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jdavis7590
11-25-2016, 23:23
Last year at this time I was all over the internet researching for my extended section hike of the AT. This year I completed half of the trail. Springer mountain to Harpers Ferry. Just over 1000 miles. The majority of advice and comments I received while doing my research last year was completely wrong. Iím writing this to help the few this year who were like me last year.
First off, yes you can spend a fortune hiking the trail but I personally hiked on $250 a month. This included re-supplies, hostel stays, Trial Days, Alcohol etc. I hear all the time that the more money you have will result in a better time. False! I had a blast and didnít break the bank. The idea you need thousands in gear is false too. Personally, I bought everything I needed for under $500 and everything still functions as advertised to this day. I met several guys who started with Walmart gear and upgraded thru hiker boxes along the way.

If your pack with food and water is over 35lbs go back to the drawing board. Weight is your enemy. By the time I got to Virginia very few thru-hikers I met were over 25lbs with a full resupply. Half the stuff you intend to bring is not needed. By the time youíre out of the Smokies you will have already changed your diet and learned to eat skinny so your resupplies will be less too.
My point with this thread is no matter what you hear on these websites, most info will not apply to the AT. Within the first 40 miles, Neels Gap at least, most of the ones who refused to adapt gear-wise or physically/mentally got in over their head dropped out. But the real hikers rise to the top after the Smokies. Anyone that makes it pass the Smokies can do it mentally/physically barring a trail ending injury.
Donít feed in to the poopy advice thatís dribbled around these sites. There is more than one way to hike this trail and it doesnít require a second mortgage.

Message me if you want to see my gear list and how it changed, what my diet was, how I resupplied and any other questions you may have.

Storm
11-25-2016, 23:40
Good post. There is more advise on these pages than any one person can use. You have to be able to pick out the stuff that you want and disregard the rest. It's always good to have options.
I for one can't seem to make a buck stretch on the trail. Guess I like my town stops a little too much and at my age need the rest.
It is great that you could hike as inexpensively as you did. The majority can't. I always advise people to take more money than they think they will need.

Time Zone
11-25-2016, 23:47
First, kudos on your hike.

Interesting that you say that the majority of advice you got was "completely wrong" - where did you get that advice? Here on Whiteblaze? BPL?

You claim that you were told you needed to spend thousands on gear, which is associated with UL, but you seemed to have gone very light yourself. Did you buy mostly used gear? I bet many here would like to see your gear list.

PS, Using a quote (in BOLD) dubiously attributed [1] to Mark Twain hurts your credibility, IMO.

[1] http://quoteinvestigator.com/2016/06/22/why/

jdavis7590
11-26-2016, 00:04
A lot of the advice I recieved that was "completely wrong" or off the mark was from this site. You can see from my activity on the site thru the years that I didn't ask many questions myself. However I would read other threads and review the responses. My opinion is that a percentage of this advice was discouraging. My experience while talking to other hikers this year is that this was true. So many things get spread around that discourage instead of promote. I went light with supplies purchased mainly from amazon. I'm sorry that my signature robs any credibility I may have with you. However I like it and your postscript seems like an attempt to be mean. I don't like mean people so...... (raspberry noise with a thumbs down).

scrabbler
11-26-2016, 00:06
If you've got such great advice, post it. Your gear especially.

Dogwood
11-26-2016, 00:46
That's one of the most skewed posts I've ever read on WB.

Any advice taken out of context of individual appropriateness blindly followed can easily lead to generally good advice being judged bad advice. It is the individual's responsibility to hike their own hike, to own the consequences of their hike.

The conclusion of vast amounts of bad advice given here regarding hiking the AT are distorted beyond worthy of further comment.

saltysack
11-26-2016, 00:50
Take it for what it's worth....opinions are like a$$holes.......everyone has one!!!!!!love to hear you advice and see a gear list....


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

MuddyWaters
11-26-2016, 00:53
What your saying is people gave you bad advice.

What the truth is...you to selectively listen to advice

Pretty sure most advice here would echo:

Keep pack light as possible
You dont need to spend thousands, but $$$ makes it easier to be light
People have hiked trail on $1000, most wouldnt find that fun today.

Also realize you can tolerate DOUBLE the weight loss rate for half trail, than a person might for the whole trail. So you could get by with less food and less $.

You may not have needed gear for same range of temperatures either, or had to take cold weather zeros in town. ( You didnt say when you hiked)

You may have had a great time, but it is a bit disengenuous to imply more $ wouldnt have made it better. $250/mo is very spartan . People have done it for less in recent yrs too. Most dont want to and are probably incapable of it.

You had a great hike. Thats whats important. You apparently did it your way..and didnt follow certain advice.....thats great too. No single advice is right for everyone, people have to figure out what works for them.

Wolf - 23000
11-26-2016, 04:14
Jdavis7590,

I’ve been saying something similar for years. It not necessary as bad advice but what is often overlooked by many new and old time thru-hikers is, “What do you want from your hike?” You mention cost for example. Many hikers now are spending crazy amount of money, compare to yourself who spend $250 per/month. Many hikers today enjoy spending the extra time in towns, sleeping in hostels, eating out in restaurants, etc. Others hikers enjoy spending more time on the trail and less time in towns. I’m sure you spend some time in a few hostels but didn’t feel like you needed to visit everyone.

Gear works the same way. I’ve seen some thru-hikers carry 65 pounds on their back and had a great time. On the flip side, you can also thru-hike XSUL where there are no more pounds left to be reduce. Which one is better? It goes back to what do you want from your hike? If someone is carrying it, there is a good chance they want to have it with them. Some hikers get cold easy, others can handle the cold. I’ve also seen plenty of hikers freeze their butts off because they were packed for summer weather rather than Georgia March/April weather. It is one of the reasons why I don't like gear list.

Just my 2 cents.

Wolf

Hikingjim
11-26-2016, 04:47
I'd be interested in this complete gear list that is under $500 and is suitable for a March start. Please post.

$250/month? Sure, I could do that if I wanted to be really economical and meticulously plan out mail drops, etc. But I make more working than sorting out all that crap, so I'll take the hit and buy some expensive food along the way and eat stuff that's easy. How much you need/want to spend is pretty different for everyone...

jjozgrunt
11-26-2016, 07:14
Advice offered here is by people based on their experience which may or may not include hiking the AT, it would depend on whether the question was specific or general. Everyone is different and what suits one person may not suit another. It does not mean the advice was bad just that it didn't suit you or how you wanted or did do the AT.

I actually started to follow you on youtube but after taking a month to get to Fontana Dam the videos stopped so I presumed you pulled the pin. Now I have little idea of what things cost in the States, which is why I am making sure I have plenty available. Having said you stayed 6 nights in hostels in the first month $100+ leaves $150 on food, booze etc $5/day. Food and booze must be ridiculously cheap in the USA, I may not spend as much as I thought, except on beer. I love social media.

nsherry61
11-26-2016, 08:04
. . .The majority of advice and comments I received while doing my research last year was completely wrong. Iím writing this to help the few this year who were like me last year. . .

So, if you'll humor my paraphrasing a bit:
1) The trail can be enjoyed for as little as $250 per month instead of the $1000 per month often recommended on this site?
2) Gear can be acquired for as little as $500 instead of the $1000 - $1500 often quoted on WB for peoples' gear lists, especially if you scrounge upgrades from hiker boxes along the way?
3) Don't do the hike if you can't get your complete system, including food and water to below 35 lbs as apposed to what is often recommended on WB which is try and keep you pack below 35 lbs, 25 is better, but whatever, hike your own hike.

Was there anything else that was wrong information you gleaned from WB? Those three items, although central to planning are a very small amount of information compared to what is shared on WB.

Of course, WB authors have also told stories of people that have hiked the entire trail starting off with no money and scrounging food and gear along the way and told other stories of people that have run out of money and quit when they started off with $3000-$4000.

There is the $300 gear list challenge that has been discussed on WB on some threads and $1000 tents on other threads.

I share your sense that there are nay-sayers on this sight, and personally they drive me crazy! BUT, to suggest that everything you've gotten from this site is wrong and/or bad advise is patently absurd, especially since every piece of advice you are offering in your critique has also been offered on WB.

I challenge you to find, and share with us, anyplace where there is as large of concentration of experienced AT hikers as can be found on WB. . . aside from actually being along the AT.

As with any truly open forum, there are lots of BS artists that consistently add their two cents. If one can't manage to separate out the BS artists from the more honest expertise, maybe ones best source of information is a book (which will also surely have plenty of less than perfect advice for any given individual on any given trip)?

Good luck

rickb
11-26-2016, 08:21
Almost any advise on WB is tempered with alternative opinions by the outliers like yourself.

While the MAJORITY of folks would say that attempting a thru 5 month thru hike with just $1250 to cover ones's expenses is a recipe for disappointment, the beauty of WB is that there is enough diversity here that opinions like yours will be voiced -- and thinking people can consider them.

What's even better is that when outlier adivise is shared (valid as it may be) that is a recipie for disappointment the collective wisdom of many other who have "been there and done that" are sure to chime in.

The down side of all this is that most people are like sheep, and take the same path as everyone else. That is not WhiteBlaze's fault, but one of human nature.

Traveler
11-26-2016, 08:37
Last year at this time I was all over the internet researching for my extended section hike of the AT. This year I completed half of the trail. Springer mountain to Harpers Ferry. Just over 1000 miles. The majority of advice and comments I received while doing my research last year was completely wrong. I’m writing this to help the few this year who were like me last year.
First off, yes you can spend a fortune hiking the trail but I personally hiked on $250 a month. This included re-supplies, hostel stays, Trial Days, Alcohol etc. I hear all the time that the more money you have will result in a better time. False! I had a blast and didn’t break the bank. The idea you need thousands in gear is false too. Personally, I bought everything I needed for under $500 and everything still functions as advertised to this day. I met several guys who started with Walmart gear and upgraded thru hiker boxes along the way.

If your pack with food and water is over 35lbs go back to the drawing board. Weight is your enemy. By the time I got to Virginia very few thru-hikers I met were over 25lbs with a full resupply. Half the stuff you intend to bring is not needed. By the time you’re out of the Smokies you will have already changed your diet and learned to eat skinny so your resupplies will be less too.
My point with this thread is no matter what you hear on these websites, most info will not apply to the AT. Within the first 40 miles, Neels Gap at least, most of the ones who refused to adapt gear-wise or physically/mentally got in over their head dropped out. But the real hikers rise to the top after the Smokies. Anyone that makes it pass the Smokies can do it mentally/physically barring a trail ending injury.
Don’t feed in to the poopy advice that’s dribbled around these sites. There is more than one way to hike this trail and it doesn’t require a second mortgage.

Message me if you want to see my gear list and how it changed, what my diet was, how I resupplied and any other questions you may have.

