It is often surprising to new backpackers how expensive backpacking can be. “Isn’t it just going for a walk in the woods?” Well, sort of.
There are several pieces of gear that make all the difference when it comes to backpacking safely and comfortably, and their price points can really start to add up.
There’s nothing you need more than a tent, sleeping bag, footwear, base layers, backpack, and cookware. Due to the materials and manufacturing processes used, lightweight gear is often more expensive.
The bottom line is that backpacking doesn’t require a lot of money. It is likely that you will be overweight and under-prepared for your first few trips anyway. Your weight will decrease as your backpack, and you will only spend money where you are really needed.
When you’re planning a trip, travel insurance is an important consideration. But how do you choose the right policy? Here are some tips to help you select the travel insurance that’s right for you.
Based on your level of experience and comfortability, here are our top tips for spending your money…
Expensive vs Cheap Backpacking Gear
Since backpackers are out in the wilderness for days at a time, they are often viewed as dangerous. You can be in danger or in a very bad mood when you use cheap gear that falls apart, is uncomfortable, or doesn’t work properly.
Even so, there are some areas where you can “cheap-out” and spend less money. It’s important for me to spend money on the things I need, and then add comfort for my trip with what’s left over. From things that could save my life, down to luxuries like foldable poop-shovels (really).
If I were hiking around the Pacific Northwest or similar climates, I would prioritize the following:
3. Sleeping bag
5. Rain jacket and pants
1. Sleeping pad
2. Thermal Jacket
3. Wicking baselayer (one set)
4. Merino wool socks
1. Backpacking food
2. T-shirts and pants
3. Cookware (Stove and pots etc.)
The list below is not exhaustive, nor does it represent a comprehensive backpacking list, but it is a good place to start.
I prioritize rain gear, tents, and sleeping bags because keeping warm and dry if Crap Hits the Fan is my top priority. If I need to regulate my body heat, at least I will have a dry place to do so.
It’s also very uncomfortable to backpack with an uncomfortable pack, so I spend a lot of money on those.
Are expensive backpacks worth it?
It is largely a matter of personal preference, so it is a difficult question to answer. Yes, they are absolutely worth it for me! It is difficult to stay positive when you are trekking with a poorly-fitting or cheap pack. You really are in danger of becoming miserable if the trail is difficult or the weather changes.
My pack keeps me comfortable no matter what: it holds the load I put in it, it fits well, the hip belt takes the load off my shoulders, and it is organized so I can find things quickly.
What if I’m brand new to backpacking?
My recommendation if you are new to backpacking so Expensive would be to borrow one from a friend or find a used one and head out on a 2-day hike.
You will be able to identify any areas of the backpack that are uncomfortable for you, as well as the features you appreciate, so you can choose the one you’ll love.
My Recommended Pack for Backpacking
I have to admit that I am completely converted to Osprey. It has been three years since I bought my Osprey Ariel AG 65, and I am so happy with it.
Several people find that the 55L size is more appropriate for multi-day trips, so I chose the 65L model since I was also traveling abroad for backpacking.
The compartments and sturdy materials are great, and I like how the hip belt takes a lot of the weight off my shoulders.
On a 2-day Patagonian hike, I carried an eye-watering 50lbs (I had to carry a lot of personal items as well, to cross the border!) and it did not feel uncomfortable.
The “Almighty Lifetime Guarantee” offered by Osprey is another great selling point, and Osprey’s customer service is exceptional.