Backpacking on a budget

Was just browsing the REI sale today and figured I’d see if I could pull together a quality setup that will take you from a weekend trip to a long weekend+ for under $500. Here goes…

Shelter: Marmot Limelight 2

Just a few years back a two man tent coming in at the 5 lbs mark would have set you back at least 3x more than the cost of this tent at $129.99. Add in the fact that it comes with the footprint (and thus you can ditch the tent body and just go ground cloth+fly in the summer) and you’ve got a deal, even at full retail.

A lot of tent, a little money

Pack: REI Flash 65

Pack fit is obviously a personal thing, and don’t buy on price alone, but the REI brand gear has come a LONG way in the past few years. If you’re looking for a pack in this size range you’ll do yourself and your budget a favor to take a look at the Flash – especially right now when it’s a penny under $125.

Bag: The North Face Cat’s Meow

Up til now trying to stay in our budget of $500 didn’t seem like a compromise. Bags, however, don’t seem to have followed the same smaller/cheaper/higher quality path at the same rate the other items have. On the low end you still have bulky synthetic bags, and on the high end you’ve got your ultrapackable down bags – with everything else falling somewhere inbetween. For our purposes here the tried and true Cat’s Meow will work. You won’t win awards from your friends with it’s ultra packability, but it will get you there and back for years. It’s not part of the sale so use code ANNVMEM to take 20% off when you go to check out.

Tried and true

Stove: Jetboil

I love my Jetboil. It’s size and space saving design mean that you’ll find yourself bringing it to places you would have never thought to bring your old camp cooking setup. Tailgating, fishing, surfing, touring, etc. – you’ll find yourself tucking it into your bag so you can make a quick cup of coffee or soup on the go. At $65 it’s a no brainer.

Water treatment: MSR Miniworks

I can’t get into the Steripen and other forms of treatment. Yeah, my water will be free of bad things, but it’ll still look dirty. I’ll take a tried and true pump filter any day of the week, and the same price of this MSR isn’t much more than the cost of buying a replacement filter for it.

So, there it is, a good basic setup that you can use for weekend trips to multiday trips, and you’re right at the $500 mark – less than the price of a new pair of snowboard boots and bindings.

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