How do you buy your backpacking gear? Do you buy all of it online? Or do you physically go into your local Outfitters Store? We do both. Buying backpacking gear, or we should say “the right” backpacking gear can be a daunting experience. You get advise from social media or friends and just about everyone has their opinion.
The truth is….You have to buy what’s right for YOU! You try on shoes yourself when you need new shoes right? You have a specific preference based on what you know fits. Same thing with gear. My rain jacket I love, but that doesn’t mean you will love it. It has to feel comfortable and (has to keep you dry). So, we put together some “GO TO” online shops that we absolutely love.
If you do buy your gear online, which are your go to web stores? We share our top 4.
The Best Deals For Outdoor Gear –
1. thebackpackerstore.com – This is NOT a website, but a database of ALL outdoor online stores that put “daily deals”out there that change (of course) daily. Lot’s of categories and coupons to use also. Most gear is overstock and 35-75% off.
2. campsaver.com – Campsaver is a great resource for backpacking gear. In fact, had the lowest price for the Hyperlite 3400 backpack (that we just recently bought). It generally has coupon codes for first time buyers also.
3. altrec.com – We’ve been shopping at Altrec for years. They have great Customer Service and some great deals on outdoor gear.
4. moosejaw.com – Moosejaw is another place to recieve great online Customer Service. Rumor has it that Walmart maybe going to buy them. If you are looking for some discounted prices on gear, always check them out on your top 3 list. We do.
If you have some good places to look for gear, let us know. Us Backpackers are always looking for gear deals right?
After 10 years teaching backpacking, we put together our top 10 suggestions for new backpackers. For people just learning or getting ready for a backpacking trip, it can be pretty intimidating knowing you will be out in the wilderness. Rest assured that there is no reason to be worried. However, we have seen a lot of mistakes that could be pretty easily avoided if people learned some basics before buying their gear, or just heading out.
If you have some we might have missed, let’s hear from you.
1. Plan and Prepare
2. Make sure your backpacking is fitted correctly
3. Learn how to pack your pack
4. Test your gear BEFORE you hit the Trail
5. Make sure you know your Water Filtration System and how to use it.
6. Practice How to hang a Food Bag (or Bear Bag)
7.Treat your Blisters, BEFORE they are actual blisters.
8.Reduce your pack weight by a little meditation before you pack it
9. Clean your GEAR after your trip.
10. Trust the Trail. It will always provide everything you need.
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3 Mistakes New Backpackers make. If you are new to backpacking, we will send you 3 free videos to get you started. www.thebackpacker.tv/3-mistakes
Backpacking in the cold, especially in the Winter months can be a beautiful experience. After all, there isn’t any foliage and high elevation views can be pretty spectacular. That’s why it’s important to understand the Layering System. We like the 4 layering system and there are many articles out there explaining it.
There are three main components to a layering system.
The first layer is next to skin: The main job of this layer is to wick sweat away from your skin, then dry quickly so you don’t get chilled. Cotton sucks at this because it takes forever to dry. I still am amazed at how many hikers I still see wearing a cotton t-shirt. Big NO NO. Our favorite base layers are wool. They are very efficient, warm when it’s cold, cool when it’s hot, and they don’t stink up like so many synthetics do. The bad news is that wool tends to dry slowly when it gets wet (either from precipitation or sweat). Synthetic materials (polyesters) also make good base layers, and people with very sensitive skin often find wool itchy, so poly is a good wicking, quick-drying option. Perhaps the best of all are wool/synthetic blends which are becoming more and more popular because they have the quick-dry ability of synthetics, with the warmth and ant-stink talents of wool. A note about fit: For cool or cold weather, your base layer should be snug, because if it’s not touching your skin, it can’t wick sweat. That means your sweat sits on your skin until it evaporates, which leaves you shivering.
Second Layer is Insulation: This is the layer that traps your body heat. It can range from lightweight fleeces and wool sweaters to full-on puffy down jackets; it just depends on the season. In all but the coldest of weather, your insulation will remain in your pack while hiking, so your body heat can escape and dissipate. But as soon as you stop moving, put it on so you won’t get cold as your sweat dries.
