PDA

View Full Version : Old School vs New School



Wolf - 23000
12-12-2013, 20:50
As many of the old timers know, Iím old school when it comes to backpacking. An old rule of thumb in the 1990s was the AT was it cost about a dollar a mile. Now hikers are spending anywhere between $5,000 - $10,000 to do the same trail. I know prices on things have gone up but that is a huge different.

The biggest expenses for hikers have always been food, equipment, and logging. I canít see the cost of food going up that much. I have some new equipment and spend a few extra dollars but not that much compare to the 1990s. Are hikers just staying in hostels more often?

Does anyone have any ideas?

Wolf

Coffee
12-12-2013, 21:04
Over the past 15 years, inflation has averaged around 2.4% based on the CPI index - that means that the price of a typical basket of goods has risen something like 42%. So if the rule of thumb was $1/mile back in 1998, it is reasonable to think that it would cost $1.40-1.50/mile today. However, the cost of fuel is up by quite a bit more than the CPI so anything associated with travel is probably going to be up more.

I've read a lot of skepticism regarding whether $1/mile was realistic even in the 1990s. If we use $1.5/mile, that's a bit over $3,000 for a typical six month hike - or $500/month. Even without eating at lots of restaurants, food is going to consume probably half of that budget. Throw in a hostel stay and a restaurant meal each week and I think a $500/month budget is exhausted.

The gory inflation details: ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/special.requests/cpi/cpiai.txt

mudsocks
12-12-2013, 21:07
I'm not sure 1990 is old school. Regardless the data says the cost of food has increased considerably (http://www.globalsherpa.org/food-prices-crisis) from 1990.
25225

SunnyWalker
12-12-2013, 21:26
AND it is up to you how many motels and hostels you stay at.

Nyte
12-12-2013, 21:26
I wonder, when I see the huge $$ amounts paid by some what they are including. Are they buying all new gear? Figuring in what they paid for gear they already have, but are using? Are they flying first class to get to the start point? Are they planning to buy gourmet label food? Are they including the bills (rent, mortgage, insurance, taxes, etc...) that continue to accrue while on trail? Are they including lost wages?

I really am curious, and I would be interested in a more controlled expense cost; i.e. just actual trail expenses (food, permits, an optional category for things like hostels). It just seems a difficult thing to compare, as many include different things in their cost analysis.

Nodust
12-12-2013, 21:29
I remember seeing that a loaf of bread in 1990 was about $0.70. It is about $2.50 now. Good cost way more.

Big Mac value meal was $2.99. It's over $6 now.

Nyte
12-12-2013, 23:32
I remember seeing that a loaf of bread in 1990 was about $0.70. It is about $2.50 now. Good cost way more.

Big Mac value meal was $2.99. It's over $6 now.

Depends on the loaf of bread. Every grocery store I have been into within the last year still has some brand (usually store or some other off brand) for around a dollar a loaf.

Many staples for hiking can still be gotten fairly inexpensively; mac n cheese for less than a dollar a box (sometimes as low as fifty cents a box), ramen (though many miss the days of ten for a dollar), pasta, instant potatoes (especially if you get it in the box and portion yourself), tuna (though admittedly more than it used to or should be), M&Ms, Snickers, Payday (peanuts, caramel, and salt, hell yeah, long as you can handle the salt), off brand peanut butter, bagels, chocolate bars, cocoa mix...

dmax
12-13-2013, 00:41
There's a lot of hikers paying for slack packs too. A lot of money could be spent once you start that habit.

4eyedbuzzard
12-13-2013, 02:04
I think you have to look at when in the 90's the $1 / mile was realistic (if it was). According to the governments CPI calculator the factor from 1990 to 2013 is $1=$1.79 http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl?cost1=1&year1=1990&year2=2013
But the CPI index doesn't really represent the "basket of goods" hikers are spending on a thru-hike. Retail prices for food have risen more than the CPI. While the relatively small differences of 1% and less per year between CPI and "Food Only CPI" seem negligible, when compounded over a 20+ year period they become substantial. Prices for lodging are also higher. For example, Motel 6 has averaged over 4% per year increases since opening in 1962. They are now typically $66.

MuddyWaters
12-13-2013, 06:01
Government CPI is understated intentionally.
They change the "basket of goods" and the rules to lower it.

Despite saving so little, people spend more than ever.
It all ends badly.

moytoy
12-13-2013, 08:06
If a hiker has the money to spend there is no question that spending a couple of day in a hotel will keep the spirits up. Shuttles are more frequent and the cost has risen considerably. Add in the increase in food cost and it all adds up. Most are wearing foot ware that wears out after 500 or 600 miles. But for the person who wants to be frugal and hike alone (no partying and min hostel stays) I say that it's still possible to hike the trail for a $2500-$3000.

Cookerhiker
12-13-2013, 08:32
Not much new to add to the good points already raised. My hikes in the 80s and 90s were limited to 3-4 days so I can't really compare long-distance & thruhikers of the different eras. Seems to me that there are more hostels, shuttles, slackpacks, and partying occurring now, all of which involve $$$.

