I read all the posts (at the time of writing this) and I'm actually PLEASED to see consistently good advice/opinions across all posts in this thread so far! (Shocked? None more than I!) 😉

Half my family is in law, the other half in realestate (in one form or another, including construction), so I know the old conundrum of "speed - quality - cost", more to the point, "weight - quality - cost (and multi-use)." But like first-aid kits, that depends.

Before everything/anything else, you FIRST need to decide what KIND of hiker you want to be: day hiker, distance hiker, wilderness hiker or bushwhaker. THAT will tell you what qualities you will look for first.

If you want to be a distance hiker (PCT, ACT, CDT, etc.), you'll likely want light or ultralight gear... in between hotel rooms, care packages, pizza and beer, movies, etc. So, while a distance trek is typically not that hard on ultralight gear, you can expect more cost, and frankly, less durability! And unless you're wreakless, that gear will likely stand you in good stead.

I'm a wilderness hiker, I spend weeks, or a month or more, in the backcountry, MILES from the nearest hotel room or pizza or even from the nearest person and I'm almost always SOLO. So my priority is QUALITY! (durability and dependability). I can't have gear failing at critical times, particularly if that gear is life-dependent! Weight is, of course, important too, but that becomes a factor when I'm shopping two pieces of gear of similar quality.

Cost is a DISTANT third!! (for me). The cold, hard fact is "Good gear costs good money." On the other hand, I don't mind spending money, but I DO mind wasting money! Thankfully, REI has a stellar return policy!! No questions asked!!!


Earlier in the year, I picked up a ultralight tent and hammock, not surprisingly, they failed (tore, broke, etc.) It's NOT that they were badly designed or of poor quality, I'm just hard on gear (Hard use, not AB-use) and I feel those pieces of gear are just meant for a different kind of hiker. That's why I require quality gear!