Cheap gear for beginners

Posted by: Banjopickin

Cheap gear for beginners - 10/19/11 06:46 PM

Hey ya'll,

I recently returned from an awesome week backpacking in the beautiful mountains of NC. I was relaying tales of my travels to a few buddies of mine, and they expressed interest in joining me on my next adventure. As usual the topic of gear came up and the general response (among others) from them seemed to be, "Man, I'd love to go with you but I cant afford all that expensive stuff." I explained to them that basically all you need is water, food, some sort of shelter, a warm blanket and something to carry it all in. This got me thinking about cheap gear and cheap alternatives to some of the equipment we all use. Im not talking about minimalism or survivalism but just cheap stuff you can buy at the local box/thrift store to replace or use as an alternative to expensive designer type gear. My favortie example that I use is an inexpensive contractor bag inside my pack, instead of an expensive sil-nylon pack cover. Being that this is the "Beginner Forum", folks just getting their feet wet in this sport probably cant or dont want to spend a ton of cash on something they may use once or twice. Also in these hard times, everyone can benefit from saving a buck or two on our gear. So folks, what are some other examples to help us be more frugal??
Posted by: Glenn

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/19/11 07:06 PM

A better alternative (and possibly no more expensive than the cheap stuff you'll use a couple times and replace anyhow) would be renting gear. It will be a bit better quality, too.

So, why is quality an issue? Because your goal is to get the friends hooked on the sport (so they can carry your rock collection some day. smile ) Better gear is not as likely to leave them soaked after a rain, or with bruises on their shoulders or hips from a poorly made, ill-fitting pack. It's usually a bit easier to use, and less likely to break.

If you use cheap gear, and want to avoid being wet and cold, you simply have to choose your time and place more carefully. The cheap stuff often doesn't function as well in prolonged rain, and a blanket probably won't keep you warm at 20 degrees under a tarp. So don't go out when the forecast calls for that (or choose another spot where the weather is more suitable.)

Having said that, I will tell you that, starting out, I used cheap gear, for two reasons: first, it was all I could afford, and second, there was no local outfitter who rented gear. So, if you decide you do want to go the cheap route, I'd start with a coated nylon tarp (the lighter, flexible "cloth" ones, or the good old Walmart green or blue "plastic" specials) - or even just a big sheet of Visqueen from the hardware store (see if they also sell something called a Vis-clamp, to make places to attach guy-out lines.) Get an extra piece of Visqueen or a plastic "painter's drop cloth" for a groundcloth. While you're at the hardware store, pick up a rake handle for everyone to use as a hiking pole; they'll also be tall enough to use for tarp supports. You can buy aluminum pots at Walmart to cook in, and you can pick up a spoon for everyone, too. Water bottles are free - and sold in 12 packs, already filled. Make a "cat" style alcohol burner (others will have to help you out here.) You get the alcohol fuel at the hardware store, too.

That's a start, and pretty much all I can remember. I'm sure others can help more. Also check out the Make Your Own GEar forum hear - great way to end up with good gear at a bargain-basement price. But I'd still recommend renting over buying cheap.

You're right; blankets will work.
Posted by: lori

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/19/11 07:07 PM

Cheap and ultralight gear list

Mark Verber's Cheap Gear Page

The outlet websites for and, Sierra Trading Post, your local thrifts stores,, and borrowing from other people.

Using a tarp instead of a tent. Beginners can encounter bad weather from time to time, and tarps take a bit of practice, but generally when you start out, you watch the weather and only go one or two nights (if you're starting smart).

Using what you have. Headlamps are cool, but seems pretty much everyone has one of those little cheapo flashlights. They work.

Recycling. Use a plastic bowl from a Country Time Lemonade container. Use a plain ol' fork and spoon from the thrift store, or that old set of silverware, or snitch one from McDonalds. Make a stove out of pop cans or use a Fancy Feast can. Make a windscreen out of a dollar store aluminum pan.

