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Greetings Outdoor experts, I recently moved to USA, and looking to bootstrap myself for hikes, camping and other outdoor activities.

I have not bought a proper outdoor setup earlier, rather I carried what ever that was available. In fact, I did not care about the shoes, the bags or the warm clothes, but that had costed me and that was also when I was in my teens.

But now, I can invest in good outdoor gears and equipment that will be with me at-least for the next 10 years or more (with the exception of shoes, which I guess needs to be replaced every 6 months or according to the condition).

There's myriad of options, brands, prices and things to buy when I Google. But that is too confusing, and a big-big research. I would like to hear about the basic gears, equipment that I should invest on and the total cost that I should keep on mind. (Say, within $300-$500? to begin with or can it be even cheaper?)

For example, something like the below list:

  1. Daypack -
  2. backpack
  3. sleeping bags
  4. Shoes - 1 sandal, 1 hike shoe etc.
  5. Swiss knife
  6. GPS
  7. <...hiking pant, shorts, cargos, compass, bandana... & so on>

I would be doing more of regular hikes.

This question is something closest to what I am asking, but I am looking for a more specific list to setup really fast without doing a lot of research and missing the rest of summer, and product recommendations if possible. I hope that your answers will be helpful for anyone trying to bootstrap. BTW, I don't have any friends from whom I can borrow these things, I have to buy for myself.

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    List questions are typically not on topic on Stack Exchange, and especially in this case there will be a multitude of subjective opinions. – Rory Alsop Aug 25 '13 at 14:32
  • Rory, Thanks your comments. I thought a set of basic things that are required for outdoors will help anyone starting to hike. Otherwise, it would be tough to keep experimenting. I don't mind if there is no product recommendation. – oneworld Aug 26 '13 at 16:36
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I got back into doing outdoors stuff after a seventeen year hiatus. I used to be quite active and have a lot of what was high-endish kit by the standards of the late 80s/early 90s. When I got it all out of the attic it suddenly seemed very heavy compared to the kit a couple of my friends use on their missions and much of it just looked weird when seen through modern eyes so I decided a complete kit refresh was in order. Although I was tempted to jump straight back in to high-end technical gear I didn't know if I would stick at it so I did a bit of research and put together a list of mid-range but decent gear which I would upgrade over time if I stuck with it.

A couple of caveats:

  • I'm in the UK so some of this kit may not be available to you, depending on where you are (too lazy to check)
  • I am inclined towards the light/ultralight weight camping thing so some of the kit is perhaps more expensive than it should be and you could easily get away with slightly heavier alternatives.

Shelter: I looked at the Laser Competition one and two man tents and also the Hilleberg Akto. Both very good and light but pricey. I went for the slightly heavier (300g) version of the Laser, the Wild Country Zephyros II which is basically the same tent with heavier material. I have used it all summer in heatwaves and the Scottish rain and can't really fault it.

For solo/ child-free missions I quite like just using a tarp and a bivvy bag in the summer. I got both from Alpkit (I also got a titanium spork from them, the only cutlery I need - pocket knife does everything else) whose service and product quality is very good. I will eventually upgrade to something like the Mountain Laurel Design Cricket or Mountain Star - these are considered superior even to mountain tents and considerably lighter. I don't really stay below the treeline so haven't bothered looking at hammocks, but as an aside you may be interested in checking out tarp + hammock camping as popularised by Ray Mears.

Sleeping: I bought an Alpkit 600D down bag and a cotton sleepingbag liner (£10). I am currently looking at pillow options - as I get older I find the drybag filled with used socks increasingly uncomfortable. I don't really get on with inflatable pillows so this area is still being researched.

Other Kit: I bought a 50L Lightwave pack. At 900-odd grams its a lot lighter than my old Berghaus bergen. It lacks the extra side pockets and pouches I'm used to and can't safely contain more than about 12kg but its a very good and comfortable pack, designed by a hardcore hiker from New Zealand and is highly waterproof with a silnylon top. Minimal but very functional.

I also have a small Lowe Alpine Edge (18L) day sack. Its so handy I tend to use it as my day to day work rucksac during the week. It takes a hydration pack and accommodates a 13" Macbook Pro. I really like Lowe kit generally. Other packs are available. It is really a little small to use as a day sac for anything other than short walks and I may well upgrade to one of its more spacious siblings in time or I may go for the Alpkit Gourdon waterproof pack which is very good indeed if you can cope with the functional design (essentially a 20/25/30L drybag with shoulder straps).

I also have a Bushbox multi-fuel stove which I can't recommend highly enough. It will take wood, charcoal, twigs, fuel tablets and a Trangia-style burner and weighs about 250g and packs away to the size of a coaster.

Merino socks are nice for longer treks.

A hydration pack (Camelbak or whatever you like really. Worth finding out about the taste (if any) they impart to the contents, staff in stores are usually very forthcoming.

Clothing:

Waterproofs: I have Berghaus Deluge overtrousers + a simple Marmot breathable eVent jacket with hood.

Trousers: I really like the Montane Terra trousers, lightweight, windproof, zip vented dry in minutes, cordura-patched for toughness. However the cut is very slim and they lack pocket-space (I'm used to combats)

Microfleece: I bought an unbranded plain one from ebay.

Base layers: I bought seven cheap (£5) wicking baselayers from HiGear. They do what they are supposed to - keep you warm and reasonably dry in all conditions and to be easy to wash and quickdrying. Obviously more expensive versions are available. Personally I don't see the need.

Boots:

Personal preference. You can go full-leather with hard Vibram soles (my preference) or for lighter gore-tex or eVent boots/shoes with more flexible soles. I got a pair of North Ridge (made in China but very good nonetheless) but am looking hard at the Ecco Biom Hike boots - expensive, but good boots are essential IMHO.

Knife:

I have an old skool Leatherman tool with a decent blade and a Boker locking knife. I would quite like a machete.

Footnote: I did stick with it and I am delighted I did - my youthful enthusiasm for trekking, climbing and camping has returned and the fresh air, exercise and opportunity to get out of the city has made my day-to-day life immeasurably better. Enjoy yourself ;-)

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