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Joe Rogowski
08-27-2014, 07:14
hey guys i am starting my thru hike march 2015 and im making my budget. my question is how much money are you spending on food for how long and what are you getting and also whats the main grocery stores off of the trail.im only talking about food for the trail but if there are any favorite pit stops along the way what are they.thanks

Starchild
08-27-2014, 07:37
The suggestion for $$$ is $2/mile. Your food stops will be pretty much dictated by the trail itself, weather, working and gifting of trail angels, and the hike you are doing and desire to do. There are some classic 'must do' stops but you will find out about them as you travel. Other then that the guild book has all the info you need, well smartphones apps do help too.

For me, and HYOH, the AT is not about this type of food planning (I realize that money planning is different) , Just let it happen and it will and you should be happier that way. I suggest look no further then your next major resupply.

bigcranky
08-27-2014, 07:57
There are towns within hitching distance of the trail every 3-6 days, most of them have real grocery stores. Some of the really small places just have a rural gas station grocery, good for very short term resupply. But with all the development in the mountains in the last twenty years, there's a surprising number of actual groceries.

For on-trail food I usually spend $10-15 per day. That's for regular grocery stuff -- granola and pop tarts for breakfast, sausage and cheese for lunch, Knorr pasta side and a bag of chicken or bacon for dinner, plus lots of snacks. (Buying freeze dried backpacker food is a lot more expensive.) The cost depends on where you are shopping and what sort of food you like, of course. That means for a 150-day thru I would spend $1500-2250 on trail food, which seems pretty reasonable based on my experience.

I do eat a lot in town, to make up for the limited calories I can carry, and eating in town costs far more. If I didn't, then my on-trail costs might go up a little.

Joe Rogowski
08-27-2014, 08:23
thanks guys i was more just trying to get an estimate for money purposes not really to dictate where i go. i want to finish and i don't want to have to worry about the logistics of the trip while im there so trying to get it in order now

bigcranky
08-27-2014, 08:47
If you have one of the main thru-hiker guides (the ALDHA Companion or the AT Guide) the logistics are actually pretty easy. Your first resupply is at Neels Gap and the store is right on the trail. The next is at Dicks Creek Gap, easy hitch to Hiawassee, then Winding Stair Gap with an easy hitch to Franklin. Once you've done those you'll be able to handle pretty much anything. :)

garlic08
08-27-2014, 09:25
You might want to think about two different food budget line items--trail food and town food. It turns out I spent nearly as much on town meals ($700) as I did on trail rations ($750, with no mail drops). That was for a 3.5-month hike.

There are very many opportunities to buy groceries along the way, as well as C-stores, delis, restaurants and ice cream shops. A milkshake at a wayside in Shenandoah NP will set you back about $5, but it's hard to pass up. Up in NY, I walked a couple of miles off trail for a decent Italian restaurant in a small town. That meal cost more than a couple of days of trail food, but places like that were one of the reasons I enjoyed the trip, not just the walking.

10-K
08-27-2014, 10:03
That meal cost more than a couple of days of trail food, but places like that were one of the reasons I enjoyed the trip, not just the walking.

Same here. Hiking is great and the primary focus but there's so much more than just walking to enjoy.

Slo-go'en
08-27-2014, 10:24
Many towns have a Dollar General which has basic hiker food if your not a picky eater. This is generally your best deal. Some towns will have a chain grocery store like a Food Lion or Krogers. The first time you get to one of these big stores, be sure to get one of their discount cards. The cards can save you a lot of money over time. Keep one of the keyring cards and give the rest to your friends.

At 19, you many not realize how much food costs. It costs a lot. Go to the grocery store and buy a weeks worth of food with your own money. Then go buy a couple of meals at a fast food place. Then you'll have an idea of how much it will cost you.

10-K
08-27-2014, 10:28
The first time you get to one of these big stores, be sure to get one of their discount cards. The cards can save you a lot of money over time. Keep one of the keyring cards and give the rest to your friends.



That's a great suggestion! I picked up a Safeway card somewhere in California to save some money on a 1 time purchase and for whatever reason didn't throw it away. I ended up using it several times - saved quite a bit.

(Actually, I put it in an app called "Keyring" on my phone and tossed the card... weight you know... :) )

Slo-go'en
08-27-2014, 10:45
(Actually, I put it in an app called "Keyring" on my phone and tossed the card... weight you know... :) )

To really save weight you should have kept the card and tossed the phone :) So, 10K when are you going to tell us about your PCT hike?

