Are You a Backpacker or Have you Been to Israel?

Ein Gedi

I’m planning a one-month retreat to the Ein Gedi area near the Dead Sea.

I’m going to spend time living in hostels as well as camping on the beach, which is free.

Some questions:

What do you recommend as far as backpacks go? Tents? I’ll be traveling in March. Keep in mind I’ll need to travel “ultra lite” style, sort of like those guys who do the Appalachian Trail.

If I rent a car, will I be able to find easy overnight parking in Ein Gedi? There’s parking at the Ein Gedi beach during the day. Can you leave a car parked overnight?

Is fresh produce readily available? I can live off of hummus, chicken, olives, and rice if not.

If any of you are Israelis and want to meet up, let me know. I’m going to detox (and will be spending lots of time on the beach and covered in dead sea mud) but of course will want to check out Tel Aviv, etc.

If you don’t feel comfortable posting a comment, hit me up via email: playdangerously at gmail.

  • Revo Luzione

    I am a backpacker, and have used every variety of gear over the last 17 years of backpacking, starting when I was a teenager.

    I could recommend some really high end, super light gear, like the stuff I use for big game hunting, but the reality is that GoLite makes very good backpacks and tents for the price. I would recommend both their ultralite pack here: http://www.golite.com/Jam-70L-Pack-Unisex-P46813.aspx

    and their basic two-man tent, found here: http://www.golite.com/Shangri-La-2-Tent-P46826.aspx

    They are made of the state of the art materials and have a very good warranty. Their stuff is super light, and tough enough. There is lighter stuff, and there is cheaper stuff, and there is stronger stuff, but nobody really balances the equation as well as GoLite. They may have an outlet store near you, if so, I recommend going in person so you can get your hands on it, try it out, put a test load in it, walk around in the loaded pack, and see if it’s for you.

    You could get a smaller, lighter one-man tent, or even a poncho which can be used to make a rain shelter, but those are a bit too cozy and not private enough for my taste, especially if you have a tent-mate for the night, which I imagine you might. The poncho for sure is the lightest arrangement, and cheap too. Look in the shelters section of their page.

    I’m guessing you already have a backpack & sleeping pad since you didn’t ask for recommendations. If you haven’t got them already, I’d say don’t skimp on those, the extra comfort is worth it. The best way to get sleep gear that works for you is to go to REI and try out a few sleeping bag/pad combos, and get the stuff that feels best for your physique. A good sleeping bag & pad will last you a decade or more of moderate use, and will last indefinitely if you only use it a few times a year.

    Sounds like a rad adventure, I hope you’ll keep your readers abreast of your adventures.

    • Danger & Play

      I’m always impressed by the knowledge you guys drop!

      I don’t have a sleeping mat.

      I “camped” a lot doing Army training but never recreationally. So I know how to hump a ruck, load one up for weight distribution, and can sleep outside with just a pup tent and sleeping pad.

      Any input you can offer would be great.

      • Revo Luzione

        I would look at the temperature range of this trip, and other trips you’re likely to go on. In warmer weather, when the low temperatures don’t drop below 45-50 degrees, a sleeping bag isn’t needed but it does make it more comfortable. The Appalachian trail guys often just use small blankets, which works well in warmer weather.
        But my guess is, that once you buy the gear and have a good experience, you’ll want more, so a lightweight sleeping bag is probably a good investment.
        With the sleeping pad/mat, the inflatable ones are more comfortable than the foam ones, and easier to pack, too. I like the Nemo brand inflatable pads, but the industry standard are from Thermarest. You can’t go wrong with either. If you do decide to get a sleeping bag, there are some that are made to connect to the pad, and those are great because you don’t slip off them while sleeping.

  • Euro

    I’ve lived in Israel semi-permanently.

    Now: Any backpack will do. Don’t be a tech yuppie. Its just something you wear on your back. As long as its big enough you’ll be fine. After all you’re a man.

    Israelis, especially kibbutzniks (Ein Gedi is a kibbutz), love salads. There’ll be plenty of fresh produce around.

    Don’t stay that long at Ein Gedi. It’s a nice location but it’s just water with a lot of salt in. Dead sea salt is a scam for old women that believe in horoscopes. Go to Tel Aviv and party instead.

    If you go to Tel Aviv: Stay in the Florentine Hostel. Its literally one of the best party hostels in the world. Probable the recent Gaza War and other Mid East problems the ration of guys/girls have been steered in the wrong direction, but its still really cool. You’ll meet people, be in ann hip environment, the staff will most likely go out with you after their shifts etc. I know cause I’ve worked there.

    Don’t sleep on the beach in Tel Aviv. While you’ll be physically safe (Tel Aviv is super low street-crime) there’s a high probability someone will steal from you.

    You don’t need a car. Public transportation is cheap and comprehensive. just grab the bus.

    • Revo Luzione

      The “don’t be a tech yuppie advice” is solid, if a person is only going to use a pack a few times. I use a pack for lots of different purposes, and they get used weekly or more often in summer months, so it pays to have good gear. The worst thing would be to get a cheap backpack and then have it rip in the field and then need to use some ghetto fix like duct tape. Good equipment lasts.

  • Some guy

    REI makes great products that last forever and are relatively inexpensive and not fussy. Don’t buy any North Face shit.

  • Andrew

    Ein Gedi is cool for about an hour. I wouldn’t waste any more time there than that. If you want solace and scenery for some kind of retreat, there are any number of better places to go.

    Tel Aviv is mediocre for nightlife, especially because the women are not very attractive. I recommend Beirut instead.

    Jerusalem is an absolute must if you have any kind of respect for or interest in places of historical importance.

    Are you Jewish?