Trash bags can do anything. I have used them for ground sheets (seven bucks gets you a roll of contractor bags big enough to use as solo tent groundsheets or just to throw down under your pad). Also pack liners, or something to bundle up sticks for firewood to carry back to camp, or to stash wet boots in when you think it's going to be in the teens and want to put the boots in your footbox so they are not ice blocks in the morning. Contractor bags go in my daypack to be an emergency bivy. Poke holes and you have an emergency rain poncho.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/19/11 07:24 PM

You don't have to buy expensive clothing, either, unless fashion is more important to you than utility. Start with your own closet (which may contain a surprising amount of what you need) and then head for thrift shops and military surplus. After that, check the big box stores (their athletic depts.) for things like wicking tops, underwear, track pants, track shorts. Just make sure there is no cotton in what you're buying!

There are a lot of "cheap" gear lists around, and Mark Verber (see Lori's post) has links to most of them. I think he missed this one.
Posted by: oldranger

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/19/11 08:47 PM

When I first went west and started hiking, it was initially moderate day trips, then longer day trips that ended in the evening, then overnights...and so on. Along the way, I borrowed and bought military surplus (today you want to prowl Goodwill). I backpacked for years before I ever bought a tent. The critical items that must work for you are backpack, bag (sleeping) and boots. Everything else is secondary.
Posted by: Banjopickin

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/21/11 06:14 PM

Clothes can be a big saver if you shop at thrift stores. All my hiking shirts are 100% polyester button downs from the 70's. I also have found a ton of 100% wool shirts and long handles. I recommend hitting up the ones in wealthier neighborhoods. Ive picked up jackets and shirts from Patagonia, Smartwool, and a brand new Precip jacket.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/21/11 07:49 PM

You don't need boots; most people already have comfortable running-type shoes that will do fine, unless they have slick soles that won't hold in mud or on wet rock.

Fleece is another thing that's undoubtedly already in most peoples' closets; if not there is plenty of it at big box stores at a fraction of what you pay at REI and similar places, and just as good quality in most cases. At thrift stores, I'd hold it up to the light to be sure there are no thin spots.

And watch for sales! Costco, at least in the Pacific Northwest, right now has merino wool socks that most local hikers consider identical to Smartwool, something like four pair for $12. I don't have a membership, but my daughter-in-law does--I'm going up to visit tomorrow!

Another current Costco item--boys' down jackets, $30; supposedly the XL size is equivalent to a men's M.

These items may be a few ounces heavier than the expensive kind, but not so much heavier as to cause an undue burden--and they're certainly easier on the wallet!
Posted by: Paulo

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/21/11 09:25 PM

L.L. Bean has some great prices on down vests and jackets, but it'll still set you back $40-80.

DIY alcohol stoves, Cheap aluminum pots (I just picked up a 3oz coffee maker for $5 and a 5 oz 1 liter pot for $3) all are good cheap ways to get in the door. A simple $10 8x10 blue tarp will do for most situations and can even double for a backpack (check "yukon pack" on google).

Most people could handle a cheap walmart sleeping bag. They just had the alps 20 degree synthetic on steep and cheap for less than $50.

If you craigslist or garage sale you can pick up an external frame for under $10. I plan to keep a few around for friends who don't have that sort of gear.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/21/11 10:35 PM

While I understand the classic Walmart grease pot is defunct, KMart still has theirs for about $5.

You can get a EN13537-rated 20*F down bag, the Kelty Cosmic Down, for well under $100 if you shop around. Heavier, of course, than Western Mountaineering, but definitely lighter and longer-lasting than a comparably priced synthetic bag.

For shelter, moving up from the blue tarp, and a lot lighter, is the 8' x 10' silnylon tarp from (actually Equinox) for $80, 14 oz. Add mason's twine for guylines, aluminum gutter nails or homemade stakes from coat hanger wire, a chunk of polycro (the shrink-to-fit storm window material) for a ground sheet and a couple of sticks (found at the campsite) the appropriate length for poles, and you have a first-class shelter under a pound for about $90. For bug protection, pick up some wedding-veil material from JoAnn's Fabrics and drape it from the roof of the tarp. Moving the other direction, you can use clear plastic for a tarp which will last a few nights; just be sure to pack the remains home with you if it shreds.

For food, no reason to buy those spendy tastless freeze-dried backpacking meals--you can put together your own from supermarket ingredients. Check Sarbar's website for details and lots of recipes, most of which require only boiling water (no dishes to wash!).

