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My Top 3 Low-Budget Hiking and Backpacking Gear Choices for the Frugal Hiker

Charles is an avid outdoor enthusiast that field tests and reviews the quality and durability of camping, hiking, and backpacking gear.

Getting packed and ready to go with the High Sierra Sleeping Bag and the High Sierra Classic 2 Series Summit 45L Internal Frame Backpack

Getting packed and ready to go with the High Sierra Sleeping Bag and the High Sierra Classic 2 Series Summit 45L Internal Frame Backpack

The Big Three of Backpacking

Let's start with the big three pieces of gear needed for a successful backpacking excursion. I've purchased and personally used the following backpack, shelter, and sleep system (sleeping bag, quilt, air mattress/pad.) These items are typically the bulkiest and heaviest gear to haul out to the backcountry and are quite frankly necessary for a safe, comfortable adventure.

One of the key goals of a successful backpacking adventure is to transport your camping gear on the trail and to your campsite safely and efficiently. Another key goal is to keep things light and compact. These two attributes generally mean expensive in the world of backpacking and hiking. Being notoriously frugal, I was up for the challenge of beating high prices and still selecting gear that was light, durable, and most of all, inexpensive.

The Backpack

I recently began researching a new backpacking pack. I was looking for something that was between 45L and 55L and under $100. My online search finally lead me to a company called High Sierra. A company that is known for high quality, affordable bags, luggage, and outdoor gear. I currently own a sleeping bag and a small duffel bag that I previously purchased from High Sierra. Both of these items are made of high-quality materials and have consistently proven to be durable. I settled on an inexpensive, 45L backpacking pack from High Sierra. It is the Classic 2 Series Summit 45 Frame Pack. The original cost was $95.99 with a final clearance price of $56.99.On my first trip with this lightweight internal frame backpack, the pack seemed to hold up well and held all of the essential gear for an overnight excursion without any issues. My full review of this pack is available at SkyAboveUs.

The Sleeping System

You might begin to see a trend here, my sleeping bag is also another product from High Sierra. (No, I am not sponsored by them.) My current sleeping bag is the High Sierra insulated +15F/+30F synthetic sleeping bag. This bag is currently only available in stores. I picked this one up at my local Sierra store. The bag retails for $24.99 and weighs in at exactly 3.38 pounds. Without a compression sack, the bag is rather bulky. I had to purchase a small 10L stuff sack from Sea to Summit to really compress this sleeping bag in order for it to fit in my pack. The High Sierra sleeping bag is extremely warm and comfortable and meets my specifications of lightweight, durable, and inexpensive. My sleeping pad is the inflatable sleeping pad from NorEast Outdoors. This lightweight pad weighs 1lb. and measures 74"L x 22"W x 2"H when fully inflated. Relatively inexpensive this sleeping pad clocks in at only $19.99 from Sierra.

The Tent/Shelter

In my quest for an inexpensive shelter solution. My Google searches for a "2-person, lightweight backpacking tent" consistently led me to Decathlon where I was able to snag the Quechua MH100 waterproof 2-person tent for $36.00 with tax and shipping included. This tent usually retails for $39.99 with a slightly larger 3-person tent available for $59.99. I got 10% off as a first-time customer. This Quechua MH100 tent weighs in at 5.3 pounds with the fiberglass tent poles, generic steel tent stakes, and the carrying case. I reduced this weight by about a pound by separately purchasing a set of Triwonder aluminum tent poles and Big Agnes Dirt Dagger ultralight tent stakes from Amazon. The tent packs well into a small compression sack from REI and easily fits into my pack. I plan to provide a full review of this tent in a future article after completing a couple of overnight camping trips. After setting up the tent in my living room, my initial thoughts were that it was easy to set up, made from quality materials, and appears to be well constructed without any noticeable loose threads or missing seam tape. The tent fully assembled measures 51.2"W x 90.6"L x 41.3H. We will definitely see how it holds up on the trail very soon. I have included the total cost of the products I mentioned below. Thanks for stopping by!

The Frugal Hiker

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Read More From Skyaboveus

High Sierra Classic 2 Series Summit 45 Frame Pack setup for the trail ahead!

High Sierra Classic 2 Series Summit 45 Frame Pack setup for the trail ahead!

The Quechua MH100 Waterproof 2-person tent set up in my living room.

The Quechua MH100 Waterproof 2-person tent set up in my living room.

The Quechua MH100 2 Person Tent was successfully deployed in the field.

The Quechua MH100 2 Person Tent was successfully deployed in the field.

Big Agnes Dirt Dagger Ultralight Tent Stakes

Big Agnes Dirt Dagger Ultralight Tent Stakes

Total Cost Breakdown of my Low-Budget Big-Three Backpacking Setup

  1. High Sierra Classic 2 Series Summit 45L Frame Pack $60.77 tax and shipping included.
  2. High Sierra insulated +15F/+30F synthetic sleeping bag. $24.99. Inflatable sleeping pad from NorEast Outdoors $19.99. Sea to Summit S/10L compression sack $25.95.
  3. Quechua MH100 waterproof 2-person tent from Decathlon $36.00. 6-Big Agnes Dirt Dagger UL Tent Stakes $14.95. 2-10.59' Triwonder aluminum tent poles $19.99. REI S/10L Compression Sack $19.95.

Total Cost: $186.59

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Charles Kikas

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