The big three. Pack, Shelter, Sleeping Bag. The evolution of how these items change is, in my experience, due to uncomfortable trips.
I used to have this Kelty synthetic sleeping bag, however I froze my ass off in New Zealand during December 2014 when it snowed on us in the mountains. First thing I did was sell it on Gear Trade (great site if you are in the U.S, unfortunately after moving back to Canada I don’t get the luxury of this site).
I researched and researched and went with a 20 degree ZPack bag I am fairly happy with this bag, though I wish I did the 10 degree version. I also found a 0 degree REI bag on craigslist that had been used once for 100 dollars. I haven’t actually used it yet as my 20F was fine for Rainier and Peru, however I did give it to my husband once when we went camping and he died of over heating 🙂 but I digress. The ZPack’s bag is super light and fits so small. I will do a full review on it soon.
My first tent that wasn’t a piece of crap Canadian Tire monster car camping tent was a four season Terra Nova I got on Craigslist for 100 dollars. It has an issue where the inside of the fly sticks to itself and you have to gently peel it open for it to be spread out, but other then that, the price was a steal. I am in love with free standing tents at this point in my backpacking adventures. I know one day I will get a solo ultra light tent but currently free standing is my luxury, as I don’t have the extra cash for a super duper tent.
I sometimes backpack with friends that visit, as I live in the mountains, so I went with the MSR Hubba Hubba NX. I was really on the fence between it and the Big Agnes Copper Creek UL2 but in the store I made a snap judgement by the feel of the MSR material, it just felt stronger and more durable. I liked the two doors/vestibules and room to store my gear inside.
Packs – At one point I had 5 packs. I have recently downsized that list. A Deuter 35L, Deuter ACT 65+10 and a ULA Circuit pack. The ULA is by far my favourite of the three, and I will do a review of it at a later time. Shaving off the weight, and looking super rad!