Posted by: DTape

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/22/11 06:40 AM

The "walmart grease pot" is still available but not at walmart. The company that makes it is Stanco. It can be found through amazon:

Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/24/11 09:45 PM

That's the same one that KMart carries.
Posted by: Gershon

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/25/11 12:20 PM

One of the things I learned in sales is to give the best product for the person's needs. Never negotiate price or functionality. Let the client do that if they choose to. This setup is $1,141. Yes, that's expensive, but it's not a cheap activity.

I put myself in the place of a professional sales person at REI and recommended what will work. I'd be sure to explain the benefits of what I recommend vs. make-do gear. Given the opportunity, I'd take several hours to do this focusing on the benefits of the gear I recommended. At the end, I'd just sit back and let the client make the decision.

This setup comes in at 27 pounds for a 4 day trip including food and water. (Water could be cut by 4 pounds in most cases as I included a gallon in plastic bottles.) This setup is reasonable when overnight lows are around freezing.

From here, a person can decide to put off some purchases. Especially with clothes. They can also do things like share a stove and water filter. Some may know about other things that work equally well and I can substitute those.

Someone may buy all this gear out and decide they hate backpacking. No problem. REI has a very liberal return policy. Same if item doesn't work for them. If they decide they love backpacking, it also works. All the gear can be used until worn out. With make-do gear, there is the initial cost plus the cost of the replacement for the person that likes backpacking.

(I did leave out a few things like plastic bags and line for hanging a bear bag and probably some stuff I didn't think about. Add a pound or so for all that.)

Posted by: Glenn

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/25/11 12:55 PM

I like that list, a lot. I might argue that the footprint wasn't really needed, but they do make things convenient.

I might also recommend the Osprey Kestrel 48 instead of the Talon 44 - you'll add a pound or so to your load, but the suspension is a bit better, and the pockets and such seem a bit more functional to me. (I've used both, with about a 22 pound load, and found the Kestrel more comfortable and easier to pack - though the Talon worked.) I didn't look it up, but the Kestrel may cost about $20 more. As the hypothetical REI salesperson, I'd help the person collect the other gear, then let them pack it in each pack and try them on - at that point, it would simply be the individual preference, (much like the difference between the Atmos 50 and Exos 46 - both of which would be additional good choices, if they fit better.)

I liked the inclusion of the mini-Trangia - a nice balance of function, cost, and light weight. It would have been easy to recommend a SnowPeak Giga stove and any of several Titanium pots of 1L or so, or one of the Jetboil series. The cost would have approached $100, and there'd still be one problem. Canister stoves are very easy for new hikers to deal with, but when the weather turns cooler, they've got to find another stove (not so much with the Jetboil, but certainly with the Snow Peak.) The Trangia is as light as any of those, works well in cooler weather, and is far less expensive. It's also reliable, easy to use, and the fuel is cheap and readily available. Really good choice.

Well-thought-out list!
Posted by: TomD

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/25/11 01:17 PM

There is absolutely no reason to buy much of the stuff on this list. Telling someone they need to spend more than a grand to spend a couple of days hiking will surely put them off doing it. I've gone camping with people who had almost none of this stuff and they still had a good time. It was SoCal on the 4th of July, so no worries about rain or cold weather.

Forget the tent, footprint and pack-you can usually borrow a tent or share with someone who already has one; footprints are a waste of money, if you insist on one, make it out of a scrap piece of Tyvek; packs, even good ones are cheap on eBay or Craigslist, so are sleeping bags. You can buy a cheap sleeping pad for $10 at most discount stores (the blue foam one).

I would rather buy a used piece of good gear than something new, but cheap. I've bought a tent, pack, winter parka (the one in my picture), stove, compass, ski boots, rain pants and probably a few things I can't remember offhand off of eBay, Craigslist or here at big discounts, and they are all high quality. A couple of things were new, but a great price, but most were used and about 30-50% of retail. Example, my parka retailed for about $500, I got it for slightly more than half that and it looked brand new when I unpacked it.

Stove-make a soda can stove for almost nothing or get one off eBay or Craigslist.

