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Most important gear item
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Sean Monahan
(Zvolen) - F

Locale: CA Central Valley
Thoughts on 03/26/2013 13:42:07 MDT Print View

First off thanks for all of the great responses so far, I have a lot more to think about than I initially thought. I will attempt to answer all of the questions in doing so maybe its best to list my gear as mentioned.

Pack: Lowe Alpine Contour Elite 90 (Its an old internal pack and quite heavy but will do the job for what I plan and will probably be the last thing I upgrade so I know what space I need) I thought of spending the money here on a REI Flash 65/50 just for the weight savings but not sure its best spent here, thoughts?

Sleeping bag: Western Mountaineering Sequoia SDL 5 degree bag Long (This is overkill for what I plan to do and I will probably end up selling it but for now it’s a quality bag and again will get the job done for now)

Tent: Nothing

Sleeping Pad: Nothing

Shoes: NB 709 Trail Running shoes ( A bit old but will do for what I have planned, not many miles on them anyways)

Clothes: I don’t have much dedicated outdoor ‘gear’ but enough fitness appeal I could get by with for the first few outings before I feel the need to purchase.

Cooking: Nothing

So that’s the just of it all – The reason I mentioned most of the REI gear is due to their return policy as well as my dividend for last year so no money of mine would be out of pocket. I have about $125 in REI dividend and I wouldn’t mind throwing in another $50 or so to get going but unfortunately that would be around the max currently.

I mentioned the tent previous because that’s the one big expense left that I probably need and I figured in the future I want a lightweight (fragile option) like the TT Double Rainbow which I would buy in the future as well as a heavier option I would take on slower paced trips or short trips where I would want or need durability or more car type camping but I guess that thinking is flawed after reading these responses. I should just start with the DR or purchase a cheaper type tent like the Hi Tec V Lite that was suggested, I just didn’t want my first time to be uncomfortable otherwise that may prevent me from going more.

I understand all of the recommendations for alcohol stoves but I just like the ease and reliability of a canister while I may not start out doing much actual cooking, I plan to just boil water for the majority of it – I do want that option in the future which a canister stove provides. So it appears that this may be my best option to spend but maybe not initially, any thoughts on ones I should look at?
As far as the sleeping pad I do like the comfort of an inflatable pad and the weight is not a huge issue as I want be going long or fast initially (most likely a 6-8 mile hike to a ‘base camp’) Again if I buy one at REI I could always return if it does not suit me, I’ve used CCF pads in the past and I am not sure they provide enough comfort for me – again I would rather be comfortable and enjoy this experience. Any thoughts I ones I should look at?

As far as my goals, that’s tough – I would love to get out and do some long distance trails (like the JMT) but honestly family, financial and time restricts me from doing that. I do eventually want to get there but I believe the majority of my trips will be during the typical 3 season weekend trips either by myself or with another person. As I no longer have these restrictions I would love to dive deeper, I was a boy scout when I was younger and the outdoors have always been a part of me. As of now I just want to get out more, the physical is also a benefit.

I think after reading all these posts I am leaning towards a cook system/canister stove and maybe a sleeping pad and I may be able to sprinkle in a few smaller/misc type items as well. Then I can either purchase the Hi Tec V Lite tent or borrow/rent a tent for the few times I go out until I can purchase and justify a larger type purchase. Of course recommendations and thoughts are welcomed, I look forward to your thoughts and critique over my thoughts/gear.

Thayne N
(teethless) - MLife

Locale: Boston
re: Thoughts on 03/26/2013 22:22:28 MDT Print View

Hi Sean-

Everything everyone else said and:

If you can, I suggest checking out your local REI's garage sale. Great deals to be had on inflatable mattresses and odds and ends. (Z-lite's for 5-10 bucks)

I second the notion to buy this stove:
After you buy a canister, you're at $13.50. Put any pot on it, make a windscreen, blammo

That shelter Ian posted is a great find, doesn't get much cheaper! (Also look at the shelters that SMD offers in 190t polyester)

*Cue the violins* Cry once, buy once...

