Buying gear is a whole hall of mirrors that will make you crazy because of so many choices, both good and bad. Same for clothes/
For a first time gear buyer, unless you have a lot of discretionary income, I recommend going easy on buying "the best" whatever that anyone recommends. As with many things, it is not the answer, but asking the right question that is important.
One way to start is by reading The Complete Walker, considered by many the Bible of backpacking; not so much for choosing any one piece of gear, but for how to look at what you need=as systems, not individual pieces bought at random.
Example-I winter camp so my gear and clothing selection is primarily for that season, although I can adjust my gear list for other seasons in California, where I live. Look at the gear lists posted here (start at the site's home page) to see various lists. I keep my gear and clothes simple as possible, but other people have jackets for every occasion.
Another choice for gear is buying used. BUT, you need to know what you are looking at and what things are worth. However, there is a lot of poorly made stuff on eBay that is not worth the price, no matter how cheap it is. Never buy anything unless you are sure what it is.
Edited by TomD (12/07/11 03:12 AM)
Don't get me started, you know how I get.