Budget gear for a noob


Newst Noob!
Mar 26, 2017
As I mentioned in the noob introduction forum, I am very new to the whole backpack camping. Generally I will just be going on 2 night trips around northern WI but will make it to the Rocky Mountains once or twice a year and this would be a 4-5 day trip.

For my first trip, I borrowed most of my gear and let me tell you...I over packed and it was HEAVY for a 8-10 mile hike. I learned I need to carry less, and it didn't help I had cans of food since it was a last minute, 1 night trip, with temps around 28 degrees F. Learned quite a bit on that trip and since then, have been researching like crazy! I want to get quality stuff, but then again there's a trade-off with a smaller budget.

Gear I own:
  • Rover Buhl mummy sleeping bag. Roughly 2 pounds and compresses quite nice. I enjoy this for a beginner sleeping bag.
  • Self inflatable sleeping mat/pillow. 2 pounds and I know this is a luxury item but it's too darn comfy.
  • Hiking boots from Gander Mountain. These will get replaced down the road into something lighter/waterproof, etc..
  • Tent. 2 person from Walmart (needed it last minute) and it weighs around 6.5 pounds. You may now joke about my tent choice.
  • Platypus 70 ounce water bladder I will pull from my Platypus bag for mountain biking.

Gear I am looking to purchase pretty quickly:
  • Stove: Thinking the MSR Pocket Rocket. Seems like this is a basic "go to" and would fit my needs just fine.
  • Cookset: Was thinking the GSI Haluite Microdualist but that may even be overkill. I like that's it nice and compact, and has everything I need...but with the 2 bowls and 2 mugs, will that just be extra weight? Most of my cooking would be basic noodle dishes where I just need to boil water. However, I would be interested in looking at a small skillet so I could get creative with cooking possibly flapjacks or a breakfast skillet of some sort. I am open to any suggestions here! Or even the Pinnacle Soloist, and adding in an extra mug of some sort for coffee.
  • Tent: I prefer the 2 person tents for the extra room. Again, I can't be spending $300 on a tent so I do have a lot of limitations around this. If I could find a spacier 1 person tent, I would be open for that. I just know the walmart one will not cut it due to it's weight.
  • Pack: This will be my last purchase but I am thinking something around the 70-80L size. I'll do quite a bit of research when this time comes so I can find one that fits nicely.
  • Water filtration: Have done 0 research on this yet.

I am open to all suggestions and would love everyone's feedback. At some point, I just need to stop researching and purchase :) Then again, I don't want to regret my purchase like I did with my tent and hiking boots!

Thanks everyone!


Oct 30, 2016
Don't know what your budget is. Pretty much with all of this it's the old adage 'cheap, light, durable - pick which two of the three you want'...

Hunt around on sales you should be able to snag a 2-person tent weighing around 4ish pounds for a couple hundred bucks. Want lighter you're going to have to pay more.

Any pocket rocket type stove is a good water boiler. I'd just get that and a light pot to boil water in and call it a day to start out but if you want to be a backcountry gourmet maybe look at stoves with adjustable flames, larger bases, etc that make it easier to work with skillets. I have an msr wind pro 2 which is pretty nice for all that at the cost of, well, costing more and weighing more. To be honest 99% of the time I still only ever boil water with it anyway...

Pack can cost some bucks too. 70-80L is pretty big and is going to weigh some, but you'd definitely have room to load it up with food/cannister for extended trips.

Water filtration for most scenarios is easy to deal with with a Sawyer squeeze.

Probably easier to make concrete recommendations if you have hard budget numbers to work with. Or ignore your budget and be a gear-whore like most people are with this lol.
Aug 31, 2015
i dont have the time to chime in about the other stuff but if you are in the rocky mountains, get a steripen for water filtration. The water in mountainous areas is very clear and plus from experiences ive heard from others sawyer squeezes break down quickly. If you are unsure of water clarity either run it through a coffee filter to get excess garbage and floaters out (if there are any) and then run it twice, easy to deal with.


I ❤️ GYE
May 31, 2015
For a stove, there are much cheaper options than the MSR Pocket Rocket that are pretty similar in weight. Just look on Amazon. My friend has had one made by Etekcity that he has used for a few years now and it has held up great. It weighs 0.2 oz more than the Pocket Rocket and usually sells for $10-15.

Amazon can be a good place to find a cheaper tent too.

I use the Sawyer Mini for water filtration and really like it. It takes up minimal space, costs $20, weighs very little, and works very well. I have several friends who use it as well and none has had a problem with it.


