086: BUDGET: The Spending Episode

Show Notes: Episode 086

Today on the First 40 Miles, BUDGET: The Spending Episode. Does a budget truly limit us, or does it save us from stupid purchases we would make if we had unlimited resources? Today you’ll hear how Josh and Heather work through budgeting decisions when it comes to backpacking gear. For today’s SUMMIT Gear Review, if you want easy access to 7 liters of M&Ms, we’ve got the perfect pack for you. Then on today’s Backpack Hack of the Week, seventeen cents doesn’t go very far in today’s world, but on the trail it gets you through another day. And we’ll wrap up the show with a little trail wisdom from our good friend on the trail, Horace Kephart.


  • Budgeting has a bad reputation
  • The word brings up feelings of restraint, loss of freedom and no fun
  • Most everyone, has to deal with the very real limitations of a budget–and can cause some discomfort, dissatisfaction and frustration.
  • How much does it cost to go backpacking?
  • Prioritizing spending
  • Making do with what you’ve got: day pack, heavy tent, bulky sleeping bag, cotton clothes. no budget for freeze dried food
  • On a budget? Go in the summertime.

Top 5 Ways We’ve Worked Through Budget Decisions

Set a budget

  • A budget is awesome because it gives you permission to spend.
  • Most of us view budgets as spending limits
  • Money can roll over to the next month, but not be taken from a future month

Be realistic about what features you need

  • It’s easy to be dazzled by fancy new gadgets that have all the latest features
  • It’s so easy, as new technologies emerge, to forget that backpackers from long ago, were out in the woods with a waxed canvas pack, a loaf of crusty bread, and a canteen.
  • There is nothing wrong with geeking out on features, but if you’re working through budget decisions, then get real about what features are most important

If you’re trying to be persuasive, try the long game

  • If you’re the partner who wants to purchase gear (and your true love is either ambivalent about the purchase or against the purchase) try the long game—patience.
  • Money can be tricky especially when just one spouse wants to move forward on the purchase.
  • Josh took the patient approach on our camera purchase
  • If you’re the one who is wanting to make an important purchase, waiting helps you reassess your true desires. If you wait a month and you’re still determined to make the purchase, then you’re ready to move on to the last two items on today’s top 5 list.

Research a boat load

  • Understand the technology behind it, not just the marketing babble
  • Time spent researching vs. what your time is worth—know when to stop researching your purchase

Start price searching

  • Find prices for new, discount, refurbished, used, past models
  • Find prices at local retailers, and discount online sellers

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Ribz Front Pack


  • Cordura Nylon
  • There are two main pouches, one on the left and one on the right.
  • The main pouch is big enough to fit the Merck Manual of Medical Information (second Home Edition) or a box of Triscuits.
  • Inside of each of those main pouches are 2 mesh pockets
  • On the front of each of the main pouches, are smaller zippered pouches—the perfect size for a point and shoot camera
  • Wide padded shoulder straps that help transfer weight and give the Ribz a comfortable carry


  • Put it on like a life jacket, and it zips in the front
  • Camera, map, sunglasses, snacks, notebook and pencil, medications, batteries, etc.
  • All those items are now easily accessible
  • The Ribz Front Pack doesn’t attach to a pack—it’s a stand-alone front pack, so you definitely can wear this on its own. In fact, if you’ve been looking for an alternative to the fanny pack, this is probably something you should look into. It’s worn higher and closer to your torso, so it won’t give you that slumpy, poochy look.


  • Weighs around 12 ounces depending on what size you order
  • S,M: 7 Liters
  • L, XL: 11 Liters
  • A little heavier than I expected, but it’s designed to be rugged and comfortable


  • Before you put it on, you’ll want to load it up, then adjust the straps
  • The Ribz front pack is completely adjustable, so you can get a great fit—especially important because you’ll be wearing your backpack over this.
  • You’ll want to wear the Ribz above your hip belt—right around the ribcage area
  • For cleaning: Hand wash and air dry


  • $65
  • During the one year warranty period, RIBZ will either repair or replace, at its option, only the defective part of the pack. RIBZ will not repair or replace any pack that has been torn as a result of accidents or misuse.


  • Daypack + Ribs Front Pack may fit all your gear for an overnighter
  • Room for a day’s worth of food, ten essentials, a camera and a quarter roll of toilet paper
  • We like that it’s a separate piece of gear that can be worn independently from a pack.
  • Somewhat awkward to reach into pouches, but much less awkward than removing your entire pack to access your gear
  • It meets a need, it can help you balance out your load, it’s comfortable and it’s a way to conveniently access the things you use most on the trail.

Backpack Hack of the Week™: 17 Cent Dinner

  • Top Ramen is usually 6 for a dollar at many grocery stores
  • That means for 17 cents, you can eat not just Ramen, but Top Ramen
  • Chicken Top Ramen comes in at 380 calories for one package
  • Can be doctored up endlessly with peanut butter, chili sauce, sesame oil, True Lime powder
  • Weighs 3.2 ounces
  • 10 grams protein for the full package
  • 76% of your daily value of sodium
  • If you bring three packs for dinner, try cutting the sodium by using 2 of the seasoning packets.

Trail Wisdom

“It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.” –Horace Kephart