Expensive equipment problem

I have never had much of a chance to go camping. Therefore, I don’t have much gear. I want to do a lot of camping, and Kayak camping, this coming summer. My problem is,How do I spend less than 800 dollars and still get a good set up for kayak camping? I don’t have access to a very good army surpluss or anything like it. Any suggestions? BTW, I already have a Kayak.


$800 is LOT of money!
You’ll be very nicely equipped for $800. You’ll need a tent, sleeping bag, stove, cookware, and pack (if you paln to hike/camp)and a few other small things.

If you have wool or synthetic clothing, rain gear, and good hiking boots, you’re pretty much set.

For a tent, Sierra Designs makes great tents for the $. Here is a 2-person Clip/Flashlight that is great. I have one and it is lightweight, sets up quickly, and nice and airy yet dry in a rain storm.


For a sleeping bag and summer camping, I’d recommend a synthetic bag from either Northface, Sierrra Design, EMS or REI. No down. You can get a great bag, down to about 30 deg F for $130 or less.

Sleeping pad is another $50. Stove about $80. Get an MSR one that burns any type of fuel. The Whisperlite International or the XGK are good reliable stoves.

Rest of you money you can buy a good pack ($200) and anything else that you wan to make yourself comfortable.

So for $600, you can get the critical gear to have a good night’s sleep and carry the gear. The other $200 do what you want with.



– Last Updated: Nov-08-05 11:14 PM EST –

usually has some good sells on sleeping bags and tents, I got a real nice tent on sell for about $80 dollars and a sleeping bag for $60 dollars; you can get a ground pad cheap ($10) at target and ground cloth ($7) at home depot. Campmor also sell a very basic propane burner ($20) that fits on a propane bottle. You may also need a water purification unit, but in a kayak its easy to carry lots of drinking water. You need a simple pot to cook with, a flashlight and a knife. The rest of the stuff for cooking you can rig up from home. You don't need all that expensive junk from REI etc. Hey I sound like Coffee.

PS I did buy some dry bags from NRS, dry warm clothes and food are worth spending $50 bucks for a nice waterproof dry bag.

Propane Fuel
Although Propane is easy to carry and work with, I don’t think it is the best fuel option for a camp stove.

Cylinders are expensive and not recyclable. Also, although availability in the US is pretty good, worlwide availability of cannisters is suspect. Probably not a big deal for the Original Poster, UNLESS he plans to do trips overseas. Also, carrying a ton of cannisters is a pain in the ass when on extended trips. If you run out of propane, no more stove. Not true with other stove types.

Also, propane does not burn as hot as white gas, so it takes longer to cook and uses more fuel to accomplish the same thing.

The nice thing about multifuel stoves is that they pretty much burn everything; white gas, kerosene, stoddard fuel, jet fuel, gasoline, etc. So if you run out of white gas, find the nearest source of any of the other forms of fuel and burn that instead.

No one that I camp with uses propane stoves.


I did try a canister stove with good
reputation, but I was disappointed. My main hope was that it would be easier to relight than my old SVEAs, but it was very cranky about relighting.

a couple things to add
for kayak camping you can afford a heavier tent…but still under 4 pounds…consider a free standing tent like this one:


Free standing gives you several more options and with the Lightning little extra weight.

Another thing to consider if you camp alone or even if you dont camp alone is a hammock:


I’ve slept in the Lite Racer 35 nights this past calendar year, temps down to 17F.

On cooking, and this comes from 35 years of section hiking on the Appalachian Trail, all I carry is this:

a Brasslite stove (less than 2oz.)www.brasslite.com

a SnowPeak Trek 900 pot/lid 5.6oz

a titanium spork

a titanium coffee mug 2.8oz

a lighter, 1x1inch scrubby pad, 1/16oz bottle detergent

I could go on…

I doubt he’s going overseas
He does not want to spend over 800. I’ve used propane in Canada and mexico no problem. Carried canisters in and out of the grand canyon, no big deal. It’s cheap and works well, and provides plenty of heat. Propane cylinders can be recycled but are not refillable.

I’m one of the liquid stove guys
Admittedly the butane and propane stoves are easier to use. I just like the rock solid reliability of the liquid type.

As for tent and sleeping bag, I spend the $$$ on the tent. Good ones keep you dry in bad weather. If it’s cold, add layers to sleep in. But if you and your gear get wet, it’s a miserable experience.

I have a MSR Velo and a Sierra Designs Meteorlite CD. Both are heavy but I’m not a backpacker. The Velo withstood 60 mph winds and horizontal rain for 13 hours on Masonboro Island near Wilmington, NC. It wasn’t fun but we and our gear stayed dry. I’ve had cheap tents before and just can’t go back.

The newer isobutane/propane mixes
are pretty good. They burn nice and hot, offer good flame control, and the cartridges last pretty long. It’s convenient and quite nice to be able to just light up without having to worry about pressurizing and priming your stove.

The big downside with canister stoves is that they really suffer pressurization issues when the temp drops below freezing. That is, unless you are above 15,000ft, which is about where the thinner atomosphere starts to offset the effects of cold temps. Which is why high altitude climbers can get away with using them. But how much paddling do you plan on doing above 15,000 feet…

But if you do winter trips it’s a serious consideration. The newer iso mixes are certainly better at lower temps than their n-butane predecessors, but they still don’t offer the cold weather performance of liquid fuels stoves. With the liquid fuel stoves you can just pump more pressure into the bottle to offset the cold temps, with canisters all you have is vapor pressure. To ease priming, use priming paste which doesn’t leave the soot that gas priming does. Another advantage of liquid fuel stoves is that if s**t happens, as it sometimes does, and you run out, loose, spill, forget, etc your fuel, many liquid fuel stoves can burn multiple fuels.

I have an MSR XGK Exp that has served me well for years (before that I had an XGK II, and before THAT a Whisperlite International, so you know I have had good luck with MSR). If I can I run it on “white gas” (which is just a generic term for any number of highly refined fuels), but I have run it for weeks on diesel and kerosene without problem. It needs to be cleaned more with dirty fuels, but the feature can come in hand. If you ever really need the multi-fuel capability, you will sing praises to the heavens you had it.

All that said, I find myself reaching more for my MSR Pocket-Rocket these days for more casual non-winter trips. It’s just soooo much easier to flip on a stove and have instant heat. The XGK is a workhorse, the Hummer H1 of the stove world, and it’s great when you need it. But for an everyday driver good canister stoves are wonderful.

Like I said, I have had great luck and very good customer experience with MSR (and other CDI companies, for that matter). Other people tend to have good things to say about Primus and Brunton Optimus stoves, MSR has proven themselves too well to me to look elsewhere.

Wally World
Head there.

You will be quite surprised at some of their camping stuff, and the price won’t break the bank.

You will probably be able to completely outfit yourself, for summer camping, (excluding dry bags) for a couple hundred bucks.



On other equipment… (and your budget)

– Last Updated: Nov-09-05 6:35 AM EST –

IMHO, one of the worst things a novice can do is to skimp on essential gear. Which is not to say they need to buy the highest end assault tent, or lay out $700 smackaroos for a Feathered Friends sleeping bag. But buy quality, because when you are depending on something in the wilderness it pays back ten fold when it's needed. If novice buys a crappy tent, and gets stuck soaking wet after a nasty storm, their interest is often spoiled. Likewise with a cheap sleeping bag and pad, which can mean a night spent shivering cold. Or a horrible stove that means cold food, etc, etc, etc. After all, good gear that is used for years is a better investment than cheap gear that gets used once.

For sleeping bags, I'm going to agree for paddle sports a synthetic bag is the way to go. For mountain and general use I still think down is superior. But the big thing is that down does not insulate when wet (and costs more), while synthetic can retain loft while wet, and therefore insulation (and syn is cheaper). Obviously insulation value when wet is important when you're talking paddle sports.

When you're climbing in the snow, or hiking in the rain, your sleeping bag can obviously be assualted by water or snow. But shell laminates like eVent and Epic can battle this assault from the outside while still allowing the fabric to breath. I've slept in wet falling snow in a down bag with an eVent shell without bivy and remained dry. But when you're talking about paddling the risk of actual immersion exists, which is a different ballgame. A shell material isn't going to make a difference if the bag is immersed in water. Water is going to make its way through seams and zippers and through the lightweight very non waterproof interior lining, and the bag will be soaked. In other words, you want synthetic. Plus, downs' major advantage is higher loft for lighter weight, which doesn't make as big a diff when you're operating from a boat.

For sleeping pads, you can actually do fine for cheap. A good quality closed cell foam mat is great. The standard is the Ridge-Rest, or Z-Rest. Cheap, light, good insulation value, waterproof. On the other hand, bulky. Very Bulky. The Thermarest or other self inflating pad solves much of the bulk problem, but at a higher cost, and with the risk of puncture. If you carry an inflating pad of any type, bring a good patching system. At the top of the line you have the inflating down mat, notably the Exped. Oh so warm, and oh so comfy. Same puncture risk as other inflating mats.

Tents. You want a full coverage fly. Not an el-cheapo tent with a fly that only covers the mesh apex. You're probably looking for a three-season tent, unless you are looking for serious winter conditions capability. Freestanding is alway my preference, though designs that need to be staked due to eliminating a pole(s) can be lighter. You want good breathability, look for through-fly venting options high up in the tent (as opposed to at the bottom, near the ground). You'll be looking for a double wall tent, as they are cheaper and more versatile than single wall tents. IMHO, buy a tent that already has the floor and fly seams fully sealed. Look for good staking and guying options for those times when the wind picks up. A good sized vestibule is a wonderful thing to have. A great place to stash gear like muddy boots, wet backpacks, etc. I like a bathtub floor design, less seam to fail.

I really like MSR tents. MSR bought out the rights to Moss Tent designs when Moss sold out and went solely to display services. They also bought out Walrus, which had a rep as good tents for fair prices. As the line has matured, there are more MSR original designs, which are pretty good in and of themselves. I also really like Mountain Hardware and Sierra designs for tents. TNF has a few tents I like, I think the Tadpole or Talus would make pretty good paddling tents.

So it's turning out that I'm writing a book, so I'm going to cut it off with bargain hunting. You can get all of the above and more, and still come in under 800 dollars. Sierra Trading Post, REI-Outlet, Backcountry Gear clearance, eBay, etc. are great places to find good name brand gear at cut prices. You're going to want to set a per-item budget before you start buying. Make sure to leave enough after your major purchases to purchase smaller items like a good headlamp, wicking undergarments, good socks, etc. I'd probably go on about every little item, except I fear I've probably already lost the interest of most readers. Anywho, any more questions just ask or email.

for weekend
summer /warmer climate adventures. Say 40 degress and above, most Mil. issue surplus gear should work well enough. I spent years camping year round with surplus gear. The down sleeping bags and canvas shelter halves or tents seem to work well, just take up more space and weigh more than pricier stuff. Best way to learn about camp esentials , find someone to help ya start inexpensive and camp.

sierratradingpost.com has great deals
on gear and free shipping right now.

Here is a list I have posted here afew times over the last 5 years… I just “searched the archives” and copy/pasted it below, hope it helps:


Here is a list that will have your budget in about $220. Check out www.cheaperthandirt.com & www.sportsmansguide.com … click on free catalog & you will get new ones every month or so!!

  1. Candle lantern + 3 eight hour dripless candles= $12

  2. Poncho (mil surplus has grommets) (can be used as a shelter also… e-mail me & I can send you a picture of easy shelter configurations)= $20

  3. Poncho liner (can be used as blanket)= $25 AND/OR “snug-pak sleeping bag” (rolls up to the size of a football= $30

  4. SVEA Trianga alcohol stove w/ mess kit (have been using mine for about 4 years now)= $5

  5. K-Bar knife (can be used for anything!)= $40

  6. Machette (good mil issue ones are stronger)= $30

  7. 100ft of “para-cord”= $5

  8. Aluminum tent pegs= $3

  9. 2liter Hydration-pak= $30

  10. Campers combination knife & mess utensils= $5

  11. Gerber multi-tool= $30

  12. Dry-bag= $15

    There you go… Now you have the “campers dozen”. This should get you on a GREAT start to your future of spending/trying camping equipment.

    Paddle easy,


    P.S. I would also consider acouple canteens also or another hydration-pak. The canteens come with “canteen cups” too…


    ALSO, WarriorJ, I have a G.I. Shelter half for sale in the discussion forum, under the title “SERIOUS camp/paddle trading”. The shelter is $20 and has everything included… Even a third half that can be used as a floor.

    Paddle easy,


also surf the net!!! lots a great deals… campmore has a great selection great prices and a great web site… also many of the links on here have great stuff

A clarification on STP.
I went back and looked at the ad. It said free shipping this week only for orders over $75 and it was a secret offer.

If that is serious…
please tell me what is a joke!!!

Hey you have three dollar tent stakes, but no tent to go with them.



Pack in vs Drive in camping
looking at the list of gear suggested by most of the responders it appears they are outfitting for drive in camping and in that case their lists of essential gear appear reasonable but if you are planning on backpacking you need to keep gear and weight to a minimum. I agree a decent pack and sleeping bag are essential. I prefer a down bag due to the weight. Tents depend on where you’re camping. I usually carry only a tube tent (a tube of visquene plastic - run a rope thru & secure to trees etc. sleeping bag & equipment holds its shape). The tube tent weighs only ounces. I always carry a bottle of water purification tablets, a good knife or two, an enamaled tin cooking kettle, a collapsable grill, a small first aid kit, LED flashlight, nylon cord. Since I almost always pack in to remote areas to fish I devote a little space in my pack for tackle. Rest of the pack is filled with food and clothes and a few toiletries. I always roll up and tie a foam pad to the top of the pack (I like to sleep comfortably) and I tie an empty 1 gal plastic jug and my fishing pole to the pack as well. (I almost always camp where water is available for purification). By the way there are numerous new purification pumps and filters available these days. If you have to pack your water in then you’re screwed as far a pack weight goes since you need to carry about a gallon per day per person. If you camp in areas whre no open fire are allowed then you have to pack in a small pack stove and fuel as well.

I use the poncho as a shelter…
Have to hold the corners down with something… So why not $3 lightweight aluminum tent stakes at Wal-Mart?

Paddle easy,


Three Tips…
Never buy it if you can make it.

Never buy new if you can get it used.

If you gotta buy new, never pay retail.