Hiker Trash
Jan 4, 2015
Great article here -


  • Stove: Pocket Rocket is a good and easy choice. If you're only looking to boil water, an alcohol stove for the good old price of free is a good choice.
  • Cookset: I've got nothing sorry
  • Tent: Check out some of the tarp-like options - not because they're lighter, but because they're cheaper. The Six Moons Designs Deschutes Plus is affordable, sets up with trekking poles, and is a 1.5-person sized shelter.
  • Pack: Good choice to leave it til the end. ULA packs are pretty great packs IMO but it's all about what's comfortable for you to carry.
  • Water filtration: Have done 0 research on this yet. Sawyer squeeze/mini are popular among hikers. I personally don't like filters because they tend to clog up, go slow, and/or break. If you choose to go the chemical route, AquaMira is a great brand, costs $15, and will last you anywhere from 3-8 weeks depending on how much water you drink. Use 5 drops instead of 7 if you want to make it last a little longer.

Wyatt Carson

Desert Vagabond
Apr 15, 2015
I would be interested in looking at a small skillet so I could get creative with cooking possibly flapjacks or a breakfast skillet of some sort. I am open to any suggestions here!

MSR makes a good 8" stainless steel skillet with a thin layer of aluminum on the bottom to spread the heat but it has no lid. I find a lid essential but very essential for outdoor cooking. Another but slightly heavier option is to find a 7" Revereware skillet with lid in a thrift shop. They are stainless steel with a layer of copper on bottom to spread the heat. Their domed lids make the pan a very versatile piece of cookware. Grandma liked them and they still work for light weight cookware. I have one in the home kitchen for certain cooking tasks that are similar to what you want to do and one in my car camping kit in conjunction with a 2L Revereware sauce pan with lid that do every single cooking task out there for us. The trick is to use low heat with them, as low as you can get away with. That is true of any thin pan though.


Newst Noob!
Mar 26, 2017
Thanks for all the great feedback. My friend uses the sawyer mini water filtration which I enjoyed, but it was slow. I'll def look into the drops.

As far as a cookset, I think I may end up with a smaller GSI or MSR product. Both have a nice 1 person set for a 1L pot with mug/bowl. For an extra few ounces, I may just go with the duelist which has a pot, mugs, and bowls. For some reason I love the way the GSI are packaged together. I need to really decide if a skillet is actually needed. I have a feeling my go to meal will just be noodle dishes.

My buddy also has the $12 stove but think I'll pay extra for the pocket rocket. Durable and fuel efficient.

I'm traveling to Boise, ID today for work and noticed they have an REI store so I'm going to go check it out.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk


Dec 30, 2015
I have the pocket rocket and love. Small, easy to use. I have used it in temps down into the 20's by putting foot warmer pad on the bottom to help the fuel.
I have the sawyer squeeze and a Katadyn hiker pro. The Katadyn is very fast but big. I use the Squeeze when backpacking and it's fine for one person. I don't feel it's slow, plus I don't like the taste of the drops.
For cookware all I carry is one MSR titan kettle. I carry a separate plastic coffee cup so I can heat water make my coffee and enjoy it while my breakfast in a bag heats up. I eat right our of the bag.
You may also try looking for used gear over on Whiteblaze.net for a tent. Thru hikers tend to upgrade and sell old gear.

enjoy the journey


Auribus Teneo Lupum
Dec 27, 2012
Suggestions are made for low budget options...
Stove: MSR is always a good choice.
Cooking: (save 9-12 oz for $20) you can save money and weight with just a 500-1000 ml aluminum or Ti mug or tea kettle and spoke. Budget versions by ALOCS can be very cheap and work very well. Some even have the fancy heat exchange things on the bottom. Search Amazon and EBay.
Sleeping Pad (save 16 oz for $50) there is a wal-mart pad that is an Ozark Trail orange (not the green one) self inflatable and weighs 16 oz. It is out of stock but can be found online for $50 or less.
Alps Mountaineering and thermarest sell similar ones but at higher prices. Sams and Costco carry good sleeping pads. I was in Sams and found a Kylite pad for $40.
Tent: (save 4lbs for $200) buy a Sil-Nylon tarp tent $180 then floor and bug screen from eBay for $20. It is easy to put together your own version of an MSR thu hiker tent. Cut up some graphite (carbon fiber) drivers from a thrift store for custom carbon fiber hiking/tent poles for $10 and weight 3 oz each. They will save you nearly 1 lb over the fanciest so called carbon fiber poles that are 9 oz each I think.

Water: I have a bias against filters so be advised. You can get a Steri-pen emergency, pre-filter, and bottle for $30 online. I used a coupon from Sierra Trading and paid @ $15. Everyone else seems to like the Sawyer. I'm not sure why I don't like them. I also dislike iodine treatments but they are the lightest and fairly cheap.

It all depends on water quality...

Pack: It usually comes down to Osprey, Gregory, or the Ultra-light companies.
I was goofing around with golf club shafts and found that I could loose almost 1 lb if I replaced the metal bars in some of my packs with the bottom sections of the carbon fiber driver shafts.

Broken arrow shafts made of graphite/carbon fiber make good tent stakes as well. There are tutorials you can google.

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