PDA

View Full Version : Can you afford to hike?



nuknees
04-15-2015, 06:28
I've section hiked the states of CT, MA and Vt. I've wanted to thru hike since I was a high schooler. An opportunity has arisen recently that presents me with the time to do it now in my 57 year of life. So I've been doing a lot research on the WB and other sites reading threads and journals. One thing always seems to come to the fore front to me...how expensive it is going to be! I'm almost floored by it! I just a read thread about insoles - just insoles - which like most other gear threads seems to state that you need to be prepared to spend $$$ testing out packs, bags, pads, shoes, stoves, fuels, foods to find what best works for you! I used to be a skier many years ago until it became vogue and lift tickets like the cost of living just kept sky rocketing until it became unaffordable any more.
Now it's looking like hiking has gone the same way, something out of the reach of the blue collar common man.
Anyone else seeing this trend?

Hikes in Rain
04-15-2015, 06:39
Yes and no. Gear can be incredibly expensive, or amazingly cheap. All depends on you. Check out the Dirtbagging (http://whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php/190-Cheap-Gear-%E2%80%93-How-to-Dirt-Bag-and-Deal-Shop-Like-a-Professional)article.

rocketsocks
04-15-2015, 06:52
Yes and no. Gear can be incredibly expensive, or amazingly cheap. All depends on you. Check out the Dirtbagging (http://whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php/190-Cheap-Gear-%E2%80%93-How-to-Dirt-Bag-and-Deal-Shop-Like-a-Professional)article.
Could not agree with this more, if you bide your time, you can ferret out some gear that will be quite adequate.

rocketsocks
04-15-2015, 06:54
think flea markets, yard sale, second hand stores, wally world, classifieds...and finally asking here for gear, many have stuff they can let go.

4shot
04-15-2015, 06:56
It is expensive, but as you say...what sport or hobby or pursuit isn't these days? I suppose one could do it cheap with gear from WalMart and Army Navy stores. The conundrum is heavy/cheap/poorly made/disposable gear makes it less fun. I always advise noobs to try to rent some gear from REI or borrow some to see if they like it and then take some trips. Buying cheap gear becomes expensive because you will end up replacing it IF you decide you are interested in long distance hiking.


One alternative to reduce $ is to restrict yourself to weekend trips and/or lower miles and easier trails where weight isn't so much of an issue. Or car camp and use your base camp to do day hikes from.Another tip to save $ is to look on the "for sale" forum here for used gear. However, the best gear holds its value so there isn't a ton of savings. however, a penny saved is one earned as grandma used to say. best wishes.

rocketsocks
04-15-2015, 07:02
It is expensive, but as you say...what sport or hobby or pursuit isn't these days? I suppose one could do it cheap with gear from WalMart and Army Navy stores. The conundrum is heavy/cheap/poorly made/disposable gear makes it less fun. I always advise noobs to try to rent some gear from REI or borrow some to see if they like it and then take some trips. Buying cheap gear becomes expensive because you will end up replacing it IF you decide you are interested in long distance hiking.


One alternative to reduce $ is to restrict yourself to weekend trips and/or lower miles and easier trails where weight isn't so much of an issue. Or car camp and use your base camp to do day hikes from.Another tip to save $ is to look on the "for sale" forum here for used gear. However, the best gear holds its value so there isn't a ton of savings. however, a penny saved is one earned as grandma used to say. best wishes.I would just add to this and say, if you do by cheaper gear, bring needles, thread, and duck tape, that'll get ya outta most jams...it's completely doable.

kayak karl
04-15-2015, 07:04
Still one of the cheapest vacations out there @ about $250 a week, meals included :)

nuknees
04-15-2015, 07:26
Yes and no. Gear can be incredibly expensive, or amazingly cheap. All depends on you. Check out the Dirtbagging (http://whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php/190-Cheap-Gear-%E2%80%93-How-to-Dirt-Bag-and-Deal-Shop-Like-a-Professional)article.

Yes, I'm aware of dirtbagging and DIY. I use soda can stoves, home made wind screen all of that where I can. And all of this does help reduce costs. But a lot of this stuff does have it's cons. For example in the article you mention, the author says look around your house, in your closet for items you already have. Well, I don't have polypro items in my closet and I'll go out on a limb to say many don't. Mostly cotton which we all know is a no-no. He speaks of wool - great stuff I agree - but bulky as heck! I'm not a sherpa ad don't want to be carrying those size of packs! Point being for every viable pro there is the con. Grandma Gatewood - sneakers and canvas duffle bag - I wonder how heavy that bag felt after it got wet. I don't mind being wet. That's just an inherent part of the AT. But I'm not a mule and lugging around a heavy pack will wear on the best of them. This isn't/wasn't supposed to be an exercise in survival. Then you have the fee's in various places you have to pay to hike through or shelter in. Food...that's another expensive part to consider. Think about it...really think about it. Thru hiking the trail is not cheap.

Old Hiker
04-15-2015, 07:27
Still one of the cheapest vacations out there @ about $250 a week, meals included :)

Oh, well, if you’re going to include food: http://www.carnival.com/itinerary/7-day-western-caribbean-cruise/miami/glory/7-days/cw6/?numGuests=2&destination=all-destinations&dest=any&datFrom=042015&datTo=042017&dur=D2 (http://www.carnival.com/itinerary/7-day-western-caribbean-cruise/miami/glory/7-days/cw6/?numGuests=2&destination=all-destinations&dest=any&datFrom=042015&datTo=042017&dur=D2)

PLUS you have entertainment, PLUS you have hot showers every day, PLUS you have room service !!!!

And the only gear you really need is a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and flip-flops, depending on what night you use the dining room!!

Still: I’ll take the woods.

bigcranky
04-15-2015, 07:30
You could spend several thousand dollars on the latest super ultralight gear made from unobtanium. Or you could spend a heck of a lot less. Neither set of gear will get you to Maine, it's just gear.

I think a very comfortable kit can be put together new for less than $1000, which includes a good down bag, modern lightweight tent and pack, etc. With some judicious shopping here on WB, you could save quite a bit of money on those items buying them slightly used.

For me, the real cost is the hike itself, though as KK points out, it's a lot less than most vacations.

MuddyWaters
04-15-2015, 07:41
Gear doesnt have to be expensive, and what you actually need is simple.
Food and travel, IS expensive.

MuddyWaters
04-15-2015, 07:43
Gear doesnt have to be expensive, and what you actually need is simple.
Food and travel, IS expensive.

It is a vacation though, and an extended one for long hikes. Anytime you do anything, sans income, its "expensive". Which is why you see a lot of retired people, and kids with no obligations.

tim.hiker
04-15-2015, 07:50
Can you afford not to hike ? I got into hiking around 4 years ago bought a nice pack and the essentials for less than $600 and been using it since then with no problems, it all what you want to spend but still a cheap and great way to enjoy the out doors.

rocketsocks
04-15-2015, 08:02
Yes, I'm aware of dirtbagging and DIY. I use soda can stoves, home made wind screen all of that where I can. And all of this does help reduce costs. But a lot of this stuff does have it's cons. For example in the article you mention, the author says look around your house, in your closet for items you already have. Well, I don't have polypro items in my closet and I'll go out on a limb to say many don't. Mostly cotton which we all know is a no-no. He speaks of wool - great stuff I agree - but bulky as heck! I'm not a sherpa ad don't want to be carrying those size of packs! Point being for every viable pro there is the con. Grandma Gatewood - sneakers and canvas duffle bag - I wonder how heavy that bag felt after it got wet. I don't mind being wet. That's just an inherent part of the AT. But I'm not a mule and lugging around a heavy pack will wear on the best of them. This isn't/wasn't supposed to be an exercise in survival. Then you have the fee's in various places you have to pay to hike through or shelter in. Food...that's another expensive part to consider. Think about it...really think about it. Thru hiking the trail is not cheap.To my way of thinking, that's exactly what a thru-hike is about, staying warm, fed, healthy while living deliberately. Many hiked in jeans years ago, nylon or polypropylene isn't necessary, just have to be more diligent about staying dry. As gear has changed in weight over the years, many have gotten soft in there thinking, don't perpetuate this misnomer by buying into "you have to have this to do that" delimma...you don't. Sure light weight, fast drying, have your breakfast ready at 5 for ya gear is nice...but again, it's not necessary. And yes, I will concede, gear sure has gotten expensive over the years, no doubt about it.

