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Hope I can get some help in the right direction.
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some guy
(hopining) - F
Hope I can get some help in the right direction. on 08/23/2011 13:03:22 MDT Print View

Hi, first time postier, long time lurker here and I’m sorry if my post comes off as long winded but I’ve been doing a lot of research and planning to start traveling myself. My ideal plan is to just live off of a small backpack and just… start hitting the road I guess. I’d like to head toward the east coast (U.S) and just walk along the beaches and where ever else I decide later on but just beaches with a backpack as a start. I’d like to think of this as a cross of backpacking/ being a surf-bum.

I got a gear list of all the stuff I’d think I’d need but I still have a few questions since I’ve never done this before.

1) I would be traveling mostly on beaches and don’t plan on sleeping in hotels, but rather sleeping there on the beach, but was wondering what the most ideal and safe way to camping overnight would be? (Tents come to mind but aren’t they too heavy to keep in a backpack?)

2) I calculated the cost of all the materials I’d need and it came up to about ~$1000 for the gear/necessities. I’m still saving up since I work a minimum wage job (working on getting another though) but is this a reasonable start up cost or am I spending too much/little? My 'gear list' is still in a (VERY) rough draft phase and figured it would help if i had a ballpark figure I should be aiming towards, obviously the cheaper the better.

3) I’ve assumed up until now that I would be traveling in a small 22-28 liter backpack and not those huge ones that you’d normally assume the ‘mountain men’ carry. Am I correct here or am I being delusional? A second part to this question is considering the way I’m going to be traveling, what’s the general weight one’s pack should weigh about when filled with all of the gear and necessities?

Just a few questions I had, sorry again if this is a bit long-winded but I’ve had this whole thing on my mind for years now and want to get out there as soon as I can.

adam spates
(adamspates) - F

Locale: southeast
beach bum on 08/23/2011 14:47:07 MDT Print View

My advice would be a good pair of running shoes. Because you're gonna be running from the law most of the time sleeping on beaches on the east coast. Beaches are top priority for money on the east coast. So not many people want to go out on the beach to find some smelly homeless beach bum camped out. Which is why it is illegal.

Life isn't like it used to be in previous centuries. Its all about money now. And the few places that let you camp on the beach on the east coast charge you.

Read "into the wild"....because you'll probably end up like Mcandless if you try this with what seems to be VERY limited knowledge.

My real advice is keep your job so you don't end up living out of shelters on our dime.

Ken Bennett
(ken_bennett) - F

Locale: southeastern usa
Re: Hope I can get some help in the right direction. on 08/23/2011 16:17:37 MDT Print View

That's a pretty romantic notion that you have there. I think there are plenty of places where you could wander and camp out for a long time, but the East Coast beaches, especially in the warmer states, would not be among them, for the reasons cited above.

To answer your specific questions,

1. A tent is the answer. Get something in a dark color, try to keep the weight below 2 pounds. 3 at the most.

2. $1000 for gear is actually a lot -- do you have a gear list? Many of the things that the Hiking-Industrial Complex make out to be essential to your very survival aren't really necessary (except to their continued profitability.) Post the list, please.

3. To be totally self sufficient, with a small tent, a sleeping bag or quilt, some way of cooking dinner (and carrying food), and some extra clothing, you'll probably find a 50 liter pack works well. 22-28 liters is pretty small. But wait until you have your other gear before buying your pack, so you don't have to do it twice. Total pack weight with food and everything will likely be 25-35 pounds (but this varies wildly depending on your gear.)

My own experience in the warmer states (in this case hiking on the Florida National Scenic Trail) leads me to believe that you will be hassled every day, even when you are hiking/camping legally. Anyone with a backpack and a beard is considered a homeless vagrant and treated as such.

Good luck with your quest.

Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE: Hope I can get some help in the right direction on 08/23/2011 16:35:24 MDT Print View

If it were me,

Since you won't have to carry much food or water, you could get away with a very light pack. You'd be surprised. Depending on the shelter you use and your clothing system, I'd say a pack in 30-40 liter range is reasonable (larger for bulky clothing).

And depending on what type of shelter and clothing you're interested in (pricey, because warm clothes weigh a lot and are bulky), 8-20 lbs.

Camping on the beach can really suck, with blowing sand. The lightest, most low key would be a bivy sack (no hassle, just use alone on clear nights) and tarp, but since I don't own or use such a system, someone else would be able to help.

I'd look at a double wall, freestanding shelter with a small footprint for ease of set-up and comfort. Check out the REI Quarterdome (check out sales, think $250 range), MSR Carbon Reflex, Big Agnes SL 1 or 2 (think +$300). Maybe the Tarptent Rainbow, Double Rainbow or Moment ($250), they're single wall, pack up really small but are breezy, so may make beach camping a pain. On second though, Tarptents may be a good bet, they're also low key grey.

