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Hiking Gear

Check out my Light Weight Backpacking page.

Looking at outdoor magazines like "Backpacker" or "Outside" you'd think hiking was all about the junk you tote around with you as you walk.  Everyone likes toys, but the reality is that you don't need a lot of expensive stuff to trek through the wilderness.  Save your money and maybe you'll be able to spend less time at work and more time outside.  The other alternative is to buy a sewing machine and make your own gear.  There are several stores that sell technical fabrics as well as patterns for outdoor wear & gear.  By making your own equipment you will be able to custom fit it to your needs and can do away with many of the bells and whistles gear manufacturers add to their product to make it more attractive but considerably heavier than necessary.

The author does not endorse any particular brand of equipment (I'd have to be compensated for that service) so no brand names are discussed.  I will, however, list the numbers (call for a free catalog) for stores that sell outdoor fabric and patterns, since making your own equipment promotes self reliance, creativity - and is fun!
The Rain Shed, Corvallis OR: (541) 753-8900
Quest Outfitters, Sarasota FL: (800) 359-6931
Outdoor Wilderness Fabrics, Nampa ID: (800) 693-7467

The author firmly believes in traveling light when hiking or backpacking.  The less weight you carry, the faster & further you can walk, the more you can see and the more comfortable you will be.   The best way to lessen the weight of your pack is to eliminate carrying the equipment in the first place.

Ask yourself:
"Would I potentially have to rely on this item for survival or will the item prevent serious discomfort?"

If no - then leave it in the closet where it belongs (exceptions may be made for one or two luxury items, but don't go overboard).  I do not weigh each item in my pack, so no weights are provided below, however the dry weight (without food or water) of my day pack is typically 5 lbs (thanks to my camera gear) and full backpack is 20 lbs (my wife's is 16 lbs).

For tips on ultra light weight backpacking, I highly recommend "Beyond Backpacking" by Ray Jardine.  Ray's pack weight (not including food and water) adds up to 8.75 lbs (clearly I have a ways to go)!  Many great tips are provided and you can incorporate those you want to suit your hiking style (though I will still probably carry my own TP in lieu of pinecones).

Once you have paid for a product, your responsibility to the company that sold you that item ends.  You have no obligation to play the walking billboard by displaying the manufacturers labels.  In addition, that advertising adds to the weight you are already carrying.  It might strike you as peculiar that through your own sweat and effort you are providing a free service on an already overpriced item, even after you have provided the company with a profit.

Take a pair of scissors to everything you buy.  Remove all labels & logos - they don't make you cool, they brand you as a sucker.

Items for a Day Hike
bandana first aid kit knife sun glasses
boots flashlight lighter walking stick
camera food map watch
clothing gaiters long sleeve shirt water bottles
compass hat socks miscellaneous
daypack jacket sun block


Items for a Backpacking Trip
backpack dinners plastic bags tent
book extra clothes sleeping bag toiletries
candle lantern food hanger sleeping pad water bag
can opener fuel bottle spoon water filter
cooking pot ground cloth stove