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Best Cheap Gear of 2013
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Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: Military surplus items on 12/23/2013 22:32:27 MST Print View

"And after reading all of these responses, my 'cheap' purchases may start adding up."

That's inevitable to a some extent due to the trial and error that happens to most of us over time with our gear (I'm still tweaking my kit here and there) but I think it's wise to invest more into your sleeping bag up front. An uncomfortable backpack sucks but something I can tolerate. Freezing at night is a personal Hell for me that I do everything I can to avoid.

I bought my kids the Kelty Cosmic Down 20* sleeping bag and I think it's an incredible value.

While heavy for UL backpacking, the USGI bivy is a bomber option, truly waterproof, reasonably breathable as long as you don't actually breathe into it, and a very affordable way to test out a bivy to see if it's worth buying a lighter and more expensive one down the road.

Happy trails.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 12/24/2013 06:47:53 MST.

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Military surplus items on 12/24/2013 08:52:41 MST Print View

Another military type surplus item..

Polypropylene glove liners. Durable enough to be worn alone in warmer cool temps, and next to wool the only thing which stays somewhat warm when wet.

Since our hands don't secrete much, if any, oils, the stink factor is less of an issue with PP gloves verse other PP clothing i've found.

R... ...
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
Re: Best Cheap Gear of 2013 on 12/24/2013 10:13:08 MST Print View

$7 JOGR stove on amazon, imitation Pocket Rocket.
JOGR stove

$1 for 12-hr glow stick for first aid kit, buy at dollar store and after Halloween.

$1 cliff bar at Trader Joes

$1 per oz Beef stick sausage (better than slim jim)from Omaha Steaks during 50% off sale.

$0 repurposed containers:
clear plastic container
mesh bag
Trader Joe's Lemon bag

$8, IMUSA aluminum cook pot, WalMart, compares to MSR Titanium Kettle
IMUSA aluminum mug pot

$40, REI Outlet, now discontinued, REI Roadster tent in 2006 it was UL for 3 Lbs.
REI Roadster

$3 assortment of 12 non-climbing toy carabiners from Harbor Freight, use 25% off coupon

$1-$2 poor quality headlamps from harbor freight use 25% coupon

$2 (formerly known as the Walmart $1 knife)

$2, Tarp 5x7, 1 lb, Harbor freight, junk mail flyer coupon

$0.75 GSI telescoping spoon, REI Outlet deal of the Day, usually $1.75
it's sort of a pain, and not a long handle, but ok because its compact.
or just get a fast food plastic spoon, or disposable bamboo chop sticks.

Edited by RogerDodger on 12/24/2013 11:51:07 MST.

J Dos Antos
(Damager) - M

Locale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
REI Roadster on 12/24/2013 18:13:35 MST Print View


There's an REI Roadster available on Ebay right now and I'm tempted to pick one up. Do you have experience with the tent? I read through a few old Gear Swap ads and it seems the tent may be too small for me. I'm 6'1"ish 186 pounds for reference.

Eric Osburn
(osb40000) - MLife
Cosmic Down on 12/24/2013 20:56:37 MST Print View

I have been very happy with my Cosmic Down 20 and at least for now it's my go to bag for general backpacking during the warmer parts of spring through fall. I picked it up for $80 on sale and unless you're buying used I think it's a hard bag to beat.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
2013 on 12/24/2013 21:18:02 MST Print View

sawyer mini water filter $15
FF Vireo Nano (dam near waterproof) and Helios hooded (not cheap but 1/2 the cost)
landsend aircore fleece

R... ...
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
Re: REI Roadster (Reply to J Dos Antos) on 12/25/2013 10:05:16 MST Print View

J Dos Antos
the tent is a coffin shape. Just enough to sit up, change clothes. I put my backpack inside the tent and rest my head and back on it, as if I'm leaning against a tree. also sleeping in fetal position with bent knees, toes pointed horizontally. I loaned it out to an army sergant friend, he's 5' 10" and said it was plenty room for him.
Floor dimensions 82 x 32 inches
Floor area 15.5 square feet
Vestibule area 6 square feet
Peak height 36 inches
Canopy fabric Nylon ripstop
Floor fabric Coated nylon taffeta
Rainfly fabric Coated nylon ripstop

Nice things:
the head and toe box areas are roomy, have rods to stick up 90 degrees, unlike a standard tent that has useless pointy 15 degree edges, the roadster makes great use of the internal space.

the zippers still run fine.
the body material durable.

if doing a multi-night trip, you can leave the rain fly buckled to the tent body, and fold everything together, so a much fast setup the second night.

OK things:
well don't want to restart the BPL favorite arguments about freestanding vs stake-down. This tent is not freestanding. so it needs almost all the stakes that come with it, and the guylines too.

I got mine in 2006 and used it about 10x on summit tops, deserts, and humid island ridges. worked great.

The curse of UL:
The rainfly though has a 12 inch diameter clear plastic window that is gently glued on the to the rainfly. even though I clean it well after every trip, after years of storage in a hot space, the clear plastic circle delaminated from the rainfly body. Last year I re-taped it back on, and used heavy books on top of the glue lines. seems to work fine, though haven't tested my workmanship in the rain.

