Backpacking Tips: Buying Backpacking Essentials

These backpacking tips will help you save money when buying equipment. Backpacking can be as inexpensive as other outdoor sports if you know where to look for your backpacking essentials.

| May/June 1978

Backpacking tip: A lightweight backpack, a partner and a beautiful view are just a few of many backpacking essentials.

Backpacking tip: A lightweight backpack, a partner and a beautiful view are just a few of many backpacking essentials.


Learn about these backpacking tips that will save you money when buying backpacking essentials.

Backpacking Tips

"You can pay a lot of money for camping gear," says John F. Barber of Yellowstone National Park, Wyo. "Or you can get good equipment for next to nothing. It all depends on whether you know what to look for and where to look for it."

Like equipment for other outdoor sports, backpacking essentials can be either expensive or inexpensive. You can cook your meals over a 5-pound, $34 Optimus stove, or you can heat your eats over an open campfire. Likewise, you can tromp through the snow wearing $65 Tubb snowshoes . . . just as easily as you can do your tromping in a set of no-cost homemade snowshoes. That's the beauty of backpacking: You don't have to be "well heeled" to do it, and do it right.

By the same token, there's no excuse for not choosing the right kind of equipment for the task at hand. Of course, if you've never shopped for backpacking gear before — or if it's been a long time (10 years, say) since you have — you may not know (or remember) what the "right kind" of equipment is, in which case the following backpacking tips on gear gathering  are in order.

How to Buy Hiking Boots

A pair of sturdy, rock-resistant hiking boots should be considered essential. Look for medium-weight (3 to 5 pounds), Vibram-soled hiking boots with reinforced heels and toes and protective padding around the ankles. (Ideally, the hiking boots should have padded tongues also.) Check the construction carefully. The fewer the seams, the less chance that water will leak through to your feet. Full-grain leather and Norwegian welts (ask the salesperson) are indicators of quality in any boot.

When you shop for hiking boots, wear the type of socks you expect to be wearing while hiking. (Generally, this means two socks — one light, one heavy — on each foot.) Also, if possible, try hiking boots on late In the day, when your feet are hot and swollen (thus simulating hiking conditions).

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