PM


Hmmm on the gravity filter. Been there done that - They are slow and fiddlesome. You need a place to set it up and you have to watch the bottle so they don't fill and fall over and did I mention slow? If you need water now and can't wait for half an hour, carry a pump. With a pump the pressure you apply can overcome some pore clogging, but with just gravity the amount of pressure may not be enough if the filter starts to clog. Water, reliability, long term storage requirements, ruggedness and ability to be back flushed and cleaned have lead me to carry a PUR backpacker for over ten years now. It is heavy - around 11 oz as I recall - BUT as I said - reliable rugged and fast. When you're squatted by a lake in a swarm of mosquitoes you don't need slow...
Posted by: grandtheory

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/21/09 09:23 PM

I've found that with a lot of gear, YouTube is a great source of knowledge. It helps to get a visual.

Here is an example. I just went to YouTube and typed "Backpacking Water Filter" and found lots of stuff... like this:
Posted by: Heber

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/21/09 09:58 PM

It sounds like the main issue here is cost right? I was really poor in college so that would have been my number one as well.

A lot of good, lightweight stuff can be fairly inexpensive. Unfortunately a sleeping bag is not one. You might want to borrow or rent until you can afford a nice one. Alternatively if you have access to a sewing machine you can make a nice quilt for little money. Take a look at Ray Jardine's page and get a quilt kit.

As far as clothes go here is something that may help. You may never have had good camping clothes but perhaps you did some running? Running clothes are synthetic and have good wicking properties so they make good hiking clothes. Running shoes are fine for backpacking in also.

Posted by: grandtheory

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/21/09 10:22 PM

Speaking of synthetic... I definitely prefer a synthetic bag. Dries much faster.

I have a Kelty Serrano 3D sleeping bag (15 degree bag). It weighs in at about 3 lbs, 9 oz. That might be too heavy for a lot of the folks in these forums, but I absolutely LOVE it.
Posted by: redroach

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/21/09 10:23 PM

When I was in college we had the Explorers or some such. I think we were BSA affiliated, but were basically a hiking type club.
Might find a branch on your campus
Posted by: grandtheory

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/21/09 10:37 PM

Originally Posted By redroach
When I was in college we had the Explorers or some such. I think we were BSA affiliated, but were basically a hiking type club.
Might find a branch on your campus

You can also check out to find other backpackers in your area. I thought I was too cool for meeting people online, but once I got out of college and got a job and moved away from my friends I've come to really appreciate the social networking possibilities on the Web.
Posted by: finallyME

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/21/09 11:44 PM

For clothes, I would peruse the local second hand/thrift store. Look for a fleece or two, synthetic pants, and synthetic shirts. Nothing cotton, of course. Go to a few of those before hitting the outdoor stores.
Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 12:25 AM

These are all great ideas. My B-day is coming up here in may so i might ask the parents for a sleeping bag for an early present. I know that is one thing i don't want to go cheap on becuase i will probably regret it. I will also poke around the local second hand stores to see what i can find. I am not necessarily in any sort of rush for this spring. i am mainly looking for good deals for this summer. Currently i have lacrosse practice 4 days a week and starting feb. through the beginning of may we have games each weekend. You guys have really been a huge help, but the one thing that i am still blank on is a list of articles of clothing i will need, say for a 3-4 day packing trip. At least from that list i can start seeing what i have in my drawers that will fit my hiking needs and seeing what i will need to be looking for on steepandcheap and also the local second hand stores. thanks again for all the great help so far.
Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 12:30 AM

Also, i forgot to address the school club/organization you guys have been talking about and I did some research and U of I here in moscow actually has a really active club that i will get involved with in the fall. It sounds like they do a lot of trips of all sorts for cheap. I will post again in the fall about the club trips and let you know how things shake out with that when i don't have lacrosse everyweekend.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 12:47 AM

Jim, I've found the ULA Amigo Pro gravity water filter to be quite fast. 10-15 minutes will filter the full bag (~ 1 gallon or a little more). With the Platypus connector, you don't need to worry about bottles falling over. You do need to bleed the air pressure out of the Platy a time or two while it's filling, but so far I've found that if the air pressure builds up, the water flow stops long before the Platy bursts like a balloon. You can do something else, or just sit and admire the scenery, while the water is filtering (just check occasionally for the balloon effect). The best thing about this filter is that you can filter your water in camp instead of having to sit by the buggy stream (one of the numerous reasons the Steripen Adventurer I bought last summer was returned to REI). And the ULA filter is only 7 1/2 oz., lighter than most pump filters. Just my $.02 worth, but I'm really in love with this filter!

That being said, I'm switching to chlorine dioxide tablets (Katadyn MicroPur or Aquamira tablets) for long trips, to save more weight. I'm working at getting my base weight down so I can go for at least 10 days without resupply and without getting skin-out weight over 30 lbs. I'm almost there! For a trip of 5 days or less, or for group trips (i.e., taking out the grandkids), I'll still take the ULA filter.

IdahoHiker, for clothes, please, please leave anything cotton at home. It absorbs a ton of moisture (you want fabrics that wick moisture without absorbing it), is very slow to dry and, when wet, can lead to hypothermia (the popular saying among backpackers is that "cotton kills"). Just ask Mom what's the last thing to get dry in the dryer--always cotton jeans and thick cotton socks! Of course desert hiking in the daytime, when a wet T-shirt will keep you cool, is a different story. But even in the desert, you want synthetics at night, when it gets cold, and when it rains or snows!

