Gearing Up

Campmor is a great retailer with an expert staff. They have been operating a paper catalog for as long as I remember and they have one retail store in Paramus, NJ.
A happy camper with a bag full of goodies from Campmor.

Holly asks, “What’s a realistic cost of “gearing up” and who are your favorite retailers?”

Holly will be participating in my upcoming “Intro to Backpacking” seminar at Harriman State Park. I’m Hosting the event with Hudson Valley Hikers.  If you’re interested in the event, please leave a comment below.

Favorite Retailers

I buy most of my big gear from small, online retailers. There are a lot of “cottage” manufacturers that make gear that is more innovative than what you find in stores like REI. I get my basic supplies, like stove fuel and socks, from Campmor or Ramsey Outdoor. Sometimes REI has the best prices for clothing and I’ll shop there. Fortunately for most people, competition has forced the major gear makers to start making lighter, simpler equipment. REI specifically has really improved their own brand of Co-op gear. It isn’t the lightest or most functional, but it is reasonable.

The Cost of Gearing Up

What I recommend on price: buy the best gear you can afford. When I bought my first set of gear, I cheeped out. I reasoned that I didn’t need anything fancy.  I wasn’t going to be hiking very far at a time. I learned the same lesson most people do and soon got bored with short mileage and wanted to hike further and in more interesting places. At this point, my original gear was too heavy and I started replacing it. I advise people to just buy the right gear the first time.

That said, this stuff can be pricy and you may drop over $1000 to get started. Your kit starts with “the big 4,” your pack, tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. Here are some samples:

  • Backpacks:
    • Gossamer Gear Gorilla 40 – $250
    • REI Flash 45 – $149
  • Tents:
    • Tarptent Notch – $285
    • REI Quarter Dome – $279
  • Sleeping:
    • Enlightened Equipment Revelation 30 (quilt) – $255
    • REI Co-Op Igneo 25 (sleeping bag) – $289
  • Pad:
    • Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Xlite – $129 to $199
    • Therm-A-Rest Zlite – $35 to $45
  • Water Treatment
    • Sawyer Mini – $25
    • Aqua Mira – $10
  • Stoves
    • Snow Peak Mini Solo Pot + GigaPower Stove – $125
    • Olicamp Kinetic Ti  Stove + XTS Pot – $69

Other Gear

Aside from those “Backpacking Specific” pieces, you’ll need a few other odds and ends like a bear bag, first aid kit, pocket knife, etc.    Clothing is a big wildcard. If you own descent hiking clothing now, you’re set. I don’t want to go to far into clothing right now.

One thought on “Gearing Up”

  1. When I started backpacking, I had absolutely no backpacking gear or proper clothing (except maybe one shirt, one pair of hiking pants and socks). I spent about $2000 to get EVERYTHING I needed (tent, pack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, extra clothing, pot, stove, utensil, down jacket, rain jacket, pack cover, hat and gloves, bug net, running shorts, sports bras, extra socks, decent boots, trekking poles, stuff sacks, headlamp, water treatment, tiny containers, stuff for my first aid kit, personal hygiene product, etc., etc., etc.) to go on the AT for three months on a long section hike. While I didn’t get the best and the lightest of everything, I got pretty light stuff, like Mountain Hardware Phantom 32, Tarptent Notch and Mountain Laurel Designs Prophet pack.

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