What gear did you have when you first started out?


Summit Camper
I was sent some photos of me in the Lake District from 1966. Two of us spent a week bed and breakfasting on spec around the area. The photos show me wearing a US combat jacket, jeans, a silk scarf , commando boots. Warmth was provided by a seamans oiled wool jumper. Rain protection was a pac a mac.
I believe by the year after I had acquired a pair of canvas gaiters that you had to pull on over your feet, no zips. I also bought my first proper waterproof which was a nylon cagoule which was just pulled on over the head, no pockets but it did have a floppy hood. The water would run straight off it down onto my trousers at knee level. There were no walking poles , I used a wooden walking stick in icy or snowy conditions.
I still managed to get up Scafell Pike, Coniston Old Man and Skiddaw.


Chief Slackpacker
Staff member
On phone so excuse brevity

Late 80's - early 90's

Vango Micro 200 tent, Caravan sleeping bag from Nevis Sport (upgrade from German army sniper bag), Coleman 442 stove, multimat Ccf pad, mess tins, Ron Hills, evil Loveson boots, Peter Storm cag in a bag and matching trews, Berghaus jade and pink fleece pullover
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Thru Hiker
Gear used for first "proper" backpacking?
(1984 age 14)
  • Tent: Something 'Ontario'- similar to a Lichfield combat2 but with enclosed porch like a Force10.
  • Boots: Hawkins(of Northampton) Helvellyn - seriously heavy - very proud of the screwed on vibram soles.
  • Pack: Citizen (Millets) external frame (folding shelf!). Added a karrimor hipbelt. Replaced after 2 years with a Berghaus AB 65 bought with Saturday job money)
  • Sleeping Bag: Millets duck feather n down - nylon outer with cotton cambric inner. With Attached elasticated hood
  • Mat. 4season yellow karrimat
  • Gaiters: Blacks- red cordura
  • Waterproofs - yellow PVC 'oilskin' jacket! (Replaced with a Regatta PVC nylon cagoule that initially came to my knees) Nylon pu over trousers which leaked.
  • Stove - Army hexi, swiftly followed by a camping gaz bleuet, then a trangia.
  • Fibre pile jacket from the market
  • Breeches - Homemade from corduroy jeans by Mum.
  • Socks -2 pairs obviously! One long and pulled up or down depending on weather, the other short and turned down.
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Section Hiker
Looking back to 1993,my first hiking holiday was kind of suicide mission. I (18 years old) planned three weeks in Norway (end of May/June) with almost no money at all (best country for cheap holidays).My gear list afair (all prices in DeutschMark :biggrin:):
Tent: Noname tent from Aldi (29,99 DM)
Backpack:Noname external frame backpack 100l in purple and pink (gift from a friend)
Sleeping bag: Noname fibre with comfort temperature about 25°C (10 DM) or so
Sleeping mat: Noname from a beach holiday
Stove: NONE !!! (Who needs warm food and drinks in the Fjell ???):rolleyes:
Boots: Meindl (can´t remember the name,but quite good,lightweight boots)
Shirts/Underwear: 10 (!!!) cotton T-shirts and boxers from my stock
Socks: 5 pairs of tennis socks and 3 pairs woolen socks made by my grandmother
Pants:2 pairs of stylish camo-pants (US-Army ???) for 20 DM
Waterproof:Noname nylon jacket (NOT waterproof),no rainpants ,no gaiters
Insulation:2 cotton-sweatshirts (anyone remembers Chipie ???)

If anyone misses maps or compass ,there were none.:biggrin:

Well,after 4 days in the Hardangervidda with more than one near death experience in rain and hail ,lack of food and insulation I changed plans and managed to return to the train station in Geilo and do the rest of the trip on a ScanRail-Ticket.After recovering from the Cold I got it changed into a very nice holiday with a lot of sightseeing,but no trekking .Strange...
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Thru Hiker
1973, aged 16.

Tent Bukta Linnet.
Pack an external frame karrimor.
Sleeping bag, one with a zip around the edge so it could be used as a quilt when not camping. Filled with tissue paper I think.
Mat? What's one of those?
Waterproofs Peter Storm PU coated.
Boots another one for Hawkins walkins.
Stove Camping Gaz bluey.
Jeans, checked cotton shirt, wooly jumper.
Raven food.
Managed Offas Dyke with that lot.


