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  1. #1
    somniferous's Avatar
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    Jan 2012
    Location
    Malden, MA
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    Moving from car camping to backpacking

    I'm looking to make the move from car camping to backpacking, but I really have no idea where to start. I love to do hiking, but I've never really trekked longer than a day hike, or very far away from the safety of a base camp.

    Looking at all the vast array of gear, hearing all the talk of weight weenies, and figuring out what I actually need makes my head spin. Where did all you guys learn the ropes? Is there a backpacking forum that is as informative and supportive as hammock forums?

    I know I have a far way to go from my current setup for it to be backpack friendly, as I'm currently using poncho UQ/TQs. I figure this will give me something to obsess over as I save up some money for gear.

  2. #2
    Senior Member mugs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Spokane & Hobart, Wa
    Hammock
    DHDB 1.9 SL/WBRR DL
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    Varies with season
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    First watch the Hammock how to videos from Shug.

    Then check Dejoa's site and order his book, either in paper or the interwebby thing.

    Next consider this book and the companion website

    And also you tube site only the lightest has a ton of tips

    And then there is the

    Backpacking light site

    and Backpacing.net the forum link is in the center of the home page towards the top..it can be hard to find at first.

    This should get you well on your way.

    Next, backing is a learned skill, and not to be taken lightly. Start by car camping with your backpacking gear. The when you have things figured out. Go on a short 2-4 mile hike to a lake, river, pond, whatever for an overnighter. That way if you need to bail, your not to far away from your car. Do this a few times until you feel comfortable with going further.

    Next extend the trip a few more mile, maybe a 6-8 mile loop hike, but stop half way in the middle and spend the night out. Again repeat this until you feel like you can tackle a multi day, hike. By then you should have your kit fairly well figured out, and have some decent experience under your belt.

    Get in on as many group hangs, or partnered hikes as you can. You will learn a ton from them. Before you know it, you will be ready for the PCT,

    Remember start slow and small, and work your way up. You'll have failures, and some miserable nights, but that breeds experience, and something to learn from. Keep your chin up, and don't give up. Play camp in your back yard if you have one. Just keep moving forward and working on getting your gear and skills dialed in.

    Of course YMMV

    Hope this helps.
    I miss my 4.8Lb base weight as a ground dweller...But I sure DON'T MISS the ground.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Rolloff's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Leveland
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    BIAS WW DH Freebird
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    2,006
    Don't forget buying a cheap set of digital scales. Harbor Freight 6 dollar special is fine.

    Weight everything, then tune your kit in on Geargrams.com
    Signature suspended

  4. #4
    Senior Member Downhill Trucker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Baltimore, MD
    Hammock
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    OES Spinn
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    Many DIY
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    488

    Moving from car camping to backpacking

    I suggest Ray Jardine's books. Trail Life is his most current, and very good, but The Pacific Crest Trail Hikers Handbook is my favorite book by him. He's a bit out there at times, but traveling lighter will make backpacking much more enjoyable.

    The best part of his books, is he doesn't tell you to spend a lot of money to travel fast. Grandma Gatewood hiked in a pair of Keds with a duffle bag!

  5. #5
    Senior Member gcy24's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Moose, Wyoming
    Hammock
    DH Darien, DIY, ENO
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    ProFly
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    195
    I also made the switch about a year and a half ago. What I did, google, everything. I read so many different articles, and different forum threads. My other advice is dont go and buy something because its popular. Take your time and research things first. You'll save a lot of money on gear this way. For example, I bought a nice canister stove, only to find out i'd rather use alcohol.
    Grant

    Getting lost is not a waste of time.

  6. #6
    Senior Member jbrescue's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    North Ridgeville, Ohio
    Hammock
    Skeeter Beeter Pro
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    Also, make sure what you buy is what you need and can use. Don't buy things that make you say, I might need this. Make sure everything has a purpose and multiple purpose items are even better. Just because something is sold commercially (mess kits are a perfect example), does not mean you can't do it for less money and less weight yourself. Plan on not getting it right the first time. You will use things and then see what you like or hate. Borrow gear in the beginning. This is a great hobby, but it can get very expensive quickly. And don't forget, most of the time you truly get what you pay for.