Third Layer is the Shell: The job of a shell is twofold: it cuts the wind and keeps you dry. In summertime, you can get away with a wispy windshell, but for more challenging weather and extended trips, you want a waterproof/breathable shell (like Gore-Tex or eVent) that keeps water out, but lets sweat vapor escape, so you don’t get wet from perspiration inside your layering system.
The Forth or Optional Layer is the RainJacket: When it’s cold, many people have their second layer as a lightweight pull over. Third Layer is then the lightweight puffy down jacket, THEN the forth layer is your windshell or rain jacket. In our video we like the 4 layering system as you can see.
The main principle of layering is that you are regularly adding and removing layers to keep your body temperature even. An example. We start off on chilly morning hike wearing my base layer and a light fleece. As our body warms up, we stop and take off the fleece. At lunch break, on a breezy ridge, we immediately put the fleece back on, and possibly our outer shell to cut the wind. After lunch, it all comes off (except the base layer) and we start trekking again. If it’s starts raining or a big thunderstorm roll in. We throw on our rainjackets and open up the pit zips (underarm vents) and continue. We always make sure our extra layers are conveniently located in the outer pockets of my pack, so we can always reach them.
What is your Winter Layering system when you go backpacking? We would love to hear from you.
Let’s discuss some backpacking cookware and how the Sea to Summit X Pot (1 liter) did on our field test.
I guess the first thing we need to talk about is: How are you going to use your Cookware System? I love to cook in the backcountry. So I may bring a extra (lightweight) pan to cook additional foods in. Like bacon, eggs, or bagels. But for some, you may only use it to boil water. How you cook and what you are going to cook is important before you go out and start buying cool gadget cookware.
There is of course the difference in metals. Some cookware is made out of an Aluminum base, and some cookware is Titanium. The most common rationale for choosing titanium over an aluminum one is weight: But just a quick FYI, Titanium is actually heavier than Aluminum as a metal. However, you need more aluminum to equal the same amount of (strength as) titanium. Makes sense right?
Probably the reason Aluminum doesn’t last as long if you cook it over the fire. (Like I do)
So when you are determining how you cook, you also have to take a look at as to what you are going to eat on the trail. Again, I use a 900 mil Titanium pot because I love to put stuff in the pot. Not only hot water, but multi-use my hot water by cooking stuff in bags that are in boiling water. Uncle Ben’s Rice in a Bag for example.
Then there is the SnowPeak Titanium Cups. Weights 2.4 oz. You can pick these up for around 30.00. You are limited however when it comes to creative cooking. But great for just boiling water.
PRO TIP: Campbell’s® Hot N Handy© Classic Mug Mug holds 14 oz and weighs 2.4 ounces. AND has a lid. It’s BPA Free. The huge TIP here. It costs 5.00 and weighs the exact amount as the SnowPeak 450 Mil Titanium Cup.
The other piece of Gear that we love is the MSR FLEX Skillet. In fact, we have put this in our backpack to replace our old (bacon cook pan), yea, we love bacon. AND it only weighs Weight 7 oz.
Our review of the Sea to Summit 1 liter X Pot is we like it. However it’s NOT going in our backpack. We love this for Car Camping and cooking soups and our famous Texas Chili. But we think it has a lot of gear failure after long term use on a Thru-Hike or just wear and tear use. Also, if you are using an Alcohol Stove, this pot will NOT work. The flame is just too wide for this pot. Again, we love Sea To Summit Gear. Just don’t think this pot will last through a long distance hike. Very pack-able however.
Do you have a favorite cook system? Let us know and share what works for you.
When you are new to backpacking and getting ready to start buying gear, one of the things that get very confusing is trying to buy a sleeping pad. There are so many to choose from and priced between $50.00 – $150.00 dollars. Which is the best, the lightest, the most comfortable. AHHHHH!
The most common question we get when we take new backpackers out is “what kind of sleeping pad is the best”? The answer to that is not so cut and dry.
We usually go backpacking in the winter, so it’s important to us to keep warm. Mainly because we sleep under a Tarp. So R-Value is important to us. When looking for a sleeping pad you have to ask yourself a few questions.