Joe Rogowski
08-27-2014, 10:47
Many towns have a Dollar General which has basic hiker food if your not a picky eater. This is generally your best deal. Some towns will have a chain grocery store like a Food Lion or Krogers. The first time you get to one of these big stores, be sure to get one of their discount cards. The cards can save you a lot of money over time. Keep one of the keyring cards and give the rest to your friends.

At 19, you many not realize how much food costs. It costs a lot. Go to the grocery store and buy a weeks worth of food with your own money. Then go buy a couple of meals at a fast food place. Then you'll have an idea of how much it will cost you.


that's a good tip for the discount card. and im used to shopping prices but i normally dont buy a lot of boxed items usually just meat and vegetable and some breakfast like eggs and sausage. ive been doing the shopping since i could drive and i do all the cooking at my house since i was 13 or 14 so i have a pretty good start on that. ill probably do a dry run with a week of food and see where i end up.

RED-DOG
08-27-2014, 10:53
Start with a $6000 dollar overall budget, SUBTRACT Transportation to and from trail, Gear cost before trail, shuttle cost from Bus, Train station or airport, to AFSP or to hostel, and anything else you buy before you start hiking. their should be $3500 TO $4000 LEFT and remember you got to have money for emergencies such as Illness or injury, so your on trail Expense budget would be between $ 2500 To $3000 with a $500 dollar emergency fund.
$2500 - $3000 this is for everything on trail= Trail Food, Resturants, Hostel/Hotel, Gear replacement,etc.

RED-DOG
08-27-2014, 11:30
The main thing is spend whatever you can afford to but don't bankrupt your self trying to fund a thru-hike. Just ENJOY it. some of the hikers this year are saying you need to budget $1000 a month in order to have a nice comfortable thru.
$3500 - $4000 should be enough for on trail expenses.

10-K
08-27-2014, 11:32
To really save weight you should have kept the card and tossed the phone :) So, 10K when are you going to tell us about your PCT hike?

The phone had all my maps and guides - saved a ton of weight! (yes, I had all my eggs in 1 basket but brother, I *watched* that basket!).

I'm still processing the hike... it was such an incredible, awesome experience. The desert, the Sierra, the volcanos, the Cascades. It's the first time I've hiked out west and I'm hooked.

BillyGr
08-27-2014, 14:50
Some towns will have a chain grocery store like a Food Lion or Krogers. The first time you get to one of these big stores, be sure to get one of their discount cards.

You can also check out the websites for any chains to see if they have cards - some you may be able to get by mail from the sites.
Some stores may also give you a 1 time use # at the service desk if you explain you are just travelling.

Just Bill
08-27-2014, 22:20
The phone had all my maps and guides - saved a ton of weight! (yes, I had all my eggs in 1 basket but brother, I *watched* that basket!).

I'm still processing the hike... it was such an incredible, awesome experience. The desert, the Sierra, the volcanos, the Cascades. It's the first time I've hiked out west and I'm hooked.

As my wife likes to say, "Welcome back- talk to you when you arrive."
Best of luck with re-entry.

July
08-27-2014, 22:36
It has all been said really. Will add, mail drops? Ehh maybe a couple. Your taste changes from wk to wk. Go with the flow and enjoy where you are and what is available. Its all good!

hikehunter
08-28-2014, 00:39
BigCranky is 98% correct.
Food is a big $$$cash eater..
I have found that if you look hard at what is on the shelf at the stores you can find items that have enough cal. and are cheaper than the commercial pre-made meals. Yes, there are some good hiking meals ( Hawke Vittles, and the one out of Austin, Tx. I have gone blank...) The discount card thing others have talked about is a good idea....use a bogus address or you will get all kinds of crap in the mail and on your email...
2 years ago I go on the marriott and AAA card thing...this can save you 15 to 30 dollars per stay at hotels.
Research....is the fruggle way to travel...
.............good luck, and have fun....:sun

Coffee
08-28-2014, 00:55
I just finished the Colorado Trail and kept track of expenses. I spent about $600 on food but $400 was restaurant food in towns. I also sent two boxes of food which probably cost $100-150 including postage. If I had opted to eat trail type food in town, obviously the total would have been less. Note that I don't drink so the restaurant tab wasn't impacted by cost of alcohol which could be considerable.

Coffee
08-28-2014, 00:58
Incidentally resupply costs in towns can be wildly different based on whether a large supermarket is present. Small grocery stores can be 2x as expensive as a supermarket like Safeway. Example: $2 clif bar vs $1; $1.89 for Idahoan mashed potato vs $0.99, etc. Sending food to towns with only small stores could pay off.