For cookware, you should look into the Caldera Ti-Tri system. It burns alcohol, and wood in a windstable way. Get the 900ml-1 litre titanium pot. Costs a lot, but re-sellable ($150). Don't think cooking, but heating water. Build yourself a pot cozy or freezer bag cooking. Washing dishes in the dark makes a mess and takes time.

For clothing, get a set of Driducks Ultralite 2 ($15-20). Full rainsuit and windjacket.
Merino wool baselayers for the anti-stink factor (wear for weeks), and then grid pattern fleece (MEC T3 or Patagonia R1) or any fleece and/or synthetic or down vest/jacket (check out sales after Christmas with Eddie Bauer First Ascent). Nylon pants, board shorts. New Balance Trail runners on sale.

Either go synthetic for sleeping bag (easy care) or low power fill down (5-600 fill, $100). Something durable. Put everything in a trash compactor bag (Ace Hardwear $5) as a waterproof bag liner. No fluorescent colored pack cover.

Mattress pad (R4 plus temp rating), I'd go for an inflatable for packability ($60-150).

Buy used on here, look for sales, you could outfit for $1000 or less.

As for stealth camping, I haven't done it, but the usual idea is set up camp in the dark (get a good head lamp, Petzl $20), and break down before sunrise. Practice strict leave no trace principles .... then who cares, you were never there.

Shave your head (dreadlocks are a heat score) and for God's sack, don't be hanging stuff off your pack (especially flip flops). Clean cut is the way to go, look confused, feign a French accent if you can, and tell them you're from Quebec if you get hassled by the man.

Good luck.

Edited by elf773 on 08/23/2011 16:54:18 MDT.

Walter Carrington
(Snowleopard) - M

Locale: Mass.
Not in the northeast USA. on 08/23/2011 17:36:56 MDT Print View

I don't think your plan is workable for the east coast (at least in the northeast).
In many places you can't even walk along the beach because it's broken up by private property, fences, piers, rocks. The rich people that own the beachfront property will call the police on you, even in those places where the law says you can walk there. In most places, if you're caught sleeping on the beach you will be arrested.

There are a few places where you might be able to walk a day or two and find campgrounds to stay in near the beach. Perhaps you could do this on Cape Cod on the national seashore.

There are trails such as the Appalachian Trail where you can hike long distances and camp, but these aren't near beaches. There are trails that go along or near the shore in Nova Scotia and Vancouver Island in Canada and one along the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Hope I can get some help in the right direction. on 08/23/2011 19:20:02 MDT Print View

Google "stealth camping". As other's said, it may be difficult. Good luck!

A. B.
the pack on 08/23/2011 20:01:27 MDT Print View

As has already been stated, the rest of the gear will probably dictate your pack so buy it last.

The target weight range is as light as you can get with what you need.

I'm certain for less than $1000 you could get what you need.

You should really expand on what kind of hiking and camping conditions you will be in.

You could also post your rough draft list. I am sure it will be met with much enthusiastic feedback.

some guy
(hopining) - F
Thanks for all the input guys! on 08/24/2011 00:36:08 MDT Print View

Really surprised at the great information! To be honest I had no idea the east coast beaches were so regulated, here on the west coast we don't get that at all (from what I see anyway in the Bay Area, California). Sounds like I'll have to rethink where I'd go.

Also Thanks for all the gear recommendations, I'm looking at a few of them now.

Scott-, I'm looking at the Driduck ultra lite 2 and surprised at how cheap it is. I originally planned on grabbing a pair of hard-shell pants and a hard-shell jacket, would these be unnecessary in beach-like conditions?

Dale- Thanks, I'm already reading up on it.

Ken, Walter, and Evan- I planned on going somewhere close to the coast that was warm (65-90 degrees Fahrenheit) to 'ease' myself into this. I'm still in the very early stages and this thread was made to get some information on starting to get ready to gear up but more importantly to give myself some reality checks, like the east coast beach difficulties I would have. I appreciate all the warnings.

Also if I wanted to show my Gear list would I just Copy and Paste it or is there some online tool this board uses for this kind of thing?

Thanks for the help guys, Seriously hoping I can get out there sometime down the road.

Rodney OndaRock
(RodneyOndaRock) - F

Locale: Southern California
Hippies on 08/24/2011 01:06:27 MDT Print View

There is a reason why all the hippies moved out to santa Barbara, santa Monica, downtown LA skid row and Venice beach in southern calif.

