Northern Bailey Range, Olympic Mountains, Olympic National Park.

5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear

In Backpacking, Gear Reviews, Hiking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , ,   |   14 Comments

By Michael Lanza

My first two-person tent set me back only about 75 bucks. It weighed several pounds and was bulky for backpacking. I called it the Wind Sock for its propensity to snap loudly in the slightest breeze, and because its poles bowed disturbingly in strong gusts. (I learned to choose protected campsites.) When it rained hard, I’d wake up to a puddle covering the floor.

But I used it for six summers of car camping and backpacking. At a time when I could not afford good gear, that tent was good enough. It sheltered me for probably close to 150 nights and got me through many wonderful experiences.

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14 Responses to 5 Tips For Spending Less on Hiking and Backpacking Gear

  1. Oscar O'Malley   |  November 1, 2017 at 7:10 am

    It’s interesting that you mentioned having a good pair of boots is more important than anything else. My wife suggested the idea that we go camping for our next family trip, and so I want to be prepared and make sure we’ll have everything we need when we go! Thanks for the tips, I’ll be sure to keep them in mind while we plan our camping trip.

    • MichaelALanza   |  November 1, 2017 at 7:15 am

      Yes, Oscar, it’s true. Other mediocre gear doesn’t necessarily kill your plans, but boots that fit and function well are most important because bad footwear can ruin a hike quickly and completely.

  2. Gloria Durst   |  May 24, 2017 at 4:17 pm

    Inspecting the gear closely seems like a smart tip when you are choosing camping equipment. I would imagine that you would want to find some equipment that you inspect for any problems before you buy it. My sister is looking for new camping gear so she’ll have to find some that she inspects.

    • MichaelALanza   |  May 24, 2017 at 4:24 pm

      You’re right, Gloria. Even for someone with little experience buying gear, inspecting it closely to assess durability and even how well it appears to be made (pitching a tent in the store, lighting a stove, checking stitching on packs and bags, etc.) will give you a sense of whether it’s what you want.

  3. Megan   |  February 15, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    Thank you for the helpful tips. I believe that the tips you’ve mentioned above are what a backpacker should focus on when it comes to shelling out a little more money — the rest is important, but can be spared some expense.

  4. Will   |  December 13, 2016 at 3:37 am

    Great article. VERY useful too! I’ve been looking around lots of travel blogs recently to inspire me on my next trip and this is making me wanna go on an adventure more and more. Cheers Michael!

    • MichaelALanza   |  December 13, 2016 at 5:41 am

      Thanks, Will, glad to provide some inspiration. We all need it! Have fun.

  5. Nick   |  December 3, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    Great article! Thanks for the detail and including so many links. Must have been a great experience hiking and backpacking for three months! Inspiring, one of these days my wife and I will have to do something like that 🙂


    • Michael Lanza   |  December 4, 2016 at 6:38 am

      Thanks Nick. Yes, a summer outdoors was a very special experience. We’re planning to do something similar in the next couple of years. You just have to make it happen.

  6. arizonahikersguide   |  December 1, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Thank You! This post was just perfect. To tell you the truth, the vast majority of clothing I wear on the trail comes from the thrift store. I scored an awesome rain jacket from a guy in San Francisco having a garage sale who just gave me the jacket because it had a small tear on the inside liner. Thank you for sending the message that you don’t have to have the latest and greatest. Cam.

    • MichaelALanza   |  December 2, 2015 at 11:43 am

      Of course no one needs expensive gear to enjoy the outdoors. Like many people, I started out years ago using just whatever I could afford. I prefer gear that performs well, and it’s often more expensive; and I always tell people that, if you can afford it, there’s no reason to settle for something inferior. But if you can’t afford the best, that shouldn’t stop you from getting outdoors.

  7. Jeff Wrinkle   |  November 29, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    Great article on buying inexpensive gear. Never thought to look on Craigslist or
    My three kids and I car camp and hike frequently but purchasing all the gear for the four of us to to go on a multi day backpacking trip is quite daunting.

    • michaellanza   |  November 29, 2015 at 8:00 pm

      Thanks Jeff, glad these tips were helpful to you.

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