  7. #7
    Senior Member SnrMoment's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Falling Rock, MT
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    Great advice so far. You also need to get into shape for it, primarily, your glutes and quads carry the load for the ups and downs. It's not a flat track.
    I started out with hikes in hilly country with a light pack.
    Altitude is not a huge issue where you are, but it still will take some getting used to.
    The root of it all is a good pair of boots. The trails and country here require some sturdy footwear construction. I'm a loyal fan of the Danners made in the USA and are the largest expense I have for any single item of camping/hiking gear. Worth every cent as they last for years.
    Love is blind. Marriage is an eye opener.

  8. #8
    Senior Member DuctTape's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Rochester, NY
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    You don't necessarily need new gear, you will just have to suffer carrying it all. The only difference between car camping and backpacking is you have to carry everything.
    This isn't a bad thing as you quickly realize what things you really want/need. Extra batteries, giant lanterns, double burner stoves, axes, tables, chairs will probably be the first to be left at home. Most people think about going lighter by getting new stuff. IMO this is the wrong first step. The right first step, IMO, is to stop bringing stuff. One can easily cut serious pounds off their back by just not bringing all the extra stuff (obvious extras were above). If you day hike, the pack has the same gear with the addition of just your sleeping gear and a little more food. That is all that is really necessary. Once you know your minimum needs, you can then add other things you want. This is the point where you can start thinking about getting new lighter stuff (if you even want to). You might find that your pack is light enough for your needs.

  9. #9
    Senior Member swankfly's Avatar
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    May 2012
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    South Louisiana
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    Yep, it can be overwhelming...here is what I suggest.

    First, can you borrow a pack or the necessary gear? If, try an overnight or two and make sure you enjoy doing this, some find car camping, ice chests and the luxuries that go with that much more enjoyable.

    If not, get in your car and go down to REI, grab an associate and tell them what you are trying to do. when and where you want to backpack (temps and weather). You can do this at any outdoor retailer, but the selection of products at REI is HUGE. Bring all your current gear in a bag. Then assemble the gear that you want to purchase/need (maybe not today) and they will show you how to find the right pack that fits you and your gear. I would not be overly obsessed withe weight weenie right now. You need to determine your style of backpacking and if it agrees with you.

    Some outfitters will rent packs and gear, search online.

    Good luck!

  10. #10
    gargoyle's Avatar
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    May 2009
    Location
    Middlebury, IN
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    whoop dutch!
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    Its a never ending journey. Each trip I return from brings back knowledge of what is needed, and is not.

    Since your geared up with a hammock, and quilts your mostly there. For best field results, do some backyard overnight hangs. Weather out a few storms. This will allow you to test your gear in relative safety if things turn bad. You'll want to know that you can be warm and dry before you trek off into the wilderness. Then do a few car camps with the hammock gear. Build up to the real deal.

    Each trip presents its own special needs. Weather/temps being the most deciding factor. Lay out your gear and decide what makes the trip. Try and pack it up. What fits your needs and desired level of comfort. Practice setting up and tearing down at a local park or woods. Without good experience, your trip can turn bad fast.

    Tarp. I see no mention of weather protection in your profile? So a tarp will be needed.
    Pack. You'll need a comfortable backpack that fits well and handles the loads you have.
    Stove? Food? Shoes? Water filtration? General physical fitness? etc., etc., etc...

    There are so many options available in terms of gear and what works best for some. Do the research. List your priorities. Decide how much $$ you are willing to put towards this hobby. Decide if your going backpacking for a few days or week long? Ultralight or willing to carry a few extra pounds?

    As far as info, join the hammock forum, by becoming a donating member. The few dollars spent on donation can open the entire forum. It includes things about gear that are really insightful. The main "free" forum deals only with hammock chat, but the membership here is worth it, IMO.
    This is the best place (HF) that has the info and the friendly's.

    Last but not least, attend a hang in your area. It will give you an opportunity to explore some of the gear options.
    Hike your own hike. What works for you and meets your needs is the most important thing!

    Welcome to the madness. Be warned, it is addictive.

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