Some great advice from Sheepish.
Making the most of your Outdoor Gear Budget
You might think you'd never hear this from a business selling outdoor gear, but let's face it, getting together a complete backpacking kit can be a considerable investment, so let's consider how to best go about making decisions for gear. One thing I found difficult when putting together my gear was the tendency to concentrate on the super cool accessories at the expense of more vital gear. A common example? Getting several iterations of titanium spoon while not yet having a sleeping bag that doesn't have a Disney character on the front. What's the main problem with having this approach, after all, can't you just get gear over time, as you can afford it? Certainly, but consider the fact that while you can carry a regular tea spoon, you're not quite as likely to get into the outdoors with your futon mattress. Try to place a priority on your essential gear, like your pack, shelter, and sleeping bag, and that will allow you to spend more time outdoors, then you can concentrate on getting the creature comforts just right after you get more experience and learn what your actual needs are.
Shepherd's note: If you are looking to replace that Little Mermaid sleeping bag, now is the time!
What do you think is the one piece of gear you cannot be without when outdoors?