How important is comfort to you?
How important is staying warm?
How much do you want to spend?
We can tell you for sure, that the lighter, and the warmer you go, the more money you will spend. But that’s a good if you want to give yourself a better chance at staying warm at night. In our LIVE Show we talk about the different kinds of sleeping pads and what is important when looking to buy one.
If you have a question, join in on the conversation and let’s talk sleeping pads.
When someone first try’s out backpacking for the first time, often they get a “sticker shock” when they start pricing out gear. Of course, the first thing they get is the 10 essential list that they run out and buy at REI or their local outfitter. That’s why we wanted to do a show on buying the 10 essentials on a budget. Let’s face it, gear can get a bit pricey, so there is no reason why you need to run out and spend a ton of money. Some are not even sure backpacking is going to be a regular thing for them, so the 10 essentials often sit in a box somewhere deep in your closet.
The first step to remember is the 10 essentials can be found in a lot of different places. For example: did you know that Walmart has a pretty big camping section and that most of your 10 essentials can be found there or on their online store.
First, let’s list the 10 essentials: We have linked all the items on this list with what can be found at Walmart for a LOT LESS money. AND it’s good quality gear.
Navigation (map and compass) *Always carry and emergency whistle
Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen) *Get this at CVS or Walgreen’s in the Travel Section.
Insulation (extra clothing) *Learn the 3 Layering system
Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles) *We use Firesticks that you can break up use
Repair kit and tools *Make sure Duct Tape is in your Pack
Nutrition (extra food) *Always a good idea to bring extra food that you don’t need to cook.
Hydration (extra water)
Hydration and Insulation are important features of the 10 essentials and would advise to do your research first.
The Emergency Shelter is a big one. I have always used the Space Blanket since I can make a shelter and use it to reflect heat.
TIP: Think about what if your Backpack goes missing. Or a Bear carries it away. Or you just get turned around and can’t find it. Where are your 10 essentials? I always carry my space blanket, first aid kit, and the ability to make fire in a small bag that fits into my Hiking Pants or a hanging on a Carabiner hooked on to my belt loop. That way I always have the ability to have shelter, fire, and first aid if I loose my backpack.
Wow! Lot’s of info on how to choose a backpacking stove right? What’s the best, which one is the lightest, or the fastest too get water to a boil. It really is a daunting process if you are new to backpacking. We put this video together to explain how to choose the right one for YOU!
Backpacking stoves are pretty simple in their logic right? Small, packable, and they need to boil water. Where it get’s complicated is which one do I use? Or better yet, what fuel is the right one?
Ask yourself 3 basic questions first:
Where am I going?
How long will I be gone?
Is weight important?
Where you will be going is important because it will automatically help you in choosing the right kind of backpacking stove. Why? Will you be in cold weather, warm weather, low elevation or high elevation?
How long will you be on the trail is important also since it’s the amount of fuel you may need to carry.
And of course, is weight important to you. Why? Because there are plenty of stoves out there that are extremely light weight and you can make yourself.
For new backpacking just getting started, we recommend the MSR Pocket Rocket. It’s sturdy and easy to use. Not a lot of moving parts so it won’t break down in the field. The drawback is the MSR fuel canister that is NOT refillable. Yes, you can recycle if you rip the can apart and separate the metals. But they are NOT environmentally friendly.
However, there are much lighter stoves and fuel that is better for the environment. We love the White Box Alcohol Stove for people that don’t have to boil water in under a minute. You can also make your own alcohol stove with a little DIY project and some creativity. Why not?
Do you have favorite backpacking stove? We would love to hear your story or see your comments. Let’s talk stoves!!
Affectionately known by the lightweight hiking underground as the “PCT Method” (presumably because it was first used by long distance hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail), a bear bag hanging method exists that is lighter, requires less rope, offers the benefits of counterbalancing, is easier to set up, and offers simple and quick hanging and retrieval of your food.
You can make your own system quite easily by assembling the following components:
* Food storage bag
* 40 feet of hanging rope
* Keychain carabiner
* Small stuff sack for a rock (“rock sack”)
* Pencil-sized twig about 4-6 inches long.
