Something I wrote for my backpacking primer:
Quality Gear on the Cheap: If you read those glossy outdoor magazines, you'd think you need a $300 pack, a $300 shell and $300 fleece. You do not need expensive gear to enjoy backpacking. Often the brand name, besides being expensive is heavy, bulky and overkill for what is supposed to be for the simple joy of walking.
Though written for the Appalachian Trail, the general concepts apply for quality gear on the cheap:
http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthr ... post206678
Some additional information I will add is that you should invest in a decent sleeping bag. The Campmor down bag is $110, rated to 20F
and is known as a good budget bag.
http://www.campmor.com/webapp/wcs/store ... d=12500226
If you are looking for a light, compressible and warm jacket check out an army liner jacket
(mentioned in the above article, but deserves to be emphasized) : http://tinyurl.com/2dfgpk
Finally, for high altitude/desert hiking I suggest a long sleeve polyester dress shirt for the princely sum of $4 from
many thrift stores. I've used this type of shirt for literally several thousand miles of backpacking.
If you want a, er, colorful take on alternative gear, check out
http://www.pmags.com/joomla/index.php?o ... &Itemid=33