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Gear in "Tough Times"
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Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Gear in "Tough Times" on 04/16/2009 18:24:55 MDT Print View

Personally, I'd say never skimp on the sleeping bag. A great place to save weight and volume and function. My biggest "skimper" would be clothing. Reality is, thrift store clothing can readily do the trick--and since it's so cheap, it's no biggie to cut it up and modify it to suit your needs.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Gear in "Tough Times" (and question for Ben!) on 04/16/2009 18:39:22 MDT Print View

I'm loving this thread.

If I lived in the USA I would buy so much stuff. Living in Aus helps to restrain one's gear "appetite" because you generally can't return things if you don't like them, and it's harder to offload them to other BPLers (shipping costs etc).

So I'm a gear deal window shopper. Every 6 months or so the urge becomes irresistible (Backcountry 40% off!) and I go knocking at the door of my trusted Gear Enabler (guess who!) who kindly forwards a box of stuff on to me.

Ben... you say you've sold 47 items over the past 5 years or so. How many have you bought? I'm curious as to the percentage "success rate". Of course, it must be skewed heavily because you are able to return stuff immediately if you don't like it. But what percentage do you keep, and then still end up having to sell because it doesn't work out?

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Gear in "Tough Times" (and question for Ben!) on 04/16/2009 18:57:56 MDT Print View


I have indeed bought more than I need to because of easy return policies. Also, every now and then, when I spot a particularly good deal, I will even buy with the expressed intention of reselling (hopefully making a little profit). At the end of the day, I generally keep two sets of gear -- one for deluxe use and one UL set for more difficult hikes.

But focusing on the "Big Four":

Tent -- bought and sold 2 tents in one month before settling on the BA Seedhouse 2 SL (just recently sold off). I now have a BS Evolution 2P and a Rainbow.

Pack -- bought and sold one pack (REI Morningstar) before settling on my beloved Mountainsmith Ghost. My ul pack is a Zpack Z1.

Bag -- bought and sold one bag (Kelty Lightyear 25) before settling on my beloved MontBell's. My two bags are the MB No. 3 (30F) and Thermal Sheet (50F) -- they can be combined into a 15F 'system'.

Pad -- bought and sold one -- exchanging 2.25 lbs pad for 10oz blue foam. Alas, due to old age, I've since "graduated" to a self inflating pad. I also just recently purchased a BA IAC air mattress. Which to keep to be determined.

Everybody else (e.g. Mike Reid, Jonathan Boozer, etc.) -- feel free to list out ALL your Big Four gear items...

Edited by ben2world on 04/16/2009 19:08:57 MDT.

/A .
(biointegra) - MLife

Locale: Puget Sound
Re: Gear in "Tough Times" on 04/16/2009 19:27:52 MDT Print View

Excellent topic & thread.

This makes me think about the days when I was a kid getting into hiking and funding it with my paper route money:

My idea of UL/$L was a pool float for a pad and a flannel sleeping bag rolled up together and thrown over your shoulder or in an old canvas backpack. You wear all your clothes day & night, wear skate shoes + 2 pair cotton socks and could run all over place. Dads carried food and cooking gear and who needs tents when there are steep overhanging cliff faces! (Red River Gorge, KY)

My favorite piece of mail was the the Sierra Trading Post catalog. We also had a guy who ran a clandestine gear shop out of his basement in the evenings who had mostly climbing gear - he was an engineer by day and would sell gear at just a wee bit over cost, just to keep the local kids supplied. He had accounts with lots of big name companies... I still have the same original XGK that I bought from him!


I have a friend down there in Oz who used to buy gear from all over the place and have it shipped to me so that I could package it up and send it to him in big boxes a couple of months before an expedition. I don't know what he'd do without eBay.

Edited by biointegra on 04/16/2009 19:28:47 MDT.