This is what I take for 3-season wear (Cascades and Rockies): I wear long nylon pants, a synthetic baselayer top (long sleeve, but lightweight) as a shirt, breathable nylon undies (optional for some men, but I'm female), trail running shoes, merino wool socks and a sun hat. In my pack are baselayer bottoms, a wind shirt (any lightweight unlined nylon jacket will do, but treat it with a DWR treatment), an insulating layer (mine is a Montbell UL Thermawrap, lightweight but $$$, but a polyester fleece jacket will be fine), lightweight rain jacket and pants, a polypro fleece balaclava, polypro glove liners (the last two from Campmor) and a pair of rain mitts (plastic bags could substitute). Also a pair or two of extra socks and my one luxury, a pair of soft, cuddly fleece socks for sleeping. This will keep me warm down to about 25*. If I think it's going to be colder (fall or spring or summer above timberline in the northern Rockies), I will take another torso insulating layer, generally a merino wool T-shirt or a lightweight fleece vest. For winter conditions, I might also take another insulating layer for my bottom half. However, in my old age I prefer not to camp in the winter. The winter camping section of this forum (way down at the bottom) will give you lots of ideas for what to wear when it's really cold. Your Mileage May Vary, but this is what works for me. Others will have other ideas.

You can shop thrift stores, military surplus, discount stores like KMart, Target, Wallyworld, etc. for synthetic and wool clothes such as breathable wicking base layers, fleece, lightweight wool. Look in the athletic departments of such stores, not sporting goods. Wicking knit shirts and underwear, nylon track pants, merino wool blend socks cheaper than the standard brands (Costco, I've been told, has some good ones). Keep checking your local thrift stores--you can find all sorts of interesting things there for maybe $2-5 apiece. Fleece insulating layers will soon be on sale, if they aren't already, as the stores try to make room for spring items. It seems silly to pay $100 or more for a fleece jacket from REI when you can get a similar item for 1/4 the price (or less) at a discount store or for almost nothing at a thrift store! Watch for other clearances on winter gear (maybe places selling ski wear) to pick up a fleece or wool beanie cap and some lightweight liner gloves.

There are a number of other good sources for bargains. As mentioned in other posts, there are several outlets listed on the Portal Page of this website, plus Steep and Cheap (which needs to be checked several times daily) and Sierra Trading Post. often has closeouts, and their house brands are generally good. Their silnylon gear (tarps, stuff sacks, rain gear) are from Equinox and are a good buy. Campmor's house brand down sleeping bag is often recommended for those on a budget. It's more like a 30* bag than a 20* bag, and it's of course heavier than a Western Mountaineering bag, but it's also about 1/3 the price of a WM bag and, if properly cared for, will last until sometime in the far future when you have your pennies saved up for the Cadillac of sleeping bags (although if your parents are willing, don't turn down the offer!). The Campmor down bag is a lot lighter than any comparable synthetic bag. Just make sure you keep it dry! Lining your pack with a 2-mil trash compactor bag from your supermarket (just make sure the bags aren't perfumed!) and twisting the end into a watertight candy-cane closure will go a long way to ensure this.

There was recently a thread in the Light Gear section about a gear list of 20 lbs. and $200, which, despite a few sarcastic remarks, has a number of interesting ideas for those on a budget. I posted links to a few other sites on that thread (not because I felt this site is lacking, but only because it seems silly to re-invent the wheel). If you've been lurking, you've probably read this thread already.

Check out the gear lists on the home page of this site, in the left-hand column, for more ideas.
Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 01:25 AM

this might be a stupid question but i have been looking around at more and more filtration systems. I have read that bacteria are .2+ size, protazoa are .3+ size and viruses are something like .013 or something like that. Most of the filtration systems mentioned and that i have been looking at say a .3 gaps size. Should i be concerned that this is to large and it will only take care of the big stuff? I know nearly no filtration system can get rid of viruss with out chemical help, but what about bacteria? I have looked through the search option on here and on the internet but i am really struggling and you guys are a wealth of information. sorry for the newb questions though.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 02:23 AM

Great, IdahoHiker,you're doing your research, which, IMHO, is excellent! In the US you really don't need to be too concerned about viruses, unless you're downstream of human settlements with perhaps leaky sewage or septic sytems (not an issue in the mountains). Most of us have been immunized against the serious viruses you're most apt to encounter (polio and hepatitis A). It's the protozoa (giardia, cryptosporidium) and bacteria (particularly e coli) that you need to be concerned about.

Chlorine dioxide (used in municipal water systems) will kill all three, but takes a very long exposure time for protozoa--up to 4 hours if the water is cold. Even when I take my filter, I always carry some chlorine dioxide tablets. The filter might break, or I might encounter a horrific water source (downstream of human settlement, or a stagnant cattle-trampled pond) where I want to throw everything I have at the water before even contemplating drinking it. I am considering a coarser filter (Aquamira makes a very lightweight inline filter) that will filter out the protozoa, in combination with the ClO2 tablets. This would mean only a 15-20 minute treatment time for the tablets.

If it's an emergency, go ahead and drink whatever water you find. Giardiasis takes 10 days or more to incubate (by which time you'll be back in civilization with medical care), but you can die of dehydration in a couple of days. A number of people have gotten drastically dehydrated when lost or stranded just because they've been told not to drink untreated water.