The point about shoes is a good one. Heavy, old-style hiking boots - once broken in - lasted more miles and years than today's lighter shoes. Also, less hikers used trekking poles in the "olden days."

FarmerChef
12-13-2013, 08:50
I spend around $500+ per 10 day section hike (or an average of 175 miles), more in the colder seasons if something goes wrong and we need shuttles, additional lodging etc.. That $500 is above and beyond gear which is already sunk cost. Plus we use it for more than just hiking the AT. If you were starting from scratch, obviously that would be much more. My $500 is gas to get down (big expense) and back plus a hotel stay the first night as the drives are longer. It also includes one hotel/motel/hostel stay in the middle to rest and at least one town meal while in the hotel/motel/hostel as well as the rest of our food for the week. So, let's see...that's $2.85 per mile. I should mention I'm hiking for 5 plus a dog (dog food plus dog fees at lodging). If we just count the people, I'm doing it for around .57 per mile per person. I would expect it to be more if it was just me or me and my wife hiking. Of course, if we eat more town food just like in real life it's more expensive than cook-your-own grocery store food. Ymmv.

Mr. Bumpy
12-13-2013, 09:38
Lowe Alpine Contour IV back in the late 80's was what 200-250
Osprey Aether 65 25 years later costs….?

Tipi Walter
12-13-2013, 09:44
The biggest expenses for hikers have always been food, equipment, and logging.

Does anyone have any ideas?

Wolf




I tend to agree as logging is a terrible expense for the average backpacker on the AT. First, you need to carry a chain saw and some wedges---and then it helps to also have a small bulldozer to move things around.

Coffee
12-13-2013, 09:45
Heavy, old-style hiking boots - once broken in - lasted more miles and years than today's lighter shoes. Also, less hikers used trekking poles in the "olden days."

True, but those boots typically have a higher initial cost and resoling is a good idea at some point. My Asolo hiking boots cost close to $300 in the late '90s if I remember correctly and I paid about $90 to have them resoled this year (after years of fairly light use). The Brooks Cascadias I used this year were around $80 on sale. They still have some life left in them after around 450 miles but I wouldn't start on a long trip with them.

Nyte
12-13-2013, 09:46
I spend around $500+ per 10 day section hike (or an average of 175 miles), more in the colder seasons if something goes wrong and we need shuttles, additional lodging etc.. That $500 is above and beyond gear which is already sunk cost. Plus we use it for more than just hiking the AT. If you were starting from scratch, obviously that would be much more. My $500 is gas to get down (big expense) and back plus a hotel stay the first night as the drives are longer. It also includes one hotel/motel/hostel stay in the middle to rest and at least one town meal while in the hotel/motel/hostel as well as the rest of our food for the week. So, let's see...that's $2.85 per mile. I should mention I'm hiking for 5 plus a dog (dog food plus dog fees at lodging). If we just count the people, I'm doing it for around .57 per mile per person. I would expect it to be more if it was just me or me and my wife hiking. Of course, if we eat more town food just like in real life it's more expensive than cook-your-own grocery store food. Ymmv.

This is encouraging. I would like to read more about your strategies for expenses and such. While I am a solo hiker, I am frugal (read cheap and poor LOL), but I really am not one for "town" activities 99% of the time anyway. Heck, what most people call a comfortable bed is way more uncomfortable to me vs. the ground or floor. In my day to day life, accounting for temptation and food that I certainly wouldn't be spending on while on trail (fresh meat and the like), I average about $6 a day for food as it is.

max patch
12-13-2013, 10:20
Not only are many many more places to stay now, but many of the free or donation only church hostels have closed and have been replaced by for-profit hostels.

Mags
12-13-2013, 11:18
I tend to agree as logging is a terrible expense for the average backpacker on the AT. First, you need to carry a chain saw and some wedges---and then it helps to also have a small bulldozer to move things around.

Don't forget the diesel fuel you need to pack as well.

Nodust
12-13-2013, 11:22
Depends on the loaf of bread. Every grocery store I have been into within the last year still has some brand (usually store or some other off brand) for around a dollar a loaf.

Many staples for hiking can still be gotten fairly inexpensively; mac n cheese for less than a dollar a box (sometimes as low as fifty cents a box), ramen (though many miss the days of ten for a dollar), pasta, instant potatoes (especially if you get it in the box and portion yourself), tuna (though admittedly more than it used to or should be), M&Ms, Snickers, Payday (peanuts, caramel, and salt, hell yeah, long as you can handle the salt), off brand peanut butter, bagels, chocolate bars, cocoa mix...

The prices for bread was an average price I read in the news a few months ago. Can't find a link now. The point is groceries have increased as much or more than anything else.

Sure you can still buy cheap supplies. But those cheap supplies are costing much more than 20 years ago.

Old Hiker
12-13-2013, 11:24
I tend to agree as logging is a terrible expense for the average backpacker on the AT. First, you need to carry a chain saw and some wedges---and then it helps to also have a small bulldozer to move things around.

