Budget Backpacking Thru-Hiking Gear List (Under $900)

Lightweight backpacking doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive. Here is an example of a gear list that will get you on the trail for under $900, with a base weight of just 13 lbs. Perfect for beginners and hikers on a tight budget.

This gear list includes all of the essential items you’ll need for multi-day hikes, section hikes and thru-hikes in typical three-season hiking conditions (temps 30 – 100 °F.) Feel free to use this as a template to design your own gear list.

The Big Four

Weight: 8.5 lbs, Cost: $440


Backpack

My Trail Co Backpack 50L
Weight: 2.1 lbs
Cost: $120
Shelter

Eureka
Spitfire 1

Weight: 2.7 lbs
Cost: $140
Sleeping Bag

Kelty Cosmic (20°F)
Weight: 2.8 lbs
Cost: $150
Sleeping Pad

Therm-A-Rest Ridgerest
Weight: 14 oz
Cost: $30

Clothing Worn

Weight: 3.3 lbs, Cost: $148


Shirt

Champion Powertrain T-Shirt
Weight: 6 oz
Cost: $13
Pants

Columbia Backcast Pants
Weight: 12 oz
Cost: $45
Underwear

Champion Tech Boxer Brief
Weight: 3 oz
Cost: $9
Socks

Adidas Athletic Quarter Socks
Weight: 2 oz
Cost: $3
Shoes

Asics GEL Venture 5
Weight: 1.3 lbs
Cost: $50
Insoles

Spenco Polysorb Cross Trainer
Weight: 5 oz
Cost: $12
Hat

Camo Coll
Boonie Hat

Weight: 3 oz
Cost: $12
Sunglasses

3M TEKK
Safety Glasses

Weight: 1 oz
Cost: $4

Clothing Packed

Weight: 2.2 lbs, Cost: $118


Base Top

Duofold Varitherm Shirt
Weight: 7 oz
Cost: $18
Base Bottom

Duofold Varitherm Pant
Weight: 7 oz
Cost: $18
Insulated Jacket

XposureZone Down Jacket
Weight: 9 oz
Cost: $45
Rain Jacket

Frogg Toggs DriDucks
Weight: 6 oz
Cost: $15
Warm Cap

Microfleece
Watch Cap

Weight: 2 oz
Cost: $9
Gloves

Microfleece Gloves
Weight: 2 oz
Cost: $10
Spare Socks

Adidas Athletic Quarter Socks
Weight: 2 oz
Cost: $3

Cooking & Hydration

Weight: 1 lb, Cost: $54


Cook Stove

Etekcity Canister Stove
Weight: 3 oz
Cost: $10
Cook Pot

Stanco Grease Pot
Weight: 4 oz
Cost: $6
Pot Cozy

Home-made
Pot Cozy

Weight: 2 oz
Cost: $10
Cup

GSI Outdoors Cascadian Cup
Weight: 1.7 oz
Cost: $6
Spoon

Light My Fire Spork
Weight: 0.3 oz
Cost: $3
Water Bottle

Two 1L Aquafina Bottles
Weight: 3 oz
Cost: $2
Water Filter

AquaMira Purifier Drops
Weight: 2 oz
Cost: $17

Survival & Miscellaneous

Weight: 2.6 lbs, Cost: $115


Map

Trail Map
Weight: 3 oz
Cost: n/a
Compass

Coghlans Map Compass
Weight: 1 oz
Cost: $7
Light

Energizer 3 LED Headlamp
Weight: 2.5 oz
Cost: $10
Knife

Swiss Army Classic
Weight: 0.8 oz
Cost: $14
Fire Starter #1

Mini Bic Lighter
Weight: 0.4 oz
Cost: $1
Fire Starter #2

SOL Fire Lite Kit
Weight: 0.6 oz
Cost: $8
Whistle

SOL Slim Howler
Weight: 0.2 oz
Cost: $2
Signal Mirror

SOL Signal Mirror
Weight: 0.6 oz
Cost: $9
Tape

Duct Tape 50″
Weight: 0.8 oz
Cost: $2
First Aid Kit

Adventure Medical 0.3 1st Aid Kit
Weight: 3 oz
Cost: $9
Toothbrush

Folding Travel Toothbrush
Weight: 0.7 oz
Cost: $1
Wash Rag

Packtowl Personal Small
Weight: 0.7 oz
Cost: $7
Phone/Camera/Audio

Smartphone
Weight: 5.5 oz
Cost: n/a
Food Sack

REI Lightweight 15L
Weight: 1 oz
Cost: $14
Clothing Sack

REI Lightweight 15L
Weight: 1 oz
Cost: $14
Trekking Poles

Cascade Mtn Tech Trekking Poles
Weight: 1.3 lbs
Cost: $17

Consumables

Weight: 15.5 lbs


Food

5 Days Food
(2 lbs per day)

Weight: 10.0 lbs
Water

2 Liters
Weight: 4.4 lbs
Fuel

Small Canister
(4 oz fuel)

