A counter-intuitive LBYM strategy: One thing to consider with outdoor gear (and stuff in general) is how often you are going to use it over the lifetime of the product. I prefer to buy quality stuff (which may initially be quite expensive) and then use it for a long time. My MEC sleeping bag cost an "outrageous" $105 CDN when I was 10, but that was (*sigh*) 18 years ago and I'm still using it. The other reason to pony up for better gear is that if you have a miserable experience because of a tent that leaked, or a paddle that broke or boots that chaffed, you won't have much fun and won't be likely to use the stuff again. For some good quality stuff at reasonable prices, try www.mec.ca (Mountain Equipment Co-op). This Canadian company has a terrific mail order serivce. And paying with US dollars will get you a 35-40% discount because of the exchange rate.
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