How To Budget for Expedition Gear
By Jessica Cunningham
So, you want to go on an outdoor expedition, cut your teeth, test your skills, or challenge yourself to something bigger than you’ve ever done before. You have a dream brewing in the back of your mind of where and when you want to go. Now it’s time to put some parameters on this dream, how much is it going to cost and what exactly should I spend my money on? Everyone is going to have a different budget, some are going to be more shoe-string and others are going to be a little more extravagant. Both are good and both can lead to incredible adventures and experiences. Only you can set your budget. But here are some guidelines on where we suggest to budget the most funds.
Your most important item on any outdoor expedition is shelter. According to Arctic explorer Will Steger, “You can survive just about anything so long as you have a good tent.” A high quality tent is Will’s number one priority on any expedition. You need a tent that will withstand any conditions that are possible for the area you are going. Plan for the worst and you will have the peace of mind knowing you can endure anything that comes your way. Cheap gear is prone to fail when you need it most.
The next most important part of a trip is sleep. You are pushing yourself every day and you need to get quality sleep in order to continue functioning at your best. You already have the best tent, so you know you are at least not exposed to the elements. Now you want to sleep as comfortably as possible. There are multiple sleeping systems depending on the weather and temperatures you are planning to come up against. In the extreme cold you will want warmth and a vapor barrier liner to keep the bag dry. In the tropics you will want bug nets to keep bugs (and their diseases) from getting to you while you sleep. Bike-packer and former athlete Marie Soleil-Blais would sleep in vapor barrier clothing inside a smaller sleeping bag that way she could be warm even once she got up.
Footwear is an extremely important piece of any expedition. You want to make sure that you have the footwear that will last the longest, be the most comfortable, and is most suited to the conditions you are heading towards. Don’t skimp on shoes, not all are created equal and you will either be very happy or extremely upset depending on what you put on your feet.
Every trip is going to be different, are you having gear shipped to you at resupply points? Are you going fully unsupported? Will it be close to civilization or really remote? All of these and so much more will determine which bits of gear are most important for you to spend more money on and which you can skate by on good-enough gear rather than the most high-quality. Water filters, dehydrated meals, sleds or boats, clothes, packs, ropes, GPS, and more. Take a look at what type of expedition you are going on and what pieces are most essential for your survival or personal comfort, make a list of everything you are going to need. Then rearrange that list from the most important for survival at the top and then becoming less important the further down the list you get. Then budget the most you can towards the items at the top of the list and save on things further down the list.