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.

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* to be updated (last updated 2015-3)

equipment review


  • REI Ridgeline 65  (John)- 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 (John) – 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.
    • current version
  • REI Crestrail 65 XS (Meg) – 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.

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


  • 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. It is a pretty common problem and I was able to fix it using youtube tutorials.
  • Lenses
    • Sony SEL-P1650 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 – kit lens purchased with camera body, breaks easily but manually fixed
    • 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