I have found over time the comments here represent pretty much the full spectrum of the hiking community, from day hikers, to weekenders, section hikers, and long distance hikers. Each category has specific needs and concerns that have to be addressed, so like most things in life, one has to take comments one reads here and apply them to you and what you are doing.

Not sure you have a legitimate gripe here. You asked (or read) various posts of people's thoughts, ideas, and experiences, which is a good first step in getting a full spectrum of experiences you can utilize. That few, some, or many of these experiences, ideas, and thoughts did not suit you or you found your experience did not support is not surprising. What is surprising is returning to disparage those who participated in the conversation with their thoughts.

For example, you insist anyone carrying a 35lb pack needs to "go back to the drawing board". Clearly your experience with that weight led you to lighten the load a bit, though many people do carry that amount of weight for long treks. Your experience was different than theres, that doesn't make you or them "wrong", just different.

The "idea you need thousands in gear" is typically expressed in a sentence that you can spend thousands in gear when you may not have to. Some people go the full new UL gear route for long distance treks and get the very latest in shelter, packs, sleep gear, and footwear. That can be pricey, but if you have the money why not. Others are at the other end of the spectrum and will make a water bladder with a bit of shower curtain and glue. Most of us are somewhere between the two extremes.

Funding and budget is relative to one's comfort and needs. There again the spectrum exists from those spending $7,500 for a full end to end trek of the AT to those spending $500. Somewhere in between is where most of us are, not breaking the bank, but not having to hold a bit of cardboard begging for change at traffic intersections.

Obviously, people have differing opinions of how things can/should/could be done. If you wanted to drive from Boston to St. Louis, you would get a number of different ways to do the route. Same holds true for this forum (and others). Rather than whine about the "poopy advice" perhaps offer some of your own experiences, adding to the national conversation and lending to the spectrum of experience that others may benefit.

As you stated, "there is more than one way to hike this trail", which is correct. There is also more than one way to return with critique.

rafe
11-26-2016, 11:49
There is more than one way to hike this trail and it doesn’t require a second mortgage.

That much is certainly true.

Topics that generate the most interest on these forums do so because there is no correct answer.

One such topic, a perennial favorite in fact, is "How much will it cost?" It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a Nobel prize in economics to guess that the answer will vary enormously, depending on a vast range of factors.

The best you can hope for on a public forum is honest answers from personal experience. It's your responsibility to decide which of those make sense to you.

rocketsocks
11-26-2016, 12:00
:rolleyes:aaw, did um's get some bad advice, sounds like it was your research that was lacking.

Tipi Walter
11-26-2016, 12:21
First off, yes you can spend a fortune hiking the trail but I personally hiked on $250 a month. This included re-supplies, hostel stays, Trial Days, Alcohol etc.

But the real hikers rise to the top after the Smokies. Anyone that makes it pass the Smokies can do it mentally/physically barring a trail ending injury.
Don’t feed in to the poopy advice that’s dribbled around these sites.

Message me if you want to see my gear list and how it changed, what my diet was,

Where is Lone Wolf when you need him? IT'S JUST WALKING.

When I backpacked sections of the AT in '84 and '87 I lived on $40 per month and greatly augmented my diet with town dumpster diving and the collection and cooking of wild edibles. Oh and a heavy reliance on the Mighty Oat and oatmeal in all its forms. It also helped to be a vegetarian. I never spent a night in town but did hitch frequently for supplies (like into Luray from Shenandoah etc). Years before I left a town so why in Odin's name would I want to go backpacking and return to a town to spend the night indoors???????? The lure of the so-called "warm bed" and "hot shower" is comical and is a trap---don't do it!!

And the last thing I wanted or needed was alcohol---it is poison. Plus, Trail Days held no allure and probably didn't even exist back in 1984. Why would I want to leave the woods and the trail to glom onto a campsite filled with a thousand tents and squander my time with crowds of people in Damascus? Makes no sense.

Your quote "But the real hikers rise to the top after the Smokies" is very strange, as if section hikers or backpackers doing other trips are not real hikers. Plus, AT thruhikers even after a full thruhike (or half a thruhike) encompassing 4 or 5 months have just scratched the surface of Backpacking Knowledge and are really just beginners. Let's see what they do backpacking-wise AFTER their thruhike. If they continue to pull trips and keep backpacking for the next 40 years, then we'll talk.

Poopy advice dribbled on these sites? Then why are you here and why should anyone message you for a gear list or advice??

And anyway, Datto covered all this exhaustively in his AT Thruhiking Thread---(with it's 269 posts)---
http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/118123-Datto-s-Top-Ten-Tips-for-2017-AT-Thru-hikers-In-Planning

Bronk
11-26-2016, 12:44
Curious if that $250 included your food resupply. You say you ordered it all from Amazon...did you do this before your hike and then do mail drops or order from Amazon and have it shipped to your maildrop locations? If your food was all paid for ahead of time I can see getting by on $250 a month...if that $250 includes all of your food then I think it would be very difficult to do this without mooching and stiffing service providers.

pilgrimskywheel
11-26-2016, 13:06
I love it! I love it all! I'm the only one here who knows what I'm doing - let me tell you all about it! My advice: don't take any. Especially from somebody NOT wearing a pack - from someone who doesn't smell faintly like something you might throw away and was where you're going today yesterday. If you're talking to someone in the seated position and they're operating a motor vehicle or a computer your listening to chin music. The sun came up on a totally different trail than it went down on last night. In fairness, listening to histories both real, embellished, or imagined from the trail's past can give you little - a little - insight into the trail the sun came up on today. (That's a little chin music concerto in B flat.) My final advice on avoiding it is hike the AT in winter - there's nobody there!

jdavis7590
11-26-2016, 13:14
I’m sorry that I’ve offended some of you. LOL Some of you are passionate. I stand by what I said. Too many people insist there is a minimum cost per mile. Too many bash and discourage when folks post their future gear list. I’m obviously not a literary genius but my point was to take these type of responses with a grain of salt. I personally saw hikers who hiked on a shoestring budget who went the whole way and had fun. It is adventitious for the industry to create an idea that more is better. While preparing last year, hiking this year, and talking to folks who want to go sometime in the future, almost everyone had the alarm of cost. When I asked why they thought it would be so costly they typically recite something they heard on the internet or out of a magazine. My experience was several websites including this one. I’m personally glad I ignored most of the discouragement and decided to try the trail anyway. I never said that spending thousands was a bad idea or impractical. Do what you want. But to tell people that hiking on $250 a month will leave you holding a sign begging for change is disingenuous. I hiked comfortably halfway thru on a $250-month budget and I certainly was not the only one. One of my friends made it to Maine on a total of $1200. He didn’t steal or beg as far as I know. He saved enough to go to Hawaii and hike the trails there. I won’t argue the merits of “hike your own hike”. Yes, some people must go into most every town. Some must eat out and get a motel most every time. Some however stay on the trail and that is where the money is saved. Attack me if you must, after all I inadvertently attack some of you. I’m sure that some of you who have hundreds or even thousands of posts have been encouraging and on point every time. Bwahahahahahahahaha

cmoulder
11-26-2016, 13:23
For those of us interested in your way of doing it, can you please publish your gear list and give us some specific tips on how you did it on $250 per month. I'd like to think I could but am not sure, so it would be nice to get some direct info from somebody who has actually done it.

pilgrimskywheel
11-26-2016, 13:59
THE AT ON TEN BUCKS A DAY. A short story by Pilgrim. Coffee, oatmeal, honeybun - hike. Peanut butter tortilla with cheese and salami - hike. Sniker Bar - hike. Ramen with tuna, - sleep in a shelter. Seek hiker boxes. Repeat.

jdavis7590
11-26-2016, 14:59
For those of us interested in your way of doing it, can you please publish your gear list and give us some specific tips on how you did it on $250 per month. I'd like to think I could but am not sure, so it would be nice to get some direct info from somebody who has actually done it.

Teton Sports Pack 50L $45. I made a few modifications to remove unnecessary straps and cords.
Sierra Designs Back Country Bed 600 Fill 3 Season $180. I spent the most on my bag because as we all know your bag will save your life.
Closed Cell Pad $15. Thermarest knockoff
Stanley Cook Pot $14
Energizer Head Lamp $9
Nylon Pants and Shirt (Walmart Clearance) $12 LOL After 1000 miles I’m still wearing both regularly with burn holes and all.
Wool Top and Bottom (Mid weight) $50. There are several Chinese companies that make super cheap quality merino wool. I will add that the butt on my bottoms did eventually give out.
Merrill Moab Ventilators $65. If you wait and possibly take a color you might not like you can save a ton on shoe cost.
1 pair darn tough socks and one pair of cheap wool socks to sleep in $25
Columbia fleece (Mid layer) $20
Columbia Synthetic Jacket $35
Balaclava and gloves $15 (bought out of Walmart bargain bin)
Walmart brand 10x10 Tarp I took from the wood pile in my back yard


This was my gear list minus my trail guide. I only carried several hundred miles of it at a time. Oh and a lighter, tuna can for alcohol stove and aqua mira that I already had. I started on March 1st and saw temps in the low teens at night and finished at Harpers Ferry in late June when it was very pleasant at night. I also carried a digi camera.
If you couldn’t guess, I shelter slept a lot of the time but I would occasionally string up my tarp or cowboy camp. I probably cowboy camped more than anything else.
My luxury items were my churchwarden pipe and tobacco. I brought pages from a crossword puzzle book.
I never got cold while in my bag but when the temps were low I would sleep with everything I had on. I took only what I needed and planned to have anything else that I might have missed shipped to me.
I did not carry a first aid kit. I don’t advise this because your safety is in your own hands. However, I never had a need for one. I did get a few scratches from hunting for fire wood or tight brush on the trail but just a dab of alcohol fixed that up. If you break a leg or cut an appendage off, you will need more than a hikers first aid kit. Again, I advise you take a kit.
I ate Knorr, oatmeal and grits on the trail. On resupply days I would typically get a special dinner that I would pack out and eat the same night. I was able to keep my gear weight down to the point where I could carry more food and water if I had to.
Yes, you will see folks who have tablets, solar chargers, radios, multiple changes of clothes, tents and hammocks, stoves, elaborate cookware etc. This post is not an attack on those that carry these things or other things. Also, some people eat more than I did and bought more fancy food. My point with this thread was to show that going with a more economical mindset is possible and that there is always people who will say anything less than the best is pointless. I never thought to myself that if I had better gear that I could hike another two miles on the day. I never found myself thinking that if my trail runners were just a little fancier I could go a few more miles. Or if I had the super moisture wicking fabrics then I would be happier. Everything you bring has weight and it adds up. I didn’t even bring a knife. On the rare occasion, I needed one I just used the knife of a fellow hiker. It was rare.
If you are thinking of hiking the AT then do it! Don’t let the absence of the best gear or huge sums of money affect your decision. I went cheap but never felt the effects. When the elements got bad I was comfortable. I never went ‘hungry’. You are always hungry but it’s a hiker hunger. Not a ‘your going to starve to death’ hungry. I agree that this system is not for everyone but I was not the only one by any means. I was pleasantly surprised by the numbers who shelter slept and even cold cooked.
Finally, someone got upset with my statement about real hikers show themselves after the Smokies. I still stand by that statement. When I started in March of this year I was surrounded by tons of hikers and some scoffed at my methods and had no reservations in telling me I would fail. However, a majority of these people fell off within the first few weeks according to the shelter logs. I was slow so I met a lot of people passing me. The trail has a way of righting itself. In the beginning, you will meet some people who are just terrible. I promise they eventually just disappear and only show up as memories as we discuss their behavior around the campfire.

