Cutting Corners: Essential Backcountry Gear You Can Skimp On

Cutting Corners: Essential Backcountry Gear You Can Skimp OnBack-country camping is demanding in that it combines both long-distance hiking and camping, with the added caveat that all your camping gear and supplies must be carried in. A lot of gear is necessary for a successful back-country camping trip, and a complete kit does not come cheap. However, there are ways to skimp on both the necessities and their price tags, getting both the size of the kit and its eventual cost down.

Portable Stoves

Back-country camping in the United States almost always means using a portable stove. The National Forest Service, National Park Service and many state forest and park systems ban campfires outside of designated areas. Cooking your food means bringing your stove, but there is no reason to spend the money on a factory-made stove or to bear more weight than necessary. Look into do-it-yourself stoves, made from cans, that are fueled by the same alcohol fuel used in camping stoves. Another choice is the hobo stove, which is also made from a can and uses pine cones and sticks for fuel.

Trekking Poles

Some hikers swear by trekking poles as a necessary set of tools for spreading out the load, making bearing a heavy weight over long distances much easier. That does not mean you actually need to buy them. Even if you consider a walking aid necessary (and some hikers do not), you can skimp by making your own. You can begin your trip by finding a nice rod of bamboo, ash, cornel or some other wood and whittling it into a walking stick.


Even modern lightweight tents can be a burden to carry, and they can be expensive. Camping out requires planning for bad weather and some kind of shelter, but consider whether you really need a tent. Some people find half-shelters or hammock-and-rain-fly combinations to be good substitutes for tents in warm weather, and they are often much cheaper.

Used or Borrowed

Another tactic for skimping on your back-country gear is to get the same item for a lower price or no price. There are some items you simply cannot do this for, including your hiking boots. However, there is no reason you cannot ask your friends if they can lend you their titanium cooking kit, GPS or tentage for next weekend's trip. Another alternative is to prowl websites that have used camping equipment for sale. Employing these strategies will allow you to skimp on the price without skimping on the actual gear.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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