See? Even a chain saw is "new school". Whatever happened to a nice, sharp ax? Or even lower tech: trained beavers. Once the training is done, they pretty much can provide their own forage and create more beavers as needed.

My opinion is that prices HAVE gone up, but more people are using more, higher tech, more expensive equipment which adds up even faster. They may be using hostels/motels more, since lodging seems to be proliferating at a rapid pace, unlike above mentioned beavers. Food preferences may be changing as well. BUT !!!! Without some type of interweb location that people will post what they eat/use/etc. is the comparison very valid? Lots of the 1990's data seems to be hearsay.

Tipi Walter
12-13-2013, 11:44
See? Even a chain saw is "new school". Whatever happened to a nice, sharp ax? Or even lower tech: trained beavers. Once the training is done, they pretty much can provide their own forage and create more beavers as needed.


I must be old school cuz I never go hiking w/o my trained beaver.

TheYoungOne
12-13-2013, 11:47
Like others have mentioned, the $1 a mile was a basic gauge for a time when things were cheaper. I think you could still do a thru on $3,000 but that would not include gear (including backup gear like the 3 pairs of boots/trail runners you have with someone ready to mail to you), and transportation to and from Springer and Katahdin.

I actually laughed about this the other day, In he late 80's and early 90's as a young man I could go out all night with $40 in my wallet. I could see a movie, eat, drink, and take a cab home and still have a few dollars in my pocket when I got home. Today if you are a young guy hitting the town with only 2 twenty dollar bills, its going to be a short night.


I think you can be frugal, but having fun, having good gear, and being comfortable and well fed cost more these days.

4eyedbuzzard
12-13-2013, 11:53
I must be old school cuz I never go hiking w/o my trained beaver.Hiking with a good beaver always makes for a more enjoyable hike.

jersey joe
12-13-2013, 11:56
Is it possible that the increase in expense for the average thru hiker is due to the fact that the average thru hiker now is a lot "softer" than the average thru hiker in 1990? Now, a thru hiker needs to spend more nights in hostels, needs to be slackpacked more and generally needs more services to accomodate their "softer" thru hike?!?

4eyedbuzzard
12-13-2013, 12:01
I think it is hard to resist a hot shower, a few restaurant meals, a bed in a motel, etc. when you come across one every week. That could easily be $100 or more each time, adding $2K+ to a hike.

Astro
12-13-2013, 12:02
The prices for bread was an average price I read in the news a few months ago. Can't find a link now. The point is groceries have increased as much or more than anything else.

Sure you can still buy cheap supplies. But those cheap supplies are costing much more than 20 years ago.

Groceries have increased more than most other products due to the significant increase in fuel costs and also the diversion of corn to make fuel. This forced shortage of corn has increased the cost of any groceries using corn including meat (animals fed corn).

Astro
12-13-2013, 12:07
Is it possible that the increase in expense for the average thru hiker is due to the fact that the average thru hiker now is a lot "softer" than the average thru hiker in 1990? Now, a thru hiker needs to spend more nights in hostels, needs to be slackpacked more and generally needs more services to accomodate their "softer" thru hike?!?

I guess "softer" is relative, since they are still walking the over 2,000 miles. But yes that softening probably contributes the most to the increase. Thus the more "old school" you go, the lower the cost of your hike.

Mags
12-13-2013, 12:15
Old school trekking?

http://www.zanzibarmagic.com/english2nd/mdonya-old-river-safari-cam.jpg

4eyedbuzzard
12-13-2013, 12:17
Old school trekking?

http://www.zanzibarmagic.com/english2nd/mdonya-old-river-safari-cam.jpg

That looks low budget, except for the two pack mules not shown.

Nodust
12-13-2013, 12:28
Old school trekking?

http://www.zanzibarmagic.com/english2nd/mdonya-old-river-safari-cam.jpg

You must have had a giant pack.

Mags
12-13-2013, 12:37
You must have had a giant pack.

But the rug really ties the room together.

jersey joe
12-13-2013, 12:46
I guess "softer" is relative, since they are still walking the over 2,000 miles. But yes that softening probably contributes the most to the increase. Thus the more "old school" you go, the lower the cost of your hike.
Also, a heck of a lot more people are thru-hiking now than in 1990. The numbers help support more hostels and businesses which enable the softer side of hikers to come out!

4eyedbuzzard
12-13-2013, 12:47
But the rug really ties the room together.Feng shui for hikers.

Ender
12-13-2013, 12:55
But the rug really ties the room together.
Hahahaha! Brilliant.

Astro
12-13-2013, 12:56
That looks low budget, except for the two pack mules not shown.

Who needs pack mules, I am sure Tipi could handle it. :D

Old Hiker
12-13-2013, 13:00
Groceries have increased more than most other products due to the significant increase in fuel costs and also the diversion of corn to make fuel. This forced shortage of corn has increased the cost of any groceries using corn including meat (animals fed corn).