Clothes-as already noted, thrift shops or big box stores, or online at places like Sierra Trading Post; wool socks are nice, but you don't need to spend $18 a pair, cotton socks are fine for anything except cold, wet, weather. Cheap raingear will work, better yet, plan ahead for your first few trips to avoid bad weather.

Water filter-forget it, either boil your water or use tablets like Aqua Mira or Pure Aqua.

One more thing, yes, REI has a very generous return policy, but treating it like a free rental shop doesn't sit well with me. Encouraging people to do that will eventually lead to the end of that policy.

Posted by: aimless

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/25/11 04:06 PM

In my own experience and in my observation of others, you do not need good gear or light gear in order to get hooked on backpacking. If you ask a dozen old-timers, who've been doing it for decades, about their first time out, the chances are very high that their story will feature getting cold, or wet, or blistered, or sore, or some combination of these miseries. Yet, they didn't stop backpacking because of these initial experiences with it.

The conclusion I draw from this observation is that it is OK to let your friends come along, equipped with cheap, poorly made, heavy and barely adequate gear. If they are the sort who are going to get hooked into this strange, but highly satisfying, recreation, then none of these will prevent them from wanting to go out a second, third or tenth time. They'll just learn from their mistakes, replace their worst gear, and persevere. Destiny is hard to avoid.

That said, they'll be lots better off if they can beg, borrow or buy a warm enough sleeping bag right off the bat and at least have some sort of blue foam pad and ground cloth to put under them, and a tarp that won't leak badly that they can set up as a shelter over them.

At a minimum their shoes should have some grippy tread and not hurt their feet. For this time of year, I recommend wool or synthetic socks, not cotton sweat socks, with some cushion to them. For warmth, emphasize layers, not some huge bulky coat, along with an outer layer that can shed some wind and something to resist rain. They'll need a fleece stocking cap. A lot of this can be had for cheap, or at a thrift store, but try to give them a clue about what to look for and what works an dwhat doesn't.

Food can be ultra-simple. At a pinch, it can be no-cook food, which will eliminate the need for a stove or a pot. Less gear that way.

If they can't borrow a pack, make sure whatever they end up buying has a good waist belt and make them bring a heavy trash bag to use as a rain-proof liner so their sleeping bag and clothes don't end up wet.

Before they set foot on a trail with you, make them show you what they are taking, so you can plug holes, or argue them out of foolish gear, like a cast iron frypan. Good luck and have fun!
Posted by: Gershon

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/25/11 04:26 PM

I'm also against using REI as an intentional free rental. But their return policy also encourages other sales at a prices a little higher than other places. It's because of this return policy that I look to REI first for gear, but I've never returned anything.

The list isn't meant to be an expert's view as I'm certainly not an expert. Everyone, feel free to pick it apart and suggest improvements.

I really like the motto of a very small local store. "We don't have room to sell junk." Unfortunately, they are now more into kayaking than backpacking. I'm pretty hesitant to recommend gear that I know has bad limitations except for car camping. Then a person can just go home if it gets bad.
Posted by: Glenn

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/25/11 04:56 PM

I took Gershon's post as more of the list of "affordable gear I'd recommend to someone who has taken that first trip and decided to come back for more."

I agree that, for a first trip in smiling weather, you can take someone out with whatever you can scrounge. I've done that (and taken myself out that way), and it works fine - the key thing is choosing the weather and being ready to cancel if the forecast goes south. But then comes: "Hey, that 4th of July trip was really fun. How about we go again on Columbus Day?" At that point, I think you have to consider better gear. If the person is still a little tentative ("Yeah, I'm thinking I might like going out once or twice a year with you."), then renting gear is probably the most appropriate course of action. But what about the person who says, "I can see myself doing this half a dozen times a year, in colder weather, too." Now I think you're at the point where a decent, affordable (relative term) set of gear is realistic. That's what I felt Gershon's list was aimed at.

It's very, very close to the list I've given to several such people, with the understanding that they don't have to plunk the whole thing down at once: we'll share a stove and pots, and filter, and first aid kit, and I'll loan them a poncho, tent, and pad until they can afford one. But they'll need to go ahead and plunk down for a pack and sleeping bag. (Buying the pack first is not so much of an issue in this case, since I can let them use my loaner gear to pick out the pack.