Starchild
08-28-2014, 06:56
The discount card thing others have talked about is a good idea....use a bogus address or you will get all kinds of crap in the mail and on your email...

I use my real address and got several cards along the way, never had this issue, IIRC I may have gotten 1 piece of mail ever from perhaps 4-5 cards I signed up for. It seems like much of the mailing is done regionally and if you don't live close by they don't send any.

garlic08
08-28-2014, 09:48
Instead of signing up for a new discount card, you can first try using "Jenny's number" (867-5309) with the local area code. I hear it often works (http://consumerist.com/2011/07/07/get-supermarket-club-discounts-with-jennys-phone-number/). (Sorry for the earworm.)

Marta
08-28-2014, 10:21
That's a great suggestion! I picked up a Safeway card somewhere in California to save some money on a 1 time purchase and for whatever reason didn't throw it away. I ended up using it several times - saved quite a bit.

(Actually, I put it in an app called "Keyring" on my phone and tossed the card... weight you know... :) )

You can normally skip the cards altogether and simply punch in or recite your phone number. ;-)

Coffee
08-28-2014, 10:44
BTW the $1,000 per month on trail budget estimate I've seen a few times on Whiteblaze was pretty much spot on for me over the past month on the Colorado trail. This is inclusive of food, hostel/motels, and local transportation but not long distance travel to and from the trail. I feel like costs are similar to the AT. So I'd be comfortable budgeting 4-5k for an AT thru hike or 5-6k for the PCT. It could be done for quite a bit less. I eat well at restaurants in towns and that's optional.

Rolls Kanardly
08-28-2014, 13:51
I am allowing myself 180 days to complete my hike.
Starchild suggests $2 per mile so for 2180 miles that is $4,360.00. $4,360.00 would be $24.22 a day.
Bigcranky suggests $15 per day so 180 days is $2,700.00
Somewhere between $15 a day and $25 a day would be a good goal for me.
The $15 a day might be okay for a couple of days on the trail but my budget would disappear once in town.
Rolls

RED-DOG
08-28-2014, 15:20
I have always calculated my budget by the week or (by the resupply stop), never understood why people does it by the day or mile, I don't seem to spend anything while I am on the trail it seems I only spend money when I go into towns, and I go into towns about once or twice a week, I budget between $100.00 To $140.00 a WEEK so that would be $50.00 To $90.00 per resupply stop= For a TOTAL of $ 3,360.00 for 24 weeks.

So in my opinion a person should have a nice comfortable thru-hike and enjoy it for around $4000.00, Remember you got to budget for Emergencies such as a Illness.
If a person started with an Overall budget of $6000.00 and that's for Everything, a person should be fine.

Remember this is the Low End of a Thru-hike budget, on my 2012 thru I spent $5,700.00 Total.

fadedsun
08-28-2014, 16:02
I think the thing to realize here is that food is a big part of the quality-of-life while on the trail. I do not recommend skimping on the food budget: It is very nice after a good day hiking to eat a good meal and also nice to start the day with a good meal. Knorr/Lipton/Ramen do not meet that criteria. With that in mind I budgeted $20/day for food. Some other hikers were openly envious of my diet. Also keep in mind a balanced diet: Where are your protiens coming from? What about fruit/veggies? Knorr/Lipton/Ramen also do not answer these questions. Some internet research will be very helpful. I recommend checking out this site: Harmonyhousefoods.com

bigcranky
08-28-2014, 16:16
I wouldn't want to eat Knorr sides by themselves, but they are pretty darn great as the base for a good meal, IMHO. We always add dried veggies and protein of some sort, sometimes fresh stuff if it's the first day or two out of town.

Other good places to start are the various couscous mixes and some of the better mac and cheese. One can make a tasty and healthy meal out of them with a little planning and shopping.

All this assumes I'm shopping locally near the trail, not mail dropping.

fadedsun
08-28-2014, 16:44
Knorr does make a serviceable base. A bit high in salt content for my taste, but salt tastes vary. Another good base is Ramen noodles - I throw away the flavoring pack or maybe use half of it (or less - even more salt than Knorr).

I had a hard time finding dried veggies/fruit. Mostly found it in maildrops. Bigcranky, where did you find them and what did you use for protein?

BillyGr
08-28-2014, 17:01
Incidentally resupply costs in towns can be wildly different based on whether a large supermarket is present. Small grocery stores can be 2x as expensive as a supermarket like Safeway. Example: $2 clif bar vs $1; $1.89 for Idahoan mashed potato vs $0.99, etc. Sending food to towns with only small stores could pay off.