Dogwood
11-26-2016, 15:04
For those of us interested in your way of doing it, can you please publish your gear list and give us some specific tips on how you did it on $250 per month. I'd like to think I could but am not sure, so it would be nice to get some direct info from somebody who has actually done it.

Intentionally avoid, or be fortunate to avoid, getting to the trail and back home, impromptu gear break down or replacement and medical, and in town expenses and/or simply ignore those expenses and it's not hard limiting 6 day buying in town resupplying to $40-50 per resupply. Don't spend money on trail on expensive in town eats, alcohol or other "substances" costs, or solo or 2P hotel stays, buy chow at Wally Worlds with an extreme frugality focus, and take whatever there might be from hiker boxes. I warn you living a long duration trail life in lack of abundance can lead to self absorbed behavior. Nice to hike with personal abundance including materialistic abundance so one's hike can include contributing to others success.

In 2006 for about 1/2 of an AT NOBO I made due on $200 per month for on trail expenses. It required sacrifice and discipline adapting to a new very frugal trail life. All gear was already purchased during those $200/month periods, town stays under a roof were avoided like the plague, and that does not include impromptu dental emergency costs or getting to GA from NJ or getting from ME back to NJ.

colorado_rob
11-26-2016, 15:31
With due respect, I'm not sure I've ever seen a better example of "the pot calling the kettle black".

stumpknocker
11-26-2016, 15:56
Teton Sports Pack 50L $45. I made a few modifications to remove unnecessary straps and cords.
Sierra Designs Back Country Bed 600 Fill 3 Season $180. I spent the most on my bag because as we all know your bag will save your life.
Closed Cell Pad $15. Thermarest knockoff
Stanley Cook Pot $14
Energizer Head Lamp $9
Nylon Pants and Shirt (Walmart Clearance) $12 LOL After 1000 miles Iím still wearing both regularly with burn holes and all.
Wool Top and Bottom (Mid weight) $50. There are several Chinese companies that make super cheap quality merino wool. I will add that the butt on my bottoms did eventually give out.
Merrill Moab Ventilators $65. If you wait and possibly take a color you might not like you can save a ton on shoe cost.
1 pair darn tough socks and one pair of cheap wool socks to sleep in $25
Columbia fleece (Mid layer) $20
Columbia Synthetic Jacket $35
Balaclava and gloves $15 (bought out of Walmart bargain bin)
Walmart brand 10x10 Tarp I took from the wood pile in my back yard


This was my gear list minus my trail guide. I only carried several hundred miles of it at a time. Oh and a lighter, tuna can for alcohol stove and aqua mira that I already had. I started on March 1st and saw temps in the low teens at night and finished at Harpers Ferry in late June when it was very pleasant at night. I also carried a digi camera.
If you couldnít guess, I shelter slept a lot of the time but I would occasionally string up my tarp or cowboy camp. I probably cowboy camped more than anything else.
My luxury items were my churchwarden pipe and tobacco. I brought pages from a crossword puzzle book.
I never got cold while in my bag but when the temps were low I would sleep with everything I had on. I took only what I needed and planned to have anything else that I might have missed shipped to me.
I did not carry a first aid kit. I donít advise this because your safety is in your own hands. However, I never had a need for one. I did get a few scratches from hunting for fire wood or tight brush on the trail but just a dab of alcohol fixed that up. If you break a leg or cut an appendage off, you will need more than a hikers first aid kit. Again, I advise you take a kit.
I ate Knorr, oatmeal and grits on the trail. On resupply days I would typically get a special dinner that I would pack out and eat the same night. I was able to keep my gear weight down to the point where I could carry more food and water if I had to.
Yes, you will see folks who have tablets, solar chargers, radios, multiple changes of clothes, tents and hammocks, stoves, elaborate cookware etc. This post is not an attack on those that carry these things or other things. Also, some people eat more than I did and bought more fancy food. My point with this thread was to show that going with a more economical mindset is possible and that there is always people who will say anything less than the best is pointless. I never thought to myself that if I had better gear that I could hike another two miles on the day. I never found myself thinking that if my trail runners were just a little fancier I could go a few more miles. Or if I had the super moisture wicking fabrics then I would be happier. Everything you bring has weight and it adds up. I didnít even bring a knife. On the rare occasion, I needed one I just used the knife of a fellow hiker. It was rare.
If you are thinking of hiking the AT then do it! Donít let the absence of the best gear or huge sums of money affect your decision. I went cheap but never felt the effects. When the elements got bad I was comfortable. I never went Ďhungryí. You are always hungry but itís a hiker hunger. Not a Ďyour going to starve to deathí hungry. I agree that this system is not for everyone but I was not the only one by any means. I was pleasantly surprised by the numbers who shelter slept and even cold cooked.
Finally, someone got upset with my statement about real hikers show themselves after the Smokies. I still stand by that statement. When I started in March of this year I was surrounded by tons of hikers and some scoffed at my methods and had no reservations in telling me I would fail. However, a majority of these people fell off within the first few weeks according to the shelter logs. I was slow so I met a lot of people passing me. The trail has a way of righting itself. In the beginning, you will meet some people who are just terrible. I promise they eventually just disappear and only show up as memories as we discuss their behavior around the campfire.

Thumbs up for you! You did it your way and not the way some of the "HYOH" crowd thinks you should do it.

Dogwood
11-26-2016, 16:58
What Jdavis did on trail was embody HYOH. He owned his hike. He was responsible for his hike. He determined what was right for his hike, hopefully without imposing his hike on someone or something else. That's the part of HYOH that's often ignored. :)

Where he gets it wrong is attributing bad advice is the norm here on WB. WB posters offer a range of advice that takes into context a wide range of possible approaches, situations, and potential experiences. The vast majority of WB posters are not making absolute statements coming from an intolerant attitude of 'this is the way it must be done.' Over and over this is noted by the tolerance and inclusiveness shown here with posts that include such statements like "For me", In my experience, "This is what has worked for me in that situation, etc. If one fails to note that many opinions are based on someone else's hike and someone else's currently accepted standard that's to their chagrin.That doesn't make the advice necessarily "bad." This is a site better off perceived as based on providing options, possibilities, and potential not absolutes, not a how to book based on this is what's right for all people all the time.

Perhaps two of the most potentially complex and individually specific topics are trail budgets and kits. Posters on WB generally know that orienting their posts to include and allow for a wide range of individually appropriate choices. It is ultimately up to the thinking reader which opinions hold merit and info will apply to their hikes. Don't conclude just because some info doesn't individually apply it's "bad advice." It simply may be the advice isn't necessarily bad; it just that it doesn't individually apply.

I don't want to be so blinded and distracted that I can't see the forest through the trees.

RockDoc
11-26-2016, 17:11
In terms of your experience all I am hearing is from a brief thru hike. It may mean a lot to you and you've come a long way, but we need to talk again after you have 30-40 years of varied experience, preferably international. I think you will look back on your remarks as those of a relative beginner.

jdavis7590
11-26-2016, 17:26
In terms of your experience all I am hearing is from a brief thru hike. It may mean a lot to you and you've come a long way, but we need to talk again after you have 30-40 years of varied experience, preferably international. I think you will look back on your remarks as those of a relative beginner.

Thanks RockDoc. I didn't realize how unimportant my experience was until you pointed it out. Im amazed how much you can tell about someone from reading a few posts. For those who can recognize it, you have only validated my point.

TexasBob
11-26-2016, 17:32
Bad advice from people lurking on the internet? Imagine that! :eek:

colorado_rob
11-26-2016, 19:57
blah, blah, blah..... Im amazed how much you can tell about someone from reading a few posts.You got one thing right! As did the WB web designers when they included the "ignore" button.

AfterParty
11-26-2016, 20:30
I like and appriciate your point of view. Even though I have yet to hike I know I won't spend 5k but that's just me. And I don't really have to worry about it, but I'm just cheap but I feel like I could do the trail for much closer to 2-3k and not suffer in the slightest.

garlic08
11-26-2016, 20:38
Another common piece of advice on this site is that things get more expensive, and tougher in places, in New England. My monthly average cost increased at the end, and my daily mileage decreased a bit.

Also, there is a difference in costs between hiking half of AT and hiking the entire AT. Some of the gear may need to be replaced or exchanged for a different season. A hiker may eventually get tired or sick and really need to rest. A family emergency may need some travel spending. Etc.

Just as I would never hike with someone else's pack, I don't know why people come here looking for advice, especially from unknown sources. But as long as people ask, I guess there are people (like me) willing to give their own opinions. It's no surprise some think there's bad, or at least incomplete, information here. Many posts start with, "I'm not a thru-hiker, but...."

Time Zone
11-26-2016, 21:07
I'm sorry that my signature robs any credibility I may have with you. However I like it and your postscript seems like an attempt to be mean. I don't like mean people so...... (raspberry noise with a thumbs down).

Sorry, not trying to be mean, no raspberries from me to you. I do think critical thinking is an important skill, and I think that it is important to not misquote others. Without getting political (but you can let your imagination run wild), too often fake quotes are repeated and then taken up by others, repeated again, until they get a patina of "truthiness" to them. My point was simply that by signing with a fake/misattributed quote in big bold letters undermines any point anyone tries to make. You have a POV worth considering ... I'm just suggesting that if you want it to have greater impact, reconsider your sig line [1]

Frankly I find your story remarkable and while I think "anyone" could go with that little gear, not just anyone would be happy to do so. I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, and I have quite a bit of sympathy for going about things in a thrifty way. I admire your ability ... and willingness ... to do so (mostly ... I'm not so keen on doing without and counting on others ... for knife, first aid, etc).

I do agree with some other posters here (esp. Dogwood, first to say so) that it appears you mischaracterized your pre-hike situation by saying "The majority of advice and comments I received ...." But Traveler summed things up nicely - I'll leave it at that.

[1] Here's a potential replacement: "The problem with internet quotes is that you can't always depend on their accuracy. - Abraham Lincoln, 1864"

rocketsocks
11-26-2016, 21:22
Another common piece of advice on this site is that things get more expensive, and tougher in places, in New England. My monthly average cost increased at the end, and my daily mileage decreased a bit.