It wasn't exactly the "cheap gear" list that the OP asked for, but I think it moved the conversation along into a valuable side channel.
Posted by: Gershon

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/26/11 10:28 AM

If I were to introduce someone to backpacking, I'd do it through car camping and day hikes. That way the gear doesn't much matter. If the car camping went well, I'd do a short overnight trip leaving late in the day, weather permitting, and coming back before about lunch time the next day. Maybe hiking only a couple of miles in.

Clothes are the easiest thing to compromise on and that's about $470 of my list. Sure a person can scrounge, borrow, rent, etc. and maybe come up with some good deals. That's easier when you have a basic set of good enough gear and want to upgrade as it's possible to wait until something came along. I did some of that this year and it worked on some items.

I'm not a big believer in misery as misery is often one event from something dangerous. For instance, if a person is cold sleeping under a tarp in the rain, they are just one gust of wind away from being cold and wet. A bad combination. Most of us would know to quickly protect our sleeping bag and clothes and then quickly deal with the tarp. A new person might not be able to set up the tarp quickly in the dark, wind and rain and end up in a more miserable situation or possibly hypothermia.

Tarps have other issues. The flattest spot in a campground is often that way because it's where the water settles. It takes some experience in actually seeing rain run-off to pick a good place for a tarp.

Tarps won't keep out the bugs. Personally, I don't care as bugs don't bite me. But for others it might be an issue.

A person who is fatigued from carrying a 50 pound pack is only a step away from a sprained or broken ankle.

Sometimes we can't give people what they want. The OP went on a week long trip and his friends wanted to join him on his next trip. NC is warmer than here, so the criteria for comfort might be different. But if I were to take someone new on a week long trip, I'd want them to have things that are functionally equivalent to the list I made. I might lend it to them. Some we could share. Some they might buy used. Some might be a step lower in quality, like the sleeping bag or pack.

There is a part of me that also says a person needs to experience a certain amount of misery in order to appreciate avoiding it in the future. So, I am on both extreme ends of the discussion. So to add to the cheap gear discussion. If you get to know some backpackers, just let them know you'd like to buy some good used gear. Many of us have stuff we'd just give away or sell for a reasonable price.
Posted by: lori

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/26/11 01:04 PM

Going to have to disagree with a lot of this - see, when I was a kid we had no money. We used a heavy old blue poly tarp and swimming pool mattresses, and crappy cheap bags. You get away with a lot if you only go when you are reasonably assured of good weather, which is not foolproof but worked most of the time for us. And we did get rain - you get that sometimes in the mountains even when forecast is for clear and sunny. You figure it out! Went out in jeans, sweatshirts and whatever we had. You go for two days and you can get away with it. We used the DEET like no one's business, but other than that we did great, slept well, no issues a'tall otherwise my mum wouldn't have budged out the door. Tho when dad hurt his hip when the log rolled on it, she rather insisted we get a travel trailer and stick to tamer stuff.

However, these days it's terribly easy to get cheap synthetics, wool from a thrift store, and rent the pack, bag, pad, tent, and stove. Or to borrow stuff. So that's what I tell people to do until they are reasonably sure they want to keep backpacking, at which point spending the money makes sense.

Misery is never necessary.

But the OP said cheap gear sources, so that's what the OP got from me.
Posted by: oldranger

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/26/11 01:26 PM

Everyone today seems to regard a tent as [/i]de rigeur[i], but I backpacked regularly for well over a decade before I owned a tent for regular three season backpacking. I did have a surplus Army mountain tent (heavy!) for winter outings, but we regularly used tarps. My need for a tent grew in later years when often me and my partner desired (ahem!) some privacy. Six pounds was a small price to pay.

Pitching a tarp is not rocket science, and bad weather gives you plenty of incentive to do it right.

If you can sleep warm and comfortable at night, you will be fine. It helps if you don't have to deal with blisters. Most everything else falls under the heading of minor inconvenience.

