Backpacking on a budget, part one – decisions

Welcome friends.

It’s a nasty stormy spring morning, but my coffee is hot and the power is still on. Since I can’t get out and do anything, you fine folks are stuck with listening to me ramble.

If you know me, or have read my previous posts on the topic, you know that I am looking at getting back into backpacking. I already do car camping with both my family and my Scout troop, and do some limited hiking in the form of Geocaching.

Once upon a time, I was very much into backpacking and lightweight camping. Some of my favorite times growing up were spent in a tent or around a fire, far away from the cares of the world. Just a few friends and some good times.

Now, as I work on getting back into it I find that I need the gear to be able to do the activities safely and within my means (both physical and financial).

That led me to realize that a good inventory of what I already had was in order. After that, I would need to look at what was actually necessary to bring along. Finally I would have to factor in the weight and cost of the various options.

All of these things together are way too much for a single post. That said, I am going to break it down into sections, and look at each one in my weekly post. Here are the ones I have come up with so far.


  • Enough room to carry all my gear, but not so much that it encourages me to bring things I don’t need.
  • Decent ergonomics (a frame of some sort, well padded straps, belt, etc)


  • Lightweight tent or tarp.
  • Bug netting depending on the season
  • Rain gear


  • First aid
  • Emergency supplies
  • Backups for important gear


  • Pots, pans, utensils
  • Stove or other heat source
  • Items for cleanup
  • Methods of starting fire


  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad or hammock
  • Sleepwear


  • At least two methods of purification
  • At least two liters of carrying capacity

Odds and Ends

  • Things that I won’t have looked at elsewhere, a headlamp for instance

That’s my overall list of things to look at. I will likely be posting about the shelter system next week, followed by another section each week until I am done putting my basic gear set together. I will also do reviews of the primary pieces of gear as I acquire them and test them.

In the end I am going to try to build a cost effective, lightweight, and effective pack of gear. We shall see how it all works out.

See you on the trail.


Yarrrr, thar be treasure over there

I grew up in the stone age.

Seriously, just ask my kids.

No internet, it hadn’t been invented yet.

Cable TV was for “them rich folks what lives up on the hill”

We had three channels, plus PBS on a good day.

What I did have was a library full of books and miles of woodlands near my home.

Well, back in these dark ages I used to spend a lot of time in the woods with my friends. One of our favorite games was “Pirate Treasure”.

One of us would go out and find a likely spot to hide some little trinket and mark its location on a map. then the others would go try to find it.

blank pirate map

We had a lot of fun, and needless to say we all got pretty good with a  map an compass. Oh, did I forget to mention I’m older than GPS?

Fast forward more years than I want to think about and you find me, sitting around with my own kids. Kids growing up in a world so different than the one I grew up in. I looked for a way to have fun with them, while connecting them to the world I once grew up in. I found Geocaching.

Now, it may not be exactly the same thing, but its pretty darn close. Especially the part where someone else hides the treasure. Looking around the house I found my old GPS, a birthday gift from many years back. I dusted it off, grabbed a pencil and a flashlight, and we went out and did us a few hunts.


It was fun, lots of fun.

It was a bit on the paperwork side though, since I had the old equipment. Not to worry though, with my GPS enabled smartphone I can simply pull out the iPhone and find a nearby cache whenever!

phone gps

In all seriousness, with my newly rekindled desire to spend time outdoors, especially with my family, this is an awesome activity. Its relatively inexpensive to participate in, lots of fun, and good exercise to boot!

See you in the field.