Thursday, October 9, 2014

Back to Back Episode 2: The Cost of Backpacking Gear

For those who didn’t see the first post, I’m doing a series of video conversations with Cesar from Cesar and The Woods regarding backpacking and woodsmanship. For the second set of videos, we decided to ramble a bit about the cost of backpacking gear. There is a perception that backpacking is an expensive activity, and especially if you want to reduce the weight of your gear.

I am under the belief that good backpacking gear doesn’t have to be expensive. I believe that you can have an ultralight or nearly ultralight complete gear list for around $500 for three season backpacking. By reducing the number of items you carry, and making careful choices about your gear, you can reduce both the weight and the price. $500 is not cheap either, but Cesar makes a good point that we spend that much on a new smart phone each year and don’t think twice about it. Here are the videos:

Part 1:

Part 2:


So, I finished watching the videos, and quickly realized that we managed to talk for a combined time of half an hour and tell you absolutely nothing about how to actually get a low cost lightweight kit together. It appears that Cesar reached the same conclusion independently as he posted a gear list on his blog designed to address that lack of information. In all honesty, it is just very difficult to get into specifics in a video. It is much easier to put it in writing, and it should be easier to reference as well.

I previously did two posts on low cost light weight gear. One was for three season backpacking and the other for winter backpacking. I recently updated the three season list with some available options. Follow the links below to the two posts:

Beginners Guide to Affordable Bushcraft and Backpacking Gear

Low Cost Ultralight Winter Backpacking Gear List

The first link provides a three season list, and goes into some of the details that will get you started as a backpacker or woodsman. With the selections I made from the list, I was able to put together a complete kit that weighs 12lb 7.2oz and costs $531. If you do not use the hatchet, you get a sub 10lb ultralight gear list for under $500.

The second link shows my attempt at a low cost, low weight winter gear list, and assuming no axe being carried, I was able to put together a 10lb 11.2oz gear list for $741. With the additional of some small items you see in the three season gear list such as a repair kit, the weight will get bumped up a bit.

Same is true for both gear lists. You will inevitably add some more items that you feel are important. With all of that however, you should be able to end up with a sub 15lb gear lists for both three season and winter use, and you should be able to keep the cost very reasonable.

More importantly, you can do this with commercially available gear that you can pick up at any outdoor store. No, it is not top of the line gear for each and every piece, but using similar gear lists people have done a lot more than most of us will ever do. This is gear that you will regularly see being used on the trail, and can utilize with confidence.

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