Budget gear 2020-02-08T03:04:03-05:00


Lightweight gear can be expensive, but fortunately there are a number of affordable options available for those on a budget. Another great way to save money is through buying (lightly) used gear. Backpackinglight’s Gear Swap is a widely-used forum for those looking to buy or sell used backpacking equipment. Popular items are sold quickly (sometimes within minutes), so you should check the page frequently if there is something specific that you are looking for. You can also write a “want to buy” (WTB) post on the gear swap to see if anyone is willing to sell items that you are interested in. There are also several Facebook groups where you can search for gear as well.

Budget gear

When purchasing gear on a budget, you need to be careful when selecting your “big 4” (backpack, tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad). These are your most important pieces of gear, so it is important to carefully select items that suit your needs, preferences, and budget. Not all backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads are suitable for backpacking, so it may be helpful to keep the following in mind when trying to selected budget-friendly gear:

  • Backpack: Should be comfortable (this is the most important!), large enough to fit a bear canister if using it for the JMT (~50L or larger), and preferably 3 pounds (48 oz.) or less.
  • Tent: Should have the features you want, and ideally should be 3 pounds (48 oz.) or less for a 1-person tent, and 4-5 pounds (64-80 oz.) or less for a 2-person tent.
  • Sleeping bag: Should preferably be down (it’s lighter), have an appropriate temperature rating (around 20°F), and ideally should be no more than 3 pounds (48 oz.). Closer to two pounds would be even better!
  • Sleeping pad: Should be a pound (16 oz.) or less, and preferably insulated.


Model Weight (oz.) Price
Six Moon Designs Skyscape Scout (1-person) 40 $145
Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo Outfitter (2-person) 57 $190
Kelty Salida 1 (1-person)
54 $108
Kelty Salida 2 (2-person) 62 $139
Mier Ultralight Tent (1-person) 35.2 $110
Mier Ultralight Tent (2-person) 44.8 $140


Model Weight (oz.) Price
3F UL GEAR Backpack (56L) 30 $60
ULA CDT (54L) 24 $145

Sleeping bags

Model Weight (oz.) Price
Kelty Cosmic Down 20 – 20°F 38.6 $180
Kelty Tuck 22 (Synthetic) – 22°F 48 $99
Therm-a-Rest Questar 20 – 20°F 37 $175
Hyke & Byke Quandary 15 – 15°F 43 $145
UGQ Bandit – 20°F 22.33 $220

Sleeping pads

Model Weight (oz.) Price
Big Agnes Air Core (Regular)– Inflatable 20 $50
Therm-a-Rest Z-lite Sol (Regular) – Foam 14 $45
Therm-a-Rest Z-lite (Regular) – Foam 14 $40
Therm-a-Rest Ridgerest (Regular) – Foam 14 $20
ALPS Mountaineering Sleeping Mat – Foam 9 $20
Klymit Static V2 – Inflatable 16.6 $55

Stoves & Cooking pots

Sleeping bags
Rain gear




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