Zack Karas
( - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
hording? on 04/16/2009 19:32:28 MDT Print View

tent(s): Bibler Eldorado, SMD Lunar Solo, Bibler winter bivy, TT Cloudburst

packs: ULA P1, ULA P2, Golite Ion, Golite Jam, Golite Pinnacle, Golite 24

bag: WM Versalite, WM Pod 30, WM Megalite

pad: Ridgerest, Blue Foam, GG 1/8", Prolite 3

All items have been used on different thru-hikes, and all items are meant to replace an earlier piece of gear at a lighter weight. I could sell some of them, but they are used and have sentimental value (and I'm not at all sentimental). My girlfriend says I love gear like a girl loves shoes.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: hording? on 04/16/2009 19:47:22 MDT Print View

Nope, I don't see any overlap. None at all.

The Gear Enabler.

Edited by ben2world on 04/16/2009 19:48:07 MDT.

Zack Karas
( - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
hording on 04/16/2009 20:45:35 MDT Print View

hey--I said I was totally guilty. So so guilty. I could put together a much larger list of gear that I am currently lusting over.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Gear in "Tough Times on 04/16/2009 22:05:49 MDT Print View

I have way more than I could ever use, and have trouble walking by a really good. A LOT of trouble. But in tough times, you can always buy used, I see people put a WTB ad on here all the time, and someone with one chimes in. It's funny, I was looking at a used gear ad on here the other day, and was shocked at the number of guys posting on it who have sold me gear.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
I don't feel guilty on 04/16/2009 22:51:14 MDT Print View

Because my husband's hobbies cost way more than mine. ;-)

What he spends on one rifle or handgun for competition shooting....well, I could buy a whole setup with that!

And in truth...I like new shiny items. Some stay forever, some get banished not long after. I like having options as well - so my gear can match that outing of choice.


Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: I don't feel guilty on 04/16/2009 23:02:55 MDT Print View

Yeah, and the really crappy stuff, you unload onto innocent, unsuspecting fellow hikers on the forums! (wink)

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
I need people like you (reverse tony montana) on 04/16/2009 23:36:49 MDT Print View

almost all my gear i bought used (sometimes unused but tried out in the backyard) from here, ebay or a couple other forums

most of the rest was purchased on sale or 2nds

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Gear in "Tough Times on 04/16/2009 23:45:03 MDT Print View

>What he spends on one rifle or handgun for competition shooting....well, I could buy a whole setup with that!

Yeah, but I do that too. Losing my job at the end of the month, so I'm gonna reform.

Edited by skinewmexico on 04/16/2009 23:47:51 MDT.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: Gear in "Tough Times" on 04/17/2009 03:07:51 MDT Print View

Most of my gear is used or an Ebay find.
I have used the same quilt for years ( a converted Mountainsmith wisp bought on Ebay).

But, I have gone through many packs and shelters for two main reasons:
1- I dont always know what will work best for me until I try it first. this happens a lot until you can figure out how light is light enough for you and what features you really want.

2- The cottage industry gear and most lightweight gear is not available at local stores so I can't try it on and compare in person. I think every one would buy a lot less stuff if they could see it and try it on in person, this cant be underestimated.

-and I second the comment that backpacking is one of the cheapest activities you can do. Especially if most of your hiking is close to home and you can save even more if you don't need to buy gear for more extreme weather. I love a winter day hike but for me winter is best enjoyed from inside a warm home with a hot chocolate.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Re: Gear in "Tough Times" on 04/17/2009 06:51:46 MDT Print View

Something has certainly seeped into our collective psyche that causes us to equate spending with happiness, hasn't it? Lets face facts: you can outfit yourself for lightweight three season backpacking for less money than many here will spend on one sleeping bag....and hike the PCT, CDT, and AT with that gear, likely replacing only shoes and socks in the process.

On a trip just a week ago, I took a friend who is an amateur photographer out for a long weekend on his first backpacking trip, to snap some photos in West Virginia. When he raised an eyebrow at the price of my Western Mountaineering sleeping bag, I asked him what he spent on the 70-200mm telephoto lens he was carrying on the trip. So, I agree with all the sentiments posted here that as far as adult hobbies go backpacking is on the cheaper side.

This budget-friendly activity extends into the realm of travel too. If a family wants to take a cheap vacation, what do they do? Go camping, of course! My wife and I traveled for nine days in the Sierras, spending just over $1,400 including all transportation from the east coast. If we weren't camping, we'd have easily spent twice that sum. Can you imagine what Roger Caffin and his wife would have spent on the trip he wrote about here in his GR5 articles, had they done it in typical tourist fashion? Four months in French hotels? Hoboing is cheap!