The Splitter
04-15-2015, 08:05
Even if one spends several thousand dollars on gear, most of this stuff will last many a season and that's what makes it affordable. Once you have your gear, it's gas and food.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

garlic08
04-15-2015, 08:13
A good friend of mine hiked the AT at age 57 upon retirement from his gov't job. He arranged his life so it was actually cheaper to be in the woods. He saved money when he hiked.

Not everyone can do that. He was a bachelor, sold his house, and had a friend who rented him a cabin only when he was there. Trail rations were about the same cost as what he normally ate. He was very frugal with gear purchases. His kit was similar to mine--my AT kit cost about $800 including an excellent Marmot Helium bag, which retails for nearly $400 (got mine half off at Steepncheap.com). He made his own rain gear, excellent stuff. I now use a set he made for me.

I was a middle-aged guy with a credit card, used to creature comforts, when I hiked the AT and it cost me a whopping $3500, about a grand under budget. It felt like I got a tax return when I got home. It was a very inexpensive life-changing vacation. There are plenty of (mostly younger) hikers who spent a lot less than that.

It's probably smart to budget at least $5K, hopefully $1K as a contingency fund you won't use. If you don't have the money, it may turn out to be a factor in finishing your hike especially if something goes wrong.

And it'll probably cost another $1K on gear and even then it won't be perfect, but what ever is? $200 on a simple Tarptent, $200 on a bag on sale, $100 on a pack on sale, $30 on a foam pad. You don't need a closet full of Patagonia or North Face clothing, just an old shirt, one good jersey ($30?) one decent jacket or fleece ($80?), and some low-end rain gear ($60?). I've been getting New Balance trail runners for less than $50 at Big 5 lately.

In summary, yes, you can afford to hike. It might take a year to get everything together and it's doubtful you'll get everything right the first time. For many, that's part of the experience.

map man
04-15-2015, 08:16
If you have section hiked CT, MA and VT then you presumably already have most of the equipment you need for hiking involving overnight camping. None of us needs to have state-of-the-art stuff to go on a long hike.

brancher
04-15-2015, 08:31
... Or you could spend a heck of a lot less. Neither set of gear will get you to Maine, it's just gear.

I think a very comfortable kit can be put together new for less than $1000,......

... Or far less! I spent years on a tight backpacking budget (kids, bills, mortgages, etc), and managed to score some decent and lightweight stuff without breaking the bank.
Examples:
Built a Tarptent - the patterns are still on the Shires' site I think.
Ebay: Great deals on decent backpacks and shelters
Target: wicking clothes, nylon shorts, etc.
Walmart: anodized aluminum cookware for CHEAP -- OR, just buy a 12cm Imusa pot for $4 bucks and kluge it into a cook set.

When I first started taking 'new age' backpacking seriously (by 'new age', I mean without cotton-batting sleeping bags, 2-lb stoves and waxed canvas Yucca packs), I was astonished at the level of gear (and the prices) that had developed -- but I was also surprised at the options for creative and affordable sourcing. My first serious lightwt (sort of) kit: Kelty Satori pack ($88 on Ebay), SD 15/0F 600 dwn bag ($110 on clearance online), Tarptent for 2 (homemade, about $60 or so), Mini Trangia (about $23 at the time), Wicking tee shirts from Target at $8 each, fleece from Old Navy, home made pack cover, free Tyvek from construction sites, etc, etc.

Ended up with less than $400 invested, including good boots and good socks. So it doesn't have to be terribly intimidating to get geared up. But you gotta think, and you gotta be creative.

Another example: I once bid on and won a 'grab box' of supposedly decent backpacking equipment off Ebay. I paid $90 bucks for it. When it arrived I opened it and found:
1 Kelty Trekker Ex-frame pack in great shape
1 North Face Tadpole tent
Ridgerest pad
PU tarp, 5X8
tent lantern
mosquito hat
mosquito shirt
Sierra Designs pack cover
550 fp down sleeping bag in outstanding condition except for a small burn hole (from the tent lantern I guess)
Old-school aluminum 'mess kit'

Not a bad day....ended up parsing it out and selling on Ebay at a profit (to fund more stuff, of course...)


As far as food/lodging, as others have said, it can be expensive or not so much - all depends on your propensity to spend your weekends paying motel bills and doing the all-you-can-eat routine, and how much effort you put into your food logistics.

Hope this gives you some ideas.... YMMV

Have fun with it!

Walkintom
04-15-2015, 08:37
"The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem."

There's always been expensive gear out there. I have a neighbor who's always going on about this or that piece of gear he paid $250-$300 for back in the 70's that you can actually buy cheaper now with better quality.

It's a lot like choosing which car to buy. The market is full of options with widely varying price ranges - get what works best for you.

canoe
04-15-2015, 08:52
Not sure where some are coming up with several thousand $$ for gear? I believe one can buy top of the line cutting edge for 1500-2000. If one will watch for sales,clearance, and discounted retail store. one can do better than that. All brand new

peakbagger
04-15-2015, 08:57
Go with the latest and greatest gear, from 3 or 4 years ago. Sierra Trading Post generally has great gear that is old stock. I don't know if Hiltons Tent City still exists in Boston, but they used to buy out inventory from other stores. They had great deals.

Learn how to do basic repairs, its amazing what gets sold as off quality that just needs some stitches or some hardware. In the whites Ragged Mountain Equipment has a downstairs gear room with just about every piece of hardware you might need to fix something. They also sell some superheavy duty thread and a hand sewing awl to use with it.

Like skiing and a lot of other sports, gear is a very minor aid compared to ability and conditioning. Why pay $100 extra dollars to save 3 ounces in pack weight rather than losing a couple of pounds getting in shape for a hike. I hiked with stock new balance trail runners for years without moldable insoles. I survived and was able to section most of the AT.

Where a lot of folks blow it is at Mountain Crossings or Mt Roger Outfitters. Neither place is putting a gun to a hikers ribs to sell them new gear at retail but many folks are vulnerable as they see other folks setting a faster pace and they think that they can buy their way to faster pace. Sometimes the hiker just blew it and didn't do the research and brought gear that just didn't match the weather.

As others have discussed town days can ruin a budget especially if you are hiking with a bunch of folks who either have a much larger budget or are just overspending. If you can just do an in and out and avoid spending the night at a motel or a hostel you probably have saved enough for two weeks food.

If you can find an old copy of the Complete Backpacker or look for older backpacking guides. You will see folks with far more and far heavier gear who routinely hiked the AT.

HooKooDooKu
04-15-2015, 09:09
The cost of gear is also related to have fast you have to have it and whether you are looking for a particular brand/model or not.