In those days (the mid 5os, just before the emerging boomers made backpacking a much more popular activity), you could walk into an unlocked cabin in the Arizona mountains and use it. You cleaned up afterwards and left a nice pile of dry kindling next to the stove. I also obtained, somehow, a Forst Service master key, useful the whole country over in those days. It was probably the ultimate lightweight piece of hiking gear and it wasn't even titanium.
Posted by: ppine

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/26/11 05:58 PM

People have tramped around the world for thousands of years with very little equipment. The militaries of the world have created some usable equipment that has always been cheap.

By 1900, people like Nessmunk promoted the light pack with a few blankets and silk tents. Cooking was on a fire, water was clean or was boiled.

Lots of us started with WWII A-frame packs and Trapper Nelsons with wood frames, plastic tarps, cast iron frying pans, and cans of beef stew. We had great times. There were almost no people, clean water, and good fishing.

Modern backpackers have a tendency some time in their careers to become gear heads. Saving weight is fine, but it is like a religion to some. Don't try to save me.
Posted by: lori

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/26/11 06:23 PM

Originally Posted By oldranger
Everyone today seems to regard a tent as de rigeur, but I backpacked regularly for well over a decade before I owned a tent for regular three season backpacking. I did have a surplus Army mountain tent (heavy!) for winter outings, but we regularly used tarps. My need for a tent grew in later years when often me and my partner desired (ahem!) some privacy. Six pounds was a small price to pay.

When I set up my tarp and hammock, people will claim they need a tent to keep out bugs. I have a full zip bugnet on the hammock and the times I have been bugbit while tarping on the ground - once, out of more than 20 tarp trips now.

The funny thing to me is that on one trip, a guy was harping away about bugs and needing a tent, you're gonna be cold and bugs will get you, yadda blah blah, and an hour later he was yelling about all the ants in his tent. Park your tent on an anthill or three and leave the zipper open and guess what! Being complacent and neglecting appropriate site selection only shows how even a tent isn't the bombproof protection people seem to think it is.
Posted by: Gershon

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/26/11 07:10 PM

Well, to get in the spirit of things, I stopped in the thrift store to see what I could find.

I did see a pair what looked like synthetic hiking pants,but they were 80% cotton.

After searching for about 20 minutes, I couldn't even find a pot. Then...

I ran across a down quilt with 1180 grams of fill for $11.95. The size is 86 x 64. Total weight is about 3 3/4 pounds. (I'll have to get it to the post office to see for sure.)

I think it would be plenty warm down to the 30's. I'll have to test it out. Maybe I could use the fill to make a sleeping bag in the future.

Posted by: phat

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/27/11 12:25 AM

I've hauled quite a few newbies into the sport.

They always ask me what they need. I tell them "comfortable shoes with grip". I make them buy good socks, and then a set of nylon baselayer and clothing - usually I go through what they have and they may have a couple of nylong running shirts or pants, works fine. My last newbie bought socks, and two pairs of nylon underwear at wal-mart. he had workable stuff in his dresser for most other things. (For the record he went with two pairs of liners/woolies, poly longjohns (borrowed from me) nylon underwear, two running shirts, a light sweater and fleece, and a rain/wind shell. No they weren't trendy brands but they were functional and not obnoxiously heavy.

Everything else, well, he borrowed from me. I'm enough of a gearhead I just have extra stuff. So he ended up with my backup set of trekking poles, a spare backpack (GG virga) spare sleeping pad (Thermarest prolite plus 3/4), spare pot, spare stove (snow peak), spare silponcho, old sleeping bag, and SMD lunar solo tent. Pop bottles for water. spoon from MacDonalds. He started with a base weight of about 10 pounds. Yes, I could have shared gear with him. I don't believe in doing that with newbs. they learn more if they have to be self contained, and that's not very much of a weight penalty these days.

He's since been on a number of longer hikes, and now has all his own stuff.

Did another one this summer -- big guy like me, modified it slightly and gave him a BA sleeping pad because I knew he would need the comfort. He's hooked too. then went and bought his own gear..

Best cheap gear for beginners is what you upgraded from, or have around for spares. Other bits can be rented or thrift stored. Heck I make sure I keep spare sets of stuff around for my kids and for exactly this purpose!