My bro-in-law has a small specialty-type production hog farm in Texas. He's doubling down, as bacon prices, etc. have shot up. He doesn't use much corn based feed and gets a really lean product, so much so he has to add fat to the meat when making sausage.

Nyte
12-13-2013, 13:02
Groceries have increased more than most other products due to the significant increase in fuel costs and also the diversion of corn to make fuel. This forced shortage of corn has increased the cost of any groceries using corn including meat (animals fed corn).

Where in the world are you coming up with the idea of a corn shortage? The US wastes more corn than is consumed, and the majority of corn grown goes to livestock feed.

I agree, rising fuel costs has added to the rising cost of food. Though the rise in cost of both is tied to entitlement, much of overall cost inflation is a matter of those who have the product feeling they should get more this year for it than they did last year.

Malto
12-13-2013, 13:22
Hotels, Hostels, slack packing, more frequent gear switches, canoe rental, train fare to DC and NY, restaurants etc. I suspect that today's hikers are using civilization a lot more than years ago. And many more opportunity existto separate hikers from their money.

Hikes in Rain
12-13-2013, 13:32
Old school trekking?

http://www.zanzibarmagic.com/english2nd/mdonya-old-river-safari-cam.jpg

Now that's camping with style! My wife and I do an only slightly updated version when we car camp. Only way I can get her to go!

max patch
12-13-2013, 13:45
RickB has said this in this past, and it was also my experience, but just because we came close to a town doesn't mean we went there. With todays emphasis on lightweight hiking I think most thrus take advantage of just about every town they can.

max patch
12-13-2013, 13:47
The father and son hikers from Australia that hiked most of the trail last year spent more nights under a roof than in a tent. That would have been impossible back in the day when I hiked.

yaduck9
12-13-2013, 13:58
Groceries have increased more than most other products due to the significant increase in fuel costs and also the diversion of corn to make fuel. This forced shortage of corn has increased the cost of any groceries using corn including meat (animals fed corn).



Quite true, I spend more, per gallon, on "Evian" ( http://www.evian.com/en_US ) , then on gasoline ;-)

Tipi Walter
12-13-2013, 14:11
Hiking with a good beaver always makes for a more enjoyable hike.

You are right and as a general rule this is usually true. Just keep fingers well away from the snapping teeth of your trained beaver and your trip should be successful.


Who needs pack mules, I am sure Tipi could handle it. :D

I doubt it, I can't even handle setting up my large Hilleberg tent---

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2011/Tipi-Walter-Warriors-Passage/i-nPdwPg3/0/L/390163_10150422133014094_500604093_8485210_347645_ n-L.jpg

4eyedbuzzard
12-13-2013, 14:57
You are right and as a general rule this is usually true. Just keep fingers well away from the snapping teeth of your trained beaver and your trip should be successful.



I doubt it, I can't even handle setting up my large Hilleberg tent---

http://tipiwalter.smugmug.com/Backpacking2011/Tipi-Walter-Warriors-Passage/i-nPdwPg3/0/L/390163_10150422133014094_500604093_8485210_347645_ n-L.jpg

Damn, that tent has a lot of headroom.

illabelle
12-13-2013, 15:07
I tend to agree as logging is a terrible expense for the average backpacker on the AT. First, you need to carry a chain saw and some wedges---and then it helps to also have a small bulldozer to move things around.

Haha! I was SO hoping that someone would pick up on that! :D

Wolf - 23000
12-13-2013, 18:58
RickB has said this in this past, and it was also my experience, but just because we came close to a town doesn't mean we went there. With todays emphasis on lightweight hiking I think most thrus take advantage of just about every town they can.

Max Patch, When I did my thru-hikes back in 1989 all the way through 1998, I was consider lightweight even by today standards. I would leave town with 15 pounds including 5 days of food and water. I didn't stay in many towns. On average, I stayed in town about once every three weeks. I know things have change but I hope hikers are not spending that much time off in town.

Wolf

Cookerhiker
12-13-2013, 19:06
I never heard the term "zero day" until the last decade.

Tuckahoe
12-13-2013, 19:44
But the rug really ties the room together.


Hahahaha! Brilliant.

Ha ha ha...

But I reimagined this scene with Mags as The Dude, Dogwood as Walter and Hikermom (dear god please dont strike me down) as Donny :p


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Wu598ENenk&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Nick P
12-13-2013, 21:40
Hilarious thread, but one other factor is the age of the avg. thru. The AT has become a rite of passage, and a gap year project for many younger hikers, and the millennial generation is, in a word, softer, than their hippy parents and post-war "greatest gen" grandparents. They are flush with their 'rent's cash, so spend more on gear and logging (lol). As a college prof, I enable these entitlement kids, but hey: they are the future, mmm-k? They still make up less than half of all hikers, but a larger percentage than before, so this doesn't explain all of the apparent rise in cost.

elray
12-13-2013, 22:20
I first started sectioning fifteen years ago and at my age I can really feel the changes those years have brought with them. So when I start my long awaited thru next April it's my intention to increase my odds at finishing the Trail by any means available and that includes staying indoors whenever possible. Maybe I would feel differently if I was still in my twenties or thirties but I don't have a thing left to prove at this stage, besides, I can afford it. If that makes me a "softee" so be it, I'll still have to make the miles and I'm no stranger to that task, it's all tough! See you out there!

