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 Sierratradingpost.com and reioutlet.com and ebay and the list (craigslist.org). 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.