Bryan DeLay has 30 years experience in the backcountry and shows us in this video produced by thebackacker.tv, the PCT method of properly hanging a bear bag. Bryan also is a lightweight backpacker and understands that the PCT method can sometimes be the most effective way. and quickest way when your looking for the perfect limb to hang your bag.
How do hand your food bag?
We love the videos that come from Dave Collins at www.cleverhiker.com Of course when we see on that strikes at the very heart of being outdoors, we just have to share. The most common question we get when we take newbies out in the backcountry is “what happens if it rains”?. We always answer that with a tiny grin and say “You get wet”. I think Dave got it exactly right.
Backpacking in the rain isn’t everyone’s idea of a fantastic time in the woods. It’s going to be wet, cold, and visibility will be greatly reduced.
If you’re not properly prepared, backpacking in the rain can be all-out miserable. But if you’re ready for it, backpacking in the rain can actually be a lot of fun.
When conditions are wet you’ll be able to avoid the crowds, you’ll probably see more wildlife, and you’ll be able to experience wilderness areas in completely different way.
Being good at backpacking in the rain is a skill that takes years of practice. The more time you spend doing it, the better you’ll get.
It’s a good idea to practice close to home at first, so you can hone your skills before heading out on a more extreme trip.
One of the most important factors to having a good time during a rainy backpacking trip is having a positive attitude.
If you’re mentally prepared to be wet and still have fun, you’ll probably have a great time. You can sing, and dance to keep warm, or bring fun games to play in your tent.
One concept that’s tough for beginners to accept is that, if it rains for an extended period of time on your trip, you’re going to get wet, and there’s really no avoiding it.
Waterproof gear will keep the water out, but it also forms a barrier that holds your body heat in, which leads to condensation and increased perspiration.
Even the most expensive and breathable rain gear won’t keep your body completely dry while you hike in extended rain.
The same is true of waterproof shoes. Waterproof shoes don’t breath well and your feet will sweat while you hike.
When it rains, water from brush along the trail will run down your legs and into your shoes.
Gaiters and rain pants can delay the effect, but eventually, your feet are going to be soaked one way or another.
Rather than trying to prevent getting wet, it’s better to just accept that you’re going to get wet and learn how to best adapt to it.
With the right skills, you can still stay warm, hike comfortably, and have completely dry evenings, even during days of nonstop rain.
We were really surprised when we saw this video on Vegan Backpacking Food. There is so much info on what kind of food to bring on a typical backpacking trip, but rarely do you see any video’s for the Vegan community. So we wanted to share this video from TREEfool
I am always trying new recipes and seeing what works best for my energy levels, my wallet, and my taste buds.
Not onlyis the video informative for what kind of food to bring (if your a Vegan) on a backpacking trip, but some good points on WTF are we eating.
We we offer our Backpacking Bootcamp classes, the most asked question is: How to I reduce my pack weight? All to often it’s your sleeping system, and food. Here is a great video from Sierra Trading Post that explains how to reduce your pack weight.
Reducing your pack weight can greatly increase your comfort out on the trails. While many tips for saving weight relate to what’s in your pack, this tip relates to simply knowing the trail that you’re hiking. Knowing the trail can help you significantly reduce the water weight in your pack, and it will also help you have a more enjoyable time backpacking.
Remember, there are always different methods and philosophy’s to shed weight. Pack weight, and Tent are just two. Do your research!
There is nothing better than backpacking with a great partner. Especially, when you partner is your Dog. They always follow and never complain. Here is a great video that explains a typical backpacking system for their dog Barlely.
Video by Andy Timinsky
These are the typical items we take for Barkley on every backpacking trip. Keep in mind it is not recommended that your dog carry no more than 25% of their body weight in their dog pack.
List of the gear below: The gear below is good for 3 season – this will not work for the winter time.
-Ruffwear Approach pack
-Ruffwear Quencher bowl
-Ruffwear Climate Changer sweater
-Windshield sun reflector from dollar store- this is used to insulate him from the ground when he’s laying around camp and also sleeping in the tent.
-Dog food- Typically carry more than when we feed him at home since we are burning more calories.
