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#124380 - 02/19/08 04:26 PM $600 budget for the outdoors
dweste Offline

Registered: 02/16/08
Posts: 2463
Loc: Central California
Friend is re-entering active outdoor life after decades as a desk jockey. He has a Wiggy sleeping bag and a few miscellaneous personal items (notably a Leatherman Supertool) , but is really building his kit from the ground up.

I gave him a basic survival kit and a basic personal first aid kit, and a couple survival, primitive shills, edible and useful plant books. He is signed up for a land navigation and wilderness survival course in about 4 months.

Leaving aside the question of a decent fixed blade knife for now because he can borrow one, how should he spend his $600 budget?

I suggested a Goretex bivy sack, simple alcohol stove, a black anodized aluminum cook kit, a ground cloth, sil tarp, mucho paracord, compass, and a decent backpack. This will challenge his shopping, trading, scrounging skills.

What would you suggest?

Edited by dweste (02/19/08 04:31 PM)

#124390 - 02/19/08 05:44 PM Re: $600 budget for the outdoors [Re: dweste]
unimogbert Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/10/06
Posts: 857
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By: dweste

What would you suggest?

Good quality boots and socks.

#124395 - 02/19/08 05:55 PM Re: $600 budget for the outdoors [Re: unimogbert]

In addition to your suggestions (all good) I'd add good clothing in layers including a spare change and including boots. Depending on what 'outdoor life' is he may need a good hatchet or saw depending on his skills.

#124397 - 02/19/08 06:07 PM Re: $600 budget for the outdoors [Re: ]
SwampDonkey Offline

Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 1268
Loc: Northeastern Ontario, Canada
How about a flashlight, I would recommend a headlamp version and a small handheld.

Needs a way to sharpen his tools also, cheap diamond rod?


#124398 - 02/19/08 06:11 PM Re: $600 budget for the outdoors [Re: ]
benjammin Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/06/04
Posts: 4020
Loc: Anchorage AK
I really recommend your buddy wait on the expenditures until he has researched it himself a bit more. While there is an almost inexhaustible list of suggestions for gear we could come up with here, I think by far the best he can do is to get out there and try what he's got now or what he can get for little or nothing and see what his needs might be. Gearing up really needs to be secondary to thnking through. Perhaps a better investment of the $600 would be more education/instruction and hands on time.

I think you've got him set up well enough as is for now. Let him do some discovery first, then maybe he will come up with a specific list of needs/desires that we can help him with that will be a lot more meaningful.

For a quick, general recommendation now, I'd say if he's in the wilderness he will need shelter, a way to acquire and purify water, a means of making fire, and a means of signalling both visual and audible. With the right training, all of these can be met real cheaply, like less than $100 for sure.
The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.
-- Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)

#124399 - 02/19/08 06:15 PM Re: $600 budget for the outdoors [Re: ]
Lono Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 10/19/06
Posts: 1013
Loc: Pacific NW, USA
You don't say whether your friend will be outdoors in Texas or North Dakota (assume Texas), hiking distances, car camping, or hunting camps, or how much clothing he already owns. But he's signed up for a 'wilderness survival course' in four months which sounds aggressive to me for someone just getting back into outdoor living from behind a desk. Possibly the organizers of that course have a pack list that will guide him in purchases. Most wouldn't want to support a camper without a core of gear. Anyway, in order of priority:

Boots - buy what fits. That soaks up $140-200 of your $600 budget.

Pants, shirts, socks, underwear etc - a survival course calls for moderate to better quality wear, so careful shopping for the usual convertible pants, wool and polypro stuff will net you another $75-125. otoh any longish survival course calls for 4 pair of wool socks, eating up another $60-80 of your budget.

Waterproof layer - you may find decent deals at Campmor, Sierra Trading Post, Backcountry Outlet etc. REI's February sale is just ending, there were some good in-store deals on Marmot Precip gear. Or go surplus and buy a heavyish poncho.

Pack - again, if he's gonna carry this stuff along a trail, go for what fits him best and fits his gear. Probably $150-200 again. Best cheap light sleeping pad is a traditional blue foam or Thermarest Z-Rest.

Tent/bivy - he should take his lead from you, if the environment permits it go light and tentless. I would avoid the pricey goretex though and save on a more basic bag cover, like the Montbell Dry-tec ($130 vs $180 for the goretex version). Has worked great for me for 3+ years, dry inside in snow or rain.

Sleeping bag - this seems to be a religious issue with hikers, you're better off going in store and trying some out, then choose the cheapest (and second most comfortable). When it comes down to it most modern bags work great in most weather, which is what I think your budget allows. Figure $150 for a moderate priced bag, probably not down.