Also, there is a difference in costs between hiking half of AT and hiking the entire AT. Some of the gear may need to be replaced or exchanged for a different season. A hiker may eventually get tired or sick and really need to rest. A family emergency may need some travel spending. Etc.

Just as I would never hike with someone else's pack, I don't know why people come here looking for advice, especially from unknown sources. But as long as people ask, I guess there are people (like me) willing to give their own opinions. It's no surprise some think there's bad, or at least incomplete, information here. Many posts start with, "I'm not a thru-hiker, but...."well I'm not a thru-hiker but...if I see posts that say the trail can be hiked for $800 and others that say bring $10,000 I know that I better find out what the deal is. I also know that if a poster has 10,000 or 3 it's not a measure of there outdoor skills level.

rocketsocks
11-26-2016, 21:26
...and I guess I also know that if a fella doesn't bring a knife or at least a razor blade opting to rely on borrowing one from another hiker should the situation arise...that my conversation with said hiker is done! :cool:

I wont even get into the not carrying a first aid kit

rocketsocks
11-26-2016, 21:27
well I'm not a thru-hiker but...if I see posts that say the trail can be hiked for $800 and others that say bring $10,000 I know that I better find out what the deal is. I also know that if a poster has 10,000 or 3 it's not a measure of there outdoor skills level.posts...ten thousand or three posts

Puddlefish
11-26-2016, 23:02
Everyone has dribbly poopy advice except for you, got it. ... and moving along now.

Alligator
11-26-2016, 23:24
Teton Sports Pack 50L $45. I made a few modifications to remove unnecessary straps and cords.
Sierra Designs Back Country Bed 600 Fill 3 Season $180. I spent the most on my bag because as we all know your bag will save your life.
Closed Cell Pad $15. Thermarest knockoff
Stanley Cook Pot $14
Energizer Head Lamp $9
Nylon Pants and Shirt (Walmart Clearance) $12 LOL After 1000 miles I’m still wearing both regularly with burn holes and all.
Wool Top and Bottom (Mid weight) $50. There are several Chinese companies that make super cheap quality merino wool. I will add that the butt on my bottoms did eventually give out.
Merrill Moab Ventilators $65. If you wait and possibly take a color you might not like you can save a ton on shoe cost.
1 pair darn tough socks and one pair of cheap wool socks to sleep in $25
Columbia fleece (Mid layer) $20
Columbia Synthetic Jacket $35
Balaclava and gloves $15 (bought out of Walmart bargain bin)
Walmart brand 10x10 Tarp I took from the wood pile in my back yard


This was my gear list minus my trail guide. I only carried several hundred miles of it at a time. Oh and a lighter, tuna can for alcohol stove and aqua mira that I already had. I started on March 1st and saw temps in the low teens at night and finished at Harpers Ferry in late June when it was very pleasant at night. I also carried a digi camera.
If you couldn’t guess, I shelter slept a lot of the time but I would occasionally string up my tarp or cowboy camp. I probably cowboy camped more than anything else.
My luxury items were my churchwarden pipe and tobacco. I brought pages from a crossword puzzle book.
I never got cold while in my bag but when the temps were low I would sleep with everything I had on. I took only what I needed and planned to have anything else that I might have missed shipped to me.
I did not carry a first aid kit. I don’t advise this because your safety is in your own hands. However, I never had a need for one. I did get a few scratches from hunting for fire wood or tight brush on the trail but just a dab of alcohol fixed that up. If you break a leg or cut an appendage off, you will need more than a hikers first aid kit. Again, I advise you take a kit.
I ate Knorr, oatmeal and grits on the trail. On resupply days I would typically get a special dinner that I would pack out and eat the same night. I was able to keep my gear weight down to the point where I could carry more food and water if I had to.
Yes, you will see folks who have tablets, solar chargers, radios, multiple changes of clothes, tents and hammocks, stoves, elaborate cookware etc. This post is not an attack on those that carry these things or other things. Also, some people eat more than I did and bought more fancy food. My point with this thread was to show that going with a more economical mindset is possible and that there is always people who will say anything less than the best is pointless. I never thought to myself that if I had better gear that I could hike another two miles on the day. I never found myself thinking that if my trail runners were just a little fancier I could go a few more miles. Or if I had the super moisture wicking fabrics then I would be happier. Everything you bring has weight and it adds up. I didn’t even bring a knife. On the rare occasion, I needed one I just used the knife of a fellow hiker. It was rare.
If you are thinking of hiking the AT then do it! Don’t let the absence of the best gear or huge sums of money affect your decision. I went cheap but never felt the effects. When the elements got bad I was comfortable. I never went ‘hungry’. You are always hungry but it’s a hiker hunger. Not a ‘your going to starve to death’ hungry. I agree that this system is not for everyone but I was not the only one by any means. I was pleasantly surprised by the numbers who shelter slept and even cold cooked.
Finally, someone got upset with my statement about real hikers show themselves after the Smokies. I still stand by that statement. When I started in March of this year I was surrounded by tons of hikers and some scoffed at my methods and had no reservations in telling me I would fail. However, a majority of these people fell off within the first few weeks according to the shelter logs. I was slow so I met a lot of people passing me. The trail has a way of righting itself. In the beginning, you will meet some people who are just terrible. I promise they eventually just disappear and only show up as memories as we discuss their behavior around the campfire.The problem here is that you have not included things in your gear list.
Now I am not saying you had any of the follow,but maybe you did.
Something to carry water in.
Stakes.
Cord for your tarp (which although you owned, you did not list a cost).
Raingear.
Pack cover, trash bag or liner, or you just let your **** get wet? Because it does rain on the AT.
If you needed to use a knife, you should have bought one. Don't preach your frugality if you borrowed it. You should be self-sufficient, it's backpacking.
Underwear, maybe you were commando.
Let's be real and no offense, but with one shirt in 1000 miles you are simply one smelly mofo. This makes the hiking community look bad in trail towns. One can get a clearance synthetic shirt at Wal-Mart for $3-5. Or an off season pair of swim trunks for shorts, cut out the lining and go commando.
Kudos for suggesting the med kit. If you recommend it put a price on it.
You paid for the Aqua Mira and used it. Price it and include the price. I drink 3-4 liters a day. How about you?
Maps?
Guidebook Price?
Did you borrow those?
Did you have a cell phone? Not a necessity but if you used it for anything hiking related, called a service provider, used an app, made a reservation, there's a cost.
Digital camera, it cost you money to buy. Items have a service life. If you use them in service during your hike, you need to price that service time.
Food bag.
Eating utensil.
Batteries and a alcohol fuel.
Trekking poles (not necessary but did you have them?
Rosanna Bandana.
Sunscreen or bug spray? Don't need the latter but the former is not a bad idea before leaf out.

Now, since you have not added in all your costs, I suspect your accounting is off elsewhere too.

As far as the site, I can't think of a topic which doesn't have contrary/multiple opinions. There is no one mind here on any subject. There are over a million posts on the site and without a doubt, I have read a majority of them.

Slo-go'en
11-26-2016, 23:45
Knorrs, oatmeal and grits is a cheap, but not exactly a very good diet in the long run. Hope you at least added tuna to the Knorrs. Though I guess it's not too far off the mark of my usual diet of Honey Bun/corn chips/Knorrs with tuna diet either. Restaurant meals are what really add up and they are very hard to pass up. But that's just me...

Dogwood
11-26-2016, 23:47
Another common piece of advice on this site is that things get more expensive, and tougher in places, in New England. My monthly average cost increased at the end, and my daily mileage decreased a bit.

Also, there is a difference in costs between hiking half of AT and hiking the entire AT. Some of the gear may need to be replaced or exchanged for a different season. A hiker may eventually get tired or sick and really need to rest. A family emergency may need some travel spending. Etc.

Just as I would never hike with someone else's pack, I don't know why people come here looking for advice, especially from unknown sources. But as long as people ask, I guess there are people (like me) willing to give their own opinions. It's no surprise some think there's bad, or at least incomplete, information here. Many posts start with, "I'm not a thru-hiker, but...."

Hey, if I read it on the internet, overheard a conversation about hiking the AT at REI, read it in a book, heard it from bemyguru.com it's got to be true, right? Yes. Good. Now tell me what's the best backpack and tent for me, do I need a compass to hike the AT, and can I thru-hike the AT with a bag of lollipops and potatoes? BTW, don't I need a gun to hike the AT? And, do I have to worry about the bears? Can you also look into your crystal 8 ball, shake it around, and professionally accurately medically diagnose when my sprained ankle will allow me back on the trail? :confused: Ok trail genie one last wish...what's tomorrow's winning Pick 6 lottery numbers?

Silly sounding but if one thinks about the quality and context of their questions before publicly posed maybe some questions wouldn't be asked or they would be rephrased to offer better clarity and context?

MuddyWaters
11-27-2016, 00:14
When seeking quick, easy answers to complicated questions,
Is it any wonder the results may not always be optimal?

rafe
11-27-2016, 00:15
Just as I would never hike with someone else's pack, I don't know why people come here looking for advice, especially from unknown sources. But as long as people ask, I guess there are people (like me) willing to give their own opinions. It's no surprise some think there's bad, or at least incomplete, information here. Many posts start with, "I'm not a thru-hiker, but...."

Totally agree with you on topics like, say, the cost of a thru hike. Too many variables, personal preferences and lifestyles, unforeseen circumstances, etc.

I have no problem asking for advice in areas where I know my experience or skill are lacking. Like, oh I dunno, hiking the JMT or camping in winter or deploying a hammock or tarp or using some newfangled gear item. I've been at this hiking stuff for forty years and I still have a lot to learn.

