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Gear in "Tough Times"
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Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Gear in "Tough Times" on 04/16/2009 12:46:36 MDT Print View

I got an email blitz from BACKPACKER Mag today, and in it they had their "Gear Chick" Kristin answer some email question.

The person was asking about still buying gear in "tough times", and what catagory to go for, and what to skimp on.

Her response isn't anything like BPL, but it is interesting. Kristin said that they can outfit 2 people for like $400-500.

I believe that there is a thread around here where some posters created a list of LW gear to outfit someone in the range of $150.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Gear in "Tough Times" on 04/16/2009 12:56:08 MDT Print View

Just getting a bag that's both warm and worthy of the LW moniker will set you back $150.

Compared to many other outdoor hobbies/sports, backpacking is actually one of the cheaper ones. But in tough times, even $400-500 can be difficult for some.

Tom Caldwell
(Coldspring) - F

Locale: Ozarks
Gear in "Tough Times" on 04/16/2009 13:23:34 MDT Print View

I backpack because I'm poor, can't afford much else. It's cheaper than golf, gambling, fine dining, motorboating, and big game hunting, and just about everything else.

I don't even venture more than 200 miles from home, if I have to travel across the country to do something, I'll find a new hobby.

Some of the local rednecks laugh at me for spending $400 for a sleeping bag. I laugh at them because they're miserable, they're making payments on $4,000 worth of guns, $4,000 ATV, $14,000 Harley Davidson, $24,000 Bass Boat, $24,000 camper trailer, etc... I think I'll stick with poor boy roughing it backpacking.

Edited by Coldspring on 04/16/2009 13:56:48 MDT.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Gear in "Tough Times" on 04/16/2009 13:45:49 MDT Print View

I'm certain that the backpacker crowd would be closer to the 400-500 mark for typical gear selection and it actually seems like a reasonable suggestion. It could be done with less of course, but their market isn't likely to do the following:
Be gentle with gear
Pair up clothing with sleeping systems for additional warmth
Make any of their own equipment
Buy used equipment
Do their own seam sealing
Think outside the box for any solutions (ie using gatoraid bottles instead of nalgenes...)

$150 is a extremely hard goal for UL and it ONLY works in warmer climates. Even if you make your own bag yourself a kit will set you back $70 or more which would significantly limit the rest of your options.

Let us not be so confident in our conniving multi-use items that we forget that the actual cost of all that we carry. Sure, you may have a stove that cost $.50 and get a plastic long handled spoon from dairy queen instead of a titanium one, but your sleeping bag and pack alone are likely to be $300+.

Edited by slacklinejoe on 04/16/2009 13:49:43 MDT.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Gear in "Tough Times" on 04/16/2009 13:51:22 MDT Print View

This is a great topic. Last November, I researched our Gear Swap forums, eBay, and our local thrift store, and tried to outfit my hypothetical self with gear that was decent enough for comfortable and lightweight 3-season backpacking. I "spent" about $160 bucks on:

Pack, tarp, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, rain jacket and pants, puffy jacket, long underwear, supplex shirt and pants, wool hat, fleece gloves, stove, and pot.

The rest of the accessories and consumables you can pick up for less than $50 - new - pretty easily.

The whole kit weighed less than 10 pounds. The limiting piece of gear was the bag, which was a used Campmor 40*F down bag, 2 lbs.

Zack Karas
( - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
tough times on 04/16/2009 13:53:34 MDT Print View

I agree with the previous poster--while it can be done light and cheap, that most likely isn't the norm. I'm always amazed when somebody posts on the gear swap forum that they are cleaning out extra gear in their closet, and the list is like 15 items and around $1000 for it all--and a lot of what is being sold has never been used. How many people buy a couple hundred dollar item and put it immediately into a closet to be forgotten about?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: tough times on 04/16/2009 14:03:45 MDT Print View

Tough times or not, I really think that one big reason why so many people end up accumulating gear is "the sale". How many times have we read here (and elsewhere) that such and such piece isn't great or well fitting or whatever -- but hey, for $15, what's there to lose? Well, $15 for starter, plus years of closet storage space.

