Your First Set of Outdoor Gear & First Trip


Ready For More
Jul 23, 2013
With some other threads going on about gear evolution and discussions like Dumbest thing taken on a backpacking trip I thought it would be fun to see what everyone's first gear items were, whether purchased on your own, inherited, borrowed, or whatever, if you can remember back that far, and where was your first trip and experience with the gear. Also, if you'd like, what have each of those items, if any, been upgraded and replaced with or just plain forsaken in your current setup.

I started gearing myself up for some actual backpacking my senior year of high school when a high school buddy and I decided to take a "senior trip" overnighter up to Silver Lake up in American Fork Canyon the week after graduating. This was to be what I would call my first really backpacking experience due to the fact that my local scout trip I had grown up with was never tough enough to do any actual backpacking. That, and the scoutmaster we had was well into his 70's and didn't have the stamina to do anything beyond car camping and organized scout camps. Neither of my parents were into backpacking either, so I felt deprived.

Of course, since I was only a high school student with a minimum wage job I had to get what budget items I could find. Since I was living in American Fork, only blocks away from Recreation Outlet and a Walmart on 5th East at the time, these two placed were where I purchased most of my gear.

Here's The Big 3 I started with:

Pack: Rokk Talkeetna
I think this was something like 70 liters. I thought it was awesome because it's lid detached to become a waist pack and the front pouch detached to become a little backpack for holding a hydration bladder. It was used on a couple other trips and was eventually sold.

Current packs: REI Crestrail 48, Teton Sports Summit 2800 (w/ frame removed for short ultralight trips)

Tent/Shelter: Walrus Terramoto 2.0

I thought it was very versatile in that it was a 4 season 2 man tent. Of course, with a 4 season setup comes extra weight but the fly can be left home when no big chance of rain is forecasted but still have fully enclosed walls on the tent body for privacy. I still have it and use it on occasion, such as last year when my wife and I took the kids up to Ruth Lake for a little backpacking excursion and had to split the family up.

Current shelters: REI Half Dome 2 (won from an REI photo contest), DIY hammock system, Equinox Tarp

Sleeping Bag + Pad: Coleman 0 Mummy Bag + Insul-Tec Inflatable Pad
Bought the Coleman at Walmart. My first experience with a Klondike Derby as a younger scout, newly moved to Utah from Florida, turned out to be a miserable and horrible experience and so I was still paranoid about Utah cold, hence the desire for a 0 bag at the time. It is warm, but it is also huge, heavy, and hard to pack. Still have it, but after having it take up the majority of my pack's space up to 5th Water Springs this past winter, I have now relegated it to winter car camping trips only.

Current bags: Hi Tec Elevation 15, Teton Sports Trailhead 20, Ledge Sports Scorpion 45.

Still all synthetic budget bags, but all much more packable and lighter in weight. Until I can afford to get a proper down bag for winter trips, I will probably pair the 45 with the 15 or 20 bag when extreme cold is expected. Eventually I hope to also get a down quilt suitable for spring to fall use.

The Insul-Tec pad, contrary to the brand's name, really has no insulation to it, so it doesn't do much on colder nights. I now have a few different pads I will take on their own or combine with another depending on the trip type, season, elevation, etc.

Current pads: Thermarest Z-lite, Klymit X Frame, ultralight windshield reflector (mainly for use w/ hammock) , Thermarest X-Therm (wife's, but will be used on colder trips she is not present on)

Other Firsts:

Cookware: Texsport stainless steel & copper mess kit
Still have it, but it's kept in emergency supply storage. I thought the mess kit would be good for making pancakes and the like in the morning, but I never could keep the pancakes from sticking and burning and soon concluded it wasn't worth the weight and cleanup effort to take along a whole mess kit. Now, I typically only boil water for rehydrating dried meals and beverages when backpacking.

Current Cookware: GSI Kettle, GSI Minimalist, GSI Dualist

Stove: Stansport (canister)
Still have this, but usually only get it out for family car camping trips when I plan to boil more water in bigger containers due to it having a wider base. It is also fed through a hose, so I can take it and invert a canister with it on any extreme cold trips. Otherwise it is bulkier and heavier than other options I now have and now resides with emergency storage.

Current Stoves: SnowPeak Gigapower (canister), DIY alcohol stove

Flashlight: Energizer ?
This was a nifty flashlight by Energizer with LED when LED was just hitting the market and had a long bulb down the side that allowed the light to switch to a lantern mode. Still have it, but it too is now part of emergency storage.

Current Flashlight: Black Diamond Spot headlamp

Multi tool/Knife: Swiss Tech? Multi tool
Another item that was way too big and heavy than necessary. Was later traded out for Gerber Suspension, but that too was too heavy.

Current multi tool: Gerber Dime

Hydration System: budget brand bladder w/ hose + Katadyn Hiker filter
I'm done with hoses. Too much effort to maintain and I hate the first few sips of warm water in warm weather and the freezing problems in colder weather.

