If you are just starting out with hiking the cost of all the gear can get very expensive. But here is the question, should you get top quality gear when starting out hiking? Lets dive into it.
Nearly everyone can get into hiking, all you need are the basics. Some good boots or shoes, a way to drink and cook and a way to have a comfortable nights sleep out under the stars. When you just get started with hiking and camping you can take the plunge and invest in all the gear.
But boots can be easily around 150 dollars. Tent and sleep system can get around a 1000 dollars when getting the top quality stuff. And cook system around 100. Just with those items the initial cost of doing business can get quite tough to reach for some people.
Are you into hiking yet?
This is an important question you need to ask yourself. Do you enjoy hiking and want to get more into it? Or have you never walked more than 2 feet from your car?
When you enjoy hiking and want to do it more often then the investment is worth it. Buying better gear saves you more money in the long run. But if you do not know yet if its for you than buying all that gear can be a waste of money. On some aspects of the gear you can save serious money on getting cheaper (but not necessarily worse) gear. Getting a heavier tent from Coleman or similar can save you a lot compared to a MSR tent or Zpacks around 500 dollars.
Get the items you truly need
You can get dragged into buying a lot of gear that you don’ t really need. Like I said earlier all you need is something on your feet, something to sleep and something to eat and drink. How you fill those requirements in is up to you. Everything around it can give you more comfort or confidence, but it comes down to the necessities. Do you take a PET bottle or soda bottle for your water bottle for 0,40 cents, or do you want to go for a Camelbak hydration blader for 40 dollars.
The first things to get together for your gear list.
- Tent / tarp / Hammock
- Footprint for tent, can be a piece of painters plastic cut to size.
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Cookset, spork pot and stove. piece of cloth to clean everything up
- Way to carry and purify water
There is always more to take and scrounge up along the way. Those are the basics in my opinion.
Try to invest more in your boots if you can
Boots and sleeping gear are very important. A good days walk means you can cover more miles. And be happier at the end of the day. And a good nights sleep makes sure you wake up with fresh energy for the day to come.
Boots or trail runners can get more expensive, my boots of choice are the Meindl Sahara boots. But these boots go for around 150 dollars. To me they are worth it, but when first starting out you can always start with cheaper boots. Go for something more lightweight like a trail runner from companies like Salomon. Salomon boots are often on sale in the bigger stores.
You can get old surplus military gear, but keep in mind that these are mostly made on a budget. Go to a dumpstore or Surplus store and try them on. You can tell if the boots are something for you.
Another good option that are very popular are the Palladium boots. These where used by the French foreign legion and are still very popular. When looking around online you can get them for as low as 40 dollars.
Do not try to buy gear all in one go
When strapped for cash don’t try to get all of your gear in one shopping trip. You will get a scare at the end of the shopping trip at the cash desk how much this all truly can get.
Take a set amount of time where you do your research about for example the boots and tent. And when landing on your choice set a date for when you can afford it. The next item you get the other time.
Get a job at an outdoor store
When I was 15 and started getting more serious about hiking and backpacking besides camping in the yard, I needed a job to fund the hobby and for other expenses. In the Netherlands there is a large outdoor store chain called Bever. Or Beaver in English. I got my first job there and stayed with them for the next 6 years as a sales guy. Next to school and other responsibilities I was working there.
A bonus that comes with working at an outdoor store is that you learn a lot from the veteran hikers that come there. Talk to them and the hikes that they have taken. I met tons of customers over the years that I worked there where we just spend an hour talking about different gear, the latest products and the spots that we have been.
Another bonus is that you get send to training’s about sales, the gear that your selling and many other ways company getaways that involve outdoor activities. This job helped me a great deal to get over meeting new people and stepping out of my comfort zone.
And the final bonus is that you get a discount on all the outdoor gear that you want to buy. In the six years that I worked there I build up my gear list one by one.
For younger hikers (or older) that might be reading this I can highly recommend working at a outdoor store for a few years.
Get out there and hike for a purpose!
What are your thoughts about getting more expensive gear? Did you start out with a large budget for it? Or did you scrounge around till you got all the gear together? Would love to hear down in the comments what your first outing gear was like!