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Top 10 Camping Gear Questions asked

Selling outdoor gear & camp gear for 20 years I find I get asked a lot of the same questions. It makes sense as lots of people getting into lightweight outdoor camping have similar needs right off the start. Here is a quick list of the top 10 camp gear questions. Please remember these are short answers to some common questions that we get on a regular basis. Further Q & A is usually necessary to fully understand the gear needs of the customer. Hope you enjoy, Geoff Horn.

  1. Should I buy a 2 or 3 person tent for my partner and me? If it’s your first tent I would suggest the 3-person tent. The extra room in the 3-person is nice to stretch out, store your gear, sleep, and ultimately it doesn’t weigh much more or take up more room then a 2-person. The exception of course is if you are planning long multi day backpacking trips, then space and weight is a premium so buy the lightest 2-person tent you can. The Triarch 3 from North Face is a fantastic tent for space and weight but if it blows your budget the Talus 3 is a fantastic price point choice.
  2. Aren’t mummy bags tight and uncomfortable to sleep in? NO, modern mummy bags are way better then the barrel bags of yester-years. Mummy bags are 3 dimensional and comfortable to sleep in, they pack up smaller and are more efficient then rectangle bags. On most days you can have your bag zipped open and roomy, but when the weather turns, you will be happy, curled up and warm in your mummy bag.
  3. Do I need to filter/treat the water; I hear its safe to drink out of the river/lake? YES filter your water. Filters are the best, cause they are easy to use and fast to pump water. Tablets or treatments work too, but I am too impatient to wait, although they always go with me in case a filter ever broke down. My favorite is the Sweetwater filter by MSR, best tasting water from a filter. My 2nd favorite is the gravity Platypus system cause I have many other camp duties to attend too.
  4. Should I get the MSR Whisperlite or Dragonfly Stove? The Whisperlite is a great stove, boils water quick and packs up small but if you would like to “cook” meals instead of boiling noodles or freeze dried food, BUY THE DRAGONFLY. Sure it’s a little noisy and larger, but the flame and simmer control is FANTASTIC! Great for actual backcountry cooking gourmet meals.
  5. Can I just buy a smaller backpack and strap more to the outside if I need to? NO, please don’t. If it means the difference between going on your trip or not going, then do it. Buying a pack of the right size is important so your gear is secure, packed properly in load(weight) zones, and not swinging or swaying causing issue with your hiking & balance. Packs of the right size also have frames designed to carry the appropriate weight of that size. Smaller packs have lighter frames to carry lighter loads. Please take the time to have your pack fitted and adjusted by a qualified person.
  6. Should I take packaged or real food? BOTH! I love to cook and eat on trips and I like to eat real food. I have a food dehydrator at home to help lighten the load of real food but I always toss a couple packages of packaged food in to eat. You can’t beat the weight and calorie count, plus they taste pretty good these days.
  7. Is it worth the weight to take hiking poles? YES, hiking poles (yes plural) are fantastic for balance and make ascending and descending easier. Buy the lightest ones you can for the budget you have.
  8. Should I buy pots for cooking over an open fire or cooking on a stove? For your first pot set get one for the stove. Between restrictions and fire bans, open fire cooking is not always available, so having good pots for camp stoves are lighter, nest better, and cleaner. Add a large fire pot later to nest the entire set into if you are heading to areas where you can open fire cook more.
  9. Pillow or no pillow? I am a pillow person, and a big fan of promoting that you get the best sleep possible to attack the next day. Sure you can toss some cloths in a bag and use that as a pillow but what if you need those cloths cause its cold? My routine is to pack a pillow, then wrap a layer of clothing around that pillow to make it thicker and more comfy.
  10. Should I pack a warm jacket? YES, you should. Now I know this is all about camp gear and this might seem like a clothing question but I always think about a warm, insulating jacket as a piece of equipment. Pack a warm synthetic puffy, ThermoBall from The North Face is AWESOME

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