I'm not a thru-hiker and I don't play one on TV. I call it from my own experience and knowledge, just as Kevin calls it from the perspective of the not-so-clueless weekender, or Tipi from the perspective of the bag-night champion. In the matter of thru hiking budgets, I let others make the call. Not my department.

pilgrimskywheel
11-27-2016, 00:24
Just a couple quick tips that I encourage you to research for yourself: You've got a real nice bag. It isn't really designed to work with you wearing all your clothes in it - in fact it works backwards when you do. This is a process called reverse insulation. It's counterintuitive yet true. Clothing traps damp heat in your clothes and the bag fails to circulate heat and warm efficiently - cold air builds up in the bag in the space between you and the wall of the bag. Or, you overheat, sweat and get a chill, then get up and have no layers to add. Hello hypo! It's like wearing your coat in the house and then going outside: you need another coat! The same is true of socks in the bag. Bad for heat and bad for feet - let em breath and dry completely while you sleep naked (or in your johnnies) with your clothes in the bag with you, otherwise you'll have soft feet and blisters later. Your clothes will be warm and dry when you get up. Believe it or not I can strip and dress while zipped in. I began my thru-hike January 6, 2012 so I've had some practice. I was a Sergeant US Army Airborne Infantry, and on the DMZ in Korea temps were routinely 30 below this was the only way to ensure you'd wake up alive in the AM at stand to. We slept on the ground under ponchos strung for overhead cover. The first rookie mistake the privates ALL make is to put ALL their winter gear on and get in the fart sack. They are shocked as s*** when their rattling teeth wake em up and then they can't get warm. "I can't figure it out sarge - I got everything on and I'm even colder!?" The funny thing is that nobody ever buys this so you have to let get good and froze up a couple times before desperation forces them to take a naked leap of faith. Try it - you'll thank me I promise. EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR A SUCCESSFUL HIKE IS BETWEEN YOUR EARS

saltysack
11-27-2016, 00:36
Maybe if you'd spent more money you'd have made it to Maine......just kidding...I can't eat crap food...when I get the opportunity to thru I'll gladly eat real food when available.. WGASHYDI!!!!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Tipi Walter
11-27-2016, 00:55
You've got a real nice bag. It isn't really designed to work with you wearing all your clothes in it - in fact it works backwards when you do. This is a process called reverse insulation. It's counterintuitive yet true. Clothing traps damp heat in your clothes and the bag fails to circulate heat and warm efficiently - cold air builds up in the bag in the space between you and the wall of the bag. Or, you overheat, sweat and get a chill, then get up and have no layers to add. Hello hypo! It's like wearing your coat in the house and then going outside: you need another coat!

The same is true of socks in the bag. Bad for heat and bad for feet - let em breath and dry completely while you sleep naked (or in your johnnies) with your clothes in the bag with you, otherwise you'll have soft feet and blisters later. Your clothes will be warm and dry when you get up. Believe it or not I can strip and dress while zipped in. I began my thru-hike January 6, 2012 so I've had some practice. I was a Sergeant US Army Airborne Infantry, and on the DMZ in Korea temps were routinely 30 below this was the only way to ensure you'd wake up alive in the AM at stand to. We slept on the ground under ponchos strung for overhead cover. The first rookie mistake the privates ALL make is to put ALL their winter gear on and get in the fart sack. They are shocked as s*** when their rattling teeth wake em up and then they can't get warm. "I can't figure it out sarge - I got everything on and I'm even colder!?" The funny thing is that nobody ever buys this so you have to let get good and froze up a couple times before desperation forces them to take a naked leap of faith. Try it - you'll thank me I promise. EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR A SUCCESSFUL HIKE IS BETWEEN YOUR EARS

Good points. To Point One: Wearing too much clothing in a down bag is bad because it crushes the down from the inside out (the bag is literally stuffed) and reduces loft and thereby warmth. It also reduces the ease of mvt and tossing and turning inside a zipped up bag. Plus if you wear all of your clothing you'll be wearing more than likely dirty stuff and even sweaty or damp stuff---verboten inside a dry sleeping bag as your body and/or bag is not designed to be a clothes dryer. I sleep in fairly minimal layers no matter how cold it gets.

Why? Because I make a serious point to always pack and carry an overkill down bag on all my winter trips. What's overkill? -15F minimum, -25F if you feel like it. Going overkill is one secret to getting thru subzero temps. Another secret is to get out of the wind and use such a sleeping bag inside a good tent which reduces wind. A cold wind will eat right thru the best of down bags. (Some swear on a bivy bag to prevent heat loss thru wind).

Then again, do not sleep naked in your bag!! I kept hearing the propaganda about sleeping warmer in a bag if you sleep naked and so on a trip for several days at -10F I tried it and NEVER AGAIN. Go ahead and get up out of the bag at 3am for a pee break and see how you feel standing naked on the snow at minus ten. Plus wearing baselayers and merino or capilene bottoms and tops keeps the bag much cleaner over time.

rafe
11-27-2016, 01:11
Then again, do not sleep naked in your bag!! I kept hearing the propaganda about sleeping warmer in a bag if you sleep naked and so on a trip for several days at -10F I tried it and NEVER AGAIN. Go ahead and get up out of the bag at 3am for a pee break and see how you feel standing naked on the snow at minus ten. Plus wearing baselayers and merino or capilene bottoms and tops keeps the bag much cleaner over time.

I always keep a clean and dry base layer just for camp and for sleeping. Must not be worn hiking. Must be kept dry at all costs. A hat or beanie is a good thing too, esp. when it's cold. As you say -- it keeps the bag clean, kills that sensation of nylon against skin, adds a touch of warmth, and definitely helps on pee breaks on a cold night.

pilgrimskywheel
11-27-2016, 03:28
Yeah I failed to mention I like a bag liner. It buys 10 degrees and keeps your buns from sticking to the bag. Ah, the 3 am pee at below zero in your birthday suit is like a roll in the snow before jumping back into the hot spring! Whoohoo! And it gives the shelter mice something to discuss over their cocoa: "I saw the monster too!"

ScareBear
11-27-2016, 06:44
Glad you hiked your hike.

Yes, there are plenty of posts on WB that contain incorrect, outdated, inappropriate, irrelevant and useless information.

No, your way is NOT the only way. In fact, your way of hiking does not appeal to me at all. So, if you ever asked me, or anyone else, for information you should have prefaced it by saying "And all replies should be kept in context with the fact that I am trying to hike on 8 bucks a day, don't care about quality gear, am willing to mooch off others because I am too cheap/light to carry it myself, am not concerned with personal hygiene, and am not concerned about proper nutrition." With those caveats, you probably would have gotten more on-point information...just sayin...

MuddyWaters
11-27-2016, 07:07
@@@@@@@@@@@

AfterParty
11-27-2016, 08:04
Just because someone wants to only spend 8 bucks a day does not mean they will be a mooch. Or that they have crap gear. Just saying too

evyck da fleet
11-27-2016, 12:06
Kudos to posting your gear list for future low budget hikers.

Unfortunately, I think you've done what you rail against. There are several people on this site who on occasion post comments using words such as only, never, etc implying that there is only one way to do things, as you have relating to "real hikers" and pack weight. Also, failing to research your quote brings in to question your researching ability and whether the fault lies in the information available or the researcher ability to interpret that information.

There are several threads on this site about newbie real hikers holding court in a shelter in southern VA about their expertise as well as real hikers whose pack weighed less than 25 lbs but didn't bother to bring lightweight items like first aid kits, maps or knives. They spout off how much a pack should weigh without regard to how many days the person is going between resupplies and whether the hiker is a 5 foot tall 100 lb woman or a 6'6" 260 lb guy. I also wouldn't define a real hiker by a point on the trail, especially one before Damascus. There are still plenty of pretenders on the trail in NC/TN.

Now back to the informative for the aspiring budget hiker. Based on your post, they should be prepared to rely on other hikers for a knife, first aid, gear from hiker boxes and possibly food from hiker boxes and hikers carrying too much of it at shelters. They should be prepared to forego hygiene and wear the same dirty clothes, even if they rip, 24/7 without purchasing any replacement gear. This should get them about half the way.

Personally, I wouldn't want to go on a hike and wouldn't advocate someone else doing so without being able to be self supported. And I don't think most, not all, thru hikers would enjoy replicating your hike and being hungry all the time. I won't put a $/mo because its not a one size fits all formula when factoring in days on trail and miles per day but I think the post shows it would be possible to do it a lot closer to $500/mo than a $1000/mo for some people. Unfortunately, most low budget hikers who come on WB only state what they spent on their thru hike (not how much their hike actually cost) without factor in free food, gear, lodging, rides, etc. But, I think you've given enough information for a small percent of potential thrus to start with in order to accomplish a low budget hike if they are willing to live outside the normal comfort zone of most thru hikers.

Bronk
11-27-2016, 12:35
Staying out of towns is most of the battle in doing a low budget hike. I hiked from Springer to Waynesboro in 2002 and spent around $1600. Like the original poster here, I spent about 4 months on the trail. I took all of my zero days on the trail (and I took A LOT of zero days). I would go into town long enough to get a shower, do laundry and buy food and then I would get back out on the trail, even if I only hiked in a mile from the road and set up my tent. Overnight in town will double your budget very easily because you're buying not only a motel room but lots of additional restaurant meals and you're drooling over the gear at the outfitters. Were I to do the same hike today I bet I would spend about twice what I did back then simply for inflation alone. Hikers obsess over food as it is...that is one area I wouldn't want to skimp. It would take an enormous amount of discipline to walk past a pizza hut and not stop in...I couldn't do it. I lost 50 pounds on my hike and I can't imagine what I would have looked like with less food or even lesser quality food.

Hikingjim
11-27-2016, 12:47
You are right that you can get by with cheap gear. My first hikes I didn't put out much money, and it was fine. Not ideal, but fine. adjust as you go!

I looked at your posts to see what bad advice you might have gotten in the past, out of curiosity! Noticed your pack sale:

"I'm selling a Osprey Viva 65L Pack. I used this pack for over 1000 miles on the AT this year. I loved this pack. Its technically a ladies model but I got it because its super comfy and the suspension system is FANTASTIC. I've had over 45lbs at times after re-supplies and it carried like a champ"

45 lbs after resupply? You must be carrying a few weeks worth of your oatmeal! haha

Nothing wrong with a thread that brings up how optimal gear is not necessarily needed, and people without a lot of $ should just get out there and hike. I think there's better ways to highlight it, like being encouraging more than combative

MuddyWaters
11-27-2016, 13:08
Hmmm.
This aint no $50 Teton pack, its a $200 osprey...... Put up for sale on 8/21/16

Either this post, or this thread, was a fabrication.
over 45lbs after resupplies ... explains the month to get to fontana









I'm selling a Osprey Viva 65L Pack. I used this pack for over 1000 miles on the AT this year. I loved this pack. Its technically a ladies model but I got it because its super comfy and the suspension system is FANTASTIC. I've had over 45lbs at times after re-supplies and it carried like a champ. As you would expect, after 1000+ miles ALL zippers and draw strings operate as if it were still new. There are only two holes in it located in the front mesh storage pocket. I tried using tenacious tape to patch but because its stretchy material you can imagine how thats worked out LOL. I can't express how much this bag made my trip easier then it could have been without it. I have no doubts that it still has many many more miles left in it. It is used and I did hike a lot of miles with it so it needs cleaning. Especially in the suspension area. I'm asking $55 for it. Please message me with any questions you may have.3594735948359493595035951





Teton Sports Pack 50L $45. I made a few modifications to remove unnecessary straps and cords.
Sierra Designs Back Country Bed 600 Fill 3 Season $180. I spent the most on my bag because as we all know your bag will save your life.
Closed Cell Pad $15. Thermarest knockoff

soilman
11-27-2016, 13:17
I have been backpacking for over 40 years. I have hiked the AT twice, once as a thru hike. I don't consider myself an expert. I consider myself a life-long learner. I joined WB just before I left on my thru hike and did learn somethings. I still come back to WB to see what's going on and contribute when I feel it is appropriate. I agree that sometimes the posts on WB seem less than helpful. As I have posted in the past these people are right and they know it. But with all things in life, one needs to develop good BS detection and learn to filter. Because hiking the AT is so variable there is no one right way to do it. I think one needs to use their own experience in hiking to filter any advice they receive to fit there own hiking style and personality. The thing I see so often on WB is that many people have not developed any experience hiking and are looking to others to pattern their hike. So if they take some advice off of WB, YouTube, or the local outfitter and it doesn't work out for them, I don't see that as bad advice. It is advice that doesn't apply to them. After all the definition of advice is a recommendation on a decision or course of conduct. It is not fact.

soilman
11-27-2016, 13:22
I don't think I could hike for $8/day. I probably spend close to $4/day just on protein bars and snacks. If you are going to hike 2100 miles over a 5-6 month period I think you need more than Knorrs and oatmeal.