A terrific example for me recently was tents. Back in October, I got a hankering to get my sons their own tent. But I didn't need the tent last October, I need it now that weather is warming up. But I spent all winter watching for sales, deal, and clearances. Sometime in early February, I felt like the right deal had come along and I bought a quality Marmot tent that in October retailed for about $220. But because I was patient and didn't have to have a specific brand/model of tent, I bought that tent for about $125.

Slo-go'en
04-15-2015, 11:46
The thing is, gear is a relatively minor expense compared to what a thru hike can cost. As others have noted you don't have to buy everything at once which spreads the cost out over time and you can look for deals. But you still have to rise 4-5 grand for the hike, plus what ever is needed to pay ongoing bills at home, plus have a reserve fund for when you get back.

So the question is not if you can afford the gear, but can you afford the actual hike?

Crazy Larry #1
04-15-2015, 12:51
I've section hiked the states of CT, MA and Vt. I've wanted to thru hike since I was a high schooler. An opportunity has arisen recently that presents me with the time to do it now in my 57 year of life. So I've been doing a lot research on the WB and other sites reading threads and journals. One thing always seems to come to the fore front to me...how expensive it is going to be! I'm almost floored by it! I just a read thread about insoles - just insoles - which like most other gear threads seems to state that you need to be prepared to spend $$$ testing out packs, bags, pads, shoes, stoves, fuels, foods to find what best works for you! I used to be a skier many years ago until it became vogue and lift tickets like the cost of living just kept sky rocketing until it became unaffordable any more.
Now it's looking like hiking has gone the same way, something out of the reach of the blue collar common man.
Anyone else seeing this trend?
Yeah there is a trend goin on only for the trend setters. There are every year countless folks that hike the trail that just want to go do it, you do not need to have the best gear but you do need to have gear that works. you can do the trail with at least half or less of what the norm cost as long as you are willing to forgo some expenses like hostels, motels, drinking, eating out and so forth. But every now and then you will want to experience these niceties just to get refreshed......

nuknees
04-15-2015, 14:24
.....But you still have to rise 4-5 grand for the hike, plus what ever is needed to pay ongoing bills at home, plus have a reserve fund for when you get back.

So the question is not if you can afford the gear, but can you afford the actual hike?

My point confirmed...thank you.
I do have my base gear - acquiring it over several years and it's tried and true.
The thread was started in the context of a single 57 yr old making very modest pay.
Over the years I've noticed my feet taking a pounding. Common sense says look to footwear issues first. So I thought maybe the time has come to start looking at upgrading inserts from the stock ones foot gear comes with. So I found a thread about inserts here and I looked up some of the brands/models folks were writing about. Holy Smokies! $50.00 a pop (Superfeet)...and you will more than likely purchase a few pair before finding the ones that work best for you right? Yes. So lets say it takes you 3 pair before finding the ones for you...3rd times a charm right. That's $150 investment JUST IN A SHOE INSERT! Holy Smokies!
General impression any of these threads seems to say is 'what works best for you.' So maybe my subtitle should have been...'Can you afford to find out what works best for you.'
Please don't doubt my attitude or determination...I'm going as far as my traveling budget will take me! The insert incident just really got me taking a long hard look at the cost. In all honesty I didn't think walking and sleeping in the dirt actually cost this much! lol

But my real underlying intention was to bring this to the fore front for other people especially new comers.

Cheyou
04-15-2015, 14:33
U don't need no stinking inserts .

Thom

Mountain Bluebird
04-15-2015, 14:51
I've been buying secondhand gear of excellent quality at this website, and saving 20-40%. I plan to hike in 2016. When you have got lead time, you also have time to pick up what you need at a decent price.

Walkintom
04-15-2015, 15:03
It's all about expectations. If you expect to eat well, hike in comfort (relatively so), get dry and warm when you feel like it, and have a place sitting idle just waiting for you to come back to it - there's a price to be paid and monetarily it isn't cheap.

Change your expectations towards more what our grandparents would have done and you'll find that the cost plummets. Do you really need a place to live that you won't be living in for the time it takes to hike the AT? Get rid of everything that generates a bill that you won't be using on the hike, if possible.

Make a decision about cost/benefit and see if that helps. As was stated, 'You don't need no stinkin inserts' So, do you? Re-assess every single expenditure, whether it's part of the hike or not.

We spend spend spend in this country but often it's not really necessary. We just feel entitled and often compelled to do so.

RockDoc
04-15-2015, 18:32
Once you have a basic kit your expenses for gear pretty much stop, except for consumables like fuel canisters and batteries.
This is not an expensive sport, unless you want it to be.

4eyedbuzzard
04-15-2015, 19:44
You can buy serviceable gear for around $500 if you shop and are willing to buy used. Really good gear for $1000 - $1500. And great gear for $1500 - $2000. Transportation, food, lodging, etc. even for a frugal thru-hike would exceed even the "great gear" costs.

Lone Wolf
04-15-2015, 19:48
it's just walkin'. high dollar gear ain't gonna get you there. you can't buy a thru-hike just like ya can't buy a par round of golf

Uriah
04-15-2015, 20:06
Thru-hiking can be very inexpensive. I'm living, hiking proof, as are so many of those I've met on trail. Gear can certainly be costly, but there's no need to carry the expensive stuff. A $5 Harbor Freight tarp strung between two trees will keep the rain off better than some fancier contraptions. Some mosquito netting will keep the bugs at bay. And so on. My 2013 kit, in its entirety, ran $370, much of which had been used on other long hikes (PCT, CDT, Hayduke, Camino, CO Trail, GR8, etc) and includes some pretty decent carbon-fiber hiking poles from Costco. If you care for your gear, it will last. Traipse gently, use zippers gently and avoid prickly plants!

...Find a cheap way to get to and from the trail, before and after. I flew from Denver to Atlanta for $178 and then hitchhiked home from ME, which was far cheaper and much more adventurous and fun. It's also quite possible you'll meet other hikers en route who will help defray any costs.
...Eat cheap grains often (most hikers do anyway). Ramen, oatmeal, rice, beans (et al) are all quite cheap. Avoid restaurants and convenience stores. Shop dollar stores along the way (many towns have them).
...But steer clear of towns as often as possible; they'll run you dry. The woods are much cheaper.
...Consider sending your own food to you, when practical. It can help save some bucks at times.
...Wash your clothes along the trail. They are plenty of places to do this. There's no need to spend in this regard.
...Before the trip shop at your local thrift store for synthetic lightweight clothing and perhaps lightly used shoes; a visit to my local shops always offer surprises, but then CO is an active state on the whole. I haven't paid retail for anything gear-oriented for years, and I don't ever plan to.
...Learn to make more of the stuff yourself. Sewing a quilt can be difficult, but it can help you save a bundle. To save even more, buy a cheap used synthetic bag on Ebay.
...Dig through hiker boxes at every chance. They're often filled with plenty of edible goods that the original owner quickly grew tired of.
...Wal-Mart and Army surplus can be helpful before and during your trip, as someone already made mention of.
...For the AT you really don't need a number of items you might otherwise benefit from: maps, guidebook, compass, hiking poles [unless they're needed to put the cheapie tarp up!], a pocket knife, sunscreen(!), and so forth. I found it the easiest trail in terms of logistics and route-finding, but so very difficult physically. Luckily, I didn't have to carry much.
...You can always travel faster and be out there for a shorter period of time, which always helps you save. A six-month hike almost always costs more than a four-month hike, despite the increased need for calories.

