Getting Started Backpacking
Learning to Camp and Backpack can be daunting task for those starting out. Many theories and beliefs are floating around in cyberspace that it can be almost impossible to sort out the information. Scouting Stresses affordability and quality. For a few hundred dollars a scout and adult can be outfitted with a complete backpacking system. When purchasing equipment we recommend allotting most of your budget on your backpack and your sleeping bag.
Since you will be carrying all your gear in your pack, it is crucial that you have a pack that fits properly and is comfortable. A basic pack should have a hip belt, shoulder straps, adjustment straps, and a frame.
Internal vs External
Most of technology is being developed in internal frame packs so we recommend purchasing a internal frame pack to take advantage of the the newest technologies. Internal frame packs are usually more stable and can be lighter. external packs can haul more weight but are less stable.
A sleeping bag should be warm comfortable and fit properly. There are hundred of choices available. Things to keep in mind when shopping for a sleeping bag is Size, Pack Size, Weight and Material Construction
Sleeping bags can range from 50 dollars to over a thousand dollars, many bags have subtle difference that make it hard to tell apart. Below we will try to break things down to make it easier to make the right choice.
Price point is usually the largest decision fact for people. a reasonable bag will usually cost from 80-200 dollars depending on the features and construction.
Temperature Rating: what the bag is rated too is crucial. while there is not a universal standard on testing for Bag temperature rating, manufacturers quoted temperature is close enough to go off of. what temperature you need is based on your bodies physiology. for a typical person I recommend a 20-30 degree bag for 3-4 season camping. If you sleep warm you can get a bag with a higher temperature rating. If you sleep cold you should get one with a lower temperature rating.
Weight: I recommend getting a bag that weigh less than three pounds to keep your overall pack weight down.
Pack size: Pack size should be kept at minimum.
Insulation Materials: there is a lot of discussion over synthetic materials vs Down for insulation. Synthetic weighs more per heating value and doesn't compress as well, but it dries out quicker and retains some heating value when wet. Down Is lighter compresses easier and is more durable, but it retains almost no thermal value when wet and is more expensive than synthetic bags.
Construction: Construction of the sleeping bag can have a huge affect on durability and comfort.
See http://www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/sleeping+bag+backpacking.html For more information.
Fitting a Pack
Video on Measuring your torso.