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Complete Newbie Help
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Landon Adams
(Landon) - F
Complete Newbie Help on 09/13/2011 21:04:56 MDT Print View

Hello my background is never backpacked before. I do a lot of day hikes of 2-6 miles (pretty easy terrain). I have two boys (4 and 7). My oldest son asked me while on a bike ride about going camping. I live about an hour from Cohutta in North Georgia. Before I take the kids on a camping trip I figured I need to learn how to do it myself. I've been researching the forums but I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what all I need. I'm hoping for a gear list of essentials and what a ballpark cost would be. I like the idea of tarping for shelter when it's just me. Can borrow a tent for the kids when I get comfortable enough to take them. I am an active guy with different hobbies so I don't need to spend a fortune but not wanting to get junk either. Any help would be very appreciated. If I need to give any more information that I missed I will be happy too.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Complete Newbie Help on 09/13/2011 22:03:55 MDT Print View

Here are a few useful pages and articles: (I think this is a free article.)

The backyard and state park drive-up campgrounds are great places to test gear and techniques.

Jeff J
(j.j.81) - F

Locale: Oregon
A couple great but inexpensive lists on 09/13/2011 22:14:51 MDT Print View

From Gossamer Gear:

From Adventure Alan:

From Jamie Shortt (who posts on here quite a bit):

From me:

Mine is neither the cheapest nor the lightest, but I haven't spent a fortune on it either and it's below 10 lbs. I learned by lurking on these forums and analyzing gear lists and looking up gear that wasn't familiar to me. Learned a LOT. Waiting for deals helped too.


Edit: Fix spelling

Edited by j.j.81 on 09/13/2011 22:20:16 MDT.

J Boro
(JBend) - F

Locale: PNW
List on 09/13/2011 22:44:54 MDT Print View

Rei has a good general list (not necessarily lightweight though).

You can also check out the gear list and the gear deals threads here.

I'll echo the other response... It's a really good idea to develop your skills in the backyard or car camping. Backpacking requires that you are proficient with your gear in order to stay safe, while going lightweight (tarp, alcohol stove, clothing selection) requires a level of skill that takes a while to acquire. You really don't to be figuring out a tarp with a storm closing in or running out of fuel mid trip.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Complete Newbie Help on 09/13/2011 23:06:11 MDT Print View

Lots of articles on this site, including gear lists--left hand column:
A bit heavy by BPL standards, but definitely lightweight. There's an excellent article there about backpacking with kids, too!

Another vote here for starting in the back yard, or car camping. It's especially important to become thoroughly familiar with your gear before going out. You don't want to be spending your first night trying to set up your shelter in the dark in a howling rainstorm with instructions in one hand and flashlight in the other! Once you've learned how to set up and take down your gear, cook meals, etc., try doing this in inclement weather. Skills in staying dry and warm no matter what the conditions are best learned where you can easily bail out if things get out of hand! Once you're confident in the car-caming scenario, then try going in a mile or two from the trailhead a few times and gradually going farther.

Edited by hikinggranny on 09/13/2011 23:16:02 MDT.

Michael Ray
(topshot) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Complete Newbie Help on 09/14/2011 06:40:18 MDT Print View

Good advice so far. Definitely start by car camping or in your back yard until you're well familiar with your gear and what works for your boys at various temps. You can go backpacking with very cheap and also very heavy gear. I'd advise against the latter, but it depends on your budget and what you can readily find for your boys. I'd suggest you try to borrow a lot of stuff from friends/family to start as well. That would allow you to try different types and brands of gear, too. It's better to go heavy than not at all, and you'll appreciate it more once you progress toward lighter stuff.

FWIW, I took my youngest (4.5 at the time) and his 13yo brother out for his first trips in April. You can see those videos at (Deam Wilderness and Forest Glen Preserve). The key with kids is that they are the focus. You must go at their pace and keep it fun. They are all different, too, so that can keep it interesting for you (haha).

Stephan Doyle
Re: Complete Newbie Help on 09/14/2011 08:02:25 MDT Print View

There are some good cheap gearlists floating around this forum, if you can find them (IIRC there was a $500 Wal-mart list). Erik the Black (google him) had three on his site last time I checked - he's straightforward, easy to understand, and practical.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Re: Re: Complete Newbie Help on 09/14/2011 18:09:47 MDT Print View

An excellent online source, although dating from 2001 (I wish BPL would update it!): "Lightweight Backpacking 101"

The last chapter, "Ultralight, Ultracheap" is especially useful.

Just remember that the specific brands/models of gear listed are, for the most part, woefully out of date. The principles, though, haven't changed!

Don Wilson
(nodiak) - F

Locale: Humboldt County coast, CA.
monkey see monkey do on 09/16/2011 14:36:27 MDT Print View

Find someone to go with and you'll pick up skills by watching and helping. Friends or maybe ad in local craigslist (could be iffy)? Might be some groups nearby, we did alot of youth group camping as kids/teens. Maybe there's a state park nearby, would have campsites maintained. While my son was growing up we would take off often on weekend spur of the moment campouts at maintained campsites (car is parked right there if need to go). We were lucky to also do stealth beach sleepouts.