I want to advise against using iodine to disinfect drinking water. For one thing, I've read that it is not effective against cryptosporidium. For another, iodine allergies (per my doctor) are not all that uncommon. You won't know if you're allergic until you have a reaction. I used it for a little over a month (only on weekends) and then broke out in a horrible rash, with really deep lesions (lichen planus). It itched like crazy and left permanent scars. The worst of it is that since this happened (over 20 years ago), I can't eat anything with iodized salt (which causes problems when in restaurants and when invited to people's homes for dinner--I'm stuck with salads with only oil and vinegar dressings), and I can't eat any seafood or take multi-vitamin-mineral supplements. Should I ever have to have a diagnostic procedure involving radioactive iodine (such as an angiogram)--well, I'll just have to drop dead undiagnosed! So stick with ClO2 if you're going to use chemicals. Even with that, try it at home before you go out--a few people get digestive disturbances from it. (Actually, that's true for any gear--try it out at home first, in the back yard or car-camping, before heading for the back country.)
Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 02:36 AM

oregonmouse, you are the man. That pretty much clarifies my water questions, no pun intended. A lot of times it is nice to hear first hand experience instead of reading all of the pushy advertisement stuff all of the retailers have posted on their sites.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 03:32 AM

Actually, I'm the woman, but there are many great posters of both sexes on this site. I agree with you about the advertising hype! Try to search out a number of reviews. In addition to this site, is good. While subjective, check out the reader reviews on (accessible without a subscription). You'll find a variety of opinions on the latter. I do find it unfortunate that some people will file reviews based on an initial backyard valuation rather than extensive field experience. On this site, search the archives (read TomD's sticky post in the "General Discussion" section on how to search this site). For health issues, the standard medical sites plus the CDC are always good.
Posted by: sabre11004

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 11:48 AM

Platy makes a gravity filter that hangs instead of trying to sit it on a flat or smooth surface. I think that it is pretty new but I was surfing the other day , I think it was on where I saw these things. It looked like two identical bottles with hose and filter in between. Looks pretty simple to me and if my memory serves me correctly (which it probably doesn't) it claim 2 liters of water every 5 minutes. Again this might not be the exact amount but when I was reading it, it seemed like that it's claim was pretty fast comparably speaking...Hope that helps...sabre11004...

The first step that you take is one of those that get you there !!!!!!
Posted by: sabre11004

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 12:03 PM

That would largely depend on when and where you are planning this or these hiking trips.I always layer clothing no matter what time of year it is. I live near Tennessee and North Carolina and sometimes it can still be pretty chilly in the summer months up in the mountains. I have always lived with the philosophy that you can take it off but you can't put it on if you don't take it. I also would make sure that I always had some light weight rain gear. At least a poncho or something you could wear for a top. I very seldom put on my rain pants unless I am walking in the downpour for a long period of time. I wear a pair of sock liners and a synthetic pair of hiking socks and always carry two dry pair of each. If my feet and socks get wet I just change into a dry pair and hang the wet pair on the outside of my pack until they dry. That way I will always have a reasonably fresh pair of liners and socks no matter what. Trust me, you do not want to be 30-40 miles from no where and start getting blisters on your feet.Wear a good pair of trail shoes or hiking shoes. Your feet can be your savior.As far as pants and shirt, I usually wear a pair of 100% nylon convertible pants that are very light and will dry very quickly. I normally wear the same type of shirt and I always carry a bandanna or two. They can come in real handy for a number of things. For a hat I have a Outdoor Research "Sombrero". It's light and water proof and will for the most part keep the sun off your neck and face.. Hope this helps....sabre11004...

The first step that you take will be one of those that get you there !!!!!
Posted by: OldScout

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 01:01 PM

First of all, welcome. The more the merrrier. OK, the thing that sticks out in these posts is that everyone is talking about getting inexpensive synthetic clothes. TRY TRY TRY to find inexpensive merino wool clothes if you can. I feel they will keep you as warm, have a greater range of comfort, and have less "stank-factor" than synthetics.

Also, I think you are taking WAY too many clothes on your trips. For a 3 to 5 day trip, you mentioned taking 3 to 4 pairs of socks, 3 to 4 shirts, pants, etc. For versitility (sp?) I will take only two pairs of zip-off pants (wear one and carry one) on a seven day trip for a three season trip. Only two pairs of merino wool socks to hike in plus a special dedicated pair to sleep in that I can use as a back-up pair if needed. Two underwears max. If the weather is warm (and I will have sweated thru everything), I'll change clothes after I set up camp and cleaned up. Then I'll rinse out that day's clothes and hang them out to dry for the next day.
Posted by: thecook

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 01:18 PM

Here is a basic list of clothes you already own or can pick up cheaply for summer (read 40F and above) backpacking.

