$300 Gear Challenge updated!

Posted by: OregonMouse

$300 Gear Challenge updated! - 01/12/15 11:49 PM

PMags has freshly updated his $300 Gear Challenge list. Good thing, because so many of the older budget lists are outdated.

PMags' 2015 $300 Gear Challenge list

Some items have inflated a bit; I bought a Stanco Grease pot in late 2005 for $5; now it's double that amount. I could quarrel with a couple of the items; the Cat Food Can stove is not quite as cheap as listed if you don't have a cat and have to toss the food!

If you go on past the list, you'll notice he offers a number of possible alternatives for various items.
Posted by: Ewker

Re: $300 Gear Challenge updated! - 01/14/15 01:03 PM

I always enjoy reading list like this. You never know what you may find
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: $300 Gear Challenge updated! - 01/14/15 01:19 PM

Hey, if you were really hard core you would eat the cat food yourself instead of tossing it. Never tried fried cat food, but I have friends who have eaten dog food. My youngest daughter would snitch food out of the dog food bowl until she was 2 years old! Puppy chow was her favorite.

I am a big fan of beginners borrowing gear until they decide if they want to get in to backpacking for the long run. I did that and when I bought my own gear, one item at a time as I earned enough money, I purchased top of the line, items that lasted 20 years for some items. In fact I still use my 1974 Kelty packframe.

But yes, great list. Nice to see something out there that is not basically an advertisement to buy, buy, buy overpriced brand name stuff.

Posted by: billstephenson

Re: $300 Gear Challenge updated! - 01/14/15 01:29 PM

That's a pretty good list.

You're right, my cat stove cost more than that and my wife has enough cats to fill baskets full of them. The can of food was 88, the hole puncher was $1, and fuel was a few bucks. The cats ate the food, but I still had to pay for it.

On the other hand, I think he had $8 for socks and I have a drawer full of those, so the total costs wouldn't have really changed much.
Posted by: balzaccom

Re: $300 Gear Challenge updated! - 01/14/15 01:34 PM

Great list. The one obvious area where you can save? I've found nice external frame packs a thrift shops for $10...and that reduces his total even further.

On the other hand, the last time I backpacked with sleeping bag that cost less than $50 was about 1975...
Posted by: 4evrplan

Re: $300 Gear Challenge updated! - 01/14/15 02:40 PM

Cat food must be really overpriced where y'all live. I think I spent $0.44 on mine. I just dumped it in the back yard and let the neighborhood cats have it.
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: $300 Gear Challenge updated! - 01/14/15 03:58 PM

A list where thrift stores were not allowed may be more applicable to all locations. Some areas have thrift stores with outdoor gear, some do not. Thrift stores are great for clothing. Particularly since the generation now dying (their heirs giving those old outdated clothes to Goodwill) had really nice wool stuff, cashmeres for a few dollars.

One item that struck me was the $10 compass. I no longer use a compass so my cost is $0. The list says nothing of maps. I suppose you could use your smart phone for maps. I would think a person who owns an smart phone, is paying nearly the $300 in a few months of service. Quit the phone service, or even drop cable TV and you can upgrade to a $500 gear list!

A couple of methods not mentioned.

Sewing. We used to do this a lot before manufactured gear became so commonly available. Of course you have to have the sewing machine. Used to be everyone had a sewing machine at home, not so nowadays. I made a pack bag from all my old nylon stuff sacks. I use it with the pack frame I bought at the REI garage sale for $20. My daughter used to live in San Francisco and showed me all the super discount fabric stores in the Chinese districts. YKK zippers for 50 cents. Huge commercial spools of thread for a couple dollars. Fabric at wholesale prices.

Shared gear. When I grew up we had some camping gear that my brother and me shared. He got it one weekend and me the other. Also if you hike in a group, several people can share the cost of a tent. Cook gear should suffice for a group of four.

Multipurpose gear. I do take issue with the concept of a cheap sleeping bag. If a beginner spends a sleepless cold night their first trip, they likely will never go again. And a sleeping bag is not a backpack-specific item. It comes in handy for all kinds of travel. I personally buy higher quality gear, but then use it both at home and backpacking. I have a $50 down jacket I got at Target that I use as my town jacket because it looks nice. I also take it on some backpack trips. I wear my fleece layers at home as well as backpacking. My dear husband likes the house temperature set at 66 - I would freeze if I did not wear my backpack fleece! Raingear, too, is multipurpose. I do not have "town" raingear - I just use my backpack stuff.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: $300 Gear Challenge updated! - 01/14/15 04:48 PM

Same here--especially since I retired, but even before, I used the same outerwear and rain gear both at home and out in the wild. I do prefer to wear cotton clothing around the house, which I of course don't when hiking/backpacking, but I wear the outdoor stuff for exercise walking and other non-wilderness pursuits.