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
buying twice on 03/26/2013 23:30:38 MDT Print View

i wouldn't recommend buying something that you plan to replace in the near future. so if you are set on the double rainbow (why not just the rainbow?) then buying a tent now doesn't make financial sense - resale value will be bad. especially if you can borrow one. i think you should look hard at getting your tent used. as many people are switching over to hammocks you can find tarptents for sale here.

i also would look at getting your pack from a cottage industry. zpacks, mld, zimmerbuilt, ula. just better and lighter...

sleeping bag. i'd sell your seqouia here and buy the marmot helium at REI. huge weight and space savings. you can make up the 10 degrees you lose later on with things like a vapor barrier, hot water bottles, down jacket...

pad. i'd start out w/ the walmart blue foam and see if you even need to upgrade to an inflatable. maybe you live where there aren't a ton of rocks and can sleep fine on it. this would be an item i would wait on.

stove. i personally don't take a stove most trips anymore. i rely on a fire to cook my food and just take a little 700 ml titanium pot. again, don't spend money here. you can make your own alky stove or buy one for less than $20.

to summarize: don't spend money twice on the same item. buy the marmot helium. sell your sequoia (you should make up a good bit of what you spend on the helium). save up for a pack from the cottage guys.

Sean Monahan
(Zvolen) - F

Locale: CA Central Valley
Re: re: Thoughts on 03/27/2013 01:15:59 MDT Print View

On a side note, it appears my local REI is currently having their garage sale so I plan to head out there tomorrow, anything in particular I should look for? Anything to avoid since its been used?

Still would appreciate other comments on my previous post as well, thanks all.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: re: Thoughts on 03/27/2013 03:12:15 MDT Print View

Avoid used synthetic bags. The loft in them is usually flat.

Sean Monahan
(Zvolen) - F

Locale: CA Central Valley
REI Garage Sale on 03/27/2013 22:27:18 MDT Print View

Whelp, I didn't have much luck tonight at the REI garage sale granted I had very specific wants but by the time my number was called most of the stuff was picked through pretty good. However that doesn't change my thought process too much, still hope to get a stove and/or a sleeping pad but would appreciate any thoughts on which I should go for or any other thoughts on my process to get outdoors. Thanks

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Stove on 03/28/2013 09:03:38 MDT Print View

Hi Sean,

I have the Soto ODR. I didn't see it on REI's website the othter day so I'm not sure if they are still carrying it or not. I read the other day that they might have a new stove rolling out. If you ignore the microregulator hype, you still end up with a nice stove. It's light and I've never had problems with the pot stands. If you want to do more than boil water then this is a nice option from REI (assuming they still carry it.) Don't buy this stove unless you are willing to buy the SOTO windscreen as well.

The Snowpeak stoves seem to have a nice reputation but I haven't owned one. I've read some complaints on this forum about the Micro Rocket.

I only boil water. The Jetboil Sol Ti is much more efficient with fuel and only weighs an extra oz over my current system (I use a ti pot with the Soto & windscreen). I can only milk 14 16oz boils from the Soto vs the Sol ti which can achieve (by reputation) 20 16 oz boils. (EDIT with a 100g canister) I wish I bought this system instead of the Soto.

I've mentioned it before but I only use the gas stove when I'm with my kids. When I'm solo, I use Esbit. This is a cheap, effective, and lightweight option. My Esbit kit is less than 1/2 the weight of my canister setup.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 03/28/2013 11:28:41 MDT.

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Most important gear item on 03/28/2013 09:19:06 MDT Print View

I would say a good sleeping bag. In the treeline in normal weather, hikers can get away with a cheap tarp, cheap blue foam pad, maybe some netting, and if warm enough, even sans stove. Without a good bag, it's going to be an unpleasant night (though wearing all your clothes and maybe filling a garbage bag with dead leaves and pine needles to add insulation would help).