Another thing to think about is if you must have a specific brand or don't care that can make a difference many times.


Using the potato example, the store that has the Idahoan for $1.89 very well might have a store brand that is cheaper. Or for something like peanut butter will you only eat Skippy or are you willing to take whatever happens to be on sale that week it could make a difference, maybe even a $1 or more on just one item. Multiply by the number of things you buy and it could add up over a long hike.

Coffee
08-28-2014, 17:04
Most small town groceries don't have house brands, just high prices for nearly everything. I can often easily cover the cost of a mail drop on just the savings on clif bars alone. The trick is to use regional rate priority mail. I pay less than $7 for regional rate b, which is nearly as big as a large priority mail box, for delivery within a hundred miles or so... Rate goes up for longer distances.

10-K
08-28-2014, 17:15
Most small town groceries don't have house brands, just high prices for nearly everything. I can often easily cover the cost of a mail drop on just the savings on clif bars alone. The trick is to use regional rate priority mail. I pay less than $7 for regional rate b, which is nearly as big as a large priority mail box, for delivery within a hundred miles or so... Rate goes up for longer distances.

Man you got that right.

On the PCT some of the smaller towns were selling Clif bars for $2.99 with everything else inflated to an equally absurd amount. I spent $75 resupplying in Sierra City and everything fit in 1 plastic grocery bag.

In Ashland I sent out boxes for the 900 miles of Oregon and Washington and spent about $350 doing it which I thought wasn't *too* bad. Note that I didn't try to buy every single bite - I mostly bought the big stuff and supplemented along the way so I'd have some variety.

BTW - if you're ever hiking the PCT Ashland, OR has the best resupply grocery store in the entire world - it's called the "Shop-N-Kart" and it is a hiker food paradise. Seriously.

bigcranky
08-28-2014, 18:10
I had a hard time finding dried veggies/fruit. Mostly found it in maildrops. Bigcranky, where did you find them and what did you use for protein?


We brought some Just Veggies with us, and found dried tomatoes and dried mushrooms in every little town on the Long Trail. Sometimes we had to go to the health food store when we found one. Dried fruit was pretty easy most places, though sometimes the choices were raisins or craisins :) We used bags of chicken, tuna, or real bacon for protein. (Try the Knorr Broccoli Alfredo pasta with dried tomatoes and bacon. Mmm.)

BillyGr
08-29-2014, 12:01
Most small town groceries don't have house brands, just high prices for nearly everything. I can often easily cover the cost of a mail drop on just the savings on clif bars alone. The trick is to use regional rate priority mail. I pay less than $7 for regional rate b, which is nearly as big as a large priority mail box, for delivery within a hundred miles or so... Rate goes up for longer distances.
That is true for the smallest stores (though even some "smaller" ones like IGA often do carry them), but it is a money saving option in the larger stores that some might not think of if they are used to a specific brand of things.

hikehunter
08-30-2014, 03:23
Back in 2012, I got a coffee can and started putting my change in it every day. After one year I had almost $425 in it. This has been the way I have saved for special things,
I just got a new truck after saving for 14 years. I paid cash for a 2013 F150. I would put my pocket change in the can every day before bedtime.
Every 30 to 40 days I would deposit it in an interest bareing acct. After 14 years I had almost $20k in it.

In 2012 I opened a new account at the bank..."the AT Account" I put $20 or more a week in it.
This is what I am using for my 2015 walk into spring along the AT.

You can work for JP Morgan or R. McDonald and do anything if you have the self-discipline to save and invest.

Yes I looks like a $3k plus deal to do the AT. It can be done . Look for ways to save in all aspects.

off-pher
08-30-2014, 22:43
Back in 2012, I got a coffee can and started putting my change in it every day. After one year I had almost $425 in it. This has been the way I have saved for special things,
I just got a new truck after saving for 14 years. I paid cash for a 2013 F150. I would put my pocket change in the can every day before bedtime.
Every 30 to 40 days I would deposit it in an interest bareing acct. After 14 years I had almost $20k in it.

In 2012 I opened a new account at the bank..."the AT Account" I put $20 or more a week in it.
This is what I am using for my 2015 walk into spring along the AT.

You can work for JP Morgan or R. McDonald and do anything if you have the self-discipline to save and invest.

Yes I looks like a $3k plus deal to do the AT. It can be done . Look for ways to save in all aspects.

This is good advice for every day living not just saving for a hike.

kayak karl
08-31-2014, 07:28
This is good advice for every day living not just saving for a hike.
my jar takes my to Storybookland with the grandkids every year. THAT place is expensive :)