The laws are friendly to homeless people, and bums. Also rich people live here and still believe that a 20 year old junkie beggar is a viet nam vet, because that's what the cardboard sign says.

Stay out of Orange County in so cal. The fuzz here are zero tolerance.

An earlier post said that to pretend you are french Canadian on the east coast. Well in So Cal, pretend you are a neighbor from the south of the border.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Hope I can get some help in the right direction. on 08/24/2011 01:11:01 MDT Print View

A regular contributor to these forums, Jamie Shortt, has a great blog about gear and includes a "Cheap Ultralight Gearlist" that may give you some ideas. This list is aimed at backpacking but some or most of it could be adapted to your needs.

Scott Truong

Locale: Vancouver, BC
RE: beach bum on 08/24/2011 01:21:01 MDT Print View

Driducks Ultra lite 2:

The jacket is nice to have. Not having rain deter your plans is a bonus. It's very roomy so get a size smaller, and it'll likely still be big enough to put over everything to block wind/rain etc.

While not "fragile" it does tear and is not bomber. OK for jacket, but not so much for the pants. They'll rip easily when sitting. Nonetheless, the duct tape works great at fixing tears and holes. I don't think you'd need the pants.

Also, I was under the impression you were doing an epic meander around the United States stopping only when it was time to stop. Therefore my clothing suggestions, especially the insulation were kind of geared towards that (durability, cleanliness for close contact with towns/city folk, etc).

Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
RE: Hope I can get some help in the right direction on 08/24/2011 06:21:31 MDT Print View

Why not hike the California Coastal Trail? There are versions in OR and WA.

The East Coast is lame in comparison.

I lived in NJ and FL for those who wish to disagree.

L Miller
(LMiller) - F

Locale: Maryland
Re: Hope I can get some help in the right direction. on 08/24/2011 08:43:57 MDT Print View

The biggest problem you will run into is that the majority of beaches on the East Coast are on barrier islands and are not continuous. In many places the beach is broken up by inlets every 2-5 miles. Most do not have bridges and will require pretty serious detours to cross. Many are unreachable altogether without a boat. A good thing is that between Assateague in MD and Cumberland in GA, a lot of these barrier islands are national seashores, wildlife refuges or state parks and are not private property.

Unless you are near a city, you will have to carry A LOT of water. There aren't fresh clear streams flowing right onto the beach. And the rivers are brackish a good way inland.

Assateague, Outer Banks/Cape Hatteras, Cape Lookout and the other relatively undeveloped beaches are amazing places and well worth the visit. There's a peacefulness that doesn't exist on the West Coast beaches. "Lame" is the last word that comes to mind. And I lived in CA.

adam spates
(adamspates) - F

Locale: southeast
lame on 08/24/2011 09:50:03 MDT Print View

As Cumerland Island has already been mentioned, take it from someone who has spent lots of time there. Yes it is a National Seashore. However that means you have to pay to camp there. Also you have to pay to ride the ferry to the Island or Charter a boat both cost money. Its not a bad price for the ferry ride or nightly fee. But I'm pretty sure there is a maximum number of days you can stay and I think it is 14. You also HAVE to check in at the rangers station and get a pass to hang on your bag with the dates of your stay. So not very "Stealthy".

It is not lame at all! I doubt there are many places on the west coast where you can hike through gables of live oaks on a ocean dredge road where you can find shark teeth, see deer,turkey and other wildlife, walk on undeveloped sand dunes and beaches. Or be sitting on a beach with noone in sight except for a family of wild horses that reside on the island.

Edited by adamspates on 08/24/2011 11:25:29 MDT.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Western coastal trails on 08/24/2011 10:49:03 MDT Print View


Edited by hknewman on 02/18/2013 22:04:22 MST.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
A Walk Across America on 08/24/2011 12:24:14 MDT Print View

With all the responsibilities of a high stress job, house, and kids, I have often fantasized about having the freedom to sell my possessions and hit the road. I would tell people (like the police)that I was an author/photographer gathering material for an updated version of "A Walk Across America". Good luck on your epic adventure.

Pilate de Guerre
(deGuerre) - F

Locale: SE, USA
Re: Hope I can get some help in the right direction. on 08/24/2011 14:36:15 MDT Print View

Some Guy,

As many have said, I'd rethink the east coast beaches thing. If you're going to do this, if that's where your head is at, I'd highly suggest doing some preparation. If you were to post a list of the gear you think you need, what you have, and your budget we could help you plan better and probably save you some money in preventing you from making mistakes in selection or redundancies.

You've been suggested "Into the Wild", but I think the suggester has your class wrong. It'd be more appropriate to check out the book "Evasion". Please take it simply for what it is: an account of one young man's life. It's a modern day "Walden" if you will. It's not under any copyright and you can find .PDFs of it available freely. The publisher also has the book available quite inexpensively and/or your local zine library/distro may have it.