Malto
11-27-2016, 13:40
So much nit to pick but here the biggest.
1) 1000 miles is not a thru hike. As Garlic pointed out you likely would have had higher costs had you hiked the whole trail and you would have hit the point of maximum calorie intake causing still higher expenses.
2) relying on hiker boxes and not carrying a FAK areboth bad advice IMHO.
3) anyone that goes on the net, asks for advise and then fails to test that advice prior to undertaking a 2000 mile trip gets no sympathy from me.

pilgrimskywheel
11-27-2016, 16:03
What he said.


So much nit to pick but here the biggest.
1) 1000 miles is not a thru hike. As Garlic pointed out you likely would have had higher costs had you hiked the whole trail and you would have hit the point of maximum calorie intake causing still higher expenses.
2) relying on hiker boxes and not carrying a FAK areboth bad advice IMHO.
3) anyone that goes on the net, asks for advise and then fails to test that advice prior to undertaking a 2000 mile trip gets no sympathy from me.

ScareBear
11-27-2016, 17:18
Just because someone wants to only spend 8 bucks a day does not mean they will be a mooch. Or that they have crap gear. Just saying too

OP mooched a knife whenever he needed it because he was too cheap/light to bring one. He admitted it.

As Alligator so intuitively pointed out, either OP was leaving an awful lot of gear off his list....or.....yeah...

OP's gear list has no quality gear and he could have gotten a lighter and more useful bag for the money he actually did spend. His diet was a nutritionist's horror read. I am surprised he didn't get ill from it.

Yes, he hiked his hike. Good for him!

His hike aint for everyone. But, he expected answers to generic questions to be spot-on to his idea of what his hike should be. He really should have prefaced his queries with his quite unique scenario about his comfort level with comfort and cuisine deprivation...just sayin...

ScareBear
11-27-2016, 17:21
Oh...wait....OP didn't thru hike? He just made an attempt? What caused the failure? Diet? Gear? Mental? Injury?

I can't believe I missed this...

He is actually criticizing advice he didn't take for a hike he actually didn't complete?

Or am I missing something in my fits of laughter?..thank goodness for spellcheck....just sayin....

la.lindsey
11-27-2016, 19:18
Oh...wait....OP didn't thru hike? He just made an attempt? What caused the failure? Diet? Gear? Mental? Injury?

I can't believe I missed this...

He is actually criticizing advice he didn't take for a hike he actually didn't complete?

Or am I missing something in my fits of laughter?..thank goodness for spellcheck....just sayin....

He section hiked. He completed his section. He did not attempt a thru.

I mean, I don't think all of his advice is necessarily applicable to a thru hike but come on, no need to get nasty about it y'all.


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PennyPincher
11-27-2016, 20:36
I think the only way you can decipher if advice is good/bad for you is with experience. If you have no experience you won't be able to sort a lot of it. The more experience you have hiking, the easier it is for you to sort through what may be appropriate for you. So yeah, if you are a newb there is a lot of "bad" advice for you simply because it's not appropriate for you.

gracebowen
11-27-2016, 22:43
He borrowed a knife just 2 times. I cant see why this is such a big deal. He admitted not having a fak was not a good ideal.

When I hike my current plan is to mail myself food. I will have a monthly budget of 350 dollars with all food pre bought and postage prepaid. I will be adaoting the 300 gear list for me. I plan a late April HF flip flop.

I plan 1000 for emergency. Using current prices it will cost me 150 each way for transportation. At the very least I will have a nice section hike.

Why mail drops. $15 each box.
6 pack ramen .99 vs the $1 ive seen some say they pay

Spaghetti sauce .89
Noodles $1. = 3 or 4 meals.

For me it seems the savings will add up quickly. Of ciurse I plan on having a variety of options including homemade jerky.

Oh and my granola bars are only at HEB. Store brand. 1800 calories. $3. Gotta have those.

I will take rice and seasonings.
Not saying I will but worse case scenario rice can be soaked overnight then eaten. Point is I can soak overnight then cook.

Of my 300
100 hostels
100 supplemental food
100 ???
I am a veteran so should be ok medically. I need to do more research but Veterans Advantage should cover any emergencies.
OP could have been nicer getting his point across but I like seeing ideals for spending less money.

I know my plan will work for me. Cant wait to be an outlier.

AfterParty
11-27-2016, 23:19
Veterans advantage I like that and completely get it. I like me some ramen as in I live on it anyways. I will still have the finances while on the trail to never sleep outside but I still wanna do it as cheap as possible and sleep outside most days. I have not skimped on gear and finally got everything I want. I may do mail drops but I can't decide if the postage is worth it in the end.I can always set it up if I don't like the store visits.

gracebowen
11-27-2016, 23:35
I got a medium box and packed it with a mock resupply. For me the savings were worth it.
I am also not worried about getting tired of food because I am used to eating food I am tired of. Taking a meal or two off makes it much easier to eat food I am tired of.

Plus as I mentioned some things I can only get here. Another one is my sunflower seeds for. $1.

I need some medicines on a regular basis so I have to get mail anyway which is helping me lean towards mail resupply.

Plus by dehydrating meals I can get variety and healthier options.

The year before I hike Im going to get some summer sausage and cheese Christmas gift packs on clearance half off the day after Christmas.

The post office hours dont concern me much. I plan a midweek resupply so I will only have to wait at most a day.

I also plan to supplement some at stores along the way.
I also plan a town meal every now and then. Mostlt breakfast or lunch specials and AYCE places.

gracebowen
11-27-2016, 23:39
Hah I can just hear some comments now. I have been known to eat raw ramen. Tastes like flavored crackers.
Some say ramen isnt very healthy but its calories. Not much worse than chips, honey buns or snickers in my book as long as I eat plenty of healthy stuff too.

Venchka
11-27-2016, 23:52
Oh and my granola bars are only at HEB. Store brand. 1800 calories. $3. Gotta have those.

.

I can get to an HEB. Can you provide a link for those bars? I can't believe I missed them in 10 years in Houston.
Thanks!
Wayne


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gracebowen
11-28-2016, 00:11
https://www.heb.com/product-detail/h-e-b-chewy-granola-bars-variety-pack/1605333

To clear up any possible misunderstanding
18 bars 100 calories each = 1800 calories.

Also based on chocolate chip flavor which is what I usually eat. When I crave candy and want to be "good" I eat theese instead. Usually go thru 2 boxes a month.

I tried great value because from a calorie counting stand point trying to eat less calories they are 90 calories a bar. They cost more and to me taste worse. I will eat things because I bought them and its food but I didnt eat the great value ones.

Venchka
11-28-2016, 00:14
Thanks! We're probably going to the HEB in Crockett in January. I'll get some bars.
Wayne


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AfterParty
11-28-2016, 00:40
Sam's has some great buys on gronola bars too.

stumpknocker
11-28-2016, 07:14
Glad to see this thread turning into hiking for less money.
I'm planning on cutting back some on a 2017 walk...but won't be as thrifty as the OP.

I remember on my first thru hike that a number of times I would go into town, eat whatever I felt like, resupply and head back to the trail.
On most of my other thru hikes I stayed in towns more. That was nice, but I always remembered the good feeling I had just eating and resupplying, then heading back to the woods. That alone saves a bunch of money!

I rarely stay in shelters, rarely stay in hostels and now will rarely stay in motels.
The last motel I stayed in on the Florida Trail hike last winter had bedbugs. Got bit once and that was enough to turn me against motels. My tent is clean.

As far as knives go, I carry Swiss Mini that has a 1 3/8" blade. The only reason I carry it is for the toothpick, tweeters, finger nail file and scissors on it. I use all those frequently, but really can't remember using the blade for anything. Not a big deal to me if another hiker doesn't carry one.
I wouldn't loan it to hiker without one unless we were close friends though.

The OP stated he purchased his own food, but some jumped on him about raiding hiker boxes.
What difference does it make to anyone if a hiker takes items out of a hiker box anyway?

I always purchase food in town because my body tells me what it's craving. Sometimes the choices aren't great, but I've always made do.
I took online advice that didn't work of me on my first long walk. Put together 18 food boxes to be mailed to me along the trail.
I got the first one and told my brother to give the rest of the boxes away, which he did. I was happy not seeing any again. There was no way I could eat the same thing everyday.
I feel I save money by buying what I need along the trail. I admire people who dehydrate their own food, but that's not something I would enjoy.

My loaded pack was 40 pounds on that first thru hike. It was not a problem. I got used to carrying it within about three days and carried it from Georgia to the top of Katahdin.
I lowered pack weight after that walk and carried about a 20 lb pack on most of my other thru hikes. It would go as high as 25 lbs for winter hiking.
I just spent a bunch of money and am now in the 15 lb range with one liter of water and three days of food...but that was my choice. I choose to save money by not staying in towns along the way.
When I finally wore out my third ULA P-1 pack, I went with a lighter, smaller version. It was actually less expensive than most packs available. Just carried it on a section hike and am extremely happy with it.
I could have not spent the money on a 1 1/2 lb pack because I still have that Mystery Ranch pack I carried on the first long walk. That pack weighed about 4 lbs though. My walk, my choice.

I'm saying all this just to show that my way of saving money is different than the OP's way.
My goal is to get the cost of this next long walk down to the $3,000.00 range. That's almost half what I have spent on a few long walks.

The OP admitted he is not a literary genius. He could have stated things better, but that doesn't mean anyone should attack him because he didn't do his walk your way.
His right is to walk the trail his way. I don't care if he trades in his backpack and carries grocery bags.

My motto for WB is to post less, walk more. That will probably piss off those here who post more and walk less. :)

garlic08
11-28-2016, 09:40
To the members here who haven't thru-hiked yet, listen to Stumpknocker above. He's the real deal. Re-read his post and learn, then read it again.