The inside of the rainfly polyester material became sticky from the years of hot storage, I solved that problem by first wet wiping it, drying it out, then it was still sticky, so dusted it with baby powder, that would make it less sticky on the inside. that worked fine.

UL gear was not meant to last forever, and needs special care. I bought this from REI outlet on clearance for $46 I think. REI offered to take it back, and refund me the money, but I am somehow attached to this coffin tent. Although now I favor a roomier, newer and heavier tent, this Roadster is still my fav

REI Roadster in use

Edited by RogerDodger on 12/25/2013 10:08:25 MST.

J Dos Antos
(Damager) - M

Locale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
Re: Re: REI Roadster (Reply to J Dos Antos) on 12/25/2013 23:51:13 MST Print View


Thanks for the info! The Roadster sounds like a tight fit for me, and I think I will pass. I was thinking of purchasing it for car camping, but at this point, I want to save money and put it towards my primary shelter system. Every 50$ or so helps.

To all posters:

I feel this thread has turned into a great resource for those new to the world of UL, as well as more experienced hikers. As I have assembled my gear over the years, I have constantly been amazed how much money I can save by foregoing purchasing a brand name with a logo.

I think we must be close to covering the entire spectrum of gear necessary for a decent UL kit, and we haven't even delved into the world of MYOG.

Edited by Damager on 12/26/2013 01:18:04 MST.

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Re: Best Cheap Gear of 2013 on 12/28/2013 12:10:51 MST Print View

Some thoughts from outfitting friends and scoring a few deals of my own ...

REI Packs
The REI brand makes a lot of ho-hum gear, but their lightweight pack series has gotten better and better over the years. Both of these were available throughout this year for as low as $30 - $50. The Flash 45 is still at a good price point presently. I got my Stoke 29 for $25 IIRC

Flash 45:

Stoke 29:

Addendum -- REI Lookout 40:
This is a heavier one but for <3 lbs is a panel loader with ~40L capacity, has tons of organizer pockets, and a beefy steel frame. Not bad for a pack that comes down to ~$60 on sale. Or $80 right now for at least one color.


Windshirt - Montane Mountain Star - $45 at time of purchase and still on sale here:
This is an interesting piece which splits the difference between a 'hard' windshirt like the Houdini or Cirrus, and a 'soft' one like the Boreas or Zephyr. Clocks in at about 7oz. I haven't had a chance to use mine on a trip yet, but trail-running and biking usage has been encouraging so far.

UL down jacket - Uniqlo down parka - $60 on sale now:
I am a big, vocal fan of Uniqlo's ultralight down series. They've got a hoodless jacket and a vest as well. The longer 'coat' is no good. But this parka is fantastic, probably the best value on the market right now in terms of bang-for-buck. It nears the efficiency of e.g. a MB UL Down Inner Parka, but costs less than half as much. Mine weighs 8.4oz in size small (equivalent to a normal size medium).

Other stuff
Solo titanium pot - TOAKS 600mL Ti pot - $28 on amazon
One of the best deals around for titanium anything. Their larger stuff is also quite cheap as compared to most of the competition. Comes with an open mesh stuff sack that A) holds the lid on tightly while in your pack, and B) is absorbent enough to use as a wipe / towel for your pot after eating.

This is too fun, I love finding deals for legitimately high-quality gear. Might post more later. Great OP, J Dos!

J Dos Antos
(Damager) - M

Locale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
Re: Re: Best Cheap Gear of 2013 on 12/29/2013 14:06:16 MST Print View


Thanks for taking the time to chime in. I've enjoyed reading your posts in regards to testing down jackets.

Last year, I seriously contemplated buying the Uniqlo down jacket and passed on it when I saw the Stoic Hadron on sale on

I contacted Uniqlo several times regarding the quality of their jacket, and to their credit they responded in a prompt, courteous, honest manner. I no longer have the e-mails on record, but the company rep I wrote back and forth told me he didn't think the jacket was durable enough for extended backpacking trips. I got the impression from our exchange that he was not particularly outdoorsy. And he never did answer my questions in regards to fill, fp, and total weight for a large.

However, many of us here on BPL are used to taking care of our gear more so than the average heavy hauler, so durability might not be as much an issue for us. Since I am currently happy with my 3-season down jacket, I have no reason to buy the Uniqlo and experiment with it.

Still, it seems it could be a great option as an entry-level 3-season jacket for somebody new to the world of UL hiking.

Edited by Damager on 12/29/2013 14:07:15 MST.

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Re: Re: Re: Best Cheap Gear of 2013 on 12/29/2013 14:11:55 MST Print View

J Dos,
The Hadron is certainly a worthy competitor for that weight class when it goes on sale for <$100.

As for the Uniqlo piece -- we'll see how its lifetime works out. I picked mine up lightly used, and have been wearing it 2-3 times a week for short urban errands and things, over the last 1-2 months. So far it still appears in like-new condition. But I haven't taken it backpacking yet, of course. That being said, I think your comment re: ultralighters taking better care of stuff should apply here. That, and I only manage to do 2-3 backpack trips a year, so this thing could easily last for years.