Late 80's: BLOODY AWFUL Daisy Roots boots, a fading orange 70s cagoule that reached to my teenage knees, musty scout tent, karrimor external frame pack, camping gaz bluet stove, an 'arctic' cotton and down sleeping bag from the mid 70s and I presume some form of cheap karrimat.

then a gap when I didn't do anything

Early 90s: salomon boots, eurohike cheap tent, buffalo special 6 shirt, the same sleeping bag, at least at first


Staff member
Late 70's, about 16yo.

Tent: Aust Army hootchie tarp
Pack: Aust Army Vietnam Pack
Sleeping bag: Roman branded envelope supposedly good for -2* (yeah right)
Sleeping mat: generic inflateable
Boots: lower calf length work boots
Clothes: US Army combat trous cut off just above the knee, cotton t-shirt, blue flannel shirt and a blue wool jumper. (I must have looked a right laugh)
Hat: big floppy leather broad brimmed thing.
Socks: very cheap synthetic.
Stove: Hexi + a pair of mess tins
Waterproof: big bin bag with holes cut in the right places


Thru Hiker
If we're talking days out in the woods/hills then I was about 10 and it was just what I had on that day.

If we're talking camping I was 13/14 and it was what I had on. My mates dad's family tent, indoor sleeping bag and some drink.

With my own gear and not primarily to get drunk without getting caught I was 19 and I wore joggers, Nike court shoes and a cotton t-shirt. An £8 tesco value dome tent, £12 Halfords sbag and £4 ccf. cooked on a fire with my dads mess tins.

First backpacking trip was about 3 1/2 years ago (so I was 23) I slept in a hammock and I'd spent quite a lot of money to have a half decent setup.

Imperial Dave

Section Hiker
late 70s/early 80's

Adventure 1 tent with telescopic front and rear poles!
Hi-tec mid (trainer) boots
wool jumper
Peter Storm cagoule
corduroy trousers
wool knee length socks
wool balaclava
YHA own brand sleeping bag
multimat foam mat


Thru Hiker
Late 80's, early 90's;

Brown Vango C-frame 2/3 man tent or hammock and army poncho.
Steel pegs.
Zamberlan boots.
Blacks 70l rucksack/ Karrimor 20l
camping Gaz Bluet/Trangia 27
Brown rectangular 3 season bag with metal zip.
PVC waterproofs
Big knife
Another big knife
Big torch with 4 x D cells or one of those huge batteries with spring terminals. The moon was brighter, on a cloudy night.
Mums old alu backpacking pan set (still lighter than any alu set I've every found)
Foam roll mat of some description.


Summit Camper
On my first trip to the lakes I had borrowed a tent from an uncle. It was a ex army ridge tent and weighed a ton, in fact it took up one whole large rucksack and all our gear was in the other one. We wild camped over looking Coniston on our first night and it chucked it down for hours. The tent was so heavy when it was wet that we struggled to carry it. The next day we got ourselves to Rosthwaite and booked into the Royal Oak. They let us hang the tent up in a barn to dry and we left it there for the rest of the week and only collected it the day we were leaving.


Staff member
Vango Force Ten mk2
Millets unbranded synthetic sleeping bag (total rubbish)
No sleeping mat
SkyPack framed rucksack (no hip belt)
Doc Martens boots (from jumble sale)
Cotton lumberjack shirt
Optimus petrol stove (in the days when you could get a pint of petrol from a garage)
Peter Storm waterproof sweat box jacket

First trip was a week around Exmoor. Luckily, it didn't rain.

Dirty Boots

Summit Camper
Dating from the mid-00's. So not very exotic. Most of it picked up in Rock Bottom in Betws y Coed or random outfitters in Mexico and Arizona. Mostly used on Mexican volcanoes and in the US.