I also agree about the cheap sleeping bag, but I did manage to survive the 1980s with a $35 synthetic sleeping bag from a discount store. I still have the thing, although I haven't even looked at it for 10 years. (I probably should check to see if any mice are living there! laugh ) The article points out that for about $60 more you can get a down sleeping bag (Kelty Cosmic 20) which is EN13537 rated--that's what I would recommend as a "starter" bag. It would be a lot more saleable used, too.

Maybe discount stores are cheaper here in Oregon than in Colorado, but I got Silva Starter compasses for my grandkids for $7.50 apiece at our local Fred Meyer. I very seldom use a compass for navigation any more, but I love to sit on top of a pass or hill and use the compass and topo map to identify all the peaks within view--which keeps me in practice just in case.

I'd also spend $80 for an 8x10 silnylon tarp from Campmor and save over two lbs. of pack weight over the blue plastic.

It's still a good list, though, and at least it's far more up-to-date on items and prices than most of the budget lists around.
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: $300 Gear Challenge updated! - 01/15/15 12:13 PM

Originally Posted By 4evrplan
Cat food must be really overpriced where y'all live. I think I spent $0.44 on mine. I just dumped it in the back yard and let the neighborhood cats have it.


Yeah, they stick it to us Ozark hillbillies. That was the generic kind too, not a real "Fancy Feast" can frown

Of course, there aren't many of us, and we live way out in the middle of nowhere way past nothing at all, so I guess we're lucky to even find a place that sells it laugh
Posted by: PaulMags

Re: $300 Gear Challenge updated! - 01/15/15 06:27 PM

Hello all,

Paul Mags the author here.

Thanks for the kind words.

A few points

1) I have seen cheaper externals, but online prices are consistently ~$40. I'd rather be consistent than say "At a thrift store in XYZ, I paid $10!!!!". I once bought a $5 Patagonia fleece from a thrift store too. But, I'd be surprised to find that online without some luck. smile

2) Cheap sleeping bag: I used a Campmor Hollofill sleeping bag in New Hampshire my first year of backpacking. And used it from Mem day weekend to Fall (October). It worked fine; if heavy and bulky. Of course I upgraded when I had the money! laugh

3) No compass? That sounds alien to me. If you go off-trail, esp in areas a bit wooded, a compass helps immensely. I used it several times this past summer FWIW. I threw $10 out as a ball park figure. Even when I started backpacking, I had a compass on trail. Used to practice the skills I now have today.

4) Maps: Good point..but I did not included food prices either. smile Free topos , and other maps, are online. They do require printing so that does require some money. Then again, I did not include the price of gas to get to the trail head either! wink Maps, like food, are trip dependent, and vary in cost depending on what you buy, use and how much you need.

5) Sharing/borrowing gear: Absolutely. But, like the $5 Patagonia fleece, you can't count on that for every trip. Best to be independent if you want to get into backpacking in any way.

Keep the ideas coming as I've used them over the years with every revision.

Happy Trails!
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: $300 Gear Challenge updated! - 01/15/15 07:20 PM

Thanks, Paul, for coming on here to help and to clarify some of your prices! For anyone prepared to shop around, undoubtedly some prices could be lower. Plus there may be more "free" stuff in closet, kitchen or garage.

W_D hikes in the Wind Rivers and Sierra, mostly above timberline. Those areas are a lot more adaptable to non-compass navigation than the old growth forests here in the Pacific NW, where moss grows equally on all sides of every tree and for 8-9 months of the year that strange bright orb in the heavens is well-hidden behind dark and gloomy clouds. When I lived in the Rockies, I very seldom used a compass. As I get older, I find that my formerly acute sense of direction is not quite what it used to be, so I use my compass more than I used to and would never think of going out without it.

Welcome, and I hope we'll see you back again!
Posted by: dzierzak

Re: $300 Gear Challenge updated! - 01/16/15 11:16 AM

Walmart - compass @ about $7.00
Posted by: PaulMags

Re: $300 Gear Challenge updated! - 01/16/15 11:57 AM

Hope to come back as well. Always cheaper prices to be found depending upon how much leg work wants to be done.

I am sure many people have the appropriate skills to navigate w/o a compass.. Heck, I use a map and watch more than a compass myself. However,I don't think a beginner is one of them. For one ounce and $10 +/-, (and, of course, the appropriate knowledge), I don't think there is a reason to not take one...at lest IMO.

Happy trails!