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Cheap Backpacking - Seven Tips

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Why do I so often focus on cheaper backpacking? Well, one of the reasons for backpacking versus a resort vacation is that it costs less to begin with. So why not look at how to keep it even more affordable? There are two basic ways to do that. They are to cut the cost of the trip and to spend less on equipment.

Cheap Backpacking Trips

1. Go to free places. This is an obvious idea, but many people automatically think of national parks and places that have fees when they think of a wilderness experience, even though there are many places that are just as beautiful and free. Look for national forests with hiking trails, or BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land, or state forests. An added advantage of this approach is that you'll likely find fewer people there.

2. Design your own trips. Guided backpacking trips can be nice, but they can be expensive compared to doing it yourself. Pick a place, do your research online, and start looking for the cheapest plane tickets you can find.

3. Stay close to home. The biggest expense of many backpacking trips is the cost of getting to the area where you are going hiking. Are you sure there is nothing interesting to see within an hour or two of where you live? Why not hit those areas first?

Cheap Backpacking Equipment

4. Skip the high-tech clothing. Do you really need a super wicking poly-fiber t-shirt? Not likely if it is the middle of summer. A regular t-shirt bought on sale for three dollars will do just fine. Now, I wouldn't recommend jeans, but for pants you can see the next tip.

5. Buy used clothing and equipment. I would never buy used shoes, but thrift stores always have plenty of used jackets that work just fine. You can even find decent lightweight hiking pants at times, as well as aluminum pans that are really light and some other backpacking gear.

6. Make your own backpacking equipment. Some backpackers make their own sleeping bags and even backpacks. I wouldn't go that far (and I'm not sure that the savings would amount to much anyhow), but I have modified cheap pans for backpacking, made hats from old thermal shirt sleeves, and bivy sacks from garbage bags. Come to think of it, I did make a backpack once, using an old aluminum frame and a duffel bag (and it weighed less than any commercial frame pack out there).

7. Shop sales. Another obvious tip perhaps, but it is easy to forget. Hiking shoes in particular can be bought really inexpensively if you watch for the deals. For some reason people don't want last year's styles, so those $100 shoes go on sale for $40 fairly often. Check the closeouts from online vendors and local shoe stores. Clothing in general is most likely to go on sale, although tents and sleeping bags are sometimes half-priced when newer models replace them.

Apply all these tips at once and you'll have a really inexpensive backpacking trip. Create your own trip, and make it to a free place close to home. Outfit yourself with basic clothing and gear bought at thrift stores or bought on sale - or make a few things yourself.



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The Ultralight Backpacking Site | Cheap Backpacking