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10 things not to buy for backpacking
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Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
10 things not to buy for backpacking on 11/17/2011 22:24:54 MST Print View

Sarah, it didn't work with my kids (they did some backpacking, but not much), but my grandson (almost 12) is now big enough to carry his full share of the load! I'm looking forward to when he's a teenager and can carry part of mine! Of course there will be the problem of keeping up with him!

At 11 and 9, the two older grandkids are extremely helpful with camp chores and similar stuff! They are a joy to have along!

Despite all the problems, my children have been a real joy to me and the grandkids even more so!

Edited by hikinggranny on 11/17/2011 22:26:52 MST.

Matthew Perry
(bigfoot2) - F

Locale: Oregon
10 things not to buy for backpacking--Number 11. on 11/17/2011 22:30:24 MST Print View

Number 11 should be....HIPPIES!!!!hippieshippies

Joslyn Bloodworth
(JoslynB) - F

Locale: Southwest
Re: Re: Some of you are mistaken on 11/17/2011 23:15:53 MST Print View

LOL! Sarah, I did not realize that. I love your stuff. I find I do not need more than a cup and a half to rehydrate my MYOG single serving meals and I never drink more than a cup in hot chocolate or tea. I also don't mind boiling twice especially since I tend to use a tealight open flame stove that only holds 3/4 ounce of fuel. I guess it's a to each his own moment.

Jason Elsworth
(jephoto) - M

Locale: New Zealand
10 things not to buy for backpacking on 11/18/2011 00:18:38 MST Print View


Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Re: packs on 11/18/2011 01:07:23 MST Print View

"Don't buy a 70L pack with pockets everywhere that weighs 5lbs if you are just going to be out no more than three days. If you walk into a store, most salesman will try to put a newbie in an Osprey Aether 70L style pack."

Hey, I have a 5lb 70L Osprey Aether and it serves me well when I have to carry all kinds of extra crap when off trail in Alaska (or on cold weather trips) with spare dry clothes, more food, river crossing shoes, bear canister, PLB, shared expedition tent... Try doing that with your 4oz stuff sack packs with shoe string shoulder straps!

Seriously, I hate seeing guys with all the little knickknacks like 4-AA incandescent lamps, mini pelican cases for their gizmos, and camp chairs.

Tony Wong
(Valshar) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Things Not to Buy for Backpacking on 11/18/2011 02:29:16 MST Print View

Six pack of Magnum Sized Condoms or a Kiss of Mint Flavored Condom.

There are no human females on the trail, just like there are no unicorns in real life.

Both are a myth.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: no candle lantern? on 11/18/2011 03:06:33 MST Print View

> can candle lanterns reduce the condensation inside a tent?
Yes, definitely.
There are '12 hour candles' in flat tins sold for that purpose.


Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Things Not to Buy for Backpacking on 11/18/2011 09:19:37 MST Print View

Thankfully tube knee high socks, jean cut off shorts, waffle stompers, sweatband headbands and stringy hair have nearly disappeared in hiking. Although every summer I round some bend and there is a guy looking like he stepped out of a 1976 catalog, complete with vintage external frame pack and water canteen.

If we want to talk scary stuff why do skinny white men with ghost white skin think onion skin running shorts are a great idea? I think if anything that is the one item that should be banned from hiking. Gak....instant lunch remover! Worst offenders don't wear underwear under them and you get the visual of (usually) old as dirt old guy man bits hanging as they run by you. Barf.......

Tim Haynes

Locale: Mid Atlantic
10 things not to buy for backpacking on 11/18/2011 11:32:07 MST Print View

I'll add/support a few items, and then qualify/defend a few off the OPs list...

0. Anything at FULL PRICE. Except for gear you need urgently, or consumables like fuel, you should NEVER pay full price for anything at REI or comparable stores. Every single piece of gear from retail outlets will be available 20-30% off if you're willing to wait a few weeks. Most of it will be available 40-60% off if you're willing to wait longer, and some of it will be available in the 60-90% off range if you're really patient.

1. "Deluxe" mattresses. I went camping this summer with a friend who showed up with a sleeping pad that was 5+ pounds. If I'd known in advance, I would have loaned him a lighter pad -- any pad. He was a great sport about it, but it amazed me he carried that thing, albeit only on a short overnight hike. (A group of us were taking my youngest sister on her first overnight trip).

2. Compression sacks. The only thing I've found these useful for is compressing synthetic sleeping bags, back when I was carrying a 4# synthetic on the trail, but if that's all you have as a sleeping bag, a compression sack can be the only way to pack it.

3. I'll agree with the pack covers. Most pack covers weigh the same or more than a poncho tarp (or even a drug store poncho, large enough to go over a backpack), with far less functionality.

4. Heavy hiking boots. Sure, some people need extra ankle support, but no one needs boots that weigh 3# each, no matter how much Leather, GoreTex and Vibram are used to make them.