Edited by rswanson on 04/17/2009 06:53:19 MDT.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: I don't feel guilty on 04/17/2009 08:54:02 MDT Print View


Hey, some of it isn't junk. LOL! Some one did buy my bargain of a brand new Ti mug the other week ;-)

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Gear in "Tough Times on 04/17/2009 08:58:23 MDT Print View

Joe, last month the company my husband worked for folded. So he took a heavy look at his collection and did sell two of them. Both sold for profit so that was good. He sold one of our AR-15's though. A border officer bought that one - due to the waiting time to get one new. The rifle was in new condition. As the husband sighed, those two sales were 2 months of mortgage payments.

The good news is my husband accepted a new job this week :-) So that been good news.

Since I "need" new gear for an upcoming trip and it is my American duty to buy stuff. Or something.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
UL for Cheap on 04/17/2009 09:24:29 MDT Print View

It's very easy to come by some of he main items for very little.

1) Tarp -- just buy a 5x8 piece of silnylon from thru-hiker and some grip clips from shelter-systems. No sewing required!

2) Bivy -- You can easily make one with Tyvek or polycro and DWR nylon. Sewing is good, but not required if you use adhesive.

3) Backpack -- If you're truly going cheap, just use the old Northface you had for school. It will work fine for a weekend UL trip.

4) Sleeping bag -- Ugh. Have to spend some money on this. REI has great bags on sale often.

5) Trekking poles -- you can get a pair on ebay for 20 bucks or just use sticks like Mike Cleland advocates.

6) Stove -- we all know how easy these are to make.

7) Clothes -- Go to goodwill and salvation smarmy and fine some Merino wool or old fleece. Then take it to a tailor if it is too big to cut it down and save some weight. Depending on your metro-area, you can find some great stuff (SF is really good for outdoor gear in thrift shops.)

8) Shoes -- cheap cheap cheap online deals. No more than 30 bucks needed.

Everything else can be found for pretty cheap.

I have tried all these techniques at one time or another and was generally pleased with the results. This works well especially if you want to try out the tarp/bviy combo before spending money on a set-up, I recommend just "making" your own tarp for a few close-to-home trips.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: UL for Cheap- Hiking Poles on 04/17/2009 10:06:46 MDT Print View

Some of my Scouts use old ski poles-
You can get them at a garage sale for under $5 and sometimes $1.
Most of the boys get them for free from neighbors by just asking if they have any they want to get ride of.
If you take the baskets off and trim the excess plastic off the handles, they are pretty lightweight.
The boys like the graphics also.

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Gear in "Tough Times" on 04/17/2009 10:50:43 MDT Print View


Oddly, I've found guns to be an unusually secure investment. I'm sure your husband doesn't want to part with them, but many retain their base value indefinately with light use and many go up significantly over time. Customizations however, typically do not increase the selling price much, perhaps only 10-15% of the amount spent on modifications increases the sale price (just my observations).

Handed down in my family I've got two rifles that were used by my family in the civil war - I have no idea what they are worth, but they still shoot well. Of course, I'd probably be disowned if I sold them. The 22 rifle I got when I was six is now valued at something rediculous like 7x what my dad bought it for.

While some have posted contrary, I haven't had nearly the luck re-selling backpacking equipment. If sold locally, it doesn't carry nearly the same value retension - too many new advances and marketing hype for as each season makes adjustments to gear.

Edited by slacklinejoe on 04/17/2009 10:53:14 MDT.

Hendrik Morkel
(skullmonkey) - MLife

Locale: Finland
Gear in Tough Times on 04/17/2009 15:16:26 MDT Print View

I agree that it should be easy to find gear on the cheap if one looks at Ebay/ Gear Swap/ Sales.

On the other hand I am a proponent of "Buy something of good quality once instead of buying something of poor quality many times". I add in there normally that I am "too poor" to buy cheap crap. That of course doesn't mean that something cheap is necessarily of poor quality (for example if you buy it used you can get good quality for cheap), but usually something cheap does not have the same quality standards of something expensive.

Because it fits so nicely in here with the discussion, have a look at this: