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greenergrass
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12/19/2020 01:37PM  
Two summers ago, I planned an impromptu BWCA trip with a buddy who ended up having to drop out a couple weeks beforehand. Even with next to no experience, I decided to go solo and absolutely loved it so I did another solo this past summer.
Now I'm hooked and am already planning a couple of trips for 2021.

So far I've gotten fully outfitted on my trips (I don't personally own much camping gear at all), which has worked great. But since I've seen these trips are obviously going to become a regular thing my question is....Where do I even start acquiring gear? Everything seems so expensive and I don't know what I should spend up on and where to go low cost or the best avenues to buy the bigger ticket items. I feel like I'd have to drop like $5k+ to have everything I'd need. Seems a bit overwhelming to start, but maybe it's not. Any advice on strategy for starting basically from scratch with gear?
 
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WHendrix
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12/19/2020 02:22PM  
I would think it depends on whether or not you want to do much paddling for the rest of the season other than in the BW. If the answer is yes, and it were me, I'd start with a canoe. You can always rent the other gear as you go and buy what you can afford as you go. You can usually get pretty good gear from outfitters at the end of the season.
 
12/19/2020 02:37PM  
My solo wilderness canoeing started out as solo camping/hunting/fishing trips locally in the 1970"s. So I came at it in a somewhat unconventional way, more as a natural progression. Biggest advice is to start out buying used gear. This site Wanted/For Sale is good, I have acquired lots of very good gear at Ebay and garage sales like the ones at REI. Buying a new canoe should wait till you have much more experience with different solo designs, they can get quite personal in expected performance. The rest of the gear is more easily chosen and much less a financial hit.
Example, I'm having more problems with arthritis now and am considering a serious change to hammock systems. This will be funded by peddling tent sleeping bag and mattress, actually more than one of each I've had a long run with them. Not firm on the decision yet but a lot will be posted here.
Slow down and look for deals!

butthead

PS: We do have a dedicated solo forum with a lot of good and regular advice Solo Tripping bh
 
Minnesotian
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12/19/2020 02:46PM  

Welcome!

First, don't be overwhelmed and think you need to get all the stuff you think you need and the best quality right now. Start slowly. Identify the things you want to own first. For me, I started with a tent. With a tent I know I can go camping at anytime and have shelter. My first one was a cheap Alps Mountaineering tent I got from SteepAndCheap. Was it the absolute best? Not by a long shot, but it only cost $80 and I could get out camping whenever I wanted. After a couple years, I developed a camping style and more experience and could upgrade my tent to something better.

Then I slowly started filling out my gear. I got many a good deal from people on this site as well as finding backcountry.com, steepandcheap and others. Also, I found cottage gear makers like Cooke Custom Sewing that aren't as well known in big circles, but though sharing here, I was made aware of.

I didn't have much experience with canoes, so that was one of my last big purchases. I kept on renting different styles, getting a feel for how canoes can be different. Once I felt I knew what I wanted, I pulled the trigger. A canoe purchase can be a big one, if you want it to be, and it can really decide your camping style going forward.

There are people on this site who have been camping for 50 years and are still upgrading their gear and style of camping. I would say, start with a baseline of tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, cooking gear, stove, camping clothing and backpack/portage pack, you know the basic needs. Then start adding canoe, paddles, life jacket, fishing equipment, whiskey flask, the things that make the camping trip yours.

There is no perfect gear, only the perfect gear for your style of camping.

 
12/19/2020 03:02PM  
The main big items you'll need are a tent, sleeping bag and pad, and a pack to put them. You'll need a stove and water filtration. A tarp is useful. You can get some good gear on sale after the holidays, often at 40-50% off. There's a lot of inexpensive gear that will do the basic job of keeping you dry and warm. You may pay with a few extra pounds, but . . .

Also check "steep and cheap" and "sierra trading post".

Adventure Alan blog will review and list some decent budget items.
 
pswith5
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12/19/2020 03:21PM  
Hey Greener. (May I call you by your first name?) I see you are somewhat from my neighborhood. I live I Cottage Grove. Maybe if they ever open the world again, we can grab a bite or a beer and talk tripping. Always looking for a kindred spirit.

I am not a young man like I once was, but my heart is still willing to get out in the wilderness. I will try and look you up after the Apocalypse. Pete
 
schweady
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12/19/2020 03:24PM  
Welcome!

It's true that you can spend a great deal on the higher-quality items, and many of them do make perfect sense to aspire to, however, it's also possible to use lower-shelf and second-hand gear and have a grand time.

Look around these forums and you'll see many asking opinions on the lightest and best and most useful gear. Just know that many of them are looking for that one or two items for the year that will improve their existing collection. Build as you go. It takes time.

That said, there are some items that can break a trip. A poor quality tent or sleeping bag. A cheap set of rain gear or cooking setup. Beware the really low quality gimmicks. You don't need every gizmo and gadget.

A solid piece of advice we have received: "Doing this sort of thing well into your golden years may depend upon investing in high quality, lightweight, well-tested gear. But you can't have it all at once. That would eliminate a lot of good stories along the way."
 
andym
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12/19/2020 03:44PM  
Lots of good advice here and I agree that buying used can be a great way to get started and upgrade over time. There are a couple of pieces I would think about getting early on because of 1 key element: fit. The funny thing is that these are things you get "free" when you rent a canoe. So I'm not helping you with your budget.

For curiosity, I just took a look at a couple of outfitter websites for used gear. Piragis has fair bit available with some great deals. Voyageur North says to call them. I'd poke around and see what you can come up with.

1) PFD. The best PFD is one you will wear and, especially solo, you should be wearing it all the time. Problem at the moment may be trying them on. There are lots of threads on here about the best ones.

2) Paddle. I just love my paddles. They are in your hands all the time you are in your canoe. I've had some nice days with a plastic and metal paddle and people do trip with them. Heck, we even own some for guests to use. But I really like my wood straight and carbon fiber bent.
 
OMGitsKa
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12/19/2020 04:02PM  
REI has 20% off coupons throughout the year as well as the 'Outlet' section with discounted items. I usually wait for one of those sales to go for big purchases
 
12/19/2020 04:40PM  
greenergrass: "Where do I even start acquiring gear? Everything seems so expensive and I don't know what I should spend up on and where to go low cost or the best avenues to buy the bigger ticket items. I feel like I'd have to drop like $5k+ to have everything I'd need. Seems a bit overwhelming to start, but maybe it's not. Any advice on strategy for starting basically from scratch with gear?"

You start by posting a thread on a forum of knowledgeable, caring paddlers!

Having done that, read the comments and remember that each of us will promote gear that works for US. Look into the recommendations, consider the item, and ask if it will work for YOU. In addition to the lower-cost gear sources mentioned already, I would check CraigsList--we scored a like-new Big Agnes Copper Spur UL3 (with footprint) for $250 a couple years ago; The tent had been used for three nights, after which the owner switched to hammocks. Keep in mind that outfitters also do partial outfitting, which lets you test drive gear before buying it. Have fun!

TZ
 
giddyup
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12/19/2020 05:48PM  
Don’t forget Craigslist and Market place, as well as garage sales and Goodwill. I just got a nearly new $360 backpacking tent from a super nice guy on Craigslist for $100. Also, make lists of what you need to ask for for birthdays, Christmases, Father’s Day or Grandparent’s Day (even if you aren’t one it doesn’t hurt to try ;)) Valentine’s Day, etc. There also might be people in your life or on this site who are willing to loan you gear until you can acquire it. Welcome to the site and happy gear hunting.
 
12/19/2020 06:24PM  
Definitely get a good tent. It will last for years and is worth the money. Speaking of money, I suggest finding ways to reduce your weekly expenses now. Actually put the money aside and $5.00 per week will add up to $250.00 a year. Better yet, get to the $10.00 level. You can save on food by eating at home or carrying a lunch. Coffee and soda out can add up very quickly. Do not replace clothing items until really needed. Consolidate vehicle trips also. You get the concept; now just do it and put the money aside each day.

The next item which will save you a lot of money is to purchase a canoe used (or kayak). A used canoe will save you anywhere from $25.00 to $50.00 per day you do not rent and has a very quick pay back if you take longer trips or several trips. If you can pay it off in your head within 5 years, buy it. After 8 years, consider waiting if less travel is forecast.
If your commitment for this type of entertainment is real, you will not regret getting decent gear even if that comes over time. Enjoy.
 
billconner
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12/19/2020 07:29PM  
I am very partial to used gear from outfitters, mist available near close of season. I also bought canoe(s) last. Now I sometimes upgrade.
 
gopher2307
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12/20/2020 02:01AM  
I'd start with a pack and tent. With $750 you can go top notch and be set for 15-20 years or more.

Contrary to others' opinions here, if you really think this will be a hobby, don't go cheap and blow your wad on less than ideal (used or lesser quality) gear, and certainly not on these two items. You'll end up repurchasing it all again within 5 years as you turn to optimizing after getting the boxes checked off your gear list.

The only things I'd go 'used' on is a canoe. Those in the market can typically pick them up for good deals in the fall, and maybe even still now, from outfitters. Used canoes retain their value quite well, too. Good luck getting your hands on a solo one, though!

The $5k you quoted would get you pretty much top notch everything in this hobby, canoe included. Sure beats buying a $40k bass boat....
 
fishonfishoff
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12/20/2020 10:17AM  
Another option is the DIY if you are a hands on person. I have made tarps from Tyvek, tie down straps for canoes, tree tables, reflector oven, etc... These work great for a start on your equipment, you can always upgrade as you go along in life.
FISHONFISHOFF
 
12/20/2020 01:47PM  
"Contrary to others' opinions here, if you really think this will be a hobby, don't go cheap and blow your wad on less than ideal (used or lesser quality) gear, and certainly not on these two items. You'll end up repurchasing it all again within 5 years as you turn to optimizing after getting the boxes checked off your gear list."

Though I'm not complaining about purchasing new, this statement is a bit of a contradiction on itself.
"Don't waste money on less than ideal gear", is sound. Followed by the best reason to buy used first, "You'll end up repurchasing it all again within 5 years as you turn to optimizing after getting the boxes checked off your gear list."

To me optimizing is something that happens after being exposed to different methods of achieving the same goal. Pack styles are various and a true backpack may be better than a portage pack, the temp ratings on sleeping bags is a very personal decision on comfort level, tent vs hammock, if a tent a true solo or a 2 person which most feel needed for solo travels. Optimizing gear is something that will happen whether the gear is new or used.
I've been traveling solo for decades and went thru a variety of used personal shelters before picking exactly what I liked. Now 6 years later in spite of my wishes, that tent is probably going to be replaced due to changes in physical limitations. My initial dedicated canoe pack was a new portage pack. Now I prefer a second hand and a clearance purchased pair of internal frame backpacks far better.

butthead
 
Minnesotian
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12/20/2020 03:07PM  
butthead:

To me optimizing is something that happens after being exposed to different methods of achieving the same goal. Pack styles are various and a true backpack may be better than a portage pack, the temp ratings on sleeping bags is a very personal decision on comfort level, tent vs hammock, if a tent a true solo or a 2 person which most feel needed for solo travels. Optimizing gear is something that will happen whether the gear is new or used.

butthead"


Couldn't agree more. The type of tent I got when I started is completely different from the tent I use now. I felt just fine changing tents because my initial purchase was so cheap, that I wasn't loosing a lot of a limited commodity, my hard earned cash. As my knowledge in different tents increased, I dialed into what I want. Then I made my big purchase. And the tent I have used for over 10 years now is still the design that I like the most.

Same could be said for stoves, canoes, portage packs, etc. The main thing that needs to be "purchased" or figured out is how invested into this new hobby a person is. It doesn't take top of the line, brand new equipment to feed the fire of camping desire but if that desire isn't there, then it is just an expensive hobby of collecting gear.
 
12/20/2020 05:08PM  
Well, first of all, congratulations for getting addicted and joining this forum!

Secondly, there are a lot of great ideas already on this list - buying used, searching the discount sellers, making your own, etc - but I'll toss this out for you to think about - don't worry about it too much! Figure out what is important to you and invest where it makes sense for you!

I have great respect for the depth of knowledge and opinions of the member of this site, but the collective wisdom of this site harbors a serious flaw. No matter what item you might ask members here about, you will find that there are some who think that particular piece of gear is THE MOST CRITICAL thing you need and where you should not skimp. Suppose you post a question asking " I am looking for a new "widget" for the BWCA trips and wonder if I should get the high end "X" model or can I get by with a cheaper "Y" or "Z"? I can guarantee you you most of the first responses will be from those who think the "widget" is the most important thing you can bring, so that is where you must buy the best! This exact pattern plays out all the time, and is why it is easy to think you need to spend $5,000 (or more) on canoe gear. And you can substitute many real items of "widget" and find old post that conform to this pattern: tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, tarps, cook gear, stoves, canoe pants, map holders, footwear, rain gear, coffee cups, canoe, paddles, knives, walleye rod, axe, saw, etc. Probably the only thing people might agree is ok to be cheap on is silverware, and even that might get an argument.

A great many people on this forum, including me, are paddling kevlar canoes with carbon fiber paddles, sleeping on down infused pads in down mummy bags in high end tents and cooking on titanium pots under their 1.1 oz silynlon tarps - but a lot of these same people, including me, started off paddling Alumicraft canoes in jeans and canvas tennis shoes, sleeping under heavy tarps, in Coleman sleeping bags in cheap tents and cooking on whatever pots we had. And yet we enjoyed it, and keep coming back year after year.

With time you will find what items for you are most important to spend money on, and which ones to skimp on. Everyone will be different on their priority. I've upgraded many things over the years to top of the line stuff, but I still prefer to paddle in my $16 rubber boots from Fleet Farm and my $20 cotton cargo Wrangler pants from Walmart.
 
lindylair
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12/20/2020 05:31PM  
greener, here is what I would consider the essential basic camp kit that will do you well for future trips:

Tent ($150-200 for a good quality 1 or 2 man tent)
Sleeping Bag ($125-175 for a good quality down or synthetic bag)
Insulated inflatable sleeping pad, 3-4 inches($125-150)
Portage pack to put all this gear and clothing in ($200-250)

This will give you a solid base of comfort, utility and durability for many trips

Stove($20-120)
Water filtration system( $40 to $100)
Minimal cook kit - since you are mostly soloing you won't need much but a pot to heat water and a small frying pan for fish and fresh breakfast ($40 to $60)
Knife ($20 to ridiculous)
Flashlight and/or headlamp ($25 to $100 depending on one or both and preferences)
PFD that you are comfortable wearing - so you wear it ($50 to $100)

If you get all this you will have a solid basic kit that will provide food, warmth and comfort for your trips and won't break the bank. From there you can move on to a paddle that you really like, and endless other gadgets that may or not enhance your trip) But this is what you really need. (Folding saw optional, come in handy but you can do without it)

I can tell you that you can spend much more in all of these categories for fancy, more lightweight or slightly more "features" but you don't need to.

If you are interested I can elaborate on some or all of these categories and where spending a little more might be worth it - and where spending more is unnecessary. There are many pieces of equipment at really good prices that work as well as products that cost 5-10 times more and that you are paying for the brand name or "prestige".

A couple examples:
Single burner backpacking type stove - prices vary greatly and there are many popular ones for $50-125 that I am sure are great but I can tell you from experience that the Primus Classic Trail Stove for $23 works as well as any of them, has a wider flame pattern which is helpful in cooking fish and breakfast, and is essentially bulletproof. Read the reviews:



Primus Classic Trail Stove

Knives: Prices are all over the board but Morakniv makes excellent knives at incredible value that have stood the test of time for sharpness and durability for around $20. You can spend $100 or more if you want to but you certainly don't need to.

Morakniv

As mentioned above I can give you more info on where not to overspend if you need to acquire a complete outfit if you are interested, just let me know. Some folks want to spend more for the trendy or popular brands/products - I just want equipment that works well, perform their designated function well, provide comfort, utility and durability and are a good VALUE.

I have more thoughts on good affordable equipment, particularly in the areas of tents, sleeping bags, cooking equipment and water filtration if you are interested. Saving money now on great equipment means you can build your kit quicker and save money for that ultimate purchase down the road - the canoe.

 
12/20/2020 09:22PM  
Another welcome and another who started with aluminum, cotton and canvas and of course another opinion. Early items I purchased included a stove and hatchet and saw knowing they would last and are core for any camping, even car camping. Pans and lots of kitchen items were found at second hand stores. I used the sleeping bag I picked up while in the army and got cheap tent and plastic tarp. Each trip I would upgrade and am still upgrading 40 years later.
Many have suggested a tent, but if you will be soloing you may want to look into a hammock system.
Outfitters sell gear at the end of the season and can be a great source for your canoe, packs and other gear. Plan a late fall trip and you may come home with some new to you gear in great shape.
 
12/21/2020 12:15PM  
A lot of good ideas and suggestions above! I already had backpacking gear so I continued to use a favorite down sleeping bag and pad. I started with those and upgraded to a solo tent and portage pack (as opposed to a backpacking pack). I borrowed/adapted my cookware so that tarps, paddles and canoe could come last.

It was fun trying/renting out other gear over a couple of seasons to see what I liked until I had, what felt like a "complete complement" of gear.

As others have noted already, you will decide what's necessary for you first and work out the rest of it as you go.

It's a fun journey to figure all of this out....and obviously "we" (on this site) will be more than happy to give you loads of advice :)
 
GraniteCliffs
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12/21/2020 01:15PM  
You make me envious. You are young. You have discovered the joy of canoeing. You are just starting to build your camping kit. You have years and years and years, God willing, to enjoy this wonderful passion,
I am none of the above, except enjoying this wonderful passion.
I trip 4 times in a normal year. For many, many decades. I am still using Duluth Packs and on group trips I still paddle a Mn 2 canoe I bought used 20-25 years ago. One of my sleeping bags I still use I purchased in 1973. My solo was purchased used by my brother, our friend and myself.
My point is you don't have to have the newest and best products in order to enjoy canoe trips just as much.
On the other hand I carry a carbon paddle, a new tent and a number of new and upgraded other items. I am giving my adult kids new packs this year---guess who else will use them? The older I get the more I appreciate those small upgrades.
I would consider starting with a used canoe to learn what you like and because that is what you would typically spend the most money on in any given year. Assuming you keep tripping the canoe would pay for itself in not too many years.
Paddle on!
 
gymcoachdon
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12/21/2020 03:16PM  
I tried to quickly skim the answers already given, so forgive me if I am repeating.
You should buy those things you can't borrow!
If you know someone who can help outfit you, then you can spend money on other things. I paid $1100 for a used Bell Magic. Best money I have spent. At $40 per day to rent, it paid for itself in 28 tripping days. For me that was 4 years, but I got to use it locally for exercise and fishing. Nothing else costs as much to rent, but if you have access to borrowing a canoe...
 
12/21/2020 04:30PM  
It is easy to get caught up in the gear trap. You can find tents in every price range and style from dozens of companies but as long as they keep the weather and critters out they are doing their job. Twig stove vs alcohol vs butane vs white gas vs camp fire-- they all will heat your dinner. Which suites you?. The same goes for every piece of gear-pros and cons. Have a budget and a list of your priorities and buy one as close as you can within your perimeters
Use the internet to research multiple brands and prices. Use the BWCA forum to narrow your search then say screw it and buy the one you really want.
( I have three tents suitable for the BW and the one I use the most by far is the cheapie Wal-Mart one. go figure)
 
straighthairedcurly
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12/21/2020 05:19PM  
I paid around $500 for a used solo canoe...not the lightest on the market, but works for me. I bought a used tent. Used packs and tents come up in the gear for sale forum. You can line any pack with a contractor plastic bag for waterproofing.

Personally, I put money into a good sleeping bag and sleeping pad because sleep is important to me. So these I bought new.

I made a cat food can alcohol stove for my solo trips. Works great for "just add boiling water" meals. For a solo trip, a Sawyer Mini water filter works fine and is inexpensive. I did buy C'Noc bags to replace the junky bag Sawyer sells with the mini kit.

Since my meals are mostly "just add boiling water" I bought a super cheap aluminum coffee pot on Amazon. That is the only pot I carry when solo unless I want to bake, then I bring a small fry pan and lid. I soak my food in a Talenti ice cream jar that I made an insulated cozy to fit from some old reflectix bubble wrap we had lying around. Useful gear does not have to be expensive if you get creative.

I don't bother with gear like chairs or screen "houses". Keep things simple...it is cheaper.
 
mgraber
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12/21/2020 07:52PM  
I don't have much to add as it has been well covered, except that being in your 30's you are young enough to haul some heavier, less expensive gear and upgrade as needed/desired later. Try to purchase the things that will save you the most money in rentals, that way you have more money to spend on new gear. A Canoe would be the best bet, but expensive. Keep an eye on Outfitter Canoe sales and this site. When you get to my age you start to look for ways to shave pounds/ounces and may have the funds to chase that. I can't remember if it was already mentioned, but Ebay has been a pretty good source of equipment for me.
 
OCDave
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12/21/2020 08:52PM  
All above is great advice. I especially like the paddle + PFD recommendation.

Just to offer something novel: When I started backpacking, the conventional guidance was always "Buy your pack last". The problem is, what do you do until then? I hiked too many miles in a crappy pack. I wish I could have those miles back. When I eventually got my ULA pack it was like finally taking the pebble out of your shoe after hiking most of the trail. When I started equipping myself for canoe tripping, I knew better.

In starting your own gear collection, I strongly endorse starting with a great pack. Resist the urge to go too big. The Cooke Custom Sewing Pioneer Pack is a great size and will serve you well for many years. It could be the only pack you'll ever buy.

As you experiment with different sleep systems, shelters, cooking gear, stoves and saws, you will have ONE consistent piece of gear, your CSC Pioneer pack, that goes on every trip. Maybe use a sharpie and keep a tally of the trips taken with marks inside the flap of your pack. Maybe start collecting patches on you pack. Consider a cool alter-ego name for your pack: "Wilson" the volleyball from Castaway for example.

I have multiples or options for every piece of my gear except my backpacking pack (ULA Catalyst) and my canoe pack (CSC Pioneer).

Good Luck
 
12/22/2020 12:20AM  
I will cut to the bottom line. If your gonna self outfit with quality equipment that you can carry, depend on and won’t fail you IT IS EXPENSIVE. I started a little at a time and have steadily ungraded equipment to get to single portage status to extend our range and now I don’t even want to know what I’ve spent. Outfitting is over priced IMO, however, if it’s just a couple of trips per year I would really question buying everything. If I was gonna ball park what I have invested not counting fishing gear when we hit the water I would say 5-6K would cover it. That might be a little low. It adds up fast!! Using my rational about 10 fully outfitted trips would pay for all your own gear. Is that realistic? Again I have very good ultra light weight gear and canoe for single portage travel in comfort. It could be done less expensive and that’s where we started but using my method I ended up buying various generations of the same equipment to find our current setup $$$. I would avoid this and decide where you want before and if you start buying gear.
However, the freedom of self outfitting CANNOT be overstated. We go where we want, when we want and how we want including Wabakimi and WCCP drive to access points. That is priceless. With GPS and sat phones the world is your Oyster. Good luck.
 
12/22/2020 07:27AM  
greenergrass: "....Where do I even start acquiring gear?..."

STOP! Take a breath. You have classic symptoms of GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome)... DON'T BUY ANYTHING!


greenergrass: " .... I feel like I'd have to drop like $5k+ to have everything I'd need...."

Wait till your GAS symptoms are under control. Once your symptoms subside, you will be better able to determine "need" versus "want".


greenergrass: "...Everything seems so expensive and I don't know what I should spend up on and where to go low cost....."

Yes. You have two enjoyable trips under your belt. Wait until you know how to evaluate cost and quality and your own needs. Once you have a little experience under your belt, gear will not ever seem expensive. It will be seen as a good value for the price.


greenergrass: "Any advice on strategy for starting basically from scratch...."

Look to repeat your previous experiences with full outfitting. When you see gear you really need/want and the price seems a good value, then make a purchase.

Keep in mind!! Most of the advice you have gotten so far on this post is coming from paddlers who are currently suffering from Gear Acquisition Syndrome... and they will feed your illness. GOOD LUCK!


 
greenergrass
member (5)member
 
12/22/2020 08:28AM  
Wow, thanks for all the insight! There's a ton of really practical advice, great resources and I already feel like I have a better handle on things just reading through all the responses. I was expected maybe a response or two when I checked back and was blown away by the helpfulness of this group.

One thing I will definitely be doing is looking at used gear from outfitters. That looks like an great avenue for high quality gear at reasonable cost especially for the big ticket items that should last for many years. I hadn't really thought about borrowing gear as needed either, but definitely have some people who I'm sure would happily lend certain things. Looks like I've got some great holiday gift ideas for years to come!
 
greenergrass
member (5)member
 
12/22/2020 08:46AM  
Pete, I'm in the 'basically Cottage Grove' part of Woodbury so we're practically neighbors. Would love to grab a burger and a beer once the apocalypse subsides and/or we collectively come to our senses.
 
12/22/2020 09:03AM  
Was considering the $5000 mark for investment. so made my current list. I have much more gear than listed as I've been solo and group backpacking/camping/fishing/hunting since the 1970's.

$2500 Canoe, new Advantage
$610 Paddles, new ZRE carbon lites 2
$175 PFD, new Astral YTV
$80 Carry yoke, mixed used and new parts DIY assembled
$450 Tent, new Big Sky International Chinook
$200 Sleeping bag, clearanced Big Agnes Horsethief
$150 Mattress, new Exped Downmat 5s
$170 Main pack, clearanced Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 60L
$125 Daypack, colseout Granit Gear Virga 26l
$75 Camp stove, used MSR Dragonfly
$80 Cook gear, used various 1qt pot/8 inch frypan/400ml mug/cutlery
$125 Tarp, used CCS 10x14

Various camp gear items, cordage/stakes/area light/flashlight/chair --------------------
Various navigational items, maps/compasses/case/GPS---------------
First aid, DIY assembled tailored to what I know how to use-------------
Food, ------------------
Entertainment, ----------------
Fishing, ----------------------
Photography, ------------------
Pesonal items, clothes/hygiene/prescriptions ---------------
Transportation, gota get there and back with the gear ---------------

$4740 without the un-priced, so came quite close with a mix of new and used sourced gear. This represents the latest used and acquired after much trial and error also based on my preferred style, solo/light/low volume/yet comfortable. Most of the new purchased gear was long researched and cottage made, or hard to find, the Advantage ordered new construction 6 months after Wenonah stopped listing them so a custom build order, Chinook tent hit every point on my wish list and only made by BSI, ZRE paddles again new built to my specifications.
this is the gear used for a 11 day solo combining Quetico and BWCA a bit over 110 miles paddled. The daypack was a GG Nimbus Core not the Virga.
Canoe packed and ready to go, from an older trip different paddle/pack arrangement but near same as listed above.

For myself the purchase order was, what would work that I could afford, at the time. The new and more expensive items upgraded older generally heavier, again only as I could afford them.
If I had to I could now after 50 years, gear a combination of 3 people fully (limited by the canoes I own, probably 6 without canoes), from my accumulated pile of stuff for wilderness canoe travel.
Probably little help for greenergrass's OP, but something I have never tallied up so interesting to me!

butthead
 
12/22/2020 10:00AM  
^^^ I'm only adding the priced items up to $2,240. Did something get left off, like a canoe?
 
12/22/2020 10:21AM  
Jaywalker: "^^^ I'm only adding the priced items up to $2,240. Did something get left off, like a canoe?"

Yes I edited the post. Oooppps!

butthead
 
gymcoachdon
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12/22/2020 11:51AM  
I have often thought of adding up the $$ spent for my current gear, but I was afraid my wife would find the list.
 
12/22/2020 11:54AM  
Told ya. And I think my list is a little higher$. That's why I recommend not buying bargain stuff initially then deciding your not gonna lug this stuff across two mile portages every again and re-buying lighter stuff. (That's is what I did and shouldn't have) That's not GAS that's cost effective. BTW, bobbernumber3, how much of your gear do you consider optional? My guess none or you'd quit portaging it. I have zero GAS because I have ZERO interest in portaging one more pound of gear, food, clothes, etc.... I'll eat rice and oatmeal for every meal before I add to my pack weight. Everyone is different but our priority is traveling far, fast and efficiently. Base campers ignore all the above.
 
12/22/2020 12:53PM  
gymcoachdon: "I have often thought of adding up the $$ spent for my current gear, but I was afraid my wife would find the list."

Understood! A friend who golfs told his son to sell all his golf gear when he passed, but to sell it based on actual cost, not the cost reported to his wife.

I'm very fortunate that my wife shares my passion for paddling and understands that the extra bucks spent for quality gear (which can be new or used) generally means a reduced portage load.

TZ
 
12/22/2020 12:54PM  
BnD: "BTW, bobbernumber3, how much of your gear do you consider optional? My guess none or you'd quit portaging it...."

Our group has a TON of optional gear and lots of "back-up to the backup" gear. We base camp in relative luxury and have heavy meals and lots of snacks. We don't do a good job of weeding out duplicate gear. Our exit portage is about 1.5 miles. It's a matter of what you get used to doing and hauling.
 
12/22/2020 12:56PM  
The 3 highest cost and new to me,
$2500 Canoe, new Advantage
$610 Paddles, new ZRE carbon lites 2
$450 Tent, new Big Sky International Chinook

Only considered after finding my specific preferences, and that is not something you know first time buying.

Honestly never considered the Advantage or the ZRE's till I had experience with other canoes and paddles (a lot). I do not consider these as rookie or first time purchases, too expensive and derived from personal experiences. Neither could be found used at the time , and certainly not to my specific desires (they were custom ordered). The Chinook has a very special bunch of features that are very hard to find elsewhere, outside frame, modular multi season design, very light weight, 2 door 2 vestibule, again a set of preferences developed with experience. All 3 item's if looking at general purpose equivalents, could be sourced thru the used market at less cost. Example a Prism rental, used BB paddles, REI Quarter/Half Dome, all at 1/2 the cost, but not to the specifics I developed over time. I certainly will not recommend them for entry level novice choices.
I would not have the gear I do now except by trial and error.

Then again if you are willing to live with the same gear choices for the long term without evolving into more specifics then yes buy new and the best you can afford.

butthead
 
12/22/2020 01:10PM  
Many people start with getting a tent, but I think that a sleeping bag and pad are the biggest priorities. Get the personal items and customize your gear so that you only have to rent part of the gear. Renting the tent and canoe is fine since those are big ticket items and transporting a canoe is a pain.

I also agree that you want to buy used and just get gear to check boxes. Buying expensive and quality gear right away might be the most cost effective way of doing things so you don't have to replace them soon, but how do you know what works best for you without going on a few trips and getting experience. I know you have gone on two trips already, so maybe you know exactly which style of pack, cookware, tent and canoe you want. Just don't rush into a decision unless you are sure that is what you want and it's a good price.
 
bombinbrian
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12/22/2020 02:17PM  
So many good suggestions above that I don't know what I can add besides what I've done.

First, I use Army Rucksacks, cheap on ebay, hold a ton and I love the way they sit in a canoe.

Second, I bought my Kelty tents off of Sierra Trading Post. 5 lbs, 3 man for $80.

Third, my bag is also army issue. I bought the complete system so I have the light patrol bag and the black bag that is rated for colder weather than I will ever use it for.

I have quite a collection in my basement of gear for any BW trip we take, but it has taken years to get there. I have 3 Large Rucksacks, 1 Medium Rucksacks and the small 3 day pack. I have more sleeping mats than you'd see at a summer camp, same with sleeping bags.

We do two trips a year, this year in the spring and one in the fall when temps can be chilly. The only thing I haven't bought and probably won't is a canoe. It's easy enough to rent. I pick it up in Ely so I can actually drive fast from the Twin Cities to Ely and back home.

 
12/22/2020 06:26PM  
bobbernumber3: "BnD: "BTW, bobbernumber3, how much of your gear do you consider optional? My guess none or you'd quit portaging it...."


Our group has a TON of optional gear and lots of "back-up to the backup" gear. We base camp in relative luxury and have heavy meals and lots of snacks. We don't do a good job of weeding out duplicate gear. Our exit portage is about 1.5 miles. It's a matter of what you get used to doing and hauling."


“Base campers ignore all above”. I’ve seen people carry full size coolers across Silver Falls. As I stated that’s not our canoe trip preference. I respect everyones preference but gear to cross a single 1/2 mile portage can be completely different than 11 portages totaling 4 miles single portaging. Different strokes. I’m just trying to help avoid buying most things twice or three times as I have. Paddle on.
 
12/22/2020 07:40PM  
BnD: "bobbernumber3: "BnD: "BTW, bobbernumber3, how much of your gear do you consider optional? My guess none or you'd quit portaging it...."



Our group has a TON of optional gear and lots of "back-up to the backup" gear. We base camp in relative luxury and have heavy meals and lots of snacks. We don't do a good job of weeding out duplicate gear. Our exit portage is about 1.5 miles. It's a matter of what you get used to doing and hauling."



“Base campers ignore all above”. I’ve seen people carry full size coolers across Silver Falls. As I stated that’s not our canoe trip preference. I respect everyones preference but gear to cross a single 1/2 mile portage can be completely different than 11 portages totaling 4 miles single portaging. Different strokes. I’m just trying to help avoid buying most things twice or three times as I have. Paddle on."


I thought "BTW, bobbernumber3" superceded "Base campers ignore all above"... my error.
 
12/22/2020 10:02PM  
I was really impressed by Butthead's detailed list above. I thought I would give it a try to come up with a specific list. If a good friend of mine came and asked about getting set up with starter but decent quality gear for solo tripping, this is the list I first thought of. There is no question lots of different opinions and options. Some items can be found for much less on discounters like Steep&Cheap, etc, but its a start. I went with REI a lot because i think they do a great job at good quality for great value. Also, REI has a 10% dividend, and multiple 20% off one item sales. Midwest Mountaineering also has regular 20% off one item sales, and even had a 30% off sale last year.

So, assuming you have some basic outdoor type clothing and whatever fishing gear you like, here is my basic get started list. It comes in well under $5,000. There are a lot of things you could add in, but I think its very reasonable to go with just this gear.