Current hydration system: Smart Water bottles & Sawyer Mini filter (for warmer weather), Nalgene Bottle + tablets for colder weather

I won't go into clothing, footwear, toiletries, luxury/accessories, etc, since that is all so variable and too numerous to list in detail. For that, I will just say that since that first backpacking trip, I've traded out cotton jeans and t-shirts for all synthetics. I've also stopped carrying an actual camp stool and now just take a simple little sit pad.

Lessons learned from that first trip and the gear taken and reaffirmed with other trips:

1. Backpacking is awesome! It can connect you with nature in a way few other activities can.

2. There's a fine balance between comfort and weight. You can choose to be super comfortable while in camp or you can choose to be super comfortable while hiking the trail, or so it used to be. This decision isn't as much of a decision anymore with all the new high tech fabrics and materials out there now and so many cottage vendors and other manufacturers alike specializing in lightweight yet very functional gear.

3. You often still get what you pay for.

John Goering

Sep 30, 2014
Actually Will, that all sort of looks new to me------
First pack: Have to use that term in quotations. A wood frame with cotton webbing back bands, no sack and a fold down shelf to aid in hanging stuff on it.
Tent: Sears canvas pup tent. Uber light cotton canvas with some sort of permanent stink waterproofing.
First bag, a no-name canvas/cotton shell affair with something unknown to give the illusion of loft. With a negative R value.
Stove: Another uber light item-Coleman 530 stove and pot. The upside was it could really boil water quickly.

The next rig was mostly REI supplied and came along in the late 60's:
Their "2 man" tent, McKinley down bag (optimistically rated at -40 but good for zero), foam pad made out of a sort of rubbery foam-before ensolite came along, a Camptrails pack frame with an REI bag, Sveva 123 stove and Sigg tourister cook kit. That was a huge improvement in every way and sufficed for several years. Someplace about 1970 the local Jan Sport rep gave me a very early demo D3 pack and when the recoating of the REI tent floor and fly was beginning to be a monthly thing, it was replaced by the original SD Flashlight, which in turn was replaced by the Flashlight II, and a SD Lookout was added for cold weather camping. The Lookout was without doubt the worst tent I ever bought. Over the years, another SD tent that looked like a big version of the Flashlight was used on occasion and then a REI half dome for summer and an Arete 3 ALS. Both of those are pretty functional but the latter is a bit on the heavy side. Eventually the Svea gave way to MSR's original GK and then a Dragon Fly, the McKinley was semi retired for another REI down bag a couple pounds lighter and then the current North Face Hightail 3S. That Jansport D3 had a very long life, thanks to a long Beartooth trip in the early 80's sometime with an early Lowe internal frame pack. I liked that pack so well the D3 got another 20 years of use.

Current assemblage is the Hightail 3S bag, Neoair pad, still using the Half Dome or Arete ALS 3 tents, Dragon Fly Stove with Evernew 2L pot, a couple of Snowpeak cups, Osprey Atmos 65 pack, and MSR Hyperflow filter. The Half Dome will be semi retired as soon as my REI dividend/20% coupon arrives and I get the BA Copper Spur UL3.

The amazing thing is I still have almost all that gear. The intermediate stuff gets loaned to friends and I keep that early stuff for a bit of nostalgia.


Aug 9, 2007
I backpacked a little as a kid, but I really consider my first backpacking trip to be my first as an adult in 2004. Here's a trip report from it: I was single and the GM of a busy restaurant so I was doing okay on cash at the time so I started out with all new stuff. I made the classic noob mistake of getting a massive backpack with the idea that it would work for any length of trip. It was a Lowe 90L pack and it was a behemoth! I still have it, but I think I only used it a few times at most. For the rest I went Big Agnes; I had the original Big Agnes Seedhouse 2, a regular BA Air Core pad and a BA Lost Ranger 15 down bag. With the exception of the pack, you can still buy all of that stuff and it's basically the same as it was 11 years ago. And I still have all of it too... good loaner equipment when I don't want to give out my good stuff. Big Agnes replaced the poles on the tent once (storm damage) and replaced the air core pad a once or twice (although it's on the shelf with a hole in it right now).


Dec 2, 2013
Oh man, I need to take a picture of the pack I used as a scout. I think it's in my basement somewhere. Big external metal frame type.


Ready For More
Jul 23, 2013
First bag, a no-name canvas/cotton shell affair with something unknown to give the illusion of loft. With a negative R value.

Sounds just like the bag my mom gave me for my first Klondike experience as a scout. :cold: She had it in her youth of the 60's/70's. It was complete with orange and pink plaid pattern and everything. It sure was was heavy, but certainly not puffy and insulated. :facepalm: Hence the misery and trauma I experienced and the big blue puffy Coleman 0 bag I embraced. :)


Jan 25, 2012
I'm currently taking a break from writing a paper, so I will add a little bit of information from my first backpacking trip.

In summer of 2013 (August maybe) I went to White Pine Lake in Logan Canyon. It was actually a great first trip, and if I was introducing others, I would consider taking them there. Plus there were not any other groups around, surprising for a summer weekend. The hike in isn't long, and the hike out is actually worse (because you have to climb out of the "valley"), but even then, it's manageable.

