A rock strewn trail in the Appalachian Mountains

Ok, here's where it can get expensive! You can pay $1500 for a backpack, tent and sleeping bag. The good news is you don't have to pay nearly that much and still have quality equipment. A number of companies such as Coleman and Kelty make excellent equipment that won't break the bank. Also, if you study the subject and learn which models are best, you can find real bargains at garage sales and flee markets! If you can afford it you can get excellent light weight and high performing equipment. I hope you do. This keeps these excellent companies around for the day when I choose to spend the big bucks. Currently my long trip pack is a Kelty Super Tioga for which I spent less than $200. It is an external frame pack that carries EVERYTHING I need and a few things I don't. It is adjustable and quite comfortable. Remember this: a pack is not designed to hang from your shoulders. The weight is carried on a thickly padded belt around your waist. the shoulder straps are for stabilizing and keeping the load close to the body. I like to wear heavy items high in my pack...your preference should be just that...your preference. My short trip pack is a Kelty internal frame pack I caught at a sale for $50!

                                                                                                                              My Kelty external and internal frame packs.

I currently use a Timberline 2 tent by Eureka. It is advertised as a two man tent. I prefer using it as a one man tent, leaving plenty of room for boots, pack etc. I don't mind the eight pound weight, having long ago decided that backpacking is not an endurance contest, I can pace myself. The nice thing about backpacking is your motel is on your back and your reservations are good anywhere. I paid less than $100 years ago and this tent has held up great! When camping with my wife we have the 4 person version of the same tent model...I paid less than $10 for it at a garage sale in El Cerrito California. An excellent Eureka two person tent ( Timberline 2 XT) similar to mine goes for about $200 and would be a good purchase. Check out Coleman for even more inexpensive tents that will work fine although you may sacrifice on weight. Buy the best tent you can afford.

Tent tips: Always use a ground cover under your tent to protect its floor. some people use a liner inside the tent as well. A rugged emergency blanket makes a decent ground sheet. Duct tape is a handy item for emergency repairs to poles, boots and tents.

I have a Coleman sleeping bag I bought new for $25 years ago. It works fine. I have an Academy bag liner that can serve as a sleeping bag in cool and warm weather. It is made from polyester and can be used with the Coleman for low temperature use. I believe in the layering principle. Truthfully, I guess I'm a little claustrophobic and prefer sleeping in light weight long underwear with loose fitting (no mummy bags, please) sleeping bags. Rolled up clothes make a good pillow but I carry a lightweight inflatable pillow that is excellent. I can survive on a closed cell foam bad but usually use a full size self inflating Therm-a-rest pad. You MUST use a pad to keep off the ground or no sleeping bag will keep you comfortable.