And there are plenty of other ways to save.

I think not doing an adventure you've dreamed of since high school is too costly. You're in your late 50's now, so it's best not to procrastinate. I witnessed far too many old guys struggle and be forced to quit their hikes. That's a HUGE expense, emotionally. No regrets.

Another Kevin
04-15-2015, 21:21
Over the years I've noticed my feet taking a pounding. Common sense says look to footwear issues first. So I thought maybe the time has come to start looking at upgrading inserts from the stock ones foot gear comes with. So I found a thread about inserts here and I looked up some of the brands/models folks were writing about. Holy Smokies! $50.00 a pop (Superfeet)...and you will more than likely purchase a few pair before finding the ones that work best for you right? Yes. So lets say it takes you 3 pair before finding the ones for you...3rd times a charm right. That's $150 investment JUST IN A SHOE INSERT! Holy Smokies!

As a dirtbagger who weighed in on the previous thread, and a weekender who can't justify the budget for high-end gear, let me comment.

I commented that you need the pair of insoles that are right for your feet. But that's mostly a matter of a few questions. Do you have high or low arches? Does your heel or forefoot take most of the shock when you walk? Do your ankles roll inward or outward when your foot hits the ground? The Superfeet people put on the web site what you need for the various combinations. In my case it was, I have a very high arch, I'm a heel striker, I pronate some, and I don't really feel I need a heavy rock plate. (I switch to Big Clunky Boots when I need one.) Looking it up, that said, 'green,' and indeed I find the green ones quite comfortable indeed. I'm on my first pair. But if you have flat feet, strike on the forefoot, or roll outward, they'll be all wrong for you!

And the $45 green Superfeet are what let me get away with the trail runners that I just picked up for $42 after the 20% discount at the REI outlet. $87 together for a pair of hiking shoes isn't too horrible, as far as I see such things going, and I can hike through a couple pair of trail runners by the time the Superfeet have to be replaced. I don't think I could spend much less and stay safe and comfortable on the Catskill Crud (the same geologic formation as the Pennsylvania Rocks, but we have several times Pennsylvania's elevation change).

Further examples: My usual hiking attire when it isn't winter is Duo-Dri skivvies from Target (what are they, $14 or so?), a pair of nylon convertible pants (bought on clearance at EMS a while back, probably about $40), a polyester golf shirt that I got as a gimme from a booth babe at a conference ($free), a fleece with a company logo from the Salvation Army ($5), Athletech sock liners from XYZ-Mart ($9 for 6 pair, I think) and Darn Tough socks ($20ish). A Dri-Ducks rainsuit if I need one ($20ish). I think you could replicate the whole outfit for less than $100, if you don't already have most of it lying around the house.

My cook set is a Grease Pot (they're about $15 at XYZ-Mart), a Penny Stove 2.0 (homemade from soda cans - say $0.20 for the deposit and of course $0.01 for the penny), a plastic spork ($free), a cozy made from Reflectix pipe insulation and flue tape (pennies worth of both), a pot stand made from aluminum rod stock that I found in a scrap barrel ($free), and a windscreen and Fauxbaker made from a dollar store cookie sheet ($1). Oh, and a plastic coffee mug and a Melitta coffee filter, less than $20 together.

I have an REI Radiant down bag (the Kelty Cosmic is similar, and often less expensive depending on what's on sale). Less than $150 if you're willing to wait and watch the sales. I used to use an REI Half Dome tent that I got off Craigslist for about $100, but now I use a Tarptent Notch (under $200). I used to use a foam pad from XYZ-Mart, but I upgraded to a Therm-a-Rest Backpacker Lite that I got for about $70 on clearance when they replaced it with the Prolite. This year's upgrade is a Granite Gear pack, replacing the Alps Mountaineering one that I got at the REI garage sale for $70.

There's no way that I have even $1000 in gear in my summer pack. And I have what I need to stay warm, keep dry, sleep like a rock on one, and eat well.

My winter pack is another story, because some of the winter stuff, I've cut no corners on. Ascent snowshoes, microspikes, crampons, ice axe, winter-weight down bag, winter boots, puffy coat, facemask, goggles, naphtha stove, and so on - all are pricey by my standards. But winter up here is very unforgiving. If I'm going to go out in it, I need gear that can keep me safe. A thru-hiker won't encounter those sorts of conditions.

brancher
04-15-2015, 21:24
Thru-hiking can be very inexpensive. I'm living, hiking proof, as are so many of those I've met on trail. Gear can certainly be costly, but there's no need to carry the expensive stuff. A $5 Harbor Freight tarp strung between two trees will keep the rain off better than some fancier contraptions. Some mosquito netting will keep the bugs at bay. And so on. My 2013 kit, in its entirety, ran $370, much of which had been used on other long hikes (PCT, CDT, Hayduke, Camino, CO Trail, GR8, etc) and includes some pretty decent carbon-fiber hiking poles from Costco. If you care for your gear, it will last. Traipse gently, use zippers gently and avoid prickly plants!

...Find a cheap way to get to and from the trail, before and after. I flew from Denver to Atlanta for $178 and then hitchhiked home from ME, which was far cheaper and much more adventurous and fun. It's also quite possible you'll meet other hikers en route who will help defray any costs.
...Eat cheap grains often (most hikers do anyway). Ramen, oatmeal, rice, beans (et al) are all quite cheap. Avoid restaurants and convenience stores. Shop dollar stores along the way (many towns have them).
...But steer clear of towns as often as possible; they'll run you dry. The woods are much cheaper.
...Consider sending your own food to you, when practical. It can help save some bucks at times.
...Wash your clothes along the trail. They are plenty of places to do this. There's no need to spend in this regard.
...Before the trip shop at your local thrift store for synthetic lightweight clothing and perhaps lightly used shoes; a visit to my local shops always offer surprises, but then CO is an active state on the whole. I haven't paid retail for anything gear-oriented for years, and I don't ever plan to.
...Learn to make more of the stuff yourself. Sewing a quilt can be difficult, but it can help you save a bundle. To save even more, buy a cheap used synthetic bag on Ebay.
...Dig through hiker boxes at every chance. They're often filled with plenty of edible goods that the original owner quickly grew tired of.
...Wal-Mart and Army surplus can be helpful before and during your trip, as someone already made mention of.
...For the AT you really don't need a number of items you might otherwise benefit from: maps, guidebook, compass, hiking poles [unless they're needed to put the cheapie tarp up!], a pocket knife, sunscreen(!), and so forth. I found it the easiest trail in terms of logistics and route-finding, but so very difficult physically. Luckily, I didn't have to carry much.
...You can always travel faster and be out there for a shorter period of time, which always helps you save. A six-month hike almost always costs more than a four-month hike, despite the increased need for calories.

And there are plenty of other ways to save.

I think not doing an adventure you've dreamed of since high school is too costly. You're in your late 50's now, so it's best not to procrastinate. I witnessed far too many old guys struggle and be forced to quit their hikes. That's a HUGE expense, emotionally. No regrets.


Very Well Articulated!

4shot
04-15-2015, 22:09
As a dirtbagger who weighed in on the previous thread, and a weekender who can't justify the budget for high-end gear, let me comment.



There's no way that I have even $1000 in gear in my summer pack. And I have what I need to stay warm, keep dry, sleep like a rock on one, and eat well.

