Cheap Tent/Backpack worth it?

Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Home Forums Gear Forums Gear (General) Cheap Tent/Backpack worth it?

  • This topic is empty.
Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • Author
  • #1216024
    Bill Bennett


    Hello.. While planning my 5 day/night backcountry hike thru Glacier National Park this September, for two adults, I have a few gear questions.
    I have read Backpacker magazines recent review of gear. I have also found some cheap gear on Ebay, and Im wondering, whats the difference?
    Speaking of tents… this tent on Ebay is a two person 3 season bivy tent, and weighs about 3 pounds… And its selling for about $25… Can I get away with this tent, or do I need to spend more $$ and get something better made? Her is the Ebay item number for the tent…

    Also, Im looking at an ATI backpack, about 5200 Cubic inches, internal frame… Its selling on Ebay for about $45… Do I need to spend $150 plus, for a better backpack. The backpack on Ebay , can be seen under the item number #5178140077 .
    I understand you get what you pay for, but I dont go hiking, especially something like Glacier, very often.
    Any comments or suggestions would be welcome….
    Bill in Florida
    and thanks in advance….

    paul johnson


    Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest

    have you considered buying used gear?

    brands/items would be those well-known to be good performers for the conditions you’ll be encountering. top quality gear is often taken care of very well by the original owners. this might be a better approach than buying little known brands, even though they’re new. however, even “used”, this top quality gear will probably cost a bit more than for the eBay items. just keep in mind gear failure or poor performing gear can ruin an entire trip.

    can anyone else out there point Bill to some good online websites for obtaining used gear?

    sorry, can’t comment on the shelter on eBay as i am unfamiliar with it.

    Mark Verber
    BPL Member


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    > What’s the difference between cheap
    > gear on ebay and expensive stuff
    > listed elsewhere?

    In many cases the difference is much like the difference between a Yugo -vs- a Toyota. Both are cars, one is cheap to buy (but often expensive to maintain), the other is more expensive to buy but has better design, features, is higher quality and will be more reliable.

    Lets look at tents. Texsport is using fiberglass rather than high quality easton poles. A good easton pole will be lighter, more compact, more ridged, and take more force before it breaks when compared to fiberglass poles that ship with “backpacking” tents. What does this mean? In a strong wind an easton pole won’t deform so the walls of the tent will stay tight leaving room in the tent which helps keep you dry and comfy. If the wind is really whipping, a easton pole is much less likely to break. I have been with friends that have had a pole break in the middle of a storm 2 days in. They were not happy campers.

    Higher quality tents will use better materials, have better stitching, will seal the seams (typically), and will have better designs (like using CAD modeling and do real stress analysis) to refine the design for maximum performance.

    If I was looking for a good, cheap tent, I would suggest looking for a lightly used Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight.

    If you really want to go with something like the Texsport bivy I would suggest you check on pricing in your area. These are often carried by sporting good stores. They retail for $34 which means they might be cheaper purchased locally realizing you don’t have to pay shipping.

    On to backpacks. I am not sure if it was the same backpack, but a couple of years ago I was on a trip with a friend who has a backpack which looks just like what was in the ebay picture. He had used it on a few trips without significant problems. But on our trip one of the seams blew out and one of the straps ripped out. Some duct tape, rope, and a needle and tread provided an adaquate repair but this wasn’t wasn’t a lot of fun.

    No matter how quality gear is, it can fail, but it’s a lot more likely with the cheap stuff. Performance of cheaper gear is typically not going to match the better gear. My $145 granite gear pack is *way* more comfortable to carry than any of the cheap packs I have seen (and more comfortable than a number of packs which are more costly as well).

    My recommendation would be to stay away from any of the ultra-cheap equipment. One thing I would suggest is checking with friends to see what you can borrow, and see if there is any stores or clubs nearby which will rent high quality gear. For example, the backpacking club at Stanford will rent a tent and backpack for $15/week.


    BPL Member


    I am not a brand name “whore”. I have purchased both new and used gear; however, quality is paramount because your life may depend on it.

    Note that the Texsport Knollwood’s fabric is not waterproof, but “water repellant”!!! This means it will keep you relatively dry in a few hours of drizzle — but you will have a pond inside if you get a continuous rain overnight. Skip this tent.

    Your tent, pack and shoes are all critical pieces of gear. This day and age, almost all packs are sewn in Asia. Some packs are more expensive because of the brand; however, most packs stick to a pretty stable price range. It’s a very competitive market out there. Expect really cheap packs to cut corners on materials (less durable) and labor (single instead of double stitching, lame reinforcements, etc.).

    I would avoid either extremes of the price spectrum.

    Ezra Johnson


    First I want to reply to the post above me. The comment that your life depends on the gear you have is false. Your life depends on your ability to deal with the situation. The mentality that your life depends on your gear is what makes peoples packs too heavy. Now to respond to the original post. Why go with a tent. Get a sheet of sil nylon. a ground cloth and some stakes. And for a backpack the golite breeze for 45 bucks (last years model) or modify some pack you already have. If your using a tarp you shouldn’t need a frame. Go light it’s cheaper.

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Forum Posting

A Membership is required to post in the forums. Login or become a member to post in the member forums!

Get the Newsletter

Get our free Handbook and Receive our weekly newsletter to see what's new at Backpacking Light!

Gear Research & Discovery Tools