Backpacking gear


B.O.H.I.C.A. bend over here it comes again
This is a good thread.

If your hiking with a partner your lucky cause you don't need two of everything, you can usually share the tent, water purifier, stove. etc..
Find out what your partner has and if it works well enough concentrate on what your gonna need.
If your looking to save money you can try and and ebay and the list (
There are certain trusted brands that make good products and if when you find these at the right price they can be a good buy. I've found it much better to have one higher priced piece of gear than two or three cheaper items. Usually the higher priced pieces of gear will last longer and you don't need to haul around as much. But if you don't have the latest greatest stuff you can still get by with what you got.
Go with the full lenght Thermarest.
Get a good sleeping bag
If your camping by a lake or river you can always boil your water if you don't have a purifier or filter.

One last thing that I don't think has been mentioned. I have a synthetic bag that doesn't shrink down as much as I'd like so I got a compression sack that goes around the bag and squeezes that thing down to the size of a large grapefruit/small watermelon. This saves a lot of room in my pack.

There are millions of pieces of gear you can buy and research. Take what you got and get out there and pretty soon you'll know what you like, need, want and must have.
I have exstensive back packing experience and the best advice I can give you is to wear either some high quality boxer-briefs (polys) or compression shorts under you shorts or pants. Chafing always seemed to be an issue for me and my hiking partners. Didn't seem to matter whether it was spring, summer or fall. Next to foot blisters, chafing can ruin your trip in a hurry.



Active Member
Sock: Smartwools are great. Sturdy and comfortable. I have worn mine a ton, and the stank washed right out. As with any socks though, while out on the trail, wash them every few days. The salt from your sweat can build up and scratch the hell out of your feet.

Stoves: As others have said, the pocket rocket burns food. It takes some skill and patience to properly cook a meal with one. I would take it back if I were you. if you plan on getting an MSR, spring for the whisperlite international. It will burn just about any fuel. If your in the market for a something else, try the stoves that fit the camping gaz: less mess than white gas, boils water in 2 seconds flat, and temp. control. Less weight too.

Water: I mostly use purifiers, but if you want to go the chemical route, use Aqua Mira. No taste or smell. Follow the directions and in 30 minutes you got drinkable water. Unlike iodine, Aqua Mira kills both crypto and giardia.

Clothes: DONT use capilene. The stuff takes stink and holds it. I can wash mine and it smells like a fresh mountain meadow, but as soon as I put it on it reaks. Maybe its just me, but everyone I know who has used it says the same thing. Oh and Pattigucci underwear is the shit.
Several non cotton layers and a good lightweight rain coat and rain pants work great.

Feet:Bring camp shoes so you don't have to walk in your boots around camp. Chacos or other sandals work great
Personally, I think moleskin sucks on its own. Get some Moleskin foam and duct tape for the big blisters. The moleskin turned upside down with the fuzzy side on the blister is good for small blisters. Just slap some duct tape over the top to hold it on.

Food: some people like freeze dried some like fresh. I bring some of both. Freeze dried is light weight and can taste pretty good if you know what your doing. Buy a NOLS cookery and study it. You can make all sorts of things with that book on hand.
Bring spices- pepper, salt, garlic, curry, tobasco. Whatever ya fancy. They can save a nasty meal
Bring oil- A little bottle will do and you can cook trout or whatever.
Fresh cheese, cracker, salami, fruit, onions, etc are all good.
Bring a nice slab of bacon for that first night out.

Like others said, learn how to read a topo and compass. More fun and less likely to fail.

Just a few add-ons
Ummmm... Capilene has not been sold for years - and it was a Patagonia branded product.

Stay away from wool unless you are in a very dry climate. It takes forever to dry around here. I use it as a base layer when I am fishing / hunting in cold - but then I can throw it in the drier when I get home later that day. Stick to synthetic. Yes, wool insulates while wet, but you'll be putting wet underwear on everyday and it will start to get very, very heavy and clammy.