-Plastic bowl for food or water – we reused a plastic container
-Nite Ize led light for collar
One other note: Dogs typically drink from the Creeks and Rivers. It’s always a good idea to have your local Vetrinarian give your dog preventative shot for Leptospirosis
Planning meals for a backpacking trip can be tricky, but it’s important to get it right, as it will have a huge impact on how much you enjoy your trip. In this episode of Backpacking TV, Eric Hanson walks through how he plans food for a 5-day backpacking trip.
A huge question we get when taking people out backpacking is: How do you sleep comfortable? Adventures With Us put’s together a simple video that answers that question.
Backpacking is an amazing adventure, but can also be a tough environment for getting good sleep. In this video we show you the best gear to keep you comfortable and well resting.
You can be pretty creative while sleeping in the wilderness. Just as a reminder however, NEVER sleep with food in your tent. You don’t want to loose a good nights sleep when critters come sniffing around,
Do you love a good DIY project? This one will blow you mind if you really want to lighten your load.
Northwest Backpacker puts together a great DIY Lightweight Shelter idea. This is a really easy ultralight project that will reduce your base weight significantly. At 13 oz this ultralight shelter can’t be matched on weight or cost. The materials below come to about $20.
A tarp is a versatile shelter which can either be left off (when sleeping under a clear sky), or pitched low and tight when in windy and wet conditions.
You should absolutely practice multiple pitch types before taking this out for your shelter. Understanding site selection is also key to getting the most out of it.
After watching video, you can go to Ben’s site for full details on the project.
If you are anything like me? Coffee is pretty damn important in the morning. For many backpackers, it’s an important morning ritual! Here’s a few tips about making great tasting DRIP BREWED coffee. Until now, preparing Drip coffee while camping has been anything but convenient. But with the innovative GSI Outdoors Java Drip’s you can easily make a bold, mud-free brew every time!
These Simple, Portable Drip Coffee Systems are excellent for backpacking, camping, travel… yes even at home you can easily enjoy a great cup of coffee!
Having used the Folgers Coffee Bags for years, I really like these. I think the Coffee Bags are a bit lighter, but looking forward to testing the GSI out in the Backcountry.
Production Video done by: GSI Outdoors
If you have used the GSI Java Drip, let us know what you think?[ratings]
Any video on Lightweight Backpacking is almost guaranteed to make thebackpacker.tv This video by CleverHiker.com is one of those videos. These guys make it sound so good, can’t believe everyone isn’t running out to buy lightweight packs.
At CleverHiker.com, we believe that backpacking adventures provide some of life’s most rewarding experiences. Our goal is to help make your adventures as rewarding and enjoyable as possible, and to inspire you to plan your next excursion.
They go on to say:
Even strenuous backpacking adventures should be safe, fun, and sustainable. Just because you’re headed to the summit doesn’t mean your feet, knees, hips, or shoulders need to hurt. That’s why we’ve created the world’s first professional instructional video series on ultralight backpacking, to help hikers of every skill level feel prepared to meet any obstacle.
They are currently offering a whole video series on their site. “Our Lightweight & Ultralight Foundations video series is perfect for backpackers of all levels – from experienced hikers planning thru-hikes to first-timers looking to avoid blisters and backaches. We provide step-by-step instructions on how to pack light. Once you transition to lightweight backpacking, you’ll never look back.”
I look forward to seeing more of thier video series. Great video production value also.
Video Production by: Matt Mastrantuono
Krik of Black Owl Outdoors shows you how to build a highly efficient wood-burning backpacking stove in the likes of John’s from Intense Angler.
Check out http://www.youtube.com/intenseangler for awesome outdoor videos.
The stove is highly efficient, cheap to build, simple to construct and weighs very little. Throw is in your billy can the next time you’re out bushcrafting, or use it as a cheap alternative to traditional store-bought gas stoves.
Remember to check all rules and regulations in your area pertaining to fire when dealing with open fires.
Outer Can: 22 oz. w/ 3/8 inch holes.
Inner Can: 11-12 oz. w/ 1/4 inch holes.
Pot Stand: Standard Tuna Can