A swim suit with mesh liner as shorts (no underwear necessary)
Nylon warm up pants
A synthetic athletic shirt (e.g. Target's DuoDry)
a polyester fleece jacket or pull over(read the label some fleece now contains cotton)
a pair of running shoes
two pairs of socks (wool are the best but people use Thorlos, Cool-Max socks from Target/Wall-Mart and even nylon dress socks)
a knit hat for warmth
a baseball cap for sun
a rainjacket or poncho (You can pick up a cheap poncho just about anywhere but you might want to take a wind jacket too if you go this route)

Check your draws and closet you probably have everything here except the rainjacket and the wool socks.
Posted by: StepChld

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 02:32 PM

Look for the jacket liner from the military jacket in an Army Surplus store. Best $15 I ever spent. Lighter than fleece, dries quickly when wet, and windproof. Don't worry about sewing up the armpits (they're left open for breathablity) but do sew on buttons. I've had one for two years now and it's never let me down.
Also highly recommend the C9 brand found at Target. I have two of their shirts and two pr. of their synthetic underwear in boxer briefs (keeps my legs from chafing and again, dries quick).
Wal-Mart has a great windsuit(pants and jacket) on sale for $10 that I just purchased that I got to use this past weekend. All synthetic, blocked wind and when coupled with a good pair of Med. weight thermals(from Bass Pro-expensive but worth every penny!), very warm.
Bass Pro Shops sells cheap "fisherman's" zip-off synthetic pants for around $20 w/ a liner. I personally don't like liners so I cut that part out but many swear by them. Either way, these pants are really comfortable. 2 pairs ought to do you for a long time...probably only need one pair.
Wal Mart also has 95% merino wool socks in their hunting dept. for $6-7. The rest is spandex or something like that, no cotton though. I usaully carry 2 pair and wear one pair. One of those is dedicated to sleeping in though.
WalMart also carries the cheap aluminium grease pots for about $5. That and a plastic spoon (again found in their camping section) and cup will do you for food prep...along with the handy dandy beer can stove you'll have made by now!

Frogg great as a wind suit and even better as a rain suit. Cheap but easily torn according to some, although I've never ripped mine. Also handy to put on when you're washing all your clothes at your evening camp.
Everything you wear should be synthetic so as to aid in drying out quickly and moving moisture away from your skin...unless you're in a desert in the middle of summer, but that's a whole different kettle of fish.
A good headlamp is much better than a flashlight anytime, no matter what.'nuff said on that.
Compass and whistle and a small knife are good too (think smallest Swiss knife they make).
Cheap, nylon, long sleeve shirt with big vent across the back from Campmor..I think I paid $20? Anyway, good for both cold and warm weather.
Hope this helps and remember...your milage may vary!
Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 02:34 PM

oldscout, when i was talking about taking 3-4 pairs of everything it was quite a few years ago, probably about 4-5 years. And it was the type of deal that my mom was saying " don't come crying to me when your blabla bla get cold." and stuff like that. I didn't really know any better, so i just packed up a bunch of stuff and called it good. after i would come home with clean shirts and crap like that from a 4 day packing trip i knew that i was packing WAY to much clothes. now i am just trying to narrow it down.

Again, thank you guys for the lists that some are posting and the help and suggestions.
Posted by: Pika

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 02:42 PM

Here is my clothing list for my through hike of the JMT in August and early September of 2008. Temperatures in the morning were as low as a measured 27 degrees F. It rained, lightly, once. Weights are in oz and were measured, not taken from manufacturers claim.

Trail running shoes, Montrail Hardrock '08. 36.20 oz
Smartwool medium cushion crew socks, wool. 2.75 oz
Dirty Girl gaiters. 1.22 oz

Worn on trail
Running shorts with mesh liner. 4.0 oz
Icebreaker merino wool SS T-shirt. 5.41 oz
Bandana, cotton, 1/2. 0.50 oz
Hat, Full brim. 3.30 oz

Carried in pack (LS shirt and pants worn if cold or sunny)
Long-sleeve shirt, nylon, L.L. Bean. 8.50 oz
Cargo pants, L.L. Bean, Nylon. 13.25 oz
Long-sleeve 100 wt. homemade fleece pullover shirt. 8.15 oz
Montbell down vest. 5.50 oz
Mittens, Polartec 200, homemade. 1.50 oz
Hat, Polartec 200, homemade. 1.50 oz
Long underwear bottoms, Patagonia Capilene 2. 5.80 oz
Spare socks. 2.75 oz
Socks for bedtime, light weight. 0.85 oz

BPL DriDucks rain jacket W/hood. 6.12 oz
BPL DriDucks rain pants. 4.00 oz
Rain over-mitts, silnylon shells, homemade. 0.40 oz

Total, worn and carried = 6.98 lb

If I got cold wearing most of the above, I would wrap my sleeping bag around me; only did this a couple of times. When I did laundry, I would wear my Dri Ducks for modesty and try to do the wash early enough in the day for it to be dry by bedtime. Not sure if this is possible in the East. I would only wash a few items each day and carry them hanging from the back of my pack to dry.

Posted by: jpanderson80

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 03:02 PM

Welcome to the forums.

I used a Kelty 20* bag until the thing was only a 40* bag and was so flat it was comical. I bought it for $50-60. I was in college. I needed a bag. It worked. I finally broke down and got a Western Mountaineering sleeping bag a couple of years ago. I will not regret that. It's exceptional. Pricey, but I never have to worry and it will last for years and years. Do what you have to to get yourself out on the trail. Stay warm and be safe. In 10 years you will not think of what sleeping bag you used. You will wish you had gone on more trips. Gear is only a means to an end.

Same thing goes with clothing. Use what you have. If you have money to spend on something, get the best that you can. Otherwise, make do. Others have suggested thrift stores and such. Those are fine. I do see that you have been doing your fair share of research. I tip my hat to you.

Another option that I don't recall if someone mentioned or not. Make your own. You need some rain pants... make some. You'll learn a new skill, customize your gear and be more satisfied with a sense of accomplishment.