  • Bright blue B1 La Sportiva boots. Complete overkill but they were very cheap and looked great. I still have them somewhere.
  • Craghoppers convertible Kiwis. I hated them. The zip chafed and upgrading to stretch trousers a few years later was a revelation.
  • A big, heavy Berghaus fleece. Melted it sat by a fire.
  • A Sprayway Goretex jacket. Not really useful on the hill with a flappy detachable hood and awful baggy mesh liner that kept snagging on everything.. Eventually failed me completely in a storm at 4500m :(.
  • Smelly Helly base layers.
  • A power stretch Prana beanie
  • A really rather good Salomon Primaloft jacket. Also suffered an early demise from sitting around next to campfires...
  • Bright red polartec fleece gloves
  • A ridiculous Helly Hansen rubberised down jacket bought for about £20 from the states. Was warm, very warm. Too warm for Denali NP in -20, so didn't get much use tbh.
  • Leki trekking poles.
  • A huge, yet really comfy, 70odd litre MacPac rucksack bought for travelling a few years earlier. Lasted through some sustained years of rough use. Too big and heavy ultimately but the build quality couldn't be faulted.
  • Black Diamond crampons that despite the Mexican salesperson fitting to my boots turned out to be C2s and to pop off in use. Grrr. Mistake learned quickly. Though the Stubai ice axe bought at the same time still serves me well.
  • A $20 Walmart tent that was binned after one soppy wet night and replaced by a Kelty 2P that still gets occasional use.
  • A Marmot Down Bag. Not knowing any better I tried hand washing it in a bathtub in Mexico :D :(
  • Classic Thermarest. Still in the cupboard somewhere.
  • A flick knife.
  • A rabbit skin hat.
  • Trangia (quickly ditched for what I think was the Kovea equivalent of a pocket rocket).
The main consolation is that none of it cost very much...


Thru Hiker
Mid 80's

Litchfield combat 2 tent
Cobmaster external framed pack
Stinky Army hexi stove
Bluet gas stove
Mess tins
Ccf pad
Cheapo sleeping bag
Hi Tec trail mid boots
Regatta waterproofs
Knock-off Rambo knife ( £4 from a Blackpool tat shop)
Flint and magnesium fire starter
Puritab chlorine tablets
Orange plastic survival bag
Pifco torch
Big soup, pot noodles, tinned pineapple, rice pudding.

Arne L.

Thru Hiker
My first trip was somewhere in 2007, along the West Highland Way (off course...).

Since I'd visited the Alps as a kid plenty of times and walked around bit over there, I was pretty sure I had mastered the art of backpacking.


- My pack, bag and sleeping pad all came from the Aldi and the latter two hanged on the outside of my pack (off course...). It was gear I used at the festivals, and since I managed to carry it from the busstop to the festival-camping, I saw no reason why it couldn't be carried to Fort William accross the Highlands as well.

- I didn't own any boots nor had I the budget. I started out with regular Vans-shoes I wore daily but my friends persuaded me into heavy waterproof boots at the Sports Direct (I think) in Glasgow. (off course...). I could easily have done the whole thing on my Vans!

- Halfway the trip my hipbelt buckle broke. I tied up the cord. It didn't really work all that well.

- I carried two aluminium 1L flasks and we carried 5L water each (which was bought at a Tesco) because we were sure we'd die if we'd drank water from other sources. We also carried whiskey because Scotland.

- We shared a 8 kilo 3 persons-tent (from the Aldi, off course) amongst 3 persons, but the tent actually was too small and the floor started to leak during the second night. It didn't really bother me. Oh yeah, we also carried a huge vinyl-esque tarp. Because I don't really know why.

- I did the whole thing wearing cotton shirts. My mum advised me to take a fresh one for each day. So I carried 7 shirts, 7 pair of socks, 7 boxers, 3 sweaters and 3 pants (2 were jeans). No ****.

- I only had a free 'Ronde van Vlaanderen'-poncho which was a gift in the newspaper. It shredded on the third day.

- I forgot cutlery, a pot and a bowl.

But we did made it, and it was great.

After that I did several bike trips troughout Europe but my gear was still relatively heavy (Thermarest Prolite Plus, Rab Ascent 400-bag, MSR Hubba Hubba HP (GREAT tent though), GSI cooking gear, MSR-stove...).

