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Does anyone have a Gear list for beginners
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Nathaniel Taylodr
(Skylar) - F

Locale: Canada
Does anyone have a Gear list for beginners on 02/27/2012 13:48:04 MST Print View

I am new to lightweight backpacking. I would like to learn what is absolutely required.

I would think, water, shelter and food are all that is really required to survive.

I am sure that there is some additional things that we should take.

For the first few hikes it will just be me and they will probably just be one night maybe two, so that I can test my skills.

Once I am sure that I can take care of all my needs I would like to bring my 5 year old daughter out with me, so I would like to keep my pack as light as possible as I will eventually have to carry her stuff.

Any advice will be amazing.

I forgot to say that I am in Canada near Toronto and the hiking will be late spring summer.

Edited by Skylar on 02/27/2012 13:55:54 MST.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Does anyone have a Gear list for beginners on 02/27/2012 13:52:34 MST Print View

Hi Skylar:

When and where do you plan to hike? Noting that will help narrow down the choices.

Nathaniel Taylodr
(Skylar) - F

Locale: Canada
Does anyone have a Gear list for beginners on 02/27/2012 14:01:01 MST Print View

I will be going late spring early summer.

Hopefully that will give me enough time to get the required equipment.

Clayton Mauritzen
(GlacierRambler) - F

Locale: NW Montana
Re: Does anyone have a Gear list for beginners on 02/27/2012 14:07:14 MST Print View

Jamie Shortt's website has some good resources to start

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Does anyone have a Gear list for beginners on 02/27/2012 14:19:11 MST Print View

The best thing to do is to start with information, lots of information. To get that, start with:

(1) Buy an annual membership here and read all the articles, reviews and start looking through threads. Some people might not agree with that, but $25.00 for a lot of good information and discussions is a deal. You can always decide whether to renew next year if needed.

(2) Buy a scale and weigh any gear you already have; this is especially good for clothing and small gear, where the differences might not seem so obvious. Let's say you can choose the lighter options for 8 items, saving 2 oz per item; you've saved a pound without doing anything other than having knowledge. Make a spreadsheet/Gear Gram sheet from this list.

(3) Start reading others' gear lists. There is a forum labelled "Gear Lists" and many cottage manufacturers and bloggers have gear lists on their sites. Here are a few:

I think as you read through all this, certain bits of info that are relevant to where you are going to hike and what kind of gear makes sense for you will rise to the surface. Good luck!

Edited by saparisor on 02/27/2012 14:28:17 MST.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Does anyone have a Gear list for beginners on 02/27/2012 14:25:39 MST Print View

Just published last week here on BPL:

While the emphasis is on Scouts, the article applies to beginners of all ages!

Nathaniel Taylodr
(Skylar) - F

Locale: Canada
RE: Does anyone have a Gear list for beginners on 02/27/2012 14:42:08 MST Print View is amazing.

Now going through the list from Steven Paris. Reading a lot and making book marks.

Then I am going to look at the scout lists.

Thank you for you help

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Does anyone have a Gear list for beginners on 02/27/2012 16:16:59 MST Print View

A couple more (we'll have you reading for the next year here!):
Articles and gear lists are listed in the left-hand column. While I had been backpacking for many years before, this is where I learned to "lighten up."

"Lightweight Backpacking 101"
This short book (or long article) dates back to 2001, so most specific gear items listed are out of date. However, the principles haven't changed.

Paul Wagner
(balzaccom) - F

Locale: Wine Country
gear list on 02/27/2012 17:50:25 MST Print View

There's one on our website...but it's for California, not Canada. STill, you might find it helpful

Diana Nevins
(artemis) - MLife

Locale: Great Plains
A few books to check out on 02/28/2012 10:50:01 MST Print View

You might also find the following books helpful:

"The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide" by Andrew Skurka (which was just reviewed here on BPL in this thread:

"Lighten Up!: A Complete Handbook for Light and Ultralight Backpacking" by Dan Ladigan and Mike Clelland (

"Allen and Mike's Really Cool Backpackin' Book: Traveling & camping skills for a wilderness environment " by Alan O'Bannon and Mike Clelland (

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
My site on 02/28/2012 12:34:13 MST Print View

Here's a Beginners Backpacking Article I wrote for the trips I (used to) lead all the time:

Beginners Backpacking Primer

Maybe it will help?

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Does anyone have a Gear list for beginners on 02/28/2012 15:40:15 MST Print View

I've read over a dozen comments today (not just on this site) about Andrew Skurka's new book, and every one of them recommends it for beginners. It isn't just gear you need but skills, and the comments all say that Andrew addresses these skills very well. BPL's review was posted on this site yesterday.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
For beginners on 02/28/2012 20:26:21 MST Print View

Nathan I'll second the motion that you buy Andrew Skurka's book. Its pretty good. In the meantime here are my ideas.

Start with the "Big Three" which are your pack, sleeping bag, and shelter.

Sleeping Bag - First figure out when you'll be hiking and the expected temperature ranges. If you're not doing winter trips a good rule of thume is a 20 degree bag. A lightweight 20 degree bag or quilt will be one of your most expensive peices of gear so I'd put some thought into it. If you can get away with a 40 bag to start out there are some pretty cheap 40 degree bags at places like Dick's Sporting Goods (I got one on sale for $40).

Shelter - You're in Canada so I'm assuming you'll have a lot of bugs at certain times. Look for a tent or tarp tent that will keep the bugs out. Look for somethign with a total weight of 2 pounds or less if its a Tarp Tent. Tradtional Tents will weigh a bit more.

Pack - Buy a pack last because first you want to figure out how heavy and bulky all your other stuff is.