Good luck and welcome to the club.
Posted by: just_another_Joe

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 03:33 PM

I second what JP said about gear being just a tool that is used to get out and enjoy the outdoors. It isn't about your stuff, it is about seeing the scenery and having good experiences. The BPing tools just get you further on the trails than the dayhikers go.

At the Gossamer Gear website, there are BPing gear lists, including some for less expensive gear. Read bulletin boards at gear shops for used stuff. Search on eBay for several weeks to get a feel for the prices on what you need. Be patient. Look at the thrift stores in college towns for off-season gear. Shorts are cheap now, down jackets are cheap in Phoenix during the summer. Read both sides of the tags in clothing to find the fabric composition, to avoid cotton. Those Campmor bags are good until you graduate and can afford to spend more. Don't go snow camping, it takes too much good gear that you don't own yet. Gearing up is an on-going process, you don't ever graduate, you just keep learning what does and does not suit your trips.
Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 05:22 PM

snow camping never was very appealing to me so i am not going to worry about getting really nice gear for that at the moment. I have been doing some looking around through my drawrs and was hoping to find some old fleece jackets and stuff and ended up finding some really great, what we call in lacrosse, shooting-shirts. They are just real light weight fabric that isn't cotton, i can't remember what fabric it was and since i am at the library right now i can't look at the tag. But i think they are going to be great. I also have some really nice thin addidas athletic socks with a type of vent system on the top of the toes that i am sure will do the trick. Now that i have told you of my discoveries, i have some questions to shoot at you guys.

I have a beanie made out of acrylic 100%. is this material any good? it kind of feels along the lines of a cotton type material and is a little bit thick. but i really love the beanie so eithor way i will probably end up using it smile. but just out of curiosity...

Next on the agenda, gloves. What exactly is the deal with the gloves? I can see a beanie to keep your head warm at night and if it is raining and stuff. The only thing i could find about gloves with some searching was it keeps your hands from getting torched by the sun if you use walking sticks, in my case i don't. Is there some special secret that gloves have that i don't know about?
Posted by: jpanderson80

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 05:37 PM

Those shooting shirts sound perfect. Acrylic is fine. Carhartt makes some of their hats out of acrylic, and I use one on the trail. I want to say that Thorlo socks are acrylic too.

Gloves... I use a light fleece pair from Columbia. Nothing fancy. I find that by simply keeping my hands warm, that I feel warmer all over. Gloves also come in handy at night for sleeping if you are pushing the limits of the rating on your sleeping bag. Some superultralight hikers use a pair of socks over their hands. (Not my idea of fun!)
Posted by: Brumfield

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 05:41 PM

Hey, Jim, you could try dipping the water into a container and running away from the lake shore.. or use deet. I like my Katadyn Siphon filter. Easy to wipe clean, 5 quarts per hour. (1 pint in 6 minutes) With a little planning you can have water ready when you need it... and with no pumping or broken pump handles. The Siphon filter does its thing while you set up or break down camp. With a 0.2 micron ceramic filter it does a pretty good job of keeping the gut-eaters out of your drinking water. If your water supply is stagnant, has things peering out at you from below the green and fuzzy surface, or if it's located down hill from the local pig farm, just add a little Micropur before filtering to be sure. Brum
Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 05:58 PM

hahaha. jpanderson, my beanie is carhartt. small world. as for gloves i have two pairs that i think might work. One is for hunting and one is for fly-fishing. My hunting gloves are fleece/neoprene combo. fleece on the back neoprene on the front but the finger tips are cut off (easier to get to the trigger for chukar and grouse hunting) They do a great job at keeping my hands warm for the most part and i like being able to control things better with out the tips. My next pair is a really thin type of neoprene material i think. I haven't used them much and they have been in the bottom of my fly-fishing bag but when i do use them on really cold winter fishing days, they do wonders. I think i will probably end up using the cut off finger ones though. thanks for the glove info though.
Posted by: jpanderson80

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 06:02 PM

I used my mountain biking gloves for a while... the fingers are cut out on them too. I never had a problem with them.
Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 09:52 PM

Here is my clothing list that i have compiled and where i found them. please feel free to critique.

1 polyster athletic short sleeve shirt(closet)
1 north face 100% vented long sleeve fishing shirt (ebay baby!!!)
1 nylon cheapy pair of shorts(found in the bottom of my drawr grin
? looking for a pair of nylon zip off pants
3 pair of addidas athletic socks (drawer)
? haven't looked into underwear yet becuase all i have right now are cotton ones.
1 pair of neoprene/fleece gloves (hunting bag)
1 carhartt acrylic beanie (on my dresser)
1 columbia fleece pullover (another ebay steal)

What i don't have listed are a swimsuit and a pair of fleece pants or soemthing of the sort. I figure i will go for a dip in my underwear if i feel to go for a swim, no big deal. And as for fleece pants i am not sure if i really need them? any suggestions on my list or my ideas above would be great.
Posted by: phat

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/22/09 11:09 PM

I carry fleece pants in winter, not other times. look at my lists. If I'm to the point I'm cold enough to need fleece pants I hop in my bed.

Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/23/09 01:58 AM

well until there are some more critiques on my list i will bring up the next question of sleeping bags. Any suggestions for mid range bags between $100-200ish. I am looking for the best bang for the buck pretty much. also try and an idea of what i should be looking for in a sleeping bag besides temp. and weight specs would be awesome. If $100-200 won't cut it for a decent bag please give me some recommendations for higher priced bags as well and maybe i could snag one on sale or something of the sort. I would just like to get a nice bag that will last me a while and not weigh 5+ pounds like my current one.
Posted by: JAK

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/23/09 09:07 AM

I don't get the wear one carry one on the zip off pants. Why bring two of anything, especially an outer layer. Underwear and socks maybe, but even those I only bring in different sizes and thicknesses. If clothing gets wet, wear it until it is dry. I bring the same clothing for 20 days as 2 days. Totally agree with wearing wool, but washing underwear on the trail isn't that tough either. Soak in boiling water, squeeze dry, wear on head until dry. smile
Posted by: jpanderson80

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/23/09 09:56 AM

I noticed that you have one long sleeve and one short sleeved shirt. You could eliminate one shirt by using the long sleeve in spring/fall and rolling up the sleeves if you get hot. If you need to get warmer, put on your fleece. If you need to get warmer than that, I always use my rain jacket. If I need to get warmer than that than either I'm not hiking and I need to get in my bag OR I am hiking and it so cold outside that likely the temps will be far lower than my 20* bag rating and I'm getting out of there. (That doesn't happen very often were I live.)

I'd drop a pair of socks. One to wear while walking, the other to wear at night and the next day. (I rotate.) I wear trail shoes, so I expect them to get wet. But it makes creek crossings much eaiser and faster.

Underwear has been discussed here before. You may want to search the archives. I enjoy the Patagonia boxer briefs. They are pricey, but man oh man they feel great. And note that I have also used them for swimming because they dry so quickly.

You haven't discussed rain gear. For 3 season (which is all seasons were I live) I only use a rain jacket. It doubles as an outer layer for extreme cold and wind and serves as my pillow at night. You may have a different system in mind, but I thought I'd ask.
Posted by: jpanderson80

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/23/09 10:18 AM

Sleeping bags are a crazy adventure all in themselves. Some manufacturers seem to outright lie about temp ratings while others are spot on. My advice is to learn as much as possible about bags. Visit all the websites. Then looks for deals. Be sure to visit Feathered Friends and Western Mountaineering. Other 'major' name brands make good bags too, but FF and WM are often considered supreme. Also consider the debate between down vs. synthetic fill.

I purchased a Western Mountaineering Ultralite bag 2 years ago. I wanted a bag with continous baffles, a full zip, down, and fit my 5'5" frame well. I wanted the full zip and continuous baffles for the most versatility... I can rearrange the down for more/less warmth and use it like a quilt if I want.

For $100-$200 you can certainly get a decent bag. Do your research on customer reviews. Watch for clearance sales. Another option... make yourself a "Ray Jardine" quilt for around $130-$150.
Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/23/09 03:39 PM

I forgot to mention what i have for rain gear. All i have is a nice poncho. i am not sure where or when my parents picked it up a couple years ago but it is really light, has eyelets on the corners and the middles and it also has a longer back side to accommodate for backpack covering on the trail. I am fairly sure it will be able to fulfill my rain gear needs.

I probably will drop a pair of socks and probably end up dropping some of my other doubles clothes i have as well.
Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/23/09 03:53 PM

as for the bags, i did some research on the FF and MW bags and they seem to be a bit steep in price. Unless i get a great deal on one, they will just have to go one my distant wish list. I did do some research on the pros and cons to down V synthetic and came up with HUGE lists. Can anyone break it down to a list of major pros and cons that isn't 20+ long and extremely scientific? thanks
Posted by: OldScout

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/23/09 04:12 PM

Originally Posted By JAK
I don't get the wear one carry one on the zip off pants. Why bring two of anything, especially an outer layer.

I like to hike in long pants. Go figure. So, anyhoo, usually one pair of pants is soaked with sweat at the end of the day and I rinse those out and them hang up to dry. I put the other dry pair on. Also, sometimes it rains (I live in the great Pacific Northwest). Once I hit camp I take the wet pair off and put the dry pair on.
Posted by: grandtheory

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/23/09 04:51 PM

Originally Posted By IdahoHiker

? haven't looked into underwear yet becuase all i have right now are cotton ones.

I like Perry Ellis "Portfolio" boxers. 90% nylon and 10% spandex. I wear them on a daily basis. They are very comfortable.
Posted by: sabre11004

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/23/09 08:41 PM

I think that I would more arrange my clothing with nothing in mind except layering. I usually carry two base layer items, two mid-layer items and then a water proof shell. That's it. I get very bogged down when I am carrying a lot of clothing so I try to make it very simple and unchanging except for when I trek in different kinds of weather and then you may adjust what you carry as far as how heavy the item is or what it is made out of. I use only synthetics and they seem to work very good in most types of weather whether it is cold, hot, rainy, or sunny. I also wear sock liners inside my socks and will carry two or three pairs of these so I can always have a fresh pair and dry pair of socks at any time...Hope that helps you out...sabre11004...

The first step that you take is one of those that will get you there !!!!!!
Posted by: thecook

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/23/09 09:12 PM

Down vs synthetic sleeping bags

Cons- heavy, large volumn when packed
Pro- cheaper, possibly more durable short term, possibly warmer when wet

Con- expensive, possibly more easily damaged, won't keep you warm if soaked
Pro- lighter, packs smaller, lasts longer if well treated

Personally, I would recommend that a college student look at a Campmor 20 degree down bag, an REI sub-kilo on sale, or order a Ray Jardine quilt kit (synthetic) assuming that you will be camping out down to around freezing. If it never gets that cold you have a lot more inexpensive options.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/24/09 12:54 AM

Assuming that IdahoHiker will be hiking in the Idaho mountains, he needs a bag that will take him at least a few degrees below freezing, even in summer. Of course, as many have pointed out, putting on insulated clothing inside the bag can help extend its range. So can a breathable bivy sack or (if it's below freezing) a vapor barrier.