I think we're at $600 and your friend is half dressed and somewhat exposed to the elements, without a warm layer, and without food or a way to prepare it, or 8-9 of the essentials. Shop garage sales, eBay, Craiglist etc to make your budget goal.

I guess this kind of question is what the backpacking gear forums are made for, but usually you aren't trying to outfit anyone from ground zero or on a low-moderate budget like $600, and not with a wilderness survival course or adventure looming on the calendar. My own summertime hiking gear weighs in at 20-30 lbs depending on frills and food, but it was bought over time and mostly on special. You'll get lots of advice about living under an issue poncho and eating MREs etc, which may make fiscal sense but I'm no judge of your friend and what his preferences may be. He could take to sleeping under the stars or feel better in a tent. When all is said and done he will a. borrow alot of your gear just starting out and b. maybe model himself after you and whoever he hikes / camps with. And if he goes on a real wilderness survival experience that will whittle down his priorities to things that maybe he wouldn't purchase right off.

Get him out now, this coming weekend, without his gear of choice, sharing your gear and experiences. See how often he can fit being outdoors into his desk schedule, that will decide if he's ready for a survival course. He probably has some cobwebs and a few pounds to shake off before he's ready. I guess I'm pretty leery of throwing anyone into that bathwater straight off.

#124404 - 02/19/08 06:27 PM Re: $600 budget for the outdoors [Re: benjammin]

Originally Posted By: benjammin
Perhaps a better investment of the $600 would be more education/instruction and hands on time.

This is SO true. With enough knowledge, you don't really need that much equipment...I'm sad to admit.

#124405 - 02/19/08 06:31 PM Re: $600 budget for the outdoors [Re: Lono]
BobS Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 02/08/08
Posts: 924
Loc: Toledo Ohio
I agree he should not try to buy it all at one time. We all have different likes and there are items one of us will proclaim as a must have item that others would never use. He needs to get out and tent camp. I have found tent camping a very good way to work through gear and procedures as to what works and more important what doesn’t work for me.

After a summer of camping a person should have a very good base of experiences to pull from for future outings and for the filling out of his BOB. And it’s fun to camp. Other then in a downpour, but even then you learn valuable things.

Spreading out the expenses over a summer will also make better use of your money then trying to get it all from one day of hunting the outdoor stores in your area.

Garage sales, the Salvation Army & Goodwill stores can be a great resource for a person on a tight budget.

Edited by BobS (02/19/08 06:32 PM)

You can run, but you'll only die tired.

#124406 - 02/19/08 06:39 PM Re: $600 budget for the outdoors [Re: dweste]
xbanker Offline

Registered: 04/21/05
Posts: 484
Loc: Anthem, AZ USA
As mentioned, much depends on the activity: Hiking? Car camping? One day? Multiple days? Time of year and weather? Remote or not-so-remote? Etc.

• "Gore-Tex bivy and silnylon tarp" — Even moderate quality for both might take as much as 1/3 his budget. I'd consider, at first, putting the bivy on hold, and get just the tarp since he has presumably a good bag in the Wiggy (unless expected conditions somehow dictate a bivy).

• "Simple alcohol stove" — If $$$ really become an issue, for now he could make his own soda- or beer-can alcohol stove for next-to-nothing; many do a credible job; Google search will find a number of websites with step-by-step instructions.

• Water — Assume the PSK you gave him includes MicroPur tablets or similar. But what about his main supply? Depends on factors not provided (how long; how far; expected water sources), but needs the means to carry water (e.g. Nalgene bottles or similar) and/or a reasonably good water filter.

• Bandana — Inexpensive; multiple uses.

• Cup of some sort — Snow Peak, or variation of sierra cup etc.

• Boots/socks — Already mentioned.

• Fire Building — Main source, e.g. ferro rod/tinder (assumes PSK contains backup like a mini-BIC).

• Decent signal mirror — Included in the PSK?

• Flashlight — An LED headlamp, which can double as a standard flashlight if budget won't permit both.

• Topo map(s) — Of the areas to be traveled (and the ability to read them).

And as stressed by others, good foundation of knowledge and skills.

"Things that have never happened before happen all the time." — Scott Sagan, The Limits of Safety

#124410 - 02/19/08 07:07 PM Re: $600 budget for the outdoors [Re: xbanker]
wolf Offline

Registered: 12/01/04
Posts: 329
Loc: Michigan
A good compass.
"2+2=4 is not life, but the beginning of death." Dostoyevsky

Bona Na Croin

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