Josh Brock

Locale: Outside
water filter on 03/28/2013 10:46:33 MDT Print View

Tough one you want the gear but dont want to spend the money.

Im pretty sure you can count on replacing your gear no matter what you get. Most of us have a grass is always greener mentality. Especially as we try to find that balance of light and comfort.

I like every ones suggestions. Just pick which one you like the best. I would get a aquamira frontier pro water filter.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Most important gear item" on 03/28/2013 12:28:35 MDT Print View

I agree with those that are suggesting you buy once. When I first joined the forum, I kind of went crazy and would go buy something because I read something good about it here, and then next thing I know I was wanting the next best thing. If I'd just have spent a few months reading here, I could have narrowed it down to what was best for me without buying stuff I will probably never use again. Fortunately I'm part of a backpacking group and can use my extra gear as loaner items for newbies, but still. Would have been nice to just buy the best item (for me) the first time and not the third time.

And...Gearswap is by far the best resource I've found. There are better deals on Gearswap than on ebay, if you are discerning. Definitely do your research though, because not all Gearswap deals are deals. I've even seen people price used items for more than the item can be purchased new, although that's rare and usually due to the new item being on sale.

Terry G
(delvxe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
sounds like you really just want to get out there without spending a ton on 03/28/2013 13:07:25 MDT Print View

This is a great goal.

You already have an excellent bag that you rightly suggest you will sell for something more appropriate. In my mind, the sleeping bag is the most important part of your kit so take you time there and get something right for you down the road and live with you overkill bag for now.

You need a shelter and stove still. For a shelter, my recommendation is to go with you gut and get a tried and true like the Half / Quarter dome but get it used off ebay or craigslist. This will allow you to get out there now and figure out what you want long-term. If you buy the REI tent used, you will be able to sell it for nearly what you paid for it later (or use it as a beater car camping tent as you suggest).

Canister stoves are cheap. You said you don't like alcohol (which would be my budget recommendation), so just pick up a snowpeak / primus / fire maple canister stove for not much money and don't think twice.

Terry G
(delvxe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
+1 for Sumi on 03/28/2013 13:13:27 MDT Print View

Reading back over the posts, I have to give a +1 for Sumi's comments.

Good, practical advice.

Loki Cuthbert

Locale: Portland, OR
Cash out your dividend on 03/28/2013 15:15:08 MDT Print View

You can cash out your dividend in July. Spend your dividend money on buying that tarptent you want.


Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Cash out your dividend on 03/28/2013 21:37:08 MDT Print View

You can cash out your dividend in July.

WHAT? Wait until July to get new gear?

YOU are to BPL what the Grinch is to Christmas! he-he

Sean Monahan
(Zvolen) - F

Locale: CA Central Valley
Re: sounds like you really just want to get out there without spending a ton on 03/29/2013 15:08:00 MDT Print View

Thanks to all of the responses I think I have narrowed down some of my decisions. First off I will continue to educate myself through this forum, books, and most importantly personal experience. I just need/want to get out there and enjoy the experience that in turn will tell me what I need.

However for now I plan on getting a Big Agnes Air Core for a sleeping pad as I can get it fairly cheap and for the most part its fairly light. While sleeping on this I can then gauge what I like or dislike and determine from there. I do like the Exped products though as well as the new Q-Core but the dimension discrepancies scare me.
I also plan to get the Snow Peak Starter Kit, again I need the whole system and I like the weight, versatility, and ease of use this product allows me. I may convert later to alcohol and may even try it a few times as I go out but again the actual cooking experience will tell me what I need and how I usually cook in the outdoors.

As far as the tent I am going to take Ian’s advice and try to find the Hi-Tec V-Lite 2 for now, that tent appears to serve my immediate needs and its light both on the pocket book and in the pack. This will service the immediate goal of getting outdoors and again will allow be to learn what I want in a tent without putting forth a lot of initial money. Once I upgrade I could always use in other adventures or give it to a scout group or what like. If I am unable to find this tent I will just borrow or rent a tent for those times since I have that option.