Just remember that most 20* sleeping bags, except the really expensive kind like Western Mountaineering, are more like 30* bags. There is unfortunately no standard at all in the US for rating bags. There is an EU standard (rather complicated) which is a lot better. However, for those manufacturers who sell their bags in Europe, you may have to go to their UK site. And I've found that they seem to sell different models (or the same models with a different name) in Europe.

If the REI Sub-Kilo is still on sale, that's the bargain of the century--snap it up if you can get one! If not, the Campmor down bag I mentioned.

Pay attention to girth measurements--measure your own (preferably over your insulating jacket) and compare to what's given for the bag. You don't want a bag that is so narrow you're uncomfortable (or, worse yet, compressing the insulation), and you don't want one that is too big, giving you too much dead air space to warm with your body heat.

thecook has pretty well summarized the down vs. synthetic thing. A couple of notes: If properly cared for (don't store any bag compressed), even a lower-quality down bag lasts longer than synthetic, which doesn't recover as well from being squashed multiple times. (2) Despite manufacturers' hype, a soggy synthetic bag is no warmer than a soggy down bag (been there, done that). However, it's a bit easier to dry out and regain the loft with a synthetic bag. Wet down tends to clump. If you don't have a dryer and tennis balls (and you won't when out in the wilds), it's harder to get the loft back with down--you'll spend a lot of time pulling apart the clumps. Better yet, regardless of the insulation type, don't let the bag get wet! Check your camp site to be sure it won't turn into a lake in case of a cloudburst (once again, I've had bitter experience). Use a trash compactor bag pack liner (as mentioned in one of my earlier posts here) or use a mylar turkey roasting bag to protect your sleeping bag. Keep your shelter where you can access it first without opening up your pack, set it up, and unpack your pack under cover. If you're using a tarp instead of a tent or tarptent, consider a bivy sack (make sure the top fabric is breathable) to protect your sleeping bag from splash or wind-driven rain. Don't cover the bag with a non-breathable material, or the moisture in your body will condense on it and then get your bag wet. When it's below freezing, the moisture from your body (which is always there) is apt to freeze on the inside of the outer shell of your sleeping bag and will wet the insulation--this is where a vapor barrier (inside the bag, over your base layer) is a good idea.

My own perspective is to take synthetic insulating clothes and a down bag, so all my insulating eggs aren't in one basket, so to speak.

Re your clothes, it's great that you found so much in your drawers and closet--I should have said that's the first place to look--my bad! The "nylon cheapy pair of shorts" will do fine doubling as a swim suit. In the wilderness, nobody worries about "street clothes" in the "pool." If you take both shorts and long pants, don't bother with zip-off pants (the zippers, I've found out, can be a real nuisance). The main purpose of the zip-offs is so one item doubles as both long pants and shorts. If you want them, though, Campmor's "Trekmor" pants are $30. I did see some on sale last July at Big 5 Sporting Goods for about $22. I assume those athletic socks are synthetic. You could get a pair wet and wring them out by hand to see if they're relatively quick drying. If you do the same with a pair of cotton socks, you'll have a good comparison. Forget the fleece pants for summer hiking. Thin baselayer bottoms will do fine. Lightweight is best at wicking moisture from the skin, which is what you want. Unfortunately this is not a good time to find lightweight baselayers (formerly known as long underwear) on sale, but look around. Watch Campmor because even when their stuff isn't on sale, it's often cheaper. The Duofold polypropylene baselayers are only $10.99, but they only have midweight right now.

The poncho should be fine, but I'd suggest either knee-length gaiters or silnylon rain chaps with it. Hiking through wet brush or grass after a rain or even a heavy dew can get you wetter than walking in the rain. I haven't hiked in Idaho, only Colorado and Wyoming, but I'm assuming you also don't have the waist-high brush we have out here in the Cascades, which pretty much requires full rain pants to slog through. I know that where I've been in the Rockies, knee-high gaiters are plenty long enough. You also want a wind shirt--find a cheap unlined nylon jacket and put DWR treatment on it--to keep your arms a bit dryer. (Those should be available in the spring, if you can't find a thrift store model.) (If all you can find is a nylon jacket with a flannel lining, cut out the lining.) The wind shirt also helps to keep bugs off you in camp and at rest stops and, of course, repels the wind. Lots of times the wind shirt is the only wrap you need, especially when you're on the move. If it's just drizzling a little, the wind shirt, which is more breathable, may be enough to keep you dry. Also, look for a cord or something simiiar to belt the poncho snugly to you when it's windy. The poncho also protects your pack (although, like a pack cover, it won't help if you fall in a creek). It sounds as though you're just about there on clothing--congratulations!

