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#202375 - 01/09/19 03:22 PM New $300 gear challenge from Mags.
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6632
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
PMags has updated his $300 gear challenge for frugal backpackers (especially beginners with not much money). It's a good basic list for beginners: slightly under $300 and under 15 lbs. base weight.

The Frugal Backpacker--$300 Gear Challenge--updated January 2019

Note that he has omitted thrift shop bargains, sales, used gear, because those often can't be duplicated. By shopping those possibilities, you may be able to save more or get higher quality gear. PMags includes possible upgrades.


Edited by OregonMouse (01/09/19 03:27 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#202378 - 01/09/19 08:09 PM Re: New $300 gear challenge from Mags. [Re: OregonMouse]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6632
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
While the above is serious, for fun I followed a link in the article and came up with this wonderful bit of humor:

Mad Libs Gear Review Edition

Enjoy! lol
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#202379 - 01/10/19 11:51 PM Re: New $300 gear challenge from Mags. [Re: OregonMouse]
Bill Kennedy Offline
member

Registered: 02/27/18
Posts: 177
Loc: Portland, Oregon
That is funny. Those all-good reviews drive me nuts. Second only to the ones that read, "I just got this yesterday, and boy, is it great!"

Regarding your original post, I sometimes worry that get-by-cheap lists will cause someone to go out unprepared. For instance, if someone thought that was really a 20-degree bag. I like cheap, though, so I always read them.
_________________________
Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everybody else. -Margaret Mead

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#202381 - 01/11/19 01:21 PM Re: New $300 gear challenge from Mags. [Re: Bill Kennedy]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6632
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
You can assume it's a 20* bag only if it's EN13537 tested, the comfort rating is 20*F, and you are following the test conditions by wearing your base layer and a knit cap and your pad is R-rated to 5.0 or higher. If you're an unusually cold sleeper, even this may not work (after all, humans are not test dummies). Also remember that most of us females definitely need to use the "comfort" rating.

For el-cheapo non-tested bags, we always assumed in pre-testing days that the rating is at least 10* warmer than the rating set by the manufacturer's marketing dept. Again, if you're female, add another 10*. So a generic untested 20*F bag will be nearer a 40*F bag for most women and for male cold sleepers.

It is also a good idea to test any new gear in your backyard or a nearby campground, where you can retreat to your bedroom or your car if anything goes wrong, before heading out on the trails. This is especially important for beginners, who need to practice using the gear before trying to set up camp on a dark and stormy night, flashlight in one hand and instructions in the other. For a sleeping system (bag or quilt and pad), testing under similar conditions (20*F) is a good idea. This can be done in back yard, patio, balcony, or car campground next to the car (and with extra blankets in said car).

Note that PMags has used this gear in the conditions he describes (summer in the Colorado Rockies) and it's similar to what he used when he first started out. As he points out, a few $$ more or a lucky sale (which he deliberately doesn't factor in) can produce better gear, sometimes cheaper.


Edited by OregonMouse (01/11/19 04:07 PM)
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#202383 - 01/11/19 02:43 PM Re: New $300 gear challenge from Mags. [Re: OregonMouse]
Bill Kennedy Offline
member

Registered: 02/27/18
Posts: 177
Loc: Portland, Oregon
You're right, it's the EN13537 comfort rating that you should look at, but the standard includes the other ratings which makes it easier for manufacturers to rate them too optimistically, while at the same time claiming an "official" rating. EN13537 has some problems...here's an interesting link:

https://www.outdoorindustry.org/pdf/EN13537Mccullough062209.pdf

Personally, I think Moonstone had it right with their "zone" system. For instance, a "zone 2" bag was rated for 20 to 35 degrees, depending on whether the user was a warm sleeper or a cold sleeper.
_________________________
Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everybody else. -Margaret Mead

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#202384 - 01/11/19 03:46 PM Re: New $300 gear challenge from Mags. [Re: OregonMouse]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1690
Loc: Southwest Ohio
The “comfort, “limit,” and “risk” ratings are definitely being exploited by the marketing folks. I was just looking at Thermarest bags and quilts; a couple of years ago, they named their bags on the comfort rating, but now they use the limit rating (the “Super Sun 40” of a couple years ago is now the “Super Sun 30.”)

While I was shopping for the quilt I wanted, I ignored the number in the name, and purchase based on comfort rating. That way, I’ve got a margin of error built in: if I buy a bag with a 40-degree comfort rating and a 30-degree limit rating, I should be good if the temps unexpectedly drop into the mid or lower 30s. (FWIW, I ended up with the Thermarest Vesper 32 - it has a 41 degree comfort rating, and I’m at the point in my life where I cancel trips if the lows are predicted below 40 - which is an in-town prediction; it will probably be 5-10 degrees colder in the woods. The other safety margin is Montbell Superior Down jacket and matching down pants, which I can wear in addition to the longjohns. I sleep a bit cold, so I wouldn’t use any pad rated lower than R-5.)

Marketers do the same thing with packs, but there’s no standard method: the “Maxout 60” has a 60-liter capacity by counting the lid, outside stuff-it and water bottle pockets, and main compartment; the “Bonecrusher 50” counts only the main compartment. Arrrgh!

In the end, it’s not enough to go by the temperature ratings. You have to know whether you sleep hot or cold, whether you’ll be using it in the open or in a tent (tarps and three-sided shelters provide only minimal windbreaks), and what type of trips you like to take.

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#202388 - 01/11/19 06:10 PM Re: New $300 gear challenge from Mags. [Re: Glenn Roberts]
41253 Offline
member

Registered: 12/28/14
Posts: 93
For years I used what Colin Fletcher called "Visqueen," or thick painters plastic. It's lighter, easier to cut to the right size, and packs smaller than the blue tarps. Instead of the fancy ball-hoop tie points that Colin wrote about I just balled up some dirt and leaves lassoed it with a line with a fixed bowline knot on the end.

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#202389 - 01/11/19 08:20 PM Re: New $300 gear challenge from Mags. [Re: 41253]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1690
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I used Visqueen with the Vis-Klamps for a couple of years while I saved up for a coated nylon tarp (more compact, built-in tie-out points.) They worked well as shelter from rain (I never got wet), but not so much as a windbreak.

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