For many of us, renting is not an option and if, like me you are broke, you have to do something to gear up.
I do not think on the whole that Ozark Trails is a good idea in your situation.
I have been terminally broke most of my 65 years and I do not expect it to change much. Never less, I have decent, even excellent gear.
My main packs were bought on eBay, both excellent packs, one Kelty, another Lowe for under $60, discontinued models.
Other gear has been more problematic. I have haunted stores for returned merchandise (REI has garage sales periodically), bought used or aftermarket on eBay and otherwise. I have occasionally had to return merchandise that did not work out, including a large internal frame pack from China. Alternatively the Chinese multi-fuel stove I bought seems an exact clone of a pricey US stove. (Were they made in the same factory?)
Basically you have to be careful and hunt with cunning and patience. When you see a remarkable buy, spend even if it will pinch for awhile.
I would avoid Ozark Trails sleeping bags (see what places like Dick's Sporting has in off season-I know, Dicks is not great, but they handle Eureka, which is considerably better than OT).
Avoid OT tents, the reviews have them as fragile and leaky.
For a stove, buy a Amazon/Chinese propane stove if that is your choice of fuel. Mine is small, light and so far reliable. It sold for around $10.
I like the Chinese copy of a Trangia alcohol stove I bought for something like $10, likewise on Amazon.
Ozark Trails sleeping pads are about as good as the big name and it will save you maybe $10. What can go wrong in a closed cell pad?
OT packs look good in the store. I might use their daypacks or overnight/weekend packs for daytrips where failure of the pack would not be a catastrophe. I looked at them earlier and they seemed decent.
Garbage gear does not save money in the long run. A good pack should be your first purchase, you can even use it in daily strolls with water bottles for conditioning. A good sleeping bag should be your second purchase. A cheap stove will do. If you do not need a full tent with fly, other options are cheaper. I did without a full tent for years. A new stove can be cheap if you pick propane or alcohol. A cookset can often be found at Goodwill. Alternatively a cheap Boy Scout set will work, just pick something light. Good synthetic athletic clothing can be had at Goodwill for pennies. Footwear can be decent running shoes if the weather is decent. Alternatively I have found my Ozark Trails walking shoes to be decent for the walks of up to five miles on sidewalks and running on a treadmill.
Just shop smart and be in no rush.
Edited by EMT Dave (12/03/17 04:40 PM)