I honestly think that by doing our homework and buying the best that we can afford, we end up spending a lot less than by vacuuming up all kinds of stuff at "great prices" at REI yard sales and 40% Off sales. Not saying that inexpensive gear won't fit our needs (they certainly can) -- but what "kills" us is the impulse buying. Such a deal!

Edited by ben2world on 04/16/2009 14:08:10 MDT.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Buy and Forget on 04/16/2009 14:25:09 MDT Print View

"How many people buy a couple hundred dollar item and put it immediately into a closet to be forgotten about?"

More than we care to think. I know for me, I always buy something thinking it is the last and best purchase for that particular item.

For example, take my shelter(s). The first lightweight shelter I had was a SMD Gatewood Cape. Took it on local hikes and then to Mt. Whitney. I thought it was the last shelter I would have. Well, I went with our scouts to Philmont Scout Ranch last year. Guess what? No tarps allowed. So, I bought a Gossamer Gear, "The One". I really love this tent. Complete water and bug protection. I also bought, from the Gear Swap, a Double Rainbow and a Contrail for my boys and presumably they belong to the boys.

Now, as I plan for my JMT trip this year I find myself wanting another type of shelter. So, I now have a GG SpinnTwinn (to share with my son) along with a bivy. As for now, I can say I am covered with my shelters, but, who knows what the future will bring? That cuben sure looks nice...

Zack Karas
( - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
forgotten items on 04/16/2009 14:42:10 MDT Print View

I'm totally guilty when it comes to having multiple items that serve the same purpose, especially packs, bags and shelters--however all of mine have seen a lot of use. I was just commenting on buying something expensive, then selling it at a later date still unused and at a hefty loss.

Scott Bentz
(scottbentz) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Tough Times on 04/16/2009 14:57:09 MDT Print View

Yeah, I get it. I think sometimes we just buy things that we think we need and then when we get it we find we don't use it and it just sits around. Better to sell at a loss than to have it in the garage at a complete loss!

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: forgotten items on 04/16/2009 14:57:55 MDT Print View

" I was just commenting on buying something expensive, then selling it at a later date still unused and at a hefty loss."

One can easily avoid that by buying gear when they go on sale -- or buying them used right here on this forum. Doing this will help recoup your money when you later change your mind.

I've kept a list of every gear item purchased since 2004, when I first began backpacking. On that list, 47 items were later sold. I paid $3,680.63 for those 47 items and got back $3,680.10 when I sold them. Indeed, I was actually making a "tiny profit" until a sale just last week put me right at breaking even.

Edited by ben2world on 04/16/2009 15:00:06 MDT.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Buy and Forget on 04/16/2009 15:00:37 MDT Print View

I think this is starting to drift off the original topic, but I too am always amazed at the amount of gear I see here, ebay, and elsewhere being sold new and unused.

Often it's "I had a trip planned, it fell through," or maybe you lost the tags, or kept it too long; often it's just plain 'addiction' for lack of a better word. Right now I'm talking myself into returning a ULA Ohm. I ordered it and the GG Gorilla. In an close call, I went with the Gorilla. There's no reason to keep the Ohm, because it fills exactly the same niche. But I want to, really badly, because it's just a fine piece of workmanship. I tell myself I'll switch off packs, and the Ohm *does* have more volume, etc, but I know in 3-4 months, I'll be looking at something that I really could use, (winter tarp, say) and then my credit card bill, and then in the closet at the Ohm (used once or twice), and I'll end up selling the Ohm at a loss just to get some money back.

But I find my biggest downfall is, as Ben said, 'the sale.' I know exactly what piece of gear I want, but then I see something on gear swap, or ebay, or 40% off, and it's close to what I want, but not exactly, but the deal's so good, I *have* to get it. In the end Though, I still want what I originally wanted, not a cheaper approximation. So now I'm trying to keep myself from buying deals, and instead just spending the extra money on exactly what I want, which ends up being cheaper in the long run.

I bought cheap sports authority/campmor/walmart gear for years. Maybe setting yourself a low budget and trying to meet might be a fun challenge, but in the end more expensive, quality gear is just a better overall deal. Not only will it last longer, it's really not *that* much more expensive, and if you buy from a cottage gear maker, you're not contributing to a sweatshop. owner.