Beyond the "Big Three" you'll want a sleeping mat and raingear. Buy a cheap foam mat for starters and see if its enough. I believe Ontario gets some pretty hard rain at times so you might want some good raingear. Don't spend a ton of money thought because if you're out all day in the rain you WILL get soggy so $200 raincoats are a bad use of money.

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: For beginners on 02/29/2012 01:18:13 MST Print View

If you don't read anything else I've written here, at least do as others have said, and read all the different gear lists in peoples profiles. See what everyone is using and what kind of pack weights they are getting. Compare the weights, prices, and features of the diffent brands/models and see what suits you best.

Sorry for the long winded post to follow, but I know how much I wish I knew more when I first got into backpacking.

How much money are you looking to spend?

That will determine a lot. You can go relatively light weight without spending a whole lot, but if you want to go really lightweight, the more you spend, the lighter/more comfortable you can get.

An example of this is buying a zlite sleeping pad for $40, or a neo-air for $120. The neo air will be more comfortable and easier to pack, while the zlite will obviously be cheaper, and more versatile as a sit pad for breaks, etc. They are close to the same weight, but I believe the new version of the neo air shaved off a few ounces.

Similarly, you can get a relatively cheap synthetic sleeping bag, or spend over $300 on a super light down quilt.

Another question you should ask yourself is, "How into backpacking am I going to get?" If you'll go once or twice a year, and just do 1 or 2 nights at a time, and low mileage, it probably isn't worth spending a lot of money.
If however, this turns into something you do at least once a month, or you like to do high mileage, or you're doing longer trips, then you will probably end up upgrading your gear anyways, which means you will have spent twice the amount of money. I wish I would have just bought my dream list when I first got into backpacking, but I didn't have this wonderful forum at the time.

What do you need?

* Shelter: tarp + bivy or Tarp + bugnet(innernet) or freestanding tent. Unless you will never go when there is rain, no need for tarp. Or when there is never bugs, no need for the bivy or innernet.
******Lightest but expensive options:,,,
******Cheapest option: Sometimes chain sports stores have decent tents for sale, but these are generally a little heavier, but easier to set up since they have poles and are freestanding. Hell, walmart has a 5lb. tent for $60 if you want to go real cheap.

* Sleeping system: sleeping bag or sleeping quilt. synthetic or down. Temperature range? Will you wear your insulating clothing to bed? This will allow you to get a warmer rated bag/quilt. Also you'll want a sleeping pad, this will factor into how warm or cold you stay at night.
******Lightest but expensive options:, neo air sleeping pad.
******Cheapest option: Any chain sports store, zlite sleeping pad.

* Backpack: As was mentioned, buy this LAST! Get one big enough to hold all your gear, and try as many on as possible, with weight in them. The weight of your gear will determine how comfortable it is. Sure you can save 2lbs. but what does it matter if it makes your load feel like your carrying an elephant. Conversely, there is no sense in carrying a 5lb. pack if the rest of your gear/food/water only weighs 15lbs.
******Cheap, expensive, try them all on with the weight of what you will carry. Don't forget to add the weight of your water, that adds 2-6lbs. depending on how much water you carry.

* Clothes: Wear what you'll hike in, then add some insulation(i.e. jacket) for sitting around at camp. Maybe an extra pair of socks in case one gets wet. A beenie and gloves depending on the weather. I love wool, but I'll just suggest to stick with synthetics, they dry much faster, and are way cheaper. For the jacket, synthetic for cheap, or down if you want the lightest/warmest(

* Rain gear: Dry-ducks if it is likely to rain. If not, I bring a cheap $1 rain poncho, just in case. Weighs like an ounce. You could go more expensive, but this seems to be the one area where price doesn't necessarily equate to weight savings.

* Water purification: Drops or tabs are the lightest, but I hear don't taste so good, and you have to wait a long time after you add them. Personally, I plan to buy a Sawyer squeeze filter to replace my UV sterilizer. I own a pump, but I never bother to bring it anymore.

* First aid: Doesn't need to be anything more than a few bandaids, painkillers, peptobismol, tick tweezers and some moleskin. Don't bother with anything more than that. Oh, and I'll put bug spray in this category. Just repackage it. You don't need a whole bottle for a two day trip...

* Food: Commercial dehydrated food(mountain house) will probably be the easiest way to go for dinner right now. I do two packets of instant oatmeal for breakfast, and meal bars/trail mix/jerky for lunch. Test your stove system at home before going out, so you know it works, and how much fuel to bring.
******Lightest but expensive options: Caldera Keg GVP.
******Cheapest option: Look up how to make an alcohol stove and windscreen out of beer cans.

* Food storage: Check the rules where you will hike. Some places require a bear canister. They are heavy and hard to pack, and generally suck, on the plus side they double as a chair, and you don't have to hang anything. Otherwise, learn how to hang your food. You'll need a sack for your food, and anything that smells like chapstick, lotion, etc. and a length of cord. Kelty trip teaze is relatively light and easy to get ahold of.

* Miscellaneous: Chapstick, sunglasses, brimmed hat, lighter, map/compass, purell for cleaning your hands after restroom breaks, a few squares of TP(not the whole roll), camera?. I recommend hiking sticks too. They take a lot of weight off you're knees. You won't really be able to tell, but they do, trust me, I know from painful experience. Just get some cheap ones at walmart for now. You will need them if you are not using a freestanding tent anyways. Add a few feet of ductape to your first aid kit for repairs, and that should be it!

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
verber on 02/29/2012 13:22:16 MST Print View

mark verbers excellent site is what you need ..