I just wanted to let you all know my plan since you help in me determining it. Anybody have any experience with the equipment they could share, or other input about my plans?

Loki Cuthbert

Locale: Portland, OR
Dont wait till july ti soend it. on 03/30/2013 12:19:27 MDT Print View

@jim well I would personally take the money out of the rainy day fund and spend it now with a promissory note to put the money back when July comes around.

I was generally trying to say don't buy something that you don't really want when you can spend your dividend money on buying the TT you truly desire

Also I don't really see the point in having a light weight beater tent for shorter trips or car camping. You still will want your light tent for short trips and you would probably be better of with a giant palace of a tent if you where car camping.


Edited by lokbot on 03/30/2013 12:21:09 MDT.

Sean Monahan
(Zvolen) - F

Locale: CA Central Valley
Re: Re: Most important gear item on 04/10/2013 13:06:16 MDT Print View

I just wanted to give you all an update on what I chose as well as thanks for all of the great ideas.

I came to the conclusion a heavy expensive tent was not what I needed so I decided on the tent Ian mention from Big 5, its light, roomy and best of all inexpensive which is exactly what I was looking for. I could use this tent so that I no longer have an excuse and if I don’t it was a relatively cheap purchase. BY using this tent it will allow me to determine what I like or dislike how I sleep/camp so that when I purchase a new tent I know what I want. As an added bonus I found a coupon online for 20% off a single item at Big 5 bringing the tent price down to $39.99 – for a 3lb tent, not bad.

As far as the pad I wasn’t to keen on sleeping on a CCF pad so I ended up getting a Big Agnes Air Core pad from REI outlet for $30.00 which I purchased with some of my dividend. I again figured for the price it will do its job and in the meantime I could find what I dislike or like about the pad. I didn’t need something with much insulation considering I will only be doing 3-season outings for now and my current bag is a little overkill anyways.

As far as the stove, I splurged a little more on this purchase, and initially was undecided between a few like the JetBoil or alcohol. I wanted something with flexibility as well as ease of use considering I don’t plan to have many complicated meals. I figured since I needed a whole cooking set and not just a stove that the SnowPeak Starter Kit with SnowPeak GigaPower and the Trek 700 pot/mug would give me the most options as well as weight and use.

I am happy with all of my purchase and a friend and I are already planning to go out to Wishon Reservoir in the Sierra’s here this weekend in order to try out my new kit. It’s actually just an excuse to get out and enjoy the outdoors which I hope to do a lot more, so thank you all I am sure I will have many more questions.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Well done sir! on 04/10/2013 13:14:32 MDT Print View

Sounds like you've made some great purchases and kudos to you for finding some great bargains. I have the Soto ODR and have never owned the SP stove. It has a solid reputation and I'm sure you'll be happy with it.

Happy trails! BTW if you ditch the bag and the tent pole (replace with trekking pole), the tent will be closer to 2.5 lbs. It looks like they changed the vestibule so I'd be interested in seeing what you think of it.

Edit: Do I understand correctly that these tents are now taped and do not need seam sealing? If so then wow!

Edited by IDBLOOM on 04/10/2013 13:16:50 MDT.

Sean Monahan
(Zvolen) - F

Locale: CA Central Valley
Re: Well done sir! on 04/10/2013 13:24:27 MDT Print View

Thanks Ian.

And Yes, it specifically said tent has its seams taped. I think I said Wow too at the weight/price. How has the vestibule changed? I will report back after this weekend with my initial thoughts.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Hi Tec V lite on 04/10/2013 13:31:45 MDT Print View

I'm setting mine up this weekend. I'll take pictures of it and post it on this thread later. It's been a few months but if memory serves, the vestibule on mine comes to a point (only requiring one stake) whereas yours is flat and appears to need two. (Edit: disregard. Looked at it again and no changes)

I find this shelter is spacious when I'm sharing it with one of my kids and the vestibule has ample room to shelter our gear.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 04/10/2013 14:01:47 MDT.