Time Zone
11-28-2016, 09:55
The OP admitted he is not a literary genius. He could have stated things better, but that doesn't mean anyone should attack him because he didn't do his walk your way.


I think you're arguing against a straw man here. Most of the critiques of the OP relate to misrepresentation, on multiple fronts. I don't see it as a HYOH issue.

Wolf - 23000
11-28-2016, 10:39
From OP's gear list and style, it seem similar to Warren Doyle's style of backpacking. The focus is to keep the gear and travel cheaply. Don't get me wrong, there no crime in not spending an arm and leg to hike the AT but there is a point of over doing it. As already been pointed out, there seem to be some missing equipment compare to most what most hiker carry. Is it worth not spending the extra money on good equipment? It depends on the hiker and what he/she wants from their hike. I just wouldn't recommend to many hikers use his style as a role model to follow. It is a tough way of hiking for not to much money that is being saved.

Wolf

pilgrimskywheel
11-28-2016, 11:29
I'd recommend Muir: "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in a sack and jump over the back fence." Be nuts and ignore EVERYONE else. Counting other men's miles is like counting other men's money: ODIOUS. Radical hiking puritanicalism is a dark and embarrassing specter looming over a passing age where a monotheistic view of what is long distance hiking pedantically drives the youth to NOT hike their own hikes - but to hike the hikes of antiquity. The ad hoc juntas which spring up to qualify or disqualify what folks call themselves, or consider themselves according to titles of no meaning would make all Appalachia a kangaroo courtroom. The old dogma and its accompanying tenets suck the fun right out of hiking, and turns the place into a giant peer pressure engine where the fear of "failure" pervades. Remember what Master Yoda said: "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." I hike, therefore I am.

pilgrimskywheel
11-28-2016, 11:35
I'd recommend Muir: "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in a sack and jump over the back fence." Be nuts and ignore EVERYONE else. Counting other men's miles is like counting other men's money: ODIOUS. Radical hiking puritanicalism is a dark and embarrassing specter looming over a passing age where a monotheistic view of what is long distance hiking pedantically drives the youth to NOT hike their own hikes - but to hike the hikes of antiquity. The ad hoc juntas which spring up to qualify or disqualify what folks call themselves, or consider themselves according to titles of no meaning would make all Appalachia a kangaroo courtroom. The old dogma and its accompanying tenets suck the fun right out of hiking, and turns the place into a giant peer pressure engine where the fear of "failure" pervades. Remember what Master Yoda said: "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." I hike, therefore I am.

Tipi Walter
11-28-2016, 11:47
I'd recommend Muir: "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in a sack and jump over the back fence." Be nuts and ignore EVERYONE else. Counting other men's miles is like counting other men's money: ODIOUS. Radical hiking puritanicalism is a dark and embarrassing specter looming over a passing age where a monotheistic view of what is long distance hiking pedantically drives the youth to NOT hike their own hikes - but to hike the hikes of antiquity. The ad hoc juntas which spring up to qualify or disqualify what folks call themselves, or consider themselves according to titles of no meaning would make all Appalachia a kangaroo courtroom. The old dogma and its accompanying tenets suck the fun right out of hiking, and turns the place into a giant peer pressure engine where the fear of "failure" pervades. Remember what Master Yoda said: "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." I hike, therefore I am.

I'd say the old dogma is still in effect and is the "new dogma". Many backpackers are hypnotized by the Fast & Light hysteria whereby hikers DO count other men's miles and resupply interruptions ("Let's go to town more often!!") and most especially pack weights and how each one rates according to these weights. There is no antiquity in this fast and light mindset---it's currently the rage. Study the Ultralight movement aka religion.

Then again, labeling hikers from "section hiker" to "thruhiker" to mere backpacker to whatever else is superfluous and comical---but never underestimate the human ego and the pride and aloofness which comes from "I am a genuine Thruhiker."---the apparent (and erroneous) highest rung on the Backpacking Pyramid.

The "giant peer pressure engine" is alive and well in backpacking circles---just spend a week on the Appalachian Trail and you'll get your bellyful. And I get your point about Muir---Take what you will and start walking. It's just walking.

cmoulder
11-28-2016, 11:50
I'd recommend Muir: "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in a sack and jump over the back fence." Be nuts and ignore EVERYONE else. Counting other men's miles is like counting other men's money: ODIOUS. Radical hiking puritanicalism is a dark and embarrassing specter looming over a passing age where a monotheistic view of what is long distance hiking pedantically drives the youth to NOT hike their own hikes - but to hike the hikes of antiquity. The ad hoc juntas which spring up to qualify or disqualify what folks call themselves, or consider themselves according to titles of no meaning would make all Appalachia a kangaroo courtroom. The old dogma and its accompanying tenets suck the fun right out of hiking, and turns the place into a giant peer pressure engine where the fear of "failure" pervades. Remember what Master Yoda said: "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." I hike, therefore I am.

Well that one certainly gets the prize for the most cliches and $5 words crammed into one post. :-?:)

Tipi Walter
11-28-2016, 11:59
Well that one certainly gets the prize for the most cliches and $5 words crammed into one post. :-?

I assume you're talking about Pilgrimskywheel's post above. She's trying to get a couple points across in an intricate and wordy way but it makes sense if you read it slowly and try to apply it to actual hiking and backpacking. The only problem I see (and NOT the $5 words)---is that her thoughts could be written only as an academic exercise, a sort of scholarly interpretation of this thread's backpacking subject as seen from an "ivory tower" but with little to no actual backpacking experience in her life. Time will tell.

cmoulder
11-28-2016, 12:04
Yes, I was typing while you were posting, so I went back and added the quote when I saw your post. And a smiley face just to be safe.

But I read it fastly and still 'got it' the first time. :D

rocketsocks
11-28-2016, 12:26
This thread has nuthing to do with being a thru-hiker, aspirant or other, it has nothing to do with saving weight, money or being a literary genius...your typing and choice of verbiage is just fine. My advice, don't use this account, create a new one, it's to late for me but there's still hope for you :D
happy hiking :)

pilgrimskywheel
11-28-2016, 12:49
Wow. And here it is: as seen from an "ivory tower" but with little to no actual backpacking experience in her life. Time will tell.[/QUOTE]

pilgrimskywheel
11-28-2016, 12:51
Thanks for counting my miles and proving my point. You cats can argue about anything - it's comical in the extreme - and you owe me like $30 for five dollar words.

pilgrimskywheel
11-28-2016, 13:10
By the way, I'm a guy who likes girls - hence the avatar - and I was a paratrooper with the 101st airborne who hiked the world over as a soldier before becoming a civilian hiker. FT12 AT12,13,14,15,16 TNST13 PCT14 CDT15,16 that's four years of continuous four season hiking - I am the "never through hiker". (You may have seen some of the murals I painted along the way.) Ever hike the Manchu Mile on the DMZ in Korea? Ever run the Green Hell in Panama? Run Currahee Mountain? The Alps between Germany and Italy? Those are real killer hikes! I could go on but my hands get cold in the tower, and I've blown like $200 in polysyllabic elucidations!37196

cmoulder
11-28-2016, 13:34
LOL, well I've got to admit I thought you were a "she" as well, and when reading posts 44 and 48 I thought to myself "Man, that is one tough chick!" Ain't many ladies on the Z. :D

Tipi Walter
11-28-2016, 14:40
By the way, I'm a guy who likes girls - hence the avatar - and I was a paratrooper with the 101st airborne who hiked the world over as a soldier before becoming a civilian hiker. FT12 AT12,13,14,15,16 TNST13 PCT14 CDT15,16 that's four years of continuous four season hiking - I am the "never through hiker". (You may have seen some of the murals I painted along the way.) Ever hike the Manchu Mile on the DMZ in Korea? Ever run the Green Hell in Panama? Run Currahee Mountain? The Alps between Germany and Italy? Those are real killer hikes! I could go on but my hands get cold in the tower, and I've blown like $200 in polysyllabic elucidations!37196

Cool beans and I stand corrected. Awesome resume if true---are all of these hikes thruhikes? I like your Green Hell in Panama quote as I was stationed in the Republic of Panama in the USAF for two years from 1972-73 and spent some time in that hellish jungle (but at least no one was shooting at me in anger although the black palms trees did draw blood---and leeches). I even got to "backpack" in the Los Cruces rain forest several times and kept a keen eye out for bushmasters. (Spent my time on the Pacific side).

https://photos.smugmug.com/BooneYears/Tipi-Life/i-KQvbXf3/0/O/walter%20in%20panamasmaller.jpg
Pic taken in '72 after rappelling down a Panama waterfall (rappel rope visible on right).

https://photos.smugmug.com/BooneYears/Tipi-Life/i-NXvswTN/0/O/jungle%20panamasmaller%2072.jpg
Welcome to Uncle Sam's Panamanian Jungle Retreat---note the machete sheath and Air Force moustache and white owl cigars during a lunch break with . . . a can of vienna sausages.


Wow. And here it is: as seen from an "ivory tower" but with little to no actual backpacking experience in her life. Time will tell.[/QUOTE]

Time has told and so yes you have some backpacking experience. Any link to your trips or trip reports?

stumpknocker
11-28-2016, 15:07
Oh well...this thread strayed from ways people can save money while hiking to more internet roosters jockeying their positions.

I'll add one more thing I saw on the trail and hopefully steer the thread back to frugality and saving money while hiking.
This absolutely wouldn't work for me, but I was impressed with the hiker's fortitude.

I was on a sobo AT walk and was coming down the hill into Hanover, NH.
There was a hiker that I had seen a few times that was also walking south.
He had stopped and was cooking Lipton's just before walking into town. I asked why and he told me it was so he wouldn't be tempted to eat at a restaurant.
I was impressed because all I could think of was getting a large mushroom, spinach and anchovy pizza at "Anything But Anchovies Pizza Parlor" in town. Yes, they do have anchovies. :)
I probably spent $20.00+ on just that meal and the hiker I'm talking about spent maybe $1.00...I'm not that strong willed.

Tipi Walter
11-28-2016, 15:59
Oh well...this thread strayed from ways people can save money while hiking to more internet roosters jockeying their positions.

.

Don't worry about it---it's a general conversation about not only money but pack weight (Jdavis says "Weight is your enemy), diet changes and "poopy" Whiteblaze advice. If it were only about cash on the trail it would be in the Straight Forward Forum.

Then it veered over to AT advice in general and thruhiking vs section hiking and the interpretation thereof . . .