My winter pack is another story, because some of the winter stuff, I've cut no corners on. Ascent snowshoes, microspikes, crampons, ice axe, winter-weight down bag, winter boots, puffy coat, facemask, goggles, naphtha stove, and so on - all are pricey by my standards. But winter up here is very unforgiving. If I'm going to go out in it, I need gear that can keep me safe. A thru-hiker won't encounter those sorts of conditions.

Kevin...nice post and I agree. However, even a rig "under $1,000' is still expensive (at least to some of us). Put it differently, i sort of agree with the OP...the start up costs of long distance hiking is steep. One can get outfitted for bass fishing, big (or small) game hunting, or even golf for less $. However, as someone else said, the ongoing costs of hiking are a lot less. So, after you "bite the bullet" and the gear is acquired and paid for, I cannot imagine a cheaper endeavor.

mattjv89
04-15-2015, 22:44
A lot said already but I'll try to give a meaningful $.02. All these threads that come up about the elusive "best" piece of particular gear can really get to scaring you as the costs rack up but there really is no best anything as it comes down to preference. Case in point rain shells, a commonly asked about item. You could spend thousands testing them out and finding the one that is just perfect for you, Event vs. Gore, pit zips or no, etc. etc. but in reality just about all of them are waterproof and breathe a little better than your average trash bag. You absolutely don't have to have the best of anything to do a thru hike. 200 something miles in there's a few things I would tweak but it all works and I am not throwing any more big $$ at my pack for the duration of the hike barring equipment failure that needs replacing. I would prioritize finding the right footwear for yourself far beyond any of the other "best" things as that is highly personal and can be a make or break item for your hike. I and probably many others have spent a bit learning footwear lessons. It's just like the saying that what's under the hood of a car doesn't mean a thing if the tires suck, if your shoes are tearing up your feet anything on your back is a moot point because you aren't going far.

4eyedbuzzard
04-15-2015, 22:50
Kevin...nice post and I agree. However, even a rig "under $1,000' is still expensive (at least to some of us). Put it differently, i sort of agree with the OP...the start up costs of long distance hiking is steep. One can get outfitted for bass fishing, big (or small) game hunting, or even golf for less $. However, as someone else said, the ongoing costs of hiking are a lot less. So, after you "bite the bullet" and the gear is acquired and paid for, I cannot imagine a cheaper endeavor.I'd strongly debate the big game hunting and golf clubs cost comparisons. They are right up there in price. Fishing can be somewhat less, but even that can be pretty expensive. These days, though, the reality is that $1000 just isn't all that much money when it comes down to purchasing goods. Hiking remains a relatively cheap pastime due to the lack of activity fees and ongoing costs and such.

BirdBrain
04-15-2015, 22:58
I think hiking gear costs should be measure in cost per mile. If you look at it in those terms, spending a bit more to always carry a little less weight makes more sense. I regret not biting the bullet a bit more on a couple things.

Lyle
04-16-2015, 00:15
Gear will neither make or break your hike. Research and buy the best gear you can afford (and still have money for the hike), keep light weight as a goal, but you do not NEED the absolute lightest of each item.

FAR more important than gear is attitude and determination.

fiddlehead
04-16-2015, 01:03
Hiking is the cheapest way possible to spend your time (and money)
Name a different sport that costs less.

I've hiked with people who sewed straps on a gymbag for a pack.
I've hiked with people who did the whole trail without a: knife, flashlight, stove, cookit, underwear, sock liners, sunglasses, first aid kit, camera, tent, shoes (they hiked in sandals. No I didn't hike with, but have met the barefoot sisters), maps, compass, or watch.

All you really need is a sleeping bag and some food.
Yes, you need a shower once in a while.

futureatwalker
04-16-2015, 03:27
One thing always seems to come to the fore front to me...how expensive it is going to be! I'm almost floored by it!

Good gear can be expensive. But think about how much a night in a hotel costs. $50? $100? $150?

And many people stay several nights in a hotel during their vacation.

After a few nights in your tent, it has already paid for itself relative to staying in a hotel.

Hoofit
04-16-2015, 05:46
it's just walkin'. high dollar gear ain't gonna get you there. you can't buy a thru-hike just like ya can't buy a par round of golf
Ha!
ain't that the truth!
Sure, buying the best gear will lighten your load but it takes mental attitude and perserversnce to thru hike the trail.
a lighter load will certainly make your day more pleasurable, particularly if you have back or health issues but , as mentioned, if you take good care of your stuff, the investment in quality gear is more than worth it.
I guess it all depends how how much time you have to hunt down gear , such as in the off season, sales e.t.c., especially if you're not leaving for awhile.
i've shaved almost 10 pounds off my original total pack weight, still working on the forty or so pounds around my gut! ( that would also come off on the trail but I would like to shed the weight before I return to the woods!)

squeezebox
04-16-2015, 06:24
Cycling can get pretty expensive too. $5K road bicycle, $300 shoes, $100 shorts(s), Jersey(s), $3K mountain bike. Touring bicycle & panniers, Easy to hit $15K

squeezebox
04-16-2015, 06:29
Cycling can get pretty expensive too. $5K road bicycle, $300 shoes, $100 shorts(s), Jersey(s), $3K mountain bike. Touring bicycle & panniers, Easy to hit $15K
My point is there are no cheap hobbies.

Traveler
04-16-2015, 06:52
Cycling can get pretty expensive too. $5K road bicycle, $300 shoes, $100 shorts(s), Jersey(s), $3K mountain bike. Touring bicycle & panniers, Easy to hit $15K
My point is there are no cheap hobbies.

Very true. Most any hobby one takes seriously in adult life either has an element of expense or risk to it, sometimes both.

Cheyou
04-16-2015, 07:05
Only thing expensive about my trip is the burbon


Thom

Colter
04-16-2015, 07:28
The big, unnecessary expenses come from people buying things they want but don't really need.

Do you need to take 30 zeros in motels? Nope, that might be what you want though.

Do you need to party with your friends? That might be really fun, but you don't need to.

Do you need the very lightest gear, the newest gear? the prettiest gear? No, no and no.

Do you need that freeze dried food? Exotic coffee? The chocolate covered macadamia nuts vs. peanut M&Ms, the steak vs. the burger? No.

Most of us "need" some luxuries, but perseverance, wise choices and a positive, flexible attitude can cut your budget dramatically.

ny breakfast
04-16-2015, 07:48
buy older high end gear. there will be alot more on the market in the coming years. i have a high end mt. bike from 1989 person was asking $150 witch was very far price i noticed he liked old bikes and i had one to trade i had no use for and was very happy to trade. the old mt. bike has technology that you wouldn't find till you hit over $1000 in today's bikes it's a little harder climbing hills with the way the frame design but much more comfortable then anything today and reliable. I've had a lot of good complements on my rig from cyclist ridding $2000-5000 bikes. a lot of my backpacking gear is cutting edge from 4-5 years purchased used with a repair here and there or repaired myself. i have made some new splurges for myself but i have a lot of gear being a section hiker and going out in all four seasons around my work schedule. i wouldn't be able to keep up with my bills doing a thru hike. and if i sold everything i own i probably wouldn't cover my expenses i had to stop working temporarily because it was coasting me more to go to work than i was making. doing a little down sizing to get out for another section. i didn't go crazy spending i just had all my equipment for work damaged from a disaster, loss my vehicles, family health problems, trying to get payed from customers, all this stuff can add up a whole lot faster then gear. looking forward to my next section we are all at different points in life. you have to suit your needs everything is a trade off

Crazy Larry #1
04-16-2015, 08:09
it's just walkin'. high dollar gear ain't gonna get you there. you can't buy a thru-hike just like ya can't buy a par round of golf

What about about a round of beer before a par round of golf?

colorado_rob
04-16-2015, 08:45
I sure hear the same thing all the time "Good, expensive gear won't get you to Katadin", and it's true in some sense, but ask yourself what is your primary goal? to simply get from point A to point B? Or to enjoy yourself in the journey. If you have super-cheap heavy stuff, you probably won't enjoy it as much as you would if you sprang for a couple/few pieces of better gear, and as has already been said, you can get some pretty decent light stuff for not a ton of $$$, just shop the sales, Ebay, craigslist and get it done.

