Backpacking on a budget for the midwestern outdoorsman

Backpacking Buffalo River National Riverway
buffalo river, northwest Arkansas

Backpacking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors just about anywhere, and it seems like sometimes options for backpacking and hiking in the Midwest get short changed in the amount of attention paid.

The purpose of this article is to introduce some options you have to get out and enjoy on a tight budget, but in a manner that will get you started the right way.  The gear options we suggest here are for someone getting started or on a budget, and with the idea we are talking about getting out on days where weather stays on the plus side of forty degrees.

When you start acquiring light enough gear for cold weather camping, you are going to start spending the bigger bucks on lightweight down sleeping bags, four season tents, etc.

One of the bigger ticket items you will be needing is a lightweight sleeping bag.  Every ounce counts when you are putting in miles with your worldly possessions on your back.  For warmer months, a sleeping bag should neither weigh much nor take up too much space.  A bag under 3 lbs and rated down to 40 degrees will get you through the months we are talking about in this article.  One pretty nice option is made by Kelty.

The Cormell is a down bag which gives you compressibility and is lightweight, and this one comes at a pretty good price. At under 3 lbs, and at a pretty good price, this bag might be what you are looking for.

Order the Coromell

Kelty Coromell Down Sleeping Bag

Ok, so this tent selection is going to be really an entry level option.  Here is why - many will already own what we would refer to as a car camping tent, and why not start off with a really low price option?  If you want more, you won't have taken much of a hit if you use this thing at all.

For a low cost tent, this tent will keep you dry if you set it up right, and it's pretty darn light as budget tents go.  It weighs in at under 4 lbs and so we are under 7 lbs for sleeping bag and tent.  The UberMaxx 2 person tent is a proprietary product, and it'll get you through a couple of seasons and possibly a lot more.

Order the UberMaxx 2 Person Tent

Backpacking Tent

Backpacks need to fit right, plus of course have the size and features that will work for your backpacking needs.  At some stage, if you find backpacking enjoyable, you will want to go and spend the money to get fitted and buy a higher end pack.  

In the meantime, you want to keep your expenditure very reasonable. But, the pack I am going to suggest for starters may very well get you by for quite awhile.  I can tell you from personal experience, that I went quite a long time before I forked out the money necessary to get a higher quality pack, and maybe because I did not know any better, I thought what I was using was just fine.

Anyway, this Kelty pack comes in at 90L, which will allow you to pack more than you'd want to carry.  It is fitted to accept a hydration bladder, and has nice side pockets, mesh water bottle pocket, and generally will more than get the job done.

Backpack

I love cooking in the outdoors, but when it comes to backpacking, simple is definitely best.  For meals, I go exclusively with freeze dried meals, which I find very appealing.  What you need for this type of "cooking" and eating is a small backpacking stove and a lightweight cookset. The little set featured here is about as good as you will do for the quality and for everything you will need.  The set will take essentially no room and add no weight.  One small fuel cylinder (often available at Wal-Mart or any outdoor store) will get you through at least a couple days worth of meals.

Backpacking Cooking Set

These are the bare essential items you will definitely need.  Some other items that I strongly suggest include a pack rain fly, trekking poles, lightweight sleeping pad, water filtration system, and headlamp. Of course you will need a firestarter clothing suited to your needs and conditions, You may wish to have a GPS and certainly a compass.  Maps may be a necessary item as well.  For some of these items, let me strongly suggest a site that I have used frequently, Gear Trade. See there banner below.  They sell used and new gear, kind of like an EBay for outdoorsmen and women. Read the descriptions carefully, as well as return policies before you order.

Great place to get good deals on used and some new gear.

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