And notwithstanding that, you can do pretty good cheap lightweight with thrift store/walmart/old navy clothing, runners, and a couple of key items off of the net. cheap sleeping bags even work fine, although I've said it before and will say it again, if you handed 400 dollars to me buck naked and told me I needed to go out, 300 of it would be spent on the sleeping bag, and 100 on everything else including my clothing.

Posted by: phat

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/27/11 12:32 AM

And besides, being nice to newbies is a wonderful justification for me to own more than one piece of gear.
Posted by: phat

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/27/11 12:43 AM

Originally Posted By Gershon
Well, to get in the spirit of things, I stopped in the thrift store to see what I could find.

My local thrift store usually does very well. it typically takes me no time for find
- socks - poly dress and woolies
- pants - often "track pants" or exercise pants. as long as they'll dry quick
- fleece (it's everywhere)
- rain/wind shells (maybe not goretex, but good enough, either waterproof, or nylon and you nikwax it)
- shoes (often an amazing selection of acceptable running shoes or light hiking boots)

I tend to walmart for the nylon "athletic shirts" or underwear.

Posted by: oldranger

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/27/11 02:50 AM

It is really amazing to consider that the continent was settled without the benefit of Gore-tex. How did they ever manage?
Posted by: lori

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/27/11 07:34 AM

Originally Posted By oldranger
It is really amazing to consider that the continent was settled without the benefit of Gore-tex. How did they ever manage?

"Don't touch the sides of the tent!"
Posted by: Gershon

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/27/11 07:41 AM

Originally Posted By lori
Originally Posted By oldranger
It is really amazing to consider that the continent was settled without the benefit of Gore-tex. How did they ever manage?

"Don't touch the sides of the tent!"

Didn't know you were old enough to remember that.

Posted by: Glenn

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/27/11 08:26 AM

A great number of them didn't - many died in the process. (Would our modern gear have saved them? Quite probably not.)
Posted by: phat

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/27/11 08:50 AM

malarky.. goretex won't do anything a good waxed cotton (aka "oilskin") won't.. it's just lighter and easier to care for. and being wet won't kill you, being cold will. Wool works too. you don't stay dry, but you'll stay alive. Would oldtimers have died of exposure, sure, but not for lack of modern gear. for lack of appropriate gear in the situation they were in.

I personally often use a 100 weight fleece as "raingear" - I stay warm, and it dries quick. If I'm moving I am no less wet from the rain than I am from sweat wearing a baggie.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/27/11 11:38 AM

Phat, glad to see you back!

My parents' tent, bought in 1941, was made of waxed Egyptian cotton. It weighed about 12 lbs., which was considered lightweight back then for a 3-person tent. You could touch the sides without starting a leak. The tent material that couldn't be touched was unwaxed canvas. The tent finally met its demise in 1962 when a large branch fell through it during a 90 mph windstorm on Puget Sound. We had already left the tent for a nearby picnic shelter when the wind and rain started to pick up, long before the branch came down.

I personally avoid Goretex. Inside Goretex I sweat as much as with non-breathable coated nylon. I also had two different (expensive) Goretex jackets wet through where the pack straps rub after a couple of trips. I now use non-breathable rain gear. Not the old-fashioned oilskins, but silnylon with seams sealed. I got it plenty big so it's loose for more ventilation. If it's warm rain, I don't bother with rain gear while I'm actively hiking. My nylon shirt (or base layer top) and pants dry out on my body in 15-20 minutes once it stops raining.
Posted by: ppine

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/27/11 12:50 PM

Does anyone know the name Filson? Working in Alaska in country with 150 inches of rain a year, Goretex will eventually leak. It gets torn up in the brush. When you fall down which happens frequently, it is very slippery and therefore dangerous.

In July, the best materials often times are still wool long underwear and and wax-impregnated cotton pants believe it or not. A hardhat keeps the rain off and protects from widow makers. Specialized conditions call for specialized clothing and equipment.
Posted by: aimless

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 10/27/11 12:54 PM

Filson? Sure thing. I used to own a pair of wool twill Filson pants back in the day (1970s).
Posted by: Gershon

Re: Cheap gear for beginners - 11/01/11 12:28 PM