You are going to be extremely hard pressed to beat any REI products. They have the best testing lab in the industry, and due to margin structure, can offer it at a much better price than anyone else.
Let me preface this with, I am an opinionated SOB when it comes to hiking equipment. Since I don't think it has been emphasized enough, weight is everything. Your enjoyment, speed and distance will go up as your pack weight goes down. The biggest weight savings is in boots (1 pound on your foot equals 3 on your back), tent (bivy sacks are the lightest, mine weighs a pound, but bring a tarp if it might rain there are lots of really lite free standing 3 season tents available now, make sure it has a good rain fly design, unless you plan on serious winter mountaineering a 4 season tent is over kill), sleeping bag (I prefer down for comfort and weight either way it should be under 3#s unless you are winter backpacking then thats a whole new game), quality clothing (so you don't have to take extras except for the lighter layers), food (2 pounds per person per day) after that its nickel and dime stuff. Leave the luxury items at home, except maybe a little scotch. If your total pack weight, including fishing gear, for a 3 day trip is over 40 pounds (you should be able to be under 30 once you get quality gear). At the end of each trip see which gear didn't get used so you can re-evaluate its need. The 10 essentials are a good start.

As for purchasing gear, prioritize and frequent close out sales. There is no need to pay retail prices for most items (tents and boots are the most difficult to find on sale, clothing is the easiest) if you do your homework.

Have fun


Banned or Parked
Also, do any of you guys wear a thin under sock? When I was in the army, we would wear nylon/panyhose socks under our issue socks to keep from getting blisters. I've seen some newer age technology in undersocks and was wondering if they are worth it.
Yes! They not only have an advantage in preventing blisters, but also for wicking moisture away from your skin where it can be absorbed into the outer wool sock. The liner socks with Coolmax are my favorite. I used to work for a high end outdoor sock company, so I have a bit of knowledge in that area. Smartwools are good, but they're not the best or the best value (they tend to wear out faster than others). They just happen to have the best marketing department.
Last time I tried on a pair of Merrels I tried three of the same pair and none of them were made correctly (defects) or comfortable. I have an all-leather pair of yukons (no longer made) that I love. It made me sad. They must be manufacturing in china now. YMMV. Visit an REI, don't skimp on boots and don't be afraid to spend half a Saturday walking around the store. Then follow this advice.

Exofficio boxers are king. Cotton underwear and pants chafe. Underarmor is supposedly good too but I haven't tried them.

I wear a liner sock under a thorlos hiking sock and the combination has treated me well. Again, YMMV. Experiment a little.

While you're at REI look at packs. Another big purchase that's based on personal comfort. The employees, REI's expert advice and other climbers can tell you how big the pack should be for your intended use. Since you want to take a fly rod I strongly recommend making sure there are lash/compression straps on the side that can carry the rod or maybe a pack built to carry skis. Load up the kelty with some books to 30-40lbs and carry it around a park or trail near your house (or if you're not afraid of scaring the neighbors walk around your property line several dozen times). For additional fun take it into a city holding a tin mug. Use the money earned (panhandled?) to buy more/better gear. :thumb: If it's comfortable so much the better.

One more thing: do some dayhikes to closer lakes before tackling multi-day trips. This will help you get comfortable with your boots, pack, socks, etc and you'll quickly learn what you need to add or throw out of your pack. Better to find out you get blisters from a liner/cushion sock combination and your feet prefer smartwool 1 mile from the trailhead rather then 15.


We work to become, not to acquire.
There is a lot of good advice here. One thing as some have mentioned is stay away from cotton. Cotton kills, once wet it will rob you of all your body heat away. Backpacking lightweight will help you go farther and will be more enjoyable. You will be surprised at how much you don't need to bring. La Sportiva boots are pretty narrow in the toe box and Asolo's are wider in the toe box. Lowa's have a good in between fit. Gear has come a long way and it helps to do some research.
Ummmm... Capilene has not been sold for years ...
Ummmm... Im not quite sure where you get your information from, but I bought
my first and only pair of capilene at REI early last year.
And, if you'll follow this link, there are still capilene clothing for sale at the REI website:
... and it was a Patagonia branded product.
I'm not quite sure what that has to do with anything.

