The Best Budget Thru-Hiking GearThrifty options that get the job done. Scott Yorko Feb 3, 2017 258 SHARESThinking about your next thru hike? Plan and execute the hike of your dreams with Backpacker’s Thru Hiking 101 online course today!Sometimes, your dreams are just bigger than your budget. The good news: You don’t need expensive or top-of-the-line gear to hike a long trail. Get going with these strong budget picks.
The advantages of isobutane canister stove fuel makes it extremely popular in the backcountry: clean burning, no spills, and ease of use. The major drawbacks of canister fuel revolve around the inability to transfer fuel between canisters, resulting in partially used canisters piling up, and forcing us to carry multiple partially used canisters to avoid wasting fuel. On top of that, we often end up paying more per unit of fuel, as the cost is disproportionally higher in smaller canisters.
As I said before, I sleep in a tent. Once upon a time, a well-known archaeologist, on a rock-art documentation trip, woke everyone up at 3 am. She was screaming in pain, all tucked into her sleeping bag, on her groundsheet, after a night spent sleeping under the stars. What happened? An inch-long scorpion decided to investigate the interior of her sleeping bag, and when the archaeologist rudely rolled onto it, it stung her on the shoulder. This story disturbs me. I don’t want it happening to me. I sleep in a tent.
Yes, I know: tents are heavy, bulky, unnecessary, obscure your view of the night sky, etc. They also offer privacy in crowded camping areas, shelter in foul weather and, most importantly (to me) keep uninvited creatures from visiting in the middle of the night. Since weight is something I try to minimize I searched around and settled on a very comfortable, stable and lightweight, single person tent – the Seedhouse 1 SL by Big Agnes. If I leave the included tent pegs at home, it weighs in at around 2 pounds. I cut my own footprint out of a piece of Tyvek 1443 R – it’s a soft, pliable form of Tyvek used to make kites and painters coveralls. It is sewable, water-resistant and extremely lightweight. I’ve also sewn a basic bivy sack out of it, and it works quite well. But, I digress.
Once my little tent is set up, my 800 fill, 20 degree sleeping bag, made by the now-defunct GoLite company, goes in. I love this sleeping bag, it’s warm and fluffy and weighs under 2 pounds. This rests comfortably atop a Klymit Ozone pad, with a built-in, and comfortable, pillow. The Ozone is a couple of ounces heavier than the, now very popular, Neo sleeping pads. It’s also 100x quieter! I’ve learned that the slightest motion on a Neo initiates a crinkling/crunching/crackling noise, reminiscent of the failed “SunChips” bags that made so much noise. There is something about the sound of a crinkling potato chip bag, in the middle of the night, that sets my teeth on edge, like fingernails on a chalkboard. And that’s just if there is one nearby, forget my trying to sleep on one.
Fifteen years ago, I was fine sleeping on a Z-Rest pad. Super light, high R-value (thermal resistance), and it folded neatly on itself. As my joints aged, I progressed to a ProLite self-inflating. It was better, but not much. To that, I added a closed-cell pad underneath. Still, not quite right. I have finally settled on the Klymit. So far, so good. Sleep is important to me. I admire those that can just throw down a tarp and their sleeping bag and go into a coma for 10 hours. I just can’t do it anymore. Simply put, I need a cushioning layer between me and the ground.
Once I’ve selected the proper, level, clear site for my nest, I’ll move on to choosing locations for the “kitchen” and “living room.” This includes appropriate places to hang/store my food, a stable base to set my stove on, and nice place for my chair. A place to call home…