I hope you find what you're looking for, but I think you'll find that escape isn't somewhere you can walk. Good luck.

As to your questions:

1) As discussed, doing the east coast beaches is a bad idea. They're not even that nice, but that is just my opinion. As far as general shelter is concerned, if you're going to carry some sort of hiking stick or trekking pole or be in areas with branches, etc. or between trees, you may consider a poncho tarp. They can be inexpensive and it doubles as your poncho and your shelter. This allows to forgo a rain jacket/pants combo. They are kinda small as a shelter and will not protect a down sleeping bag adequately in heavy rain so you may also want to carry a bivvy sack (aka sleeping bag cover) to keep your insulation and person dry.

2) You could definitely do this on $1000, and probably quite cheaper. Do some googling (to search this website use "site: SEARCHTERM" on Google without the quotes and where SEARCHTERM is your query) for terms like "cheap backpacking" and read up on it. You can be both quite light although maybe not ultra-light and quite inexpensive.

For instance, you will want to avoid cotton clothing like jeans or a t-shirt (as they absorb water and are slow to dry which can kill you in cold temperatures), and the clothing companies advertise very expensive wicking baselayers. As an alternative, you can find quite cheaply at Goodwill or a thrift store a polyester dress shirt that won't absorb water (even less absorbant than nylon) and will dry quickly. You can probably even get away with hiking in some lightweight wool suit trousers.

As for a stove (and you'll need a stove to maintain proper nutrition and to be able to eat inexpensively from things purchase from a grocery store) you can make one that runs on ethanol (available in many gas stations as HEET) out of a cat food can simply by punching holes in the sides towards the top with a simple paper hole puncher. Your pot can be a cheap aluminum pot sourced from your cabinet or a thrift store that you've simply broken the handle off of. There are all sorts of little tricks like this to be well outfitted and in a lightweight manner for cheap.

Someone suggested Jamie Shortt's cheap gear list and you should take a look at that.

The Gear Swap forum here is a great way to get other people's cast off gear for a deal especially if you're willing to "settle" for lightweight rather than ultra-light. Also check out the White Blaze forums and the Hammock Forums for their advice on gear selection, cheap hiking, and their swap forums. They can be somewhat weight-conscious yet not skewed entirely towards ultra-light and are more price conscious than the people here, generally.

3) Decide upon your pack last as the volume and weight of everything else will dictate your choice. That said, I think you're going to need a larger pack than 22-28 liters. Something like the GoLite Jam might be perfect. It has a system to lower the volume when it's full volume isn't needed, is reasonably light, comfortable, and durable.

Edited by deGuerre on 08/24/2011 23:03:04 MDT.

adam spates
(adamspates) - F

Locale: southeast
wrong class on 08/24/2011 14:57:00 MDT Print View

I don't think I have him in the wrong class. Christopher Mcandless was a rubber tramp and leather tramp for years before he went into the wilderness of Alaska.

There's a lot of people on this board who have at least once in their life sat at work and wished they could drop it all and wonder aimlessly. However it takes lots of skills to survive for free.

One should have a firm financial backing I think to attempt this.

You are asking for gear recomendations. Personally I think you should have a definate well thought out plan before thinking of gear. Your gear is dictated by your plans, not the other way around. Planning, skills and knowledge take you much further in living for free than gear does. So do your research and I mean a lot of research and put together a plan filled with knowledge and then I think we can better serve you.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Haters on BPL. on 08/24/2011 15:50:47 MDT Print View

Don't listen to them. It can be done easily if you're serious.

Plans? Gearlists? Money?

Oh my.

Son, you're going about this ALL wrong.

Just get yourself a pair of Carharts, a surplus military pack, a good pitbull from your local shelter, and start working on them dreadlocks and beard. Tattoos and large piercings may help bolster confidence, ostracize outsiders, and attract busking dollars. Learn to identify dumpster food, consider a vegan (at least freegan) diet, and hit the road.

Jesse Glover
(hellbillylarry) - F

Locale: southern appalachians
Crustypunx on 08/24/2011 17:19:30 MDT Print View

Becoming a crusty sounds good but it's not really camping. It would all be urban which is not what the op is looking for IMO.

I second thru-hiking the at. When I did it there was a guy named smilin' Mike. Dude was hiking in chuck tailors had a light pack no tent and stayed exclusively in shelters or cowboy camped. He was fine. Heck he made it to maine and I didn't.

You can be VERY frugal on the AT. You could eat out of hiker boxes for the first 300 miles at least. Free gear is not uncommon.