Just a warning--in return for all this free advice, we expect to see some trip reports next summer about backpacking in the Idaho mountains (or wherever you go)! Please let us know how your gear works out!
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/24/09 03:45 AM

IdahoHiker, I just ran into this: Everything at REI Outlet is 20% off the sale price through January 29. That includes the Men's REI Sub-Kilo--here's the URL for the Long (they have the regular, too): REI Sub-Kilo bag--long

At ~$136 plus shipping, this is a steal! It's a better bag than the Campmor 20* bag we've suggested, but about the same price. It's not quite the $85 that some people have been getting in some of the stores, but it's still a really good price! Not a top quality bag, but a good intermediate bag. It should meet your needs for quite a few years. Do check the specs for girth, measure your own over an insulating jacket, to make sure you'll fit inside.
Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/24/09 01:18 PM

Oregonmouse that pretty much sums up everything i have been curious or wondering about. Thank you so much for the info and you bet i will be posting pictures and stories and probably more questions as summer begins. thank you again.
Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/24/09 02:20 PM

Good and bad news. So i took my sleeping bag out of the back of my truck and opened it up and did some specific research on the bag. Turns out that it isn't half bad. It does weigh something like 3lbs 4 oz, which isn't to bad i don't think. It has also got pretty good reviews on all the sites. Now to the bad. I have neglected it. I have been storing it bundled up in my truck for about a year now, on top of the fact that it is already 5+ years old. That REI sub kilo is such a deal. I am kind of torn between getting the sub kilo or waiting and seeing how my old bag holds up. any ideas?
Posted by: grandtheory

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/24/09 02:33 PM

Just my two cents, but I would hold on to your bag until you are ready to go camping. Between now and then, I'd keep my eyes on where you might find an even better deal than the REI sale going on this month.
Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/24/09 02:40 PM

That is kind of what i was thinking. I think steepandcheap is going to be the death of me though. I can't stop watching for new items. And i have a good 2-3 months before it is crunch time and i start to go backpacking for work and leasure so i think i might just wait it out.
Posted by: grandtheory

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/24/09 03:13 PM

Originally Posted By IdahoHiker
I think steepandcheap is going to be the death of me though. I can't stop watching for new items.

Amen!!! I like the Firefox application that allows you to see what is on S&C even if you aren't on their site. You can find it on the Alerts section of the site.

One killer deal, one item at a time... until you are completely broke. smile
Posted by: Paddy_Crow

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/24/09 11:23 PM

If I were looking for a sub freezing bag and pad combination, I doubt I could do much better than this...
Posted by: jpanderson80

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/28/09 10:00 AM

With that new job of yours, I'd seriously consider the expense of a lightweight down bag. 26-28 oz vs. 50-55oz is a huge difference. 8 days of working and 6 days off is like living out of your bag... you're going to want a good bag in that Idaho weather!
Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/28/09 12:19 PM

already on it. I ordered the sub kilo +20 regular from REI while it was still on sale last night. i think with shipping it came just to $145. so it was nearly $100 off. 750 goose weighing in at 29 ounces seems pretty nice to me and the price was reasonable. I just finished selling an expensive gun so i split the funds down the middle, half for personal everyday things and the other half to help finish getting whatever i need for backpacking. this gives me about 300-350 for for spending and with the sleeping bag i am down to $200.

The next purchase i am going to make is probably going to be a gravity filter. I know they have gotten mixed reviews but the ones the IDFG are pump filters so i thought i will mix it up especially since there will be back up filters around for the first few trips in case there are any problems with the grav.

I finally got my clothes all lined up and ready. I have a nice therma rest inflatable mate that is a little heavy but still very nice. I think the last of my checklist of goodies is a filter, headlight, pot cozy( going to make), wind screen (going to make), and a light stove (going to make). i might thinkg about getting a walking stick but i have never used one before so i am not sure if i really need one. any opinions?
Posted by: jpanderson80

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/28/09 01:00 PM

Yeah! That's a great deal on the bag.

I use trekking poles and find them very helpful. I never liked a walking stick/pole. They help tremendously with balance and with the stress on the knees when walking up or down a slope. I equalte walking up a steep slope using trekking poles to what it must feel like for a spider to have all of those legs to help get up and over a slope. You can really dig in. I also find that I like my hands/arms being occupied - where as in the past they were either hanging down or up holding on to my load lifter straps.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/28/09 05:23 PM

Re gravity filters: take a look at the ULA Amigo Pro. I have one and love it!. It's a little tricky learning how to handle the bag. The first time I tried it in the field I almost fell into the creek and then spilled most of the contents down my legs into my boots! And there's a little trick to getting the bag to stay open while you're filling it. You'll want to practice with it in the bathtub. But after a short familiarization period, it has worked just fine. It's a lot lighter than most other filters, gravity or otherwise.

I know a couple of people who like the Aquamira Frontier Pro filter, which is a coarse filter (3 microns) that filters out only protozoa (giardia and crypto). It won't do anything for bacteria or viruses, but the idea is that you use chlorine dioxide in conjunction with the filter. The filter gets out the protozoa (the critters that the chemicals take up to 4 hours to zap), while the ClO2 takes care of the bacteria and viruses in a mere 20-30 minutes. I certainly wouldn't ever use the filter without the chemicals! Jason Klass has a video on making a gravity filter out of it.
Posted by: IdahoHiker

Re: NEEDING SOME GEAR HELP! - 01/28/09 06:59 PM

Yea, I have heard good things about the amigo pro and will probably pick one up. Also i started looking through walking poles (or whatever you want to call them) and they are expensive. they seem pretty simple so i was wondering if there was any DIY for them or any good deals out there that i should be looking for if i do decide i want one or two.