Astro
12-13-2013, 22:28
Nick P,
As a fellow college professor I unfortunately must agree with the point you have made. I guess we are where we are.

JAK
12-13-2013, 22:31
Hey Wolf 2003. Good to hear from you again. Enjoy your posts. Keep the faith.

Wolf - 23000
12-14-2013, 15:02
Hey Wolf 2003. Good to hear from you again. Enjoy your posts. Keep the faith.

Thanks JAK. It is good to be back on WhiteBlaze!

Wolf - 23000
12-14-2013, 15:17
Hilarious thread, but one other factor is the age of the avg. thru. The AT has become a rite of passage, and a gap year project for many younger hikers, and the millennial generation is, in a word, softer, than their hippy parents and post-war "greatest gen" grandparents. They are flush with their 'rent's cash, so spend more on gear and logging (lol). As a college prof, I enable these entitlement kids, but hey: they are the future, mmm-k? They still make up less than half of all hikers, but a larger percentage than before, so this doesn't explain all of the apparent rise in cost.

Nick, I believe you might have a point when it comes to the millennial generation might be softer. I ran into a flip-flopper last weekend finishing his AT hike at HF, WV. The weather was cold - it rain the day before and was snowing that day. I was out that weekend also just playing around showing a 2014 thru-hikers some of the basic. I was find the entire weekend carrying less than 10 pounds. The thru-hiker skipped the last 20 miles because he claimed he got hyperthermia twice that day. He was also carrying more than 4 times the weight as myself. I would think someone who had been hiking for the last 7 months would know a little bit more about survival.

Wolf

Wolf - 23000
12-14-2013, 15:27
See? Even a chain saw is "new school". Whatever happened to a nice, sharp ax? Or even lower tech: trained beavers. Once the training is done, they pretty much can provide their own forage and create more beavers as needed.

My opinion is that prices HAVE gone up, but more people are using more, higher tech, more expensive equipment which adds up even faster. They may be using hostels/motels more, since lodging seems to be proliferating at a rapid pace, unlike above mentioned beavers. Food preferences may be changing as well. BUT !!!! Without some type of interweb location that people will post what they eat/use/etc. is the comparison very valid? Lots of the 1990's data seems to be hearsay.

I would not say the 1990 data is hear say. Some of us here on whiteblaze did the trail back then.

I'll grant you from what I seem recently, many hikers are using more expensive equipment but they really are not travel any lighter than 20 years ago. Maybe a couple pounds if that but nothing that I would advise anyone to spend a couple extra thousand of dollars.

Wolf

prain4u
12-15-2013, 00:10
The bulk of the increase in the cost of a thru hike today (compared to the 1990s) is probably found in the significant increase in cost of basic things--like food, fuel, postage and transportation. However, changes in hiking styles and changes in hiking equipment probably have caused the costs to increase as well.

Food prices have gone through the roof since the mid-1990s--even for budget brands. This accounts for the bulk of the increase in the cost of a thru hike. The "cheap brand" food items of today are nowhere near as inexpensive as in the 1990s. Hotel/Motel costs have also skyrocketed. Beer/Liquor is often much higher now than in the mid-1990s. The taxes charged on most items have risen significantly. Transportation and fuel costs have gone up as well. (This would include the cost of fuel for stoves).

What we consider to be "typical" hiking clothing and "typical" hiking gear has changed somewhat and the "typical" prices of these "typical" items has risen since the 1990s. (Many of the modern clothing and gear items often need to be replaced more frequently--especially in the hands of less-experienced hikers. This replacement of gear increases the cost of a thru hike). In the early to mid-1990s, the price of a first-class stamp was just 28 cents. Thus, shipping costs have increased significantly for things like mail drops and bounce boxes.

I have no way of proving this (and probably no one else does either) but I think the DURATION of many thru-hikes has increased since the 1990s and that longer duration increases the overall cost. (There seem to be more mid-winter starts--and those winter starts often take more days to complete a thru-hike. The daily costs of winter hiking also tend to be higher for most people). Taking more days to complete a thru hike often means that people are spending more time "in-town". Time in town usually will increase the cost of a hike significantly.

I think the menu and diet of many hikers has changed since the 1990s. While many hikers still stick to basic food items and do some actual "from scratch" cooking (or at least more than just heating water)---many more hikers than before are using some foods which require less actual cooking. (Foods which require less cooking typically cost more). You also now have more hikers who are vegan, gluten-free, watching their cholesterol, etc. You have hikers wanting specialty coffees, better beers and other such "yuppy chow". These things all increase food costs.

As some have pointed out--there appear to be less "free" services on the trail than 25 years ago. This increases the cost of a thru hike.

The cost of food, fuel, gear and transportation are up significantly from the 1990s, This accounts for the bulk of the increase in the overall cost of a thru hike. However, hiking styles have changed too--and that that is another reason why costs have increased.