It's funny because part of the UL philosophy is the keep it minimal and light on the trail, but then at home our closets are anything but minimal. In the end, it's just knowing when to say when.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Gear Freak and the Minimalist on 04/16/2009 15:04:20 MDT Print View

Well said, James. Yeah, the thread has drifted and it's probably my fault.

For me, new gear -- esp. tents and packs -- are almost irresistable. And yet, I am also a minimalist who hates clutter. Having unused gear, clothing, or just about anything else in the house just drives me crazy.

Thank heavens for online stores with their sales and "no hassle returns" on the one end, and thank heavens for Ebay at the other end. I'm constantly buying and trying out new gear, but rarely have more than one or two similar gear pieces at any given time. If I buy a new piece and want to keep it, I'll force myself to sell whatever it is meant to replace.

Edited by ben2world on 04/16/2009 15:10:31 MDT.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Gear in tough times on 04/16/2009 15:17:00 MDT Print View

I would say i'm a minimalist in most ways, apart from gear collecting.
I just can't bring myself to let any gear go. I always make excuses. I seem to have a shelter for every month of the year, never mind seasons. Like wise packs. I think i have one to suit every possible set-up.
Don't get me started on clothing set-ups!
It's definately an illness. :)

Matt Lutz
(citystuckhiker) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re : Gear in tough times on 04/16/2009 15:27:20 MDT Print View

We accumulate gear for a few reasons. The first is incredible sales. The other is the expectancy of always having the perfect pack, shelter or bag, etc. for any given trip. While I advocate for this position for any difficult, long or serious trip, it is impractical for weekend trips or other short forays. I am a victim of this, and I know it.

Jim MacDiarmid
(jrmacd) - MLife
Re: Re : Gear in tough times on 04/16/2009 15:29:59 MDT Print View

I get attached to stuff too. I know I have to be careful about buying things because I have a hard time returning them. I'll find plenty of rationalizations. I'm like a high-maintanence woman coordinating handbags and shoes. I mean, really, you do *need* gear to cover every single possible set of conditions, right? You can't use a 30 degree bag when it's 37 degrees! And backpacks should cover 5 lb increments of comfort, shouldn't they? You know, a 10-15lb pack, a 15-20 pounder, and of course you also need those in bushwacking and non-bushwacking fabrics. And on and on . . .

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re : Letting Go, But Not Letting Go... on 04/16/2009 15:38:31 MDT Print View

I would love to spend a few days exploring Mike Reid and Jonathan Boozer's gear rooms!

James -- it gives us comfort and perhaps also a sense of readiness and security when our gear arsenal allows us to "dial in" to the precise conditions outside. Having said that, I think we all know deep down that some part of this is psychological...

Changing topic a bit, curious, what about "seller remorse"? Has anyone ever bought a tent or pack -- sold it -- and then go out any buy the exact same one again later on? I must confess that I have -- and not just once either. :)

Edited by ben2world on 04/16/2009 15:43:20 MDT.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Gear freakiness on 04/16/2009 15:44:41 MDT Print View

I've bought the same item of clothing in different colors. My justification was that one would be better for stealth camping, and the other brighter one would be good for winter if i ever needed SAR. :)

" would love to spend a few days exploring Mike Reid and Jonathan Boozer's gear rooms!"

Ben. I live in a one bedroom apartment. My home IS a gear cupboard! :)

Edited by MikefaeDundee on 04/16/2009 15:46:38 MDT.

Jonathan Boozer
(anywayoutside) - MLife

Locale: South East
Re: Re : Letting Go, But Not Letting Go... on 04/16/2009 16:10:36 MDT Print View

Leave me out of this...I am slaying my dragons on my own! ;) I have issues and I am rather familiar with them. We cuddle sometimes.

BTW - I have owned the 08 Jam2 3 times, 08 Ion twice and BD Lighthouse twice.

Edited by anywayoutside on 04/16/2009 17:06:42 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re : Letting Go, But Not Letting Go... on 04/16/2009 16:24:53 MDT Print View

OK, I haven't owned anything 3 times! But certain tarptents -- and the Steripen, I have owned twice...