Weight: 7 oz
Medication

Advil, Tylenol PM, Immodium AD, Bennadryl
Weight: 0.5 oz
Toothpaste

Toothpaste
(0.8 fl oz)

Weight: 1 oz
Sunscreen

Sunscreen
(1 fl oz)

Weight: 1.5 oz
Lip Balm

Carmex
(0.35 fl oz)

Weight: 0.5 oz
Insect Repellent

Lemon Eucalyptus (1.0 fl oz)
Weight: 1.5 oz
Toilet Paper

Toilet Paper
(1 roll)

Weight: 1 oz
Wet Wipes

5 Wet Ones Singles
Weight: 1 oz
Hand Sanitizer

Purell
(1 fl oz)

Weight: 1.5 oz
Antiseptic

Rubbing Alcohol (1 fl oz)
Weight: 1.5 oz

Weight & Cost Summary


Packed Gear
The Big Four
Clothing Packed
Cooking and Hydration
Survival and Miscellaneous (minus trekking poles)
Weight
8.5 lbs
2.2 lbs
1.0 lbs
1.3 lbs
Cost
$440
$118
$54
$98


Pack Weight
Base Pack Weight
+ Consumables
Full Pack Weight
Weight
13.0 lbs
15.5 lbs
28.5 lbs


+ Worn & Carried Gear
Clothing Worn
Trekking Poles
Weight
3.3 lbs
1.3 lbs
Cost
$148
$17


Skin-Out Weight
Weight
33.1 lbs
Total Cost
$875

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8 Responses to “Budget Backpacking Thru-Hiking Gear List (Under $900)”

  1. U-Turn Reply

    Some additional picks:

    Klymit’s 20 degree down bag is 2.7 pounds and $149 on Amazon, and has nice stretchy baffles.

    REI’s new Quarter Dome tent is 2.5 pounds without stakes and comes with REI’s one-year warranty, if not longer.

    The Osprey Talon 44 makes a great ultralight bag at 2.2 pounds with Osprey’s lifetime guarantee and is often on sale for $115 on Amazon.

  2. Paul Johnson Reply

    Hi Erik,

    I have one “big” problem. Pun intended. I am 6’4″ only weigh 190. I like your budget suggestions. I am planning a 2018 thru hike. I am a rookie and want to keep my expense down. Do you have any recommendations for tent, bag, and pack?
    thks.

    • @Paul: Most lightweight backpacks come in several torso sizes. You are probably going to need a large (I use a large and I’m only 6 feet tall.) Same with sleeping bags, most are available in long sizes for people over six feet. As far as a tent goes, I don’t really find that extra room at the head and foot of a tent is really that important, as long as you can fit inside lying down and there is a little bit of room on the sides to keep your gear. Most 1 person backpacking tents are close to 7 feet long, so you should fit inside no problem. When you sit up you might brush your head on the ceiling, but that’s not too big of a deal (unless there is a lot of condensation gathering on the inside.)

      Here are some lists I compiled, which you can use to compare prices, weights and features of what’s available:

      Big List of Lightweight Backpacks
      Big List of Lightweight Shelters
      Big List of Lightweight Sleeping Bags

  3. Steve Reply

    This is a great budget list. Been using my GoLite Jam 50 (now the MyTrail) and Eureka Spitfire! for many trouble free years. Some of my other gear has gotten upgraded through e bay over the years though!

  4. Nice budget backpacking list. I am also sure that with a second and third look, one can still shave off some items off this list. I would leave behind the signal mirror for starters hahaa.

  5. Gene is Lucky Reply

    Hey Eric, excellent budget list. Your post is a real service to us hikers. Might add a pot lifter for the grease pot. Thanks for the great post.

  6. Steve Ghan Reply

    Well done! A lot of people don’t have wads of cash to purchase Cuben Fiber gear. You’ve shown they can get ultralight gear at a much more affordable price. This is a great service to the community. Thank you.

  7. Shannon Reply

    Very good information. Maybe could lighter with a Six Moon Designs Tent. Awesome list, thanks