I borrowed a pack from a friend who went hiking and it was a Deuter 60L. The same one I actually decided to purchase after trying on multiple packs. At some point I will probably purchase another pack, but it is nice to know I can hold onto this pack and let others use it (because you can adjust the size).

I don't know what brand of sleeping bag I used, because I was borrowing that as well but it was definitely bulky (I couldn't even stuff it into the "sleeping bag section" of the backpack). It belong to my coworker and was the sleeping bag her son used for boy scout trips. Currently I have a Marmot bag (can't remember exact model off the top of my head) but it's down and compacts to the size of a honeydew.

I was brave/idiotic and didn't bother bringing any sort of mat. Now I have a klymit pad, which I actually like, except I wish they would have made it longer. I'm tall for a women, but for an average male (who could also make this purchase) they would run into the same issue. I know they have some different models (and better lengths now) so I'll probably replace my pad in the future.

Before the trip I only knew 1 person going and they told me there would be a couple of people to share a tent with, so not to worry. The lady I ended up sharing with had me carry the poles and stakes to a simple 2 man tent (similar to what I have now).

As for food, I packed all cold items. I didn't fully realize how easy it was to cook various food, and didn't know people were going to be bringing their stoves. I now have a snow peak stove, and a GSI backpacking stove setup (which I like although it might be heavier than others would enjoy).

What I learned, first because of my research on backpacking a majority of the people in the group did not realize it was my first backpacking trip. Second, I quickly learned I needed a better sleeping bag, and carrying a lot of fresh fruit/vegetables is not always worth it. I did however realize how much I love fish/nut butters with some form of carbs for lunch.

Basically that is what I can recall off the top of my head. Perhaps when I arrive at home (and have some time), I will search for a few photos I took on the trip.


May 19, 2012
My first backpack was a beautiful Jansport, circa 1977, it had some cool aluminum frame details - link:

Purchased at Adventure 16 in San Diego. I think all of my early gear was purchased there.
The Jansport I had is at the bottom of the page. The Gregory pack just above it was my second pack (one of the 1st internal frame packs?), purchased at the original Gregory store in San Diego.

My first tent was a North Face VE23 seen below behind the cheap NF tent. The VE23 was based off of Buckminster Fullers design theories (I believe Bucky was consulted on the VE series started in the mid 70's). I don't use it anymore, but I keep it stored in a well ventilated bag, the mesh and zippers are still intact. It rained on us this trip (2009), and my 30 year old dome did not leak, but the new bargain NF tent did.


My first stove was a Svea 123, what a beautiful piece of equipment. I used it until I bought my Jet Boil.
I don't remember my 1st sleeping bag, other than I nearly incinerated myself in it in Harris Wash, fell asleep shit faced too close to the fire. A close call!


Hike Hard, Tread Lightly
May 15, 2013
For my thirteenth birthday my family all went in on climbing gear for me. You see, after constructing a very sophisticated rope swing and ladder in a very tall tree and then falling from said tree breaking my arm, my parents decided to provide education and appropriate gear to stack the odds in my favor.
ABC harness, 2 Omega looking D biners, Kong figure 8, 150' Blue water static rope, 100' of webbing. Enough to get me going.

The first trip with the gear I don't remember, but two friends and I rigged a zipline with the gear across the mouth of centerville canyon. In all it was about 120' long and at the apex was about 30' off the ground. Although no one fell I have scars to show the fun!!!

Howells Outdoors

Adventure is my middle name...actually it's Keith.
Sep 26, 2012
I couldn't tell you the kind it was but the first backpack I had was a Kelty external frame pack. I had it when I was 11. My dad took my brothers and I out for all kinds of adventures. The first backpacking trip that I went on was a short one up Hog Canyon north of Kanab. We went up about 2 miles in the north fork of the canyon to some ruins and Falkawalk Cave! It was fun great.


Sep 30, 2014
Pretty funny. Pack was a pair of my dad's jeans, with the legs tied into the belt loops as the shoulder straps and the torso as the pack. I carried my sleeping bag there when I was 12. I was with my older sister (16) and a friend of hers to Paradise Valley in Kings Canyon---this would have been about 1964. We had some kind of cheap car camping tent. We made a fire to heat up a can of spaghetti for dinner, and ate cold cereal in the morning. My hiking boots were a pair of Converse All-stars. I took along a fiberglass fly rod a caught a few fish as well.

And we had a great time.


Auribus Teneo Lupum
Dec 27, 2012
This was my first pack that was handed down to me from my step brother when I was 12 or 13 for scouts. I also have my original scout mess kit and Buck Light lock blade knife. I used it for camping and backpacking in the Tetons through out the 1980's. My son used it in his first backpacking trip about 30 years later.
Last edited:


Mar 3, 2013
Haha ...... my first "gear" was aluminum frame camp trails with canvass pack. I used a plastic 'tube tent' the first few years then bought a Sierra Designs caternary cut mountain tent,. Trailwise down bag (after my old coleman flannel one), USFS fire issued plastic water bottles. aluminum pot, brass SVEA white gas stove, closed cell ensolite pad. Boots were the old canvass sided Vietnam surplus ones.... cotton clothing. I carried a old 35mm Argus camera.
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