updated 3/22/2015

Part of backpacking and hiking is about the swag, and getting deals on swag. An issue I find with cheap swag is that there is a lack of reviews on them. This section of the webpage is where I try to do my part in reviewing the swag we have.

Key: J for John, M for Meg

no taxes, shipping, or free credit included in prices listed


  1. backpacks
  2. tents
  3. sleeping bags
  4. sleeping pads
  5. footwear
  6. cameras

equipment list


  • REI Ridgeline 65  (J)- owned since 2008 and retired to backup, bought new for $120 at REI
    • This was my backpack from when I first started on our first trip to Yosemite to it’s last in Patagonia. It is pretty much retired at this point with the top zipper fallen off and duct tape to hold a lining at the top. It didn’t provide much in terms of airflow on my back, but that was welcome in the cold climates. It had the necessary pockets with weighing only about 5-6 pounds. It has served me well for 7 years.
  • Osprey Aether 70 2008 version (J) – owned since 2015 and my current backpack, bought barely used for $140 from others
    • Haven’t actually backpacked with this yet, only some traveling and day hiking. It sits comfortably as far as I can tell. This being an old version, I do miss some of the pockets.
  • REI Crestrail 65 XS (M) – owned since 2015 and Meg’s current backpack, bought new for $160 at REI
    • We got this for Meg and she hasn’t had a complaint about it. There are so many pockets, it makes me a little jealous. We’ve taken this more for traveling more because of that.
  • Camelpak Trinity Hydration Pack 100 fl. oz. inc bladder – owned since 2011 and our current daypack, bought new for $33 at
    • I got it for the bladder, but it has served as a nice day pack and as a carryon when traveling light. The built in rain cover has also been nice.


  • ALPS Mountaineering Edge 2 Tent – owned since 2011 and retired 2016, bought new for $76.93 at clearance
    • This tent has held up well through the years, including putting up with the Patagonia winds. It was simple to set up and provide good protection as a nice 3 season tent. We’ve recently lost the poles and I can’t find the stakes either. So, time to retire this nice beginner tent. Though, I will look to replace it for a light 3 season tent.
  • Sierra Designs Convert 2 – owned since 2015, bought new for $455.98 at theclymb
    • We haven’t been anywhere that demanded a 4 season tent yet. I wouldn’t have bought this if it wasn’t for winning $500 from a sweepstake.

sleeping bags

  • Marmot 15F Wizard Sleeping Bag Synthetic – owned since 2011, bought new for $95.62 at
  • Kelty Cosmic Down 20 – owned since 2015, bought used for $40 at REI garage sale

  • Therm-A-Rest 0F Adara Down Sleeping Bag 750 Fill Power for Women (M) – owned since 2014, bought new for $239.97 from
  • Sierra Designs Zissou 6 700 Fill DriDown Sleeping Bag 6 Degree Down Skipper – owned since 2014, bought new for $209.99 from

sleeping pads

  • ALPS Mountaineering Foam Sleeping Mat – owned since 2011 and broken since 2014, bought new for $8.93 from
    • A foam roll, cheap insulator on the ground. Worked for me, but had to learn to sleep on my back.
  • Big Agnes Oak Street Air Core Sleeping Pad Regular – owned since 2014, bought new for $33.77 from
  • Big Agnes Oak Street Air Sleeping Pad Regular, Insulated – owned since 2014, bought new for $44.97 from

boots and hiking shoes

  • Asolo FSN 95 Gore-Tex hiking Boots Waterproof for Men Size 8.5W (J) – owned since 2011 and usable still but worn down and retired, bought new for $104.96 from
  • Columbia Footwear PFG Reel Deal Sport Sandals for Men Size 9 (J) – owned since 2011 and haven’t worn again since then, bought new for $30.22 from
    • This was terrible, no support and make my feet hurt for days after walking only a mile or so. My opinion on Columbia is bad
  • Hi-Tec Natal Mid Hiking Boots for Men Size 9W (J) – owned since 2011, bought new for $22.50 from
    • This has been relegated to everyday snow boots for visiting up north in the winter. It’s a nice fit, but not tough enough to with-stand backpacking. After hiking with it for 9 miles, the sides begin to slant.
  • Asolo Predator Trail Running Shoes for Men Size 9 (J) – owned since 2012 and very worn down, bought new for $46.20 from
    • These were my default trailrunner and day hike shoes. I was looking to replace this but my Chacos might have taken that role (see below).
  • Vasque Taku Gore-Tex hiking Boots Waterproof for Men Size 8.5W (J) – owned since 2013 and retired after 2 backpacking trips, bought new for $69.57 from
    • These were dissapointing. After 2 treks, it broke in 2014 as the front rubber separated from the boot rendering it useless as a waterproof boot.
  • Mammut Kootenay 5 Hiking Boots Leather for Women Size UK5N (M) – owned since 2013, bought new for $85.22 from
    • This was Meg’s first backpacking boot. The fitting took a little to figure out as it was in european sizes. She thought it was comfortable, but after backpacking in it, it rubbled up against the back of her heal giving her bad blisters. Also it is full on leather so it is a little heavier. It is still her boot, but she tends to like the waterproof trailrunners better for backpacking.
  • Teva Surge eVent Trail Shoes Waterproof for Women Size 8M (M) – owned since 2014, bought new for $46.15 from
    • Meg swears by this shoe as it has nice ankle stablizers and didn’t give her any blisters through the O circuit at Patagonia. However, after 2 years of ware, a hole has developed in the front where the rubber meets the shoe, making the waterproofing useless. We are looking to replace it for her.
  • Asolo Synchro Gore-Tex Hiking Boots Waterproof for Men Size 9W (J) – owned since 2014, bought new for $101.97 from
    • These are my default backpacking boat. It is good, but it feels not as supporting as my first Asolo FSN95.
  • Chaco Z/1 Unaweep Sandals for Men Size 8W (J)- owned since 2015, bought new for $32.65 from
    • This has been my go to for warm weather hiking. It is awesome for rain and keeps my feet cool.
  • Teva Surge eVent Trail Shoes Waterproof for Men Size 9.5M (J) – owned since 2015, bought new for $38.98 from
    • This is very narrow for me, but I bought it out of curiousity and because Meg raves about it.


  • Various Iphones – it does a decent job and the software gets the contrast better sometimes then my cameras, rather my camera skills.
  • Canon Powershot SX130 12.1 MegaPixels – owned since 2011 and retired, bought new for ~$120 at Best Buy
    • It was a good first camera with some manual options for me to play around with. Also ran out AA batteries, so never needed to pack specifically for it.
  • GoPro Hero3+ Silver – owned since 2014, bought new for $300 at REI
    • Underwater camera useful for rainy times and diving. I have not regretted this for a small compact device that takes decent pictures.
  • Sony Alpha a6000 24.3MP Silver InterCH.Lens Camera w/ 16-50mm Power Zoom – owned since 2015 and had to exchange because of malfunction in first 30 days, bought open boxed for $542.30 from
    • I have a love and hate relationship with this camera. I like that it is light and takes very good pictures. However after a year, the stock lens malfunctioned as I bumped it. Looking online, the stock Sony Alpha series lenses are very finicky. Not cool for a camera looking to be the best for low weight, high quality camera. I currently have to replace the lens.
  • Lenses
    • Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8 Prime Fixed Lens – owned since 2016, bought used for $335.00 on ebay
    • Samyang 12mm F2.0 NCS CS Ultra Wide Angle Lens Sony E-Mount – owned since 2016, bought new for $283.99 on ebay