Bronk
12-15-2013, 09:54
Even in 2002 when I attempted a thruhike I saw a wide range of spending habits...everything from those who wouldn't stay in town or eat at a restaurant to those who spent more time in towns than they did on the trail. I met one guy who wouldn't hike in the rain and when I met him he had spent the last 10 days at the hotel at Fontana Dam...paid $40 for a shuttle to a town where he could buy a case of beer. Met others who spent almost no money until they got to Damascus because they ate all the food that people discarded in the hiker boxes. I think the reason for the wide range in habits and attitudes is that so many people are hiking the trail who really aren't into the outdoors...money and technology allow them to tolerate the trail in between town stops.

Theosus
12-15-2013, 12:38
The prices for bread was an average price I read in the news a few months ago. Can't find a link now. The point is groceries have increased as much or more than anything else.


And they keep getting smaller. Even if the "per box" price stays the same over a year, the portion size gets smaller IN the box, so you have to buy more anyway. The cost per ounce continues to rise, even if you don't notice right away.

max patch
12-15-2013, 12:42
Cell phones have a lot to do with it. Easy to call a for profit hostel for a pickup and spend a nite in town with all the related expenses.

4eyedbuzzard
12-15-2013, 13:21
If I were going to thru-hike (and I have no immediate plans to do so) I think I would budget on approximately $15/day for food and all other expenses (replacement gear, fuel, batteries, you name it), and add to that somewhere between $75 to $100 for everyday spent in a town where I got lodging and meals (cost would depend upon choice of food and quantity of beverages, and motel vs. hostel, etc). I would figure on taking a town day once a week to get a room, hot shower, do laundry, wait out bad weather, rest a bit, etc. That would add up fast for a 150 day hike - 130 days hiking with 20 nero/zero town days (one zero per week) - (150 * 15) + (20 * $100) = $4250 without initial gear or transportation expenses. I think it would be really hard to pass up showering, laundry, big hot meals, beers/drinks with fellow hikers, comfy bed when available, etc. As much as we are drawn to the "wilderness experience", most of us are also drawn to the comforts of civilization, especially when you are cold, wet, dirty, hungry, and tired.

Coffee
12-15-2013, 13:44
My 2015 PCT budget is around $5,000 excluding travel to/from the trail, initial gear, or gear replacement. I have budgeted $15/day for about 130 days on trail ($2,000). But my town budget is higher since I know that lodging is higher out West. I have a $2,000 budget for lodging assuming 20 nights in towns plus $50/day for in town food and misc. expenses like laundry - another $1,000.

In addition to this base $5K, I have $1K budgeted for gear replacement (which will hopefully be way more than needed), $1K for travel to/from the east coast plus shuttles to/from towns if needed, and $500 for mailing food drops and a bounce box. So $7,500 total which I hope works out to be closer to $6K if things go well.

But even at $7,500, I'd be hard pressed to come up with a cheaper 5-6 month vacation.

Wolf - 23000
12-16-2013, 20:25
RN-PCT2015,

Thank you for posting your budget plan. It actually answers a lot of questions. Just a quick comparison between your plan and my PCT and my PCT thru-hikes back in the 1990s.

be
One of the things that sticks out is your budget for lodging. I'm guesting you are planning on staying in a hotel about once a week compare to about once every three weeks for myself. Your budget on trail is also a lot higher than myself. I didn't use mail drops, instead I bought my food as I went along. When I purchase my five days of food, I spent about $30 - $35. I never broke it down per/day but I would guest it was about $6 or $7 a day.

Finally your 1K for replacement gear is more than my entire gear list. Back then I was consider an ultra-light backpacker so my equipment was fairly inexpensive (base weight less than 5 pounds).

I'm not suggesting you do the trail any different. I'm just comparing the different between hiking in the 1990s and the current thru-hikers. Good Luck on your thru-hike!!!

Wolf

George
12-16-2013, 20:36
I prefer a middle school approach to hiking - lots of fart jokes and trying to sneak alcohol

Leanthree
12-17-2013, 00:08
So there are a few factors:

1) general inflation. ~2.5% per year since then. CPI is a decent proxy but it ignores things like substitution effects*
2) price increases beyond inflation. There are many true claims about food and gas increasing at a faster rate than CPI but other things like minimum wage have not gone up as quickly so I am curious how much of this is true. It would require creating a "basket of hiker costs" and go back and figure out if it increased faster than CPI
3) I think this is the largest impact: more built up towns and hiker services by the trail because of both sprawl/development and far more hikers making it so that more businesses which cater to them can be successful.
4) somewhat related to #3 is the lightweight revolution. Carrying 5 days of food used to increase pack weight by ~25%, now it increases pack weight by ~50%. That combined with #3 means hikers get off trail to resupply more, meaning they are in towns more so more restaurants.
5) Thru-hiking has become a bit less hard, mostly due to weight saving technology. My guess is that this attracts a hiker who on the margin is a bit less intense than one 20 years ago.
6) Generational differences. Every generation thinks the one after them is soft, weak, spoiled, etc. There may be some truth to that but it is tough to tell which is that factor and which is #5

* (if the price of item A goes up by 5% and item B by 0% and they each make up 50% of the index, but a hiker can easily substitute B for A then CPI would go up 2.5% but the cost of the hike would stay the same)

rickb
12-17-2013, 06:52
Does anyone know when the practice of PAYING for some of your rides began?