And repeating others again: Once you have the gear, this really is a fairly inexpensive past time. One aspect lost on some: when you are on the trail, the other costs of living drop significantly, like gasoline, utilities, entertainment costs, etc. I think this is a very reasonably priced sport, even though I personally opt for the more expensive gear (I just paid $490 for yet another sleeping bag! Argh....).

garlic08
04-16-2015, 09:00
Cycling can get pretty expensive too. $5K road bicycle, $300 shoes, $100 shorts(s), Jersey(s), $3K mountain bike. Touring bicycle & panniers, Easy to hit $15K
My point is there are no cheap hobbies.

Yes, it can get that way. But cycling does not need to be expensive. I cycle 3-5000 miles a year, often much more when I go on tour, on my old steel touring bike that cost $300 (less than many pedal options today). Maintenance on the bike, including drive train parts and tires, costs less than $100/year. I spend less per month on a bike tour than I do on a hiking trip. Right before I read this post, I was thinking about how inexpensive cycling is, as both a hobby and as transportation. By not driving all those miles, I've actually saved quite a bit of money, and other paybacks are too numerous to mention (like staying in shape for hiking).

My point is there are plenty of cheap hobbies. I don't think I could afford NOT cycling.

And I would ask the OP, can you afford not hiking? I don't think you'll find any AT hiker who regretted the cost of the hike, whether it's $1,000 or $10,000. The gains last a lifetime, and will often change your life.

Another Kevin
04-16-2015, 09:48
The thing is, gear is a relatively minor expense compared to what a thru hike can cost. As others have noted you don't have to buy everything at once which spreads the cost out over time and you can look for deals. But you still have to rise 4-5 grand for the hike, plus what ever is needed to pay ongoing bills at home, plus have a reserve fund for when you get back.

So the question is not if you can afford the gear, but can you afford the actual hike?

Right. The big question is, can you afford not to have a paycheck for half a year? The $5000 isn't too different from half a year's living expenses anywhere else, if you can manage not to be paying rent, making car and auto insurance payments, and so on in addition to your hiking expenses.

But there's a still bigger question: Can you afford, financially, and more important, mentally and spiritually, to walk away from your life for half a year? (I'll probably never make a thru-hike. I can't foresee ever putting the rest of my life on hold for that long. I have obligations to my family, my community, my church, and others. Always have, always will. until the day comes to walk the lonesome valley home.)

John B
04-16-2015, 11:01
nuknees, let me go about this from another direction. You mentioned shoe inserts, which in my view are rarely helpful, but other than that, what exactly do you need and how much do you feel is a fair price? I didn't read each post carefully, but skimming the thread I can't recall your mention of anything other gear than inserts. No?

Bronk
04-16-2015, 13:51
If you watch for sales you can get some very good quality gear for cheap. I keep an eye on the bargain cave at Cabelas and was able to get a $99 sleeping bag for $30. Similar deals on tents and other gear. A lot depends upon you. Are you the kind of person that has to always have the newest bestest name brandest thing on the market? If so you can easily spend $1500 to $2000 or more getting outfitted. But I've got less than $300 in my setup and it works great and I'm happy with it.

brancher
04-16-2015, 16:17
Cycling can get pretty expensive too. $5K road bicycle, $300 shoes, $100 shorts(s), Jersey(s), $3K mountain bike. Touring bicycle & panniers, Easy to hit $15K

Ain't that the truth!! I don't have THAT much $$ in my cycling rigs but I am a little pensive about truly counting all the bucks spent between my Trek 520 Touring rig and my CF endurance bike. Plus all the foo-foo that goes with 'em!

Also sea kayaking - I went a few yards down that rabbit hole as well.....

All these specialty sports, endurance sports, and personal challenge sports beg for money.

nuknees
04-16-2015, 18:14
Only thing expensive about my trip is the burbon

Here - here...Cheers! :)

nuknees
04-16-2015, 18:26
.... until the day comes to walk the lonesome valley home.)

You won't be taking the long hike alone friend. Thank you for all the insights.

Second Hand
04-16-2015, 18:40
My trail name is second hand because, in my younger years, I got all of my gear used on Craigslist, yard sales, and flea markets.
Now I've graduated to REI garage sales!

It may not always be exactly what you want and you may have to deal with some shifty people from time to time, but it taught me a lot about backpacking. What you really need and what you can live without. 2 other lessons I learned.
1.) Good gear lasts, so if someone takes care of it, there is no reason not to buy it used.
2.) A lot of people spend big bucks only to decide they hate backpacking! I got a lot of amazing gear for pennies on the dollar that had never spent a night in the woods.

nuknees
04-16-2015, 18:44
nuknees, let me go about this from another direction. You mentioned shoe inserts, which in my view are rarely helpful, but other than that, what exactly do you need and how much do you feel is a fair price? I didn't read each post carefully, but skimming the thread I can't recall your mention of anything other gear than inserts. No?

I did mention that over the years I do have my base gear and am comfortable with it. As I was surfing the threads here I came upon one about inserts. Hmmm...I wonder if a pair would 'enhance' foot comfort and fatigue thus making the walk more pleasurable. When I researched the price of them that got me taking a long hard look at the costs of everything entailing a thru hike. When I factored in the 'what works best for you' into the equation (trial and error) different stoves, clothing, bags...all of it, it didn't appear to be as inexpensive as I assumed and others I'm sure also.
So I started this thread in hopes of bringing to light not necessarily for me (because I know now) but for others who think that walking and sleeping in the dirt can't be expensive.
And, depending on how much you want to 'rough it' it doesn't have to be. But I think most thru hikers agenda isn't to go out there and pull a Les Stroud trip. That's not saying we want to party through 11 states either though.

Scrum
04-17-2015, 18:01
Hilton Tent City is still around and deals on older gear can still be found. I got a great deal on some winter hiking pants there last fall, year old model for 1/3 the cost. It can be a bit hard to find the good deals, but when you tell the staff you are on a budget they can be very helpful.

ny breakfast
04-19-2015, 08:17
i just found out i could afford a thew hike when i woke up this morning.trying to make time and space so i could work around the house. sold a few things. last night had a beverage with a friend conversation goes, wow you sold a lot of stuff what do you want for your truck,$6500,$6000 ok sold. i wasn't even selling my truck. probably not going to thru hike. but i think i'm going to start planing a section (harpers ferry-springer ga) any advice greatly appreciated probably leave in about 10 days -2 weeks from now. should i go nobo from springer or sobo from hf.

Slo-go'en
04-19-2015, 10:39
. should i go nobo from springer or sobo from hf.

Either way isn't great. Both ways will have you hiking in some really hot and muggy weather before long. It might be better to be hiking in NC in July then Virginia in July since the trail is at higher elevation in NC which might make it a tad cooler.