When I re-started backpacking (somewhere in 2012) I bought a Fjällraven Kajka 85 because I thought it was probably the best backpack in the world.
I had to bail out during the 4 Headwaters Trail in Swiss because of illness, but I'm sure the 25 kg on my back could have something to do with it.

Rog Tallbloke

Thru Hiker
Late 70s

Ultimate 'tramp' tent 4lb10oz
Arctic 'Baffin' down bag - no hood.
Berghaus 'Serac' 30L frameless pack
'Experimental' preheating butane stove using 'epigas' screw on cylinders
4 pint alloy cookpot (big enough for a stewed rabbit)
Scarpa 'Bronzo' hefty boots
Berghaus 'Thor' neoprene lined jacket
String vest and looseweave thin lambswool jersey
De-proofed & cut-down light nylon cag 'windshirt'
Crappy chinese plastic torch 2xAA glow-worm
Home-waxed waterproof matches
Sheath knife


Thru Hiker
Late 90's
Eurohike lightweight 2 man tunnel tent ~2.6kg
Cheap massive sleeping bag no mat
Eurohike 55l rucksack
Chinese trangia copy stove and pans
Packamac and jumper
I still have the tent and rucksack and they are still usable.
My 'ultralight ' period started whilst on a 5 week trip hitch hiking round southern Europe and morocco with a 25l lowe alpine pack which shocked other backpackers. I remember saying next trip I'd just take a tooth brush and a credit card ☺


Thru Hiker
1970 ish....
Pack; an army duffel with some straps stitched on & 1/2 a CCF mat inside.
SB; army surplus summer weight thingy.
Stove; 1/2 pint brass Primus.
Pot; 1 pint aluminium billy.
Shelter; Lime kilns, derelict buildings, mine/ cave entrances, barns, bus shelters OR a big orange poly bag.

Many a weekend spent on the N.York Moors, Dales & Lake District.


Summit Camper
Early on for day walk I bought an army belt and 3 pouches from a surplus shop. The pouches had heavy duty wire "hooks" which slotted into holes in the belt. I used one pouch for a water bottle, one for food and one for my pac a mac. When the belt started to annoy me I would just sling it over my shoulder and move the pouches to different slots to balance it.


Section Hiker
Ha, I´m relieved that most of us had this funny low-tech gear .Sometimes you meet people who spent 5 grand because it was recommended by the friendly guy at the outdoorshop...;)


cycled to spain when i was 16---claude butler bike --5 gears although if anything remotely looked like a hill i got off and pushed it up---french andre jamet bright orange 2 man tent---very heavy cotton ridge tent with ridge pole---well suited to france with 4 or 5 inches clearance between fly and inner and fly not going to the ground so it kept cool (relatively)---heavy high bath tub floor for those odd summer monsoons---2 woolen blankets for sleeping---clothes---just normal clothes + a cagoule and-- best and worst piece of clothing---a pair of lederhosen shorts---wonderfully comfitable for cycling ---terrible for shopping---i lived on bread/cheese and fruit and each morning i would stop in a small village to buy bread---the boulangerie would be full of old french ladies dressed in black mostly just chatting---i would be ignored and ignored---finally someone would ask allemande??---non anglais---i was very small and although i was 16 probably looked between 12- 14 --where are you going?----spain---alone??---oui toute seule----suddenly i would be surrounded by concerned clucking ladies----i would leave my new friends---20 minutes to buy a loaf and tomorrow it was going to be exactly the same
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Rog Tallbloke

Thru Hiker
My first outings used the same orange canvas ridge tent tent but with the Marechal badge on it. It must have weighed a stone at least - dry. My mate had to carry the food rations, including lots of tins of beans. At least his pack got lighter as the week passed. We lugged this stuff about 7 miles a day. Primus stove, aluminium army flasks, and all the other heavy old crap we found in the cellar.

I did well on the paper round christmas tips that year and bought my beloved Ultimate 'Tramp' tent and a nylon shelled down sleeping bag. Then my new found older backpacking pal showed me how to keep spare water in polybags, and got me to dump the primus for a gas stove. Bliss...