5. Camp chairs -- it's one thing to bring a foam mat to sit on, or some sort of lightweight rig to turn your sleeping pad into a camp lounger, but those "camp chairs" (and camp tables, etc...) are unreal. Car camping, sure... backpacking, uh, no.

6. Footprints -- true footprints can be $50 for a lot of tents, and they are great if you are planning on doing an ultralight pitch, and leaving the tent inner at home on a double-wall design, but unless you are doing a simple pitch, they are expensive and overkill. Most people using traditional double-wall tents will never go without the whole package.


1. First Aid kits -- I love the Adventure Medical and other similar kits. Don't ever buy them at full price, but they frequently go on clearance 50-75% off, and you can get a full kit for a few dollars, and its the easiest way to get a hold of useful, but seldom used, items like tiny foil packages of neosporin... Sure, don't carry the whole kit with you, but it's great to have that many options on hand for a build-your-own first aid kit, and not have to worry about tracking down lots of tiny bottles and ziploc bags...

2. Knives. I know it's not ultralight, but I just feel better having a good knife with me in the backcountry. Even if it's not needed, its a 3 or 4-oz security blanket. Granted, on a solo trip, I'll take something like a mini SAK, but if I'm sharing gear with anyone, lightening the load, I'll use some of the savings on a knife.

Edited by timalan on 11/18/2011 11:35:19 MST.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: Things Not to Buy for Backpacking on 11/18/2011 11:33:35 MST Print View

First of all, as a hippy-chick kilt-wearer, I resent the above remarks.

Second, to add to the discussion, leave home the big honking pile of paracord or the fancy knotted paracord bracelet. First of all, dental floss has more uses and second of all, are you really going to sit there for hours untying all those knots to use your paracord?

I'd also leave behind any notion that the length of your trip has anything at all to do with the size of the pack you need or the amount of gear you need. (If anything, the relationship is inverse--shorter trips allow more time for the use of luxuries, but let's not tell that to the newbies.)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: paracord braids on 11/18/2011 11:48:06 MST Print View

It really doesn't take long to undo a paracord "cobra" braid. I have one for a hatband on my Tilley, which gives me a lot more cord and it is out of the way. I always want some spare line available.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
10 things not to buy for backpacking on 11/18/2011 11:48:20 MST Print View

@ Sarah, This is for you:


Btw, I've made 2 dumb comments on this thread, but just want to say I agree with the OP and think a list like this would be helpful for friends heading to REI, EMS or wherever.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: 10 things not to buy for backpacking on 11/18/2011 12:20:10 MST Print View

Lol...that is a good picture ;-)

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"10 things not to buy for backpacking" on 11/18/2011 12:36:39 MST Print View

@ Sarah,

What about skinny legged black men with Hershey chocolate skin wearing onion skin running shorts? Is that okay with you? ;-)

Pepe LP
(PepeLp) - F

Locale: New Mexico
Re: "10 things not to buy for backpacking" on 11/18/2011 12:48:59 MST Print View

Hey, you're in New Mexico, you have to be at least a little ashy!

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Things Not to Buy for Backpacking on 11/18/2011 12:54:57 MST Print View

"are you really going to sit there for hours untying all those knots to use your paracord?"

If you tie it with slip knots, you just pull on it and it comes untied.

Not that I'm advocating paracord - it's unnecesarily heavy.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: "10 things not to buy for backpacking" on 11/18/2011 13:20:02 MST Print View

What about big running packs of thick legged, thin legged, in-between legged, white, beige, brown, Hershey chocolate, and everything-in-between skinned men in onion skin shorts?

Edited by xnomanx on 11/18/2011 13:22:14 MST.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: "10 things not to buy for backpacking" on 11/18/2011 13:55:17 MST Print View

"Went on an 8 day backpacking trip once with my usual short roll of TP. Oops. Wound up having to ration the squares on a per-day basis. Worked out okay, but could have been a problem."

It's not for nuttin' that TP is also called "mountain money."

Not much left to add to the GIANT list, but I don't recall seeing quad-fold zippered cordura knick-knack organizers.



Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: 10 things not to buy for backpacking on 11/18/2011 14:26:10 MST Print View

The kitchen gadgets they manage to sell amaze me, though I assume most of it goes for car-camping. Still, $30 stainless steel chopsticks? I like having chopsticks for noodle-soups; I just take one of those cheap disposable ones you get at a restaurant. And who takes salt-and-pepper sets?

I'll buy a footprint for double-wall tents if it allows for setup without with the body. Of course, we're talking about free-standing tents... ;)

I use a pack cover. I like keeping pack itself dry, including things in external pockets. I made mine from silnylon and it weighs an ounce.

I've never bought a commercially packaged first aid kit. They look HUGE.

I'm a very big fan of toilet paper.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
It all depends on what you call "backpacking" on 11/18/2011 15:02:18 MST Print View

There is a large number of different activities that can be called backpacking. If you are walking a few miles, setting up a camp and camping until the trip is over and then walking back to your car, you will want different gear than if you are walking many miles each (or most) days. How important each activity is will determine how important various types of gear are.