The other (and better) option is to go NOBO from HF and follow the flip-floppers. However, that's a somewhat more expensive direction to go in.

ny breakfast
04-19-2015, 12:30
I've section hiked hf to the green mountains VT+ HMW I'll start a new thread on this later today. so hot and muggy is the basses of the south got it please keep the topic to OP

FlyFishNut
04-22-2015, 06:34
What's worse, having the time but worrying about enough money to do a thru hike? Or having the money and not having the time or flexibility to get away : -(

garlic08
04-22-2015, 07:58
What's worse, having the time but worrying about enough money to do a thru hike? Or having the money and not having the time or flexibility to get away : -(

That is a key question--well said.

Another difficult variable is physical ability. It's probably like the old fire triangle--if one leg is missing, the hike collapses.

q-tip
04-22-2015, 11:16
If I add up all of it, backpacking and alpine climbing it is north of $10,000. Easily 40% are mistakes, buying gear that I replaced with different (lighter) I do not and will never use. My AT 3 season kit was $3,500. Western Mountaineering bags, Mont Bell, Granite Gear, Montrail, Asolo, the cost goes up pretty quickly. All of my gear was purchased when I was making really good money. Now that I am retired, I could never get the quality again. I now do weekend - week long trips and should never really have to purchase another thing for a very long time.

As for AT expenses, I spent a total of $10,000 (including $1,000 on replacement gear in Gatlinburg) to walk half. I was still recovering from a life threatening illnes and my body just broke down at mile 700, but I continued often spending 2-4 days in towns recovering. Was it worth it???? For me, yes. Would I do it again, yes. I have packed, trekked and climbed over 1,400 miles on three continents. Today I live on a fixed income broke each and every month on day 30, and would do it all again. I value those experiences infinitely more than I valued my now empty 401-K.

FlyFishNut
04-23-2015, 20:29
That is a key question--well said.

Another difficult variable is physical ability. It's probably like the old fire triangle--if one leg is missing, the hike collapses.

Right on, Garlic. I work so I can fund my hobbies (and to provide for the family). I workout like a lunatic; lifting, running, mt biking, after work to make sure I'm fit for the weekends and for when I retire - I'll be in shape to do long hikes and other cool stuff. It's the only formula I've come up with that works for me.

I envy those guys that chuck everything for their hobby/passion.

whatnot
04-24-2015, 10:45
If you need to save more money, I heard the REI Anniversary Sale is May 15 - 25. Some items marked down as much as 40%. Members will receive two coupons, one for 20% off a full-price item, the other for an REI-Outlet item (those whose price end in .73). If you have more than one big ticket item, you can purchase a second membership (or more) in the name of a spouse/partner, child, etc. in order to receive multiple coupons. The next nationwide Garage Sale is June 13th.

Wyoming
04-24-2015, 14:09
I could not help but jump into this. I think many are missing the point a bit as they are so focused on gear issues and the OP seems to have clearly stated that the gear is mostly taken care of and that it is the actual trip expenses which are an issue (other than the mention of shoe inserts - more on that below).

Doing a thru of the AT is going to cost a fair amount, but that amount can be constrained by some basic discipline. I doubt that you would want to try and plan on trip costs being less than $3500-4000. But it can surely be done for less than that if you are willing to take a more austere approach. As someone else stated, to keep costs down you do almost no zeros and do not stay in the motels at all. Stay out of towns as much as possible and for certain stay away from the party scene as it is a huge expense (not a big issue for someone your age I expect). Booze is expensive and towns are expensive and zeros are expensive. No real need for mail drops (which cost you more and promote staying in towns) as there is plenty of resupply options which are supermarket pricing. Just basic common sense. Just hike and it keeps costs down and adjust your mileage to your body and don't abuse it and then you are not always in need of zeros which end up costing lots of money. Big mileage days end up costing you more money.

And that leads me back to your only real gear question and something that needs to be said about footwear that does not get enough press.

The 'fad'? of wearing the lightest shoes possible (NB's, cheap tennis shoes, crappy quality shoes of various makes) and then supplementing them with Superfeet and thinking this is a good idea is very often a bad mistake. This is especially true for folks our age (I am 61 and did the AT at 51). There are certainly people who can do the entire trail while doing high mileage days and get away with wearing running shoes and the like. But not most people and, in general, this is not at all a good idea for someone older whose body is more fragile. In my experience most of the young folks should not be wearing running shoes either. I have seem a host of young people in light shoes destroy their feet and end up having to quit their hikes. Just in the last few days reading hiking journals of folks on the AT, PCT and CDT I have come across this very issue several times.

The only piece of top quality gear I believe is essential for a thru hike is your shoes. I highly recommend finding a pair of very hard soled sturdy hiking shoes (low top) which fit you really well. Vasque level of quality or equivalent - probably $130-150). There are many reasons for this. 1 is that they are designed for what you are doing and most times there is zero need for any replacement inserts (this saves that money); 2 they will wear much longer and probably will last the entire trail (it is not common for NB's and the like to last that long - I only get about 500 miles in a running shoe before it is worthless as the inner sole has lost its cushioning by then); 3 there is much less bruising of the feet from rocks due to the hard soles and this can turn out to be critical for being able to make the 2000+ miles; 4 in most cases the dedicated hiking shoes have much better tread and this translates over 2000 miles to a measurable number less falls due to your feet slipping and cuts down on injury potential (a big issue for us older folks). Total cost is at worst equivalent and I believe in most cases starting with the more expensive shoe ends up costing less - and then add in the other benefits and it seems an obvious choice.

Another Kevin
04-26-2015, 23:53
The 'fad'? of wearing the lightest shoes possible (NB's, cheap tennis shoes, crappy quality shoes of various makes) and then supplementing them with Superfeet and thinking this is a good idea is very often a bad mistake. This is especially true for folks our age (I am 61 and did the AT at 51). There are certainly people who can do the entire trail while doing high mileage days and get away with wearing running shoes and the like. But not most people and, in general, this is not at all a good idea for someone older whose body is more fragile. In my experience most of the young folks should not be wearing running shoes either. I have seem a host of young people in light shoes destroy their feet and end up having to quit their hikes.

It's really a question of what works best with your feet. I have a pair of Vasque shoes in my closet gathering dust, while I hike in my NB trail runners. I'm not a thru hiker, just a weekender and short-sectioner, so take what I say with a grain of salt. The longest trip I've ever done at one go was about 130 miles. On the other hand, I hike in really nasty conditions, including bushwhack travel in the Northeast. And I'm 59, so I'm familiar, like you, with the body simply not being able to take the punishment it once could.

I find, as you say, that I get about 500 miles on a pair of trail runners, which (weekender that I am) means I wind up replacing them at least once a season. I find a pair of Superfeet insoles will last through about two pair of trail runners. My feet feel better at the end of the day when I've hiked in the lightweight shoes, and I hike in very nasty conditions. The trail runners I use have fairly sticky rubber, which contributes to their short life, so they're pretty good at gripping the rock. I'm less afraid of slipping and falling when I edge or smear with them than with the Vasque shoes.

(Those who hike the A-T in three seasons can quit reading here)

Of course, I have more than one set of shoes for hiking. In addition to the NB which are my go-to most of the time, and the aforementioned Vasque white elephant, I have a pair of approach shoes. These are kind of opposite to hiking shoes. Rather than having heavy lugs, they have a nearly smooth sole in sticky crepe rubber. Nothing like them for clinging to slick granite. I also have Big Clunky Leather Boots (Timberland, I think) and a pair of Sorel pac boots. The leather boots get used when the traction gear comes out - trailrunners just aren't stiff enough to work with crampons or snowshoes, and are dodgy even with Microspikes. The pac boots come out for serious winter travel.

