Camping: what's the best way to save $$ on gear?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Jonathan Burk, May 7, 2003.

  1. Jonathan Burk

    Jonathan Burk Second Unit

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    Well, it's time to start camping with my 6 year old. I haven't been in a while, and I don't really have any gear to get started with.

    I'd like to get stuff that will last for a long time, but I don't want to spend more than I have to. For a home theater analogy, I'm looking for "Outlaw" type stuff (solid, good features, excellent value, but not all the bells and whistles) as opposed to "Realistic" (cheap, won't last) or "Theta" (extremely high quality, but $$$$$)

    My biggest investment will obviously be a tent and sleeping bags. I went to the local outdoors store, and just about had a heart attack looking at sleeping bag prices (>$250!). Then I saw the $30 "Eddie Baur" ones at Target. And obviously there are a bunch in between.

    On Ebay, I saw what looked like some great deals on used and new equipment as well. Even name brand stuff like REI and North Face.

    We're in Southern California, and will only camp from March-October, so I would probably need "3-season equipment". No snow or cold winter camping yet.

    If anyone has any recommendations on good values for sleeping bags, I would sure appreciate some direction. Especially if one kind is much easier to clean, or maintain. We probably won't be backpacking for another couple years, but that may be a consideration.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Andrew 'Ange Hamm' Hamm

    Andrew 'Ange Hamm' Hamm Supporting Actor

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    I'm hardly an expert (though I know there are some on this board), but I'd suggest that it depends on the type of camping you are planning to do. If you're talking about trunk camping, where you drive your car up to a site and pay a few bucks to set up a tent near your parking space and grill, then places like K-Mart and Target can get you hooked up with a plethora of options by Coleman, etc. If you're planning on hiking a few miles on the Appalachian Trail, then you really don't want to spend less. Is your life going to potentially depend on this gear, or is this more like camping in a big backyard with a car safely nearby? With a 6-year-old, I would assume that big backpacking trips are a few years away.

    Either way, enjoy the heck out of yourself.
     
  3. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    You're going to hate me for this....

    Sierra Trading Post

    Campmor

    Do a search for backpacking here for my recent thread on the subject. Another hit-or-miss option is Overstock.com. I got a "The Backside" sleeping bag there that's rated to -15º for $130.

    My brother Ange is correct. Depending on your needs the gear you get will vary quite a bit. Check out www.rei.com for some recommendations. Read the text of their online guides. Their prices are extremely high though.
     
  4. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    No way you need to spend $250 on a sleeping bag to start out with. It is a big mistake for somebody to spend that kind of money. Save that kind of money for gear when you KNOW what you need in equipment and what suits you find, because like most things, sleeping bags and tents tend to be very subjective. Tent X that might be great for me might be horrible for you. It's like a complete Audio or HT newbie buying a $20k Runco projector or a Mark Levinson amplifier without having heard any other brands.

    Sleeping bags: First you need to decide what kind of SB you like, the rectangular kind or the mummy kind. Obvious differences as the mummy kind will be more constricting but will be warmer and lighter at the same time. Then you need to decide what kind of sleeper you are, side, back, standing on your head with your arms making a teacup? [​IMG]

    Figure out you can probably spend about ~$70-$100 on a very good sythtetic Polarguard 3D mummy bag from most of the major manufacturers. Anything more and you're getting into the "backpacking" light and warm bags that may or may not be overkill for what you're looking at. Obviously a 6 year old is not going to be hiking as far/long as you would. Anything less and you're looking at 4+lb car camping bags that you'd probably not want to carry any significant lengths.

    I've used an $80 Marmot Wizard for the longest time which is a +20°F systhetic bag I got from SierraTradingPost awhile ago. Marmot makes very good sleeping bags at a decent price. Slumberjack makes very inexpensive bags but from looking at one, it is not as well made as Marmot. I just bought a $166 Western Mountaineering Iroquois on closeout from Backcountrygear.com. that's a 750 Down +38°F bag that is 1lb 8oz and super compressible. But for value and performace, a Synthetic bag is the way to go. Down is lighter and more compressible but it is also $$$ and doesn't perform as well if it gets wet. Check out REI.com, they have an excellent Learn&Share link which tells you the basics for equipment, big and small.

