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.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Rory Alsop, WedaPashi, Danubian Sailor, DudeOnRock, studiohack Sep 4 '13 at 3:31

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    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

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.


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.


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.


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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