You don't need any of the above (approach shoes, leather boots, pac boots) for three seasons on the A-T. But most of my hiking isn't on the A-T in good weather.

kenp
04-27-2015, 10:29
As a budget section hiker, the most expensive part of Hiking the AT for me is getting to the trail head. I come the the US every summer and stay with my wife's family. So I have no car.

I can spent over 250$ for a trip getting to and from trailheads WITHIN in my own state (VA). The cost is usually greyhound, hotel (because greyhound has crazy route times) and shuttles. I have spent 5x on more transport than on gear over the last 8 years I have been hiking the AT in VA.

I was hoping to hike the GSMNP this summer, but trying to there and back is crazy difficult.

sbhikes
04-28-2015, 11:43
My point confirmed...thank you.
I do have my base gear - acquiring it over several years and it's tried and true.
The thread was started in the context of a single 57 yr old making very modest pay.
Over the years I've noticed my feet taking a pounding. Common sense says look to footwear issues first. So I thought maybe the time has come to start looking at upgrading inserts from the stock ones foot gear comes with. So I found a thread about inserts here and I looked up some of the brands/models folks were writing about. Holy Smokies! $50.00 a pop (Superfeet)...and you will more than likely purchase a few pair before finding the ones that work best for you right? Yes. So lets say it takes you 3 pair before finding the ones for you...3rd times a charm right. That's $150 investment JUST IN A SHOE INSERT! Holy Smokies!

First of all, some people do better to just take out all the inserts and hike without them. That's free. Start with free and cheap before you move up to the expensive stuff with your gear testing. Do lots of weekend backpack trips to test gear. Even wear your hiking footwear on your job.

Secondly, in regards to all this testing, you can actually test things during your long distance hike. You're not going to the moon. They have stores and Internet.

Finally, you don't have to hike the entire trail to get all the benefits of a long distance hike. Hike as far as you possibly can until your money or your feet run out.

sbhikes
04-28-2015, 11:43
My point confirmed...thank you.
I do have my base gear - acquiring it over several years and it's tried and true.
The thread was started in the context of a single 57 yr old making very modest pay.
Over the years I've noticed my feet taking a pounding. Common sense says look to footwear issues first. So I thought maybe the time has come to start looking at upgrading inserts from the stock ones foot gear comes with. So I found a thread about inserts here and I looked up some of the brands/models folks were writing about. Holy Smokies! $50.00 a pop (Superfeet)...and you will more than likely purchase a few pair before finding the ones that work best for you right? Yes. So lets say it takes you 3 pair before finding the ones for you...3rd times a charm right. That's $150 investment JUST IN A SHOE INSERT! Holy Smokies!

First of all, some people do better to just take out all the inserts and hike without them. That's free. Start with free and cheap before you move up to the expensive stuff with your gear testing. Do lots of weekend backpack trips to test gear. Even wear your hiking footwear on your job.

Secondly, in regards to all this testing, you can actually test things during your long distance hike. You're not going to the moon. They have stores and Internet.

Finally, you don't have to hike the entire trail to get all the benefits of a long distance hike. Hike as far as you possibly can until your money or your feet run out.

4eyedbuzzard
04-28-2015, 13:09
As a budget section hiker, the most expensive part of Hiking the AT for me is getting to the trail head. I come the the US every summer and stay with my wife's family. So I have no car.

I can spent over 250$ for a trip getting to and from trailheads WITHIN in my own state (VA). The cost is usually greyhound, hotel (because greyhound has crazy route times) and shuttles. I have spent 5x on more transport than on gear over the last 8 years I have been hiking the AT in VA.

I was hoping to hike the GSMNP this summer, but trying to there and back is crazy difficult.Even living in the states, if someone doesn't live close to the AT, transportation is probably their biggest expense, followed by meals/lodging.

Even using one's own car isn't exactly cheap given operating costs of fuel, maintenance, and acquisition costs. The minimum operating costs (not including the "sunk costs" of insurance and registrations) is likely in the .20 - .30 per mile range for a small $15 - $20K economy car, and obviously can double, triple, etc., based upon one's vehicle value, fuel economy, and maintenance costs.

Eating a couple of meals at restaurants on the way, staying at a motel, etc., can really add up.

Example: Last fall I did a 3 day/2 night weekend hike on the Ouachita National Scenic Trail in southern Oklahoma. It's one of the closest nice trails to where I live in Fort Worth, TX. At almost 500 miles round trip from Fort Worth, it was cheaper fuel wise to rent a weekend economy car for $45 from Enterprise that got 30mpg, than drive my old SUV that gets 15mpg. My costs for the trip were $45 (car), $60 fuel, $20 in trail food/supplies, another $10 in fast food while driving there and back. So just under $150 for a weekend hike. The transportation/car costs worked out to .21/mile (pretty good). There's just no way for me to hike any cheaper unless I lived close(r) to accessible trails, which tends to have it's own unique advantages and disadvantages - the biggest disadvantage being that stable employment and good pay in many rural areas near the trail is difficult to come by. What you gain in access, you often lose in other ways.

My take on all of it - it's 2015, and life ain't cheap anyway you look at it. But hiking is still cheaper than almost any other recreation vacation activity.

teefal
04-28-2015, 13:33
We just finished gearing up for two adults and a nine year old, using multiple 20% REI discounts, buying all new stuff and we're under $2000. Doing the same thing for skiing (with two of us renting) cost double that.

I'm sure we can get things cheaper, but with REI's "no questions asked, return in a year" policy, we're gonna see how it goes, then possibly retool with no risk.

teefal
04-28-2015, 13:35
Also, comparing food & gas costs, we spend at least $250 a week on groceries, gas, and electricity as it is. Sounds like we'd be saving money on the trail.

Wyoming
04-29-2015, 15:10
.....
I find, as you say, that I get about 500 miles on a pair of trail runners, which (weekender that I am) means I wind up replacing them at least once a season. I find a pair of Superfeet insoles will last through about two pair of trail runners. My feet feel better at the end of the day when I've hiked in the lightweight shoes, and I hike in very nasty conditions. The trail runners I use have fairly sticky rubber, which contributes to their short life, so they're pretty good at gripping the rock. I'm less afraid of slipping and falling when I edge or smear with them than with the Vasque shoes.
.....


Yup it is hard for us old guys lol.

Keep in mind that (outside of Vasque for you) there are a number of really nice hiking shoes with hard soles and there should be one which fits you well. If your feet start to consistently get sore or your mileage goes way up they are a good option to try out. Fit is very important and never buy a shoe which does not fit perfectly. I frequently have the salesperson bring me 3 pairs of the shoe I am going to buy in the same size and try all of the shoes on and then buy the best fitting set (mix and match so to speak). None of them will fit exactly the same. This seems to work well for me.

Another item which I have not seen on the forum is the effect of wearing the compression sleeves which go from your ankle to just below your knee. These things are the rage in all of pro and high end amateur sports like football, basketball and such (REI and all the sports stores carry them). They compress your lower leg and as your muscles flex their ribbing and weave help pump the blood back up your leg. I use these and they are AMAZING in how much fresher your legs are at the end of the day (don't sleep in them). If you are at all prone to leg/foot cramps they almost eliminate this issue as well. I swim about 10,000 yards a week besides hiking and before I started swimming with them everyday I would swim until I cramped out - now I never cramp out I just wear out. Old age is not for kids.