    Don't forget the thermarest too, it's important for warmth and also for the rocks and stuff..

    Tents:
    Tents will be more than the sleeping bag, unless you plan on buying one of those walmart monstrosities that are really only used for car camping. Might actually not be a bad idea, but pick one well, nothing probably scares a novice camper away from the hobbie/lifestyle more than having a leaky tent on a rainy night! If you can find a good one that actually works, it might not be a bad idea, cause if you're not going to be buying a backpacking tent, then it is best for you to see what kind of tent you like and then when you DO buy a more expensive backpacking tent, you have a basis for what to look for.

    However, if you do plan on having to carry the tent in a pack, you can sometimes find decent tents that are anywhere from ~4lbs-6lbs 3-season tents, depending on the type of tent you get for around $175-$250. I have a Walrus Zoid 2.0 (Walrus is now MSR), a MSR Zoid 1.0, I had a Kelty Windfoil UL until I sold it. The Zoid 2.0 is a 2 person tent that I like, it's about $240 I believe so it's kind of on the high side of what I think is worth spending for you but it's a nice tent that is a tad over 4lbs. It's a Hoop tent, which means it uses 2 poles and is NOT freestanding (which means it uses stakes to hole the tent up). REI/Mountain Hardware/Sierra Designs/Kelty all make hoop tents of various designs and sizes. Check out the REI models, they should be inexpensive and from what I hear fairly decent. Kelty makes some cheap tents too, my Windfoil UL was big, very long, but it didn't ventilate as well as my MSR and only had 1 zipper. The MSR Zoid is a nice 2 person tent cause it has 2 zippers, has a vent pocket to keep condensation from forming too much.

    Also take a look at the Sierra Designs, they make good tents but they are sized differently than the Zoids. The Lightyear or Flashlight models they sell have 2 person sized hoop tents but they are not as rectangular as the Zoids so if you toss and turn, it might make a difference. If you're looking for bigger tents, than you're into the Dome tent sizes...

    On another note, doesn't REI rent stuff? Might be a great way for a beginner to get an idea what equipment they need.. I don't have an REI near me but Campmor is close by with an EMS next door.

    Jay
     
  5. Adam Krogul

    Adam Krogul Stunt Coordinator

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    have you thought about getting an inflatable mattress instead of a sleeping bag? yea i know it's really not roughing it but its hella comfortable. actually i have a herniated disk and i didnt want to risk sleeping on the hard ground so i decided to get one of these, with an air pump your good to go. much more comfortable that a sleeping bag imo.
     
  6. Kevin Crowl

    Kevin Crowl Stunt Coordinator

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    Garage sales are great for getting cheap camping gear. I bought a Coleman stove and many Coleman lanterns for less than $10.00 each.
     
  7. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

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    I would also suggest you start him off with Car camping, and get him used to being outdoors....then let him get into backpacking, etc when he wants to.

    I would say just get one of the $30 coleman bags and a decent sized dome tent (maybe $60-100) from Target/Walmart first. Go a few times, and see if he likes it. After that, he may want to branch out into something different that requires more specialized gear; biking, backpacking, climbing, who knows. Most of the "3 season" bags can be used year round if you add a better groundcover under the bag and tent and arrange another blanket over your head. I personally can't stand mummy bags because they are so uncomfortable in heat; standard bags can just be used with a sheet on top regardless of how hot it gets.

    Army/navy stores aren't bad to pick up some extra blankets or sometimes cookwear, but their sleeping bags are usually pretty heavy and their packs are to be avoided. I would also avoid the higher-end places (REI is kinda middle of the road, but they are pretty overpriced on the lower end stuff). Yard sales are a good idea too.
     

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