No sweat. Now it's back about cash on the trail.

pilgrimskywheel
11-28-2016, 16:20
Hey right on man Aim High! After Airborne school I went to 3rd Bat. Rangers where I resigned and went up for world wide assignment. (I wanted to see more than Columbus GA - and I'm a huge pussy! LOL) I ended up on the DMZ '93' 1/506 Air Assault INF Camp Greaves. As a forward observer (13F1P) I spent more time in the Chor Wan Mountains "kill zone" than not - hunting infiltrators. I returned stateside and was 1/502 Charlie Co. as their FO. I did jungle expert school in Panama '95'. They were dismantling the school and we did an abbreviated course due to the real-world mission constraints so did not win the "Columbus" patch worn by course grads but completed all requirements including the legendary "Green Hell" O-course. It was at the time generally considered to be the most difficult O-course on earth. You run it full ruck with a squad, with one man and his gear on a litter. (I was deployed with the 101 to help some Cubans back to Gitmo, and marginally disrupt the so-called war on drugs.) In '98' I was selected for special assignment to the Bund (German Army) to cross train and compete in physical fitness and marksmanship. I am very proud to have won the Sportzenbagen, German Soldier Medal, and the highly coveted Shutzenshnere (Gold), and the right to wear the Edelweiss. The Edelweiss is awarded to mountain qualified soldiers who actually hike to the elevation where the rare mountain flower grows. (All spelling likely wrong - all declassified data - didn't think to count the miles, and the goal was always to see how much MORE weight you could carry vs. the other pogues .)

Civilian hikes do not include thru-hike completion. I hiked up FLA from Okeechobee to Ocala in '11'. Took a Greyhound to Hotlanta New Years Eve and walked up Rt.19 to Amicalola. I lived, worked, and hiked the AT for 21 months beginning 1/6/12. Some sections 2-3 times in different directions, and yes I've seen every blaze now. Went down to Texas and hiked the Texas Bend (TNST) winter '13' waiting for spring. Started the PCT at kickoff, and met the wife up in White Pass Wash. where I had turned around and headed south. We hiked the rest of Wash. and OR together, got on a bus to the AT in Weed CA and hiked VA SOBO in the fall 14. We then went and started sectioning the CDT which has been our thing since. But, I did not take my ruck off from October '11' until April '15' when my daughter - my mountain Laurel was born. Yep - made her at Four Pines and she takes her name from the American mountain flowers we know so well. When I wasn't on-trail I lived on the streets working odd jobs and sometimes eating garbage so come spring I could hike again - I didn't count any of those miles either. When everyone else had long "finished" their thru-hikes and gone "home" I hiked on. The streets of CA, LA, FL, VA, TX. That's a whole different kind of hiking more akin to running for your life from zombies who would kill to get your pack. Stealth camping? Yeah, I've done that.

What I love about hiking is its just you, the mountains, and what you know - what you can do, or not - their judgement I submit to on pain of death. What I never expected was to encounter was the ridiculously harsh judgement and bullying of strangers who's big claim to "fame" is "I hiked in (insert year)". Wow! BFD. Not everyone cares about a diploma that we all know good and well you can just apply for and get. In fact, imagine this: some people don't give a hoot in Hades about it. I'll never run a marathon either but, I'll be OK. I know a few cats who got their self-reporter-certificates while bombing around in vans so...let's keep it real. I know what the threads about I read it. (G.I. Bill) Seriously? Who borrowed a knife? Who had a "real" hike? Hiking 1000 miles from Springer to Harpers is a failure? I think it's high time we bumped up the diction and the discussion so that it is one of inclusion and not exclusion. If that's cliche so be it - the trail is awash in them anyhow: HYOH - remember that one?

Dogwood
11-28-2016, 16:39
This is getting awesome now. I feel I'm in the Star Wars cantina bar room scene.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6PDcBhODqo

pilgrimskywheel
11-28-2016, 16:44
[QUOTE=Dogwood;2107544]This is getting awesome now. I feel I'm in the Star Wars cantina bar room scene.

"SORRY ABOUT THE MESS!"

Another Kevin
11-28-2016, 18:26
I've been staying out of this thread, because I give entirely too much bad advice. Good advice would probably be to find some other recreation - most of our family and friends probably shake their heads at how foolish we hikers are to be doing what we do! But since I talk too much, I'll make the mistake of talking some more.

I've never advised spending a lot. Now that I've discovered it, I'm surely going to be recommending more often that hikers compare their gear against Mark Henley's list (http://gossamergear.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Ultracheap_Henley.pdf). I don't think that I could match his $200 price. I wonder when he compiled the list and how many years of inflation to add to it, or perhaps I'm just not as good a scrounger. His 10 lb base weight is quite nice, though! Some of his stuff wouldn't be durable enough for a thru-hike. On the other hand, the most fragile of the items are easily and cheaply replaceable. It's certainly good enough for some short shakedown cruises. I'm pretty sure that I could manage with the stuff he lists.

I go with a somewhat heavier and more expensive pack by choice, because I carry more toys and comfort items than some, because I carry some more durable items than he lists, because I eat better food than he does, because I go out at times other than high summer, and because I go on trips where I plan to do things that need gear that he doesn't list. (Also, because I'd be frustrated with some of his stuff, probably because of some lack of skill or patience.) I also note that he doesn't list a digging tool. Shame on him. Still, it would be an interesting practice to use his list as a baseline, and make sure that you justify to yourself any choice that's heavier or more expensive, if you're trying to make the most miles on the least money.

I don't beg, and I hike in less-traveled places and in off seasons, so I don't assume that I'll find anything usable in a hiker box or be able to borrow from someone else. The farthest I go down that road is to coordinate shared gear occasionally with a hiking partner.

Frequency of town stops, whether they're just to resupply or overnight, and so on is a personal matter. I've had only one trip in the last four years that was long enough to need resupply. On that one, my time and financial budgets weren't insanely tight, so I planned two town stops among fourteen days on the move. Six days of hiking with a zero (or a very short near-o) to break it up seems a good rhythm to me. It turns out that things did not even go nearly as planned, but I really couldn't control for the illness and injury that came up. On a thru-hike, the illness would have meant a couple of extra town days somewhere and a visit to a doctor and a druggist; not hike-ending, but a contingency to budget for. The injury would have been hike-ending, most likely, because it took me a month to be able to walk without a cane, and it was another couple of weeks before I trusted things enough to get back on trail. That's enough time added to a thru-hike to miss the season at the end, or to do some sort of leapfrog or flip-flop schedule so as to buy more time.

Aside to the Bible-believing: See Exodus 20:9, Exodus 23:12, Leviticus 23:3, Deuteronomy 5:13 -- Moses seems to have thought it important enough to mention repeatedly that we're not built to push ourselves without a break. Mark 2:27 clarifies that it's a gift, not a restriction, and Paul emphasizes (Romans 14:5) that under the new covenant it's a guideline and not a commandment, but it still seems that a more aggressive schedule is asking to burn out. I'll count weekend hiking as 'playing and praying,' because it's enough of a break from my daily labor - but a long hike is indeed work!

Is any of what I say good advice? Probably not. It's just what I do - as a weekender and occasional short-sectioner. Despite the fact that I most likely have more trail miles than many thru-hikers, my style is so different from thru-hiking that my advice is most likely abysmally bad for a thru-hiker. I try to make it clear that I adopt a 'contrary' perspective, playing devil's advocate to keep people examining their assumptions.

Slo-go'en
11-28-2016, 19:07
I did about 700 miles (HF to VT + a little of NH) this spring for about $1400, or $2.00 a mile. (not including travel and gear) Not too bad since this was most of the expensive section of trail. It includes a $50 hostel stay in PA and CT plus $100 worth of food I ate in 2 days while at the Greymore monastery.

If your thrifty, $2 a mile is still a decent estimate of cost, or $4400. Easy to go way more then that and pretty hard to go much less then that.

gracebowen
11-28-2016, 19:18
I think I will have the fortitude to eat trail food and or grocery store food to avoid a $20 resturant meal. I have never paid $20 for a meal and dont plan to on my hike either. My plan is to keep all resturant meals to $10 or less. Preferably less.

This morning we went out to breakfast. There were 3 of us. I spent $6. Left a $1 tip. We all got full. We have a resturaunt that sells huge breakfast tacos starting at 2.60. We drank water like we almost always do.

AfterParty
11-28-2016, 19:23
I was a firefinder radar tech and oporater we had some 13f in our tps section.


Stumpknocker nailed it. The best way to spend less is to not be tempted durning town stops. Find a shower and laundry and resupply then move on to camp. Will it go down this way every time, No but if you make it a habit that could be 100 or more in town instead of say 40. Pushing through towns just sometimes could save a substantial amount over the course of a thru. Not everyone has the same intentions or habits when setting out. It all boils down to that. A smoker will spend more on cigs or weed then a non smoker. A drinker same over a non. Some like bars. Some don't. Other then bare minimum nutrition the money spent on a section or thru or walkabout or whatever is completely subjective to entirely to many individual variables. And then there is gear selection and don't forget peer pressure which can compound things exponentially. I personally didn't buy cheap gear but will be pretty frugal on my hike barring unexpected costs which I will have without a dought just hope they don't add up to thousands. I will be fine if they do and I could spend 10k but I don't want to with a passion, second only to the passion I have to attempt the hike in the first place.

gracebowen
11-28-2016, 19:23
Ps. Im pretty much a couch potato. I admit it. Yet Thanksgiving I walked 2 miles easy. I dont know much about thru hiking but I know a ton about living on a limited income and finding deals.
Even at more expensive resturants you can eat more frugally by ordering a salad, appetizer or lunch special. The ladies at my church go to Olive Garden once a year. If I go I just get unlimited soup and salad. I am there for the company not the food.

rocketsocks
11-28-2016, 19:27
"How to dirt bag and deal"

just sayin'

http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/15329-Cheap-Gear-–-How-to-Dirt-Bag-and-Deal-Shop-Like-a-Professional

egilbe
11-28-2016, 19:34
My hikes are my vacation. Im going to eat in town and enjoy every morsel of delicious high calorie food that I dont have to carry for miles. I have no interest in carrying Tip Walter's pack, nor do I want to hike 40 mile days. If I spend money, I figure Im helping the trail economy, such that it is. My way is the only right way to hike and screw the rest of you.

Tipi Walter
11-28-2016, 19:35
WARNING OFF TOPIC
Pilgrimskywheel---Excellent post and I congratulate you on getting thru some tough Army schools and envy your experience. The old jungle school was going heavy when I was there back in 1972 and the "columbus" patch was commonly seen on Army uniforms at the time. It was always fun for me to sit at the Air Force "stop and shop" at Albrook AFB and watch the green beanies come thru in their starched green OG 107 jungle blouses. All of them had strange smiles on their faces but I was just an AF puke and looked from a distance even though my unit on occasion went to Ft Gulick and Ft Sherman.

Years later and as a civilian I took an active duty Ranger out backpacking with me in NC (in the days when they wore black berets) and we talked about earning the EIB as I noticed it on his chest. He said I had good observation skills and should