 
12/23/2020 07:42AM  
Jaywalker,
That can be an informative and fun exercise. It was for me! I considered adding up the gear for my first long canoe trip into Quetico 1983, but that's difficult. Some gear is not around, a lot bought at garage sales, and it's too shaded with memories to be accurate. I had, a Sears Hillary tent similar to a Timberline 3, Peak One external frame pack, Peak One 442 stove. North Face Yosemite sleeping bag and a choice of closed cell foam or Thermarest pads. The 4 partners had enough to equip a basic 5 person trip via owned and borrowed gear added to a bunch of "this will work" stuff, mostly cook gear. I made a reflector oven, 1 guy bought a new pack, otherwise we only rented canoes and paddles. This was the first Quetico/BWCA trip ever for 4 of us, only 3 had canoe experience like river and lake day trips. I had a Spirit 2 but was convinced to rent by the other 4, "you don't wanna wreak your nice shinny canoe" was the argument, funny because the next year it was painted camo for duck hunting and took way more abuse than the trip would cause. Anyway we cut cost to the point of doing a fly in to Clay Lake on the cheap. after permits and flight cost the most, second expense laid out was food virtually all bought at local stores. 10 day first true canoe trip from Mack Lake up to McKenzie out at Cache Bay.

butthead
 
MikeinMpls
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12/23/2020 09:52AM  
Another thing to keep in mind:

what you want to acquire to go camping need not be "camping" gear. My cook set is a hodge-podge of old aluminum "nesting set" (camping) pans, old pans and pots (used in a kitchen) that I've acquired here and there. We use regular forks and spoons. When we cleaned out my dad's stuff after he died, I looked at a lot of stuff from the perspective of "would that work for camping?"

Given a preference, I'd much rather sleep with a blanket than a sleeping bag. I usually bring my bag just because it's lighter than a blanket.

Mike
 
mgraber
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12/23/2020 07:02PM  
Another thing that is a good idea, whenever you are contemplating buying a new or used piece of gear, you can ask the people here what they think. With the unbelievable amount of combined experience, and this being a really wonderful, helpful, generous group of people, I can just about guarantee you that you will get not only opinions on the gear, but suggestions on better but possibly more expensive options and possibly cheaper options. If you are looking for specific gear, or unloading used gear, the Gear Forum is a good place
 
12/24/2020 11:04AM  
Greenergrass,

So many great suggestions. One that seems to be overlooked, but maybe you're already good in this area is appropriate clothing and footwear. Not sure what time of year you plan to trip, but quality clothing and footwear make a huge difference. I am a believer that cotton is rotten so most of my clothes are nylon (pants and underwear) or merino wool (shirts and socks). And depending on how much portaging you plan to do, footwear is essential. And there are plenty of threads on this topic. The other items I would suggest is a good sleeping pad and pillow. The quality of sleep you get will make a huge difference in the trip. Truly there are so many options and where you start is really a personal decision on what you can afford. Like so many have said, my one bit of advice is don't go cheap. You will regret it and will end up spending more money in the end when you end up throwing out the cheap stuff and buy the stuff you should have bought in the first place. Just to give you an idea I have about $3,000 invested in my clothing and gear, including a used kevlar canoe I got a fantastic deal on. I've been buying my own gear for probably the past 13 years, so it doesn't happen over night. My first trip was in June of 2000. Not sure how much you can afford, but I think that number will at least give you a reasonable idea of what you can expect to spend over a few years.
 
Boppasteveg
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12/27/2020 04:31PM  
I have read only a few responses - here's my story...

I started "collecting" camping gear in 1972. That's the year I joined the Boy Scouts. My first purchase was a Eureka Timberline "Two-man" tent.

Little by little I acquired more and more gear.

Start with the basics. Tent, sleeping bag, cooking gear.

Think of friends/relatives etc...you could borrow gear from.
I have a friend from scouts who owns three large Sea to Summit dry bags. I borrow then instead of buying my own.

Another friend owns the large Platypus gravity system for filtering water so I borrow it instead of buying my own.

But...I can always find something that looks cool to add to my gear! I try to buy stuff that has more than one use too.

It's easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices out there.
 
Wolfee
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12/27/2020 07:50PM  
You didn't really say what times of the year you are planning on tripping, but if you are thinking spring or fall, I would definitely spend UP on your raingear, clothes, and sleeping pad/bag. Nothing sucks more than being cold and/or wet.

The one item I really love is my gravity water filter. When I first started, we used iodine tabs/ bleach or drank straight from the lake. Later we started using a pump filter, but god how I hated that thing. Took forever and always clogging/breaking. I LOVE my gravity filter.

If you're young or built like a linebacker, you can get by with heavier gear. For years I used Coleman sundome tents with extra fleetfarm tarp(s) to keep them dryer. Cheap and effective, but not necessarily lightweight. This is true for a canoe as well, if you can handle a little extra weight, royalex or a lightweight aluminum isn't an unthinkable option, and you can usually find these much cheaper than kevlar. I currently use a ~60 lb royalex northwind that I bought for about $500 (good portage pads can make a big difference!)

You definitely do not need to buy it all at once. Buy one or two bigger items each year and rent the rest until you've filled out your kit.
 
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