Sandy of PA
12-17-2013, 10:05
When gas got over $2 a gallon.

Coffee
12-17-2013, 10:18
One of the things that sticks out is your budget for lodging. I'm guesting you are planning on staying in a hotel about once a week compare to about once every three weeks for myself. Your budget on trail is also a lot higher than myself. I didn't use mail drops, instead I bought my food as I went along. When I purchase my five days of food, I spent about $30 - $35. I never broke it down per/day but I would guest it was about $6 or $7 a day.

Finally your 1K for replacement gear is more than my entire gear list. Back then I was consider an ultra-light backpacker so my equipment was fairly inexpensive (base weight less than 5 pounds).

At this point, I am not yet familiar with all of the town options along the PCT so I am being purposely conservative in my estimates knowing that some places have expensive lodging. I hope to stay in hostels when possible and the average might be somewhat less than once per week so the costs could very well end up lower.

I am debating the mail drop vs. buy along the trail option. I might need to revise my typical food choices if I want to buy along the way to avoid mail drop expenses. I tend to buy normal off the shelf items but some are expensive in small towns (like Clif Bars - often $2-2.50/each in small groceries vs. less than $1/each at Wal Mart). If I can find a way to get away from these types of specialty packaged items and maybe substitute with cheaper (but equally nutritious) items found in small stores, I could get away from mail drops.

Replacement gear is a big unknown. One example is my Hexamid tent which I got this season and will use in 2014. I'm fairly confident that it will be fine at the start of the PCT in 2015 but will it last the entire hike? If not, that's over $500 right there to replace it. But maybe if I cowboy camp in most places since weather on the PCT is usually good, I can preserve the life of the tent for the duration of the PCT thru hike.

Anyway lots of time to think all of this through. Thanks for the feedback.

Dogwood
12-17-2013, 14:50
You can analyze the cost of hotel rooms out west compared to elsewhere all you want but the bigger picture is that the PCT compared to both the AT and CDT has overall fairer hiking weather during typical thru-hiker season so there's even less need for staying in a hotel due to snow and persistent rain and cold.

Getting over the enticing conveniences of AT Shelters every 7 miles or so, the abundance of nearby lodgings and other money sucking conveniences at the often many road crossings on the AT, and the more abundant trail angels/hiking hostels(compared to the CDT and PCT) on the AT, as well as all the many entangling town vortexes that occur routinely and often on the AT and it factors into why PCT thru-hikers have a higher completion rate, have higher avg MPD, and can spend less do re mi. Many factors can be involved in what each individual PCTer will wind up spending though. And, of course many factors play into MPD avgs and thru-hiker c0ompletion rates but that's not really the thread topic.

Dogwood
12-17-2013, 14:58
If you expect all things to be the same on a PCT thru-hike as was on a AT thru-hike you're disillusioned. Take the AT for what it is. Take the PCT for what it is. IMO, you are going to find fewer low cost housing options like hostels on/very near the PCT in its 2650 mile length compared to the 2180 mile length of the AT But again IMHO there's less not a great need for having to get under a hostel/hotel roof on the PCT.

Son Driven
12-17-2013, 15:46
My 2013 AT thru hike took seven months. It was not until about the fifth month, that I got fully acclimated to living outdoors taking creek baths, and such. Early in my hike I spent a lot of money on rent, and restaurant meals. The last two months I just hit the towns for re-supply, and went back on the trail without stays. If I started out with the mind set that developed over time, I would have spent a lot less money.

bamboo bob
12-17-2013, 17:01
There are simply way more places to stay along the trail..and people stay in them. Last time I stayed in places that I previously walked through. Hrom Hiawasee to White House Landing. They add to the tab. But it is optional, you can just resupply and go. Very few due. In fact I would bet that the people who run out of money spent too much on town meals and pubs.

prain4u
12-18-2013, 00:37
We can analyze inflation rates, CPI rates, hiker completion rates, number of days spent in town rates...etc. However, there really is no denying that food prices (for both "store bought" and "restaurant" food) are SIGNIFICANTLY higher now than they were in the mid-1990s.

RockDoc
12-18-2013, 01:15
Let me tell you about old school hiking in the 1960's and 70'sÖ. OK I won't. You probably don't care, do you?

The big difference is that a huge industry has been built up for hiker services. Hundreds of people are making their livings off AT hikers. From the look of some, they are raking it in. In many cases the services are useful and needed, but it all represents new expenses compared to the old days when we really were on our own and tried to stay out of towns for fear of being arrested for vagrancy. Yes, that's how it was.