Anyhow, again like I said on my earlier post, I do not suggest using capilene.
Rei sells two things produced by CLEANLIFE products. They are called NO-RINSE shampoo and NO-RINSE shower. Little two ounce bottles, about two bucks apiece. They really work well. I just carry a little wash rag, dampen it and wipe down. It is not quite as good as the shower at home but amazingly close. I even carry them on day hikes.



Banned or Parked
Ummmm... Im not quite sure where you get your information from, but I bought
my first and only pair of capilene, I know because it says so on the tag, at REI early last year.
And, if you'll follow this link, there are still capilene clothing for sale at the REI website:

Again like I said on my earlier post, I do not suggest using capilene.
Not only that, but it's on sale at Patagonia too -

And yes, Capilene (like most synthetics) tends to stink pretty bad.


Active Member
I recently bought a bunch of gear while on a budget like you (SAVING FOR A HOUSE IN KING COUNTY IS KILLING ME!)

I bought a Kelty tent and two Kelty sleeping bags (one for the wife and I ). The tent and the bags were mid-range ($80-100 for the bags and about $150 for the two person backpacking tent). We've used the gear 12-15 times this year and had no problems- I figure good quality for the amount of times per year I actually use it.

I also bought a Kelty bag (about $150) and the quality has been great but I'm not 100% sold on the fit and weight. My wife bought a Marmot bag and she is really happy with it.

I also bought an MSR stove- lower end. It's been great.

As far as boots are concerned, I have owned many pairs of boots including Merril's over the years and oddly enough my all time favorites are the New Balance 851's. They are absolutely the most comfortable hiking boots I have ever worn and waterproof too. Often, I find myself wearing them around town because of their comfort. The problem is that they only sell them through Cabela's (exclusive) so you have to buy them without trying them on (don't know if they carry them in the stores or not). I took the chance because New Balance running shoes fit me so well and they were only like $80. Great tread, wide toebox, snug through the heel, and very supportive.

Sorry I don't have the model names for the gear I bought. Point being that I am very happy with the mid-line products I bought. I have used the gear in all kinds of weather (mountains, coast, hot, cold, rainy, snowy, etc.). Everything I've purchased has held up well....through the first 15 trips at least.....


Active Member
I am convinced that my hammock is the best one person, 3 season shelter on the market. Including rain fly, it weighs 1 lb, 15 oz and packs down smaller than a volleyball. Cost was $180 at REI. Hennessy ultralite A-sym. I don't feel rocks, and my pack (when backpacking) lives underneath and stays dry, even in the worst of downpours. I can also air dry clothing on a rainy trip by laying it over the ridgeline. The bug netting keeps the ants and other vermin out (huge bonus for my wife), and setup time is under 5 minutes.

Here's a pic of it on a rainy early season river trip:

Here's a pic of our twin hammocks on an early August trip. No rain fly needed. My wife is sleeping in the one on the left:


David Loy

Senior Moment
Ray - I've looked at these more times than I can count (with my pants on). These hammocks look great. I'm a tenter now but used strictly tarps for easily 12 years because I enjoyed the sense of community and open feel they offer. Have spent many rainy afternoons with friends having a killer time in my "living room". I have both size moss parawings now but spent most of my time under the std REI tarp. I used an early winters bivy, REI bag and thermarest for sleeping. The bugs never bothered me (bivy has an integral net), BUT the main problem with a tarp as I see it, is wind. An open tarp at least doesn't offer a ton of wind protection which is not good for cold. My perspective now is lightweight hikes, primarily day hikes. But I am dedicated to the 10 (more like 14) essentials.
Question: Does the Hennesy stay pretty warm?