And, as an entry level option, as you said, it would be great. For any of these people, as it were:
"... college students, high school students, scouts, broke chumps, vagabonds, parents of triplets, and those exploring becoming a UL hiker, the initial cost of gear can be downright daunting."

just Justin Whitson
Re: Re: Re: Re: Best Cheap Gear of 2013 on 12/29/2013 14:38:17 MST Print View

Uniqlo on their website says that they only use 640 or below fp down that i recollect from reading it last.

Hadron has 850, so if that is a important to you, it's a consideration because of the quality difference.

I personally don't think it's a big deal, so what if i save 1 oz or something about that low in a jacket.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Best Cheap Gear of 2013 on 12/29/2013 14:43:37 MST Print View

I just returned from hitting day 2 of the local REI garage sale. I scored perhaps the best deal of my life--an REI Base Camp 4 tent with a footprint, for just $27 (incl. sales tax)! Today, everything was marked down to 25% of yesterday's prices. It's a retired REI rental tent, with no stated flaws. My buddy liked the spacious quality of mine when we did a rainy week of truck camping a few years ago, so guess what he gets as a late X-mas present when we do NYE together?

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Best Cheap Gear of 2013 on 12/29/2013 15:13:43 MST Print View

I seem to recall discussion here that the 640 rating is on the euro fillpower scale, so might be >700fp US equivalent.

But again, as you say -- probably makes little difference at that weight.

J Dos Antos
(Damager) - M

Locale: Redwoods of Santa Cruz Mts
Spreadsheet on 12/31/2013 22:47:11 MST Print View

I'm thinking I should compile all of the gear from this thread into a spreadsheet that users can quickly access without reading through the entire thread. I figure I can edit the OP and include it near the top line.

I can regularly update it as well. Maybe I can even read other threads and ask the posters if it is okay to include cheap gear they have tried and recommended. I constantly see people posting great deals they found.

Which brings to my question of what program to use that I can link via BPL. I have never created an outside document for this site and am not sure how to do it. I appreciate any suggestions.

A sincere thanks to everybody who has contributed thus far.

R... ...
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: (...)
Re: Spreadsheet on 01/01/2014 00:46:30 MST Print View

Look into using for gear list. Then link the URL

Ian Schumann
(freeradical) - M

Locale: Central TX
Re: Spreadsheet on 01/01/2014 07:07:12 MST Print View

There's also the approach of making a shared / public Google doc spreadsheet, which isn't any more difficult than using Excel. Once shared, anyone could either view it and /or edit it themselves, depending on what you wanted to do.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Spreadsheet on 01/01/2014 08:04:28 MST Print View


It's entirely manual, but if you want to post a static spreadsheet...

Look Here

Harris Goldstein
(hmgolds) - F

Locale: Minnesota
Lid for IMUSA 10cm cup on 01/01/2014 16:18:19 MST Print View

When opened with a side-cutter type opener, the top of a large (28-29 oz) can of tomatoes fits the IMUSA 10cm cup like it was designed for it.

Barry P
(BarryP) - F

Locale: Eastern Idaho (moved from Midwest)
Re: Best Cheap Gear of 2013 on 01/02/2014 17:31:09 MST Print View

Just some more ideas:
1) DEC 2012 JCPenney down coat. $30. 8oz and keeps me warm at 25F sitting. That was the best coat find in 2012! Oops, this thread for 2013 :( Oh well, still using it.
2) Chrome Dome Umbrella. $20 on sale a lot. 8oz. I use this way more than my $1 plastic poncho (I still take it though). Plus it keeps me dryer (thus warmer). Very versatile shelter also. I used to use a fold-up umbrella until Wind Rivers WY shattered it.
3) If you don’t like to make stoves, Mechanic Mike on eBay sells a $5 stove that even starts at 0F at sea level (worse scenario) with one match.
4) The 14”x14” CCF kneeling pad. 0.5oz (cutup and free). That really saves the pants, your knees and butt. This item wears out the most since a lot of sharp pointy objects have been shoved through mine.
5) Nice Tarptent $50 24oz. Just keep your eye out on Craigslist and other backpacking forums. Daily monitoring pays off.
6) Quilts are usually cheaper than bags. Nice cottage industries here. I would splurge on this item though.
7) +4 on Gatorade bottles. I try to find strong 20oz soda bottles that are clear. I do not like dark bottles/bags so I can see if the water is clear. And using 4 of them instead of one big 2L bag is safer. If one breaks/leaks, you still have 3 more!
8) +1 on balaclava
9) I haven’t looked at mountsmith backpacks for a while. My wife still uses the Seraph (just like the Ghost but smaller). Then backpacking magazine pointed out their new HAZE 50. <2lbs for 30 lbs of gear. $130 list
10) Brand new decent tough tent $125. SMD Skyscape Scout. 34oz.

Good find on that toaks Ti 600mL pot!

May everyone find good deals,

-The mountains were made for Tevas