4eyedbuzzard
12-18-2013, 07:34
Let me tell you about old school hiking in the 1960's and 70's…. OK I won't. You probably don't care, do you?

The big difference is that a huge industry has been built up for hiker services. Hundreds of people are making their livings off AT hikers. From the look of some, they are raking it in. In many cases the services are useful and needed, but it all represents new expenses compared to the old days when we really were on our own and tried to stay out of towns for fear of being arrested for vagrancy. Yes, that's how it was.Somewhat agree, but some of these services have been around a long time - well back into the 70's. Walasi-Yi/Mtn Crossings, The Place and others come to mind, all the Dartmouth and AMC stuff. We all did get more "vagrant" looks back then, and resupply was difficult (there just weren't stores) but never got hassled by law enforcement.

Tuckahoe
12-18-2013, 08:19
We can analyze inflation rates, CPI rates, hiker completion rates, number of days spent in town rates...etc. However, there really is no denying that food prices (for both "store bought" and "restaurant" food) are SIGNIFICANTLY higher now than they were in the mid-1990s.

Of course you are correct, on a pure number cost food prices are significantly higher than in the 1990s, 1930s or the 1890s for that matter. But it does not matter if an item cost 50 cents in 1995 and $1.29 in 2013, without a comparison to wages, and historic wage comparisons, cost as portion of income, CPI, or anyother indicators that puts prices in perspective, the price itself is rather meaningless.

Malto
12-18-2013, 20:06
Replacement gear is a big unknown. One example is my Hexamid tent which I got this season and will use in 2014. I'm fairly confident that it will be fine at the start of the PCT in 2015 but will it last the entire hike? If not, that's over $500 right there to replace it. But maybe if I cowboy camp in most places since weather on the PCT is usually good, I can preserve the life of the tent for the duration of the PCT thru hike.

Anyway lots of time to think all of this through. Thanks for the feedback.

i used my shelter a total of three nights on the PCT. I cowboy camped the rest.

George
12-20-2013, 00:42
Of course you are correct, on a pure number cost food prices are significantly higher than in the 1990s, 1930s or the 1890s for that matter. But it does not matter if an item cost 50 cents in 1995 and $1.29 in 2013, without a comparison to wages, and historic wage comparisons, cost as portion of income, CPI, or anyother indicators that puts prices in perspective, the price itself is rather meaningless.

in the 30's a days labor paid 1.00 when you could get it - .05 was a common price for a loaf of bread, 12 eggs, a bottle of pop, a hot dog

prices have increased about 25 times on these common items, wages have increased about 150 times

4eyedbuzzard
12-20-2013, 01:20
in the 30's a days labor paid 1.00 when you could get it - .05 was a common price for a loaf of bread, 12 eggs, a bottle of pop, a hot dog

prices have increased about 25 times on these common items, wages have increased about 150 timesI think your wages are a little off for the 1930's. Yeah, for many who were out of work .20/hour was a good wage. But as bad as things were, the average annual income in 1932 was approximately $1500. But people were more grateful for what they had - especially a steady job. I know both of my grandfathers spoke of, when times were really tough, cutting and squaring up railroad ties with hand saws and axes for about .50 each, averaging perhaps $5 to $7 per day. Both were fortunate, they had or found skilled (carpentry and auto factory) work throughout that time. But the notion of taking a 6 month vacation to do something like hiking would have been considered pure folly by most, though perhaps that is actually little changed even today outside of our little WB world.

Either way, even given todays prices, people definitely have much more leisure time and freedom (and expect/demand it) than at anytime that I can remember. It's a different, and in most ways, better world now than in 1970, and so far removed from 1930's that comparison isn't realistic. Like the old saying goes, the best thing about the good old days is talking about them.

rickb
12-20-2013, 02:58
Not sure what hikers pay for lodging these days, but in 1983 I am sure that I spent well under $50. Some undoubtedly spent more that year, but I don't think my experience was all that unusual.

Just to be clear that amount was for the entire trip-- not a single night.

Inflation is only a a small part of the equation.

Tuckahoe
12-20-2013, 07:54
Either way, even given todays prices, people definitely have much more leisure time and freedom (and expect/demand it) than at anytime that I can remember. It's a different, and in most ways, better world now than in 1970, and so far removed from 1930's that comparison isn't realistic. Like the old saying goes, the best thing about the good old days is talking about them.

Another excellent point. Leisure has traditionally only been enjoyed by the upper classes. The athletisism movement began with the upper classes/wealthy because they had the money and lacked any real employment. And we now are at a point of time where people further down the social ladder are able to take that same leisure.

double d
12-26-2013, 09:13
A much better understanding of economy is to study poverty. By 1940, the poverty level for white Americans was about 30%, while for black Americans it was over 80%. Today its about 12% for white American, while its around 26% for black Americans. Post WWII American economy and much better labor laws helped to lower poverty rates by 1975, but de-industrialization has lead to very high poverty rates in some parts of the U.S. today.

double d
12-26-2013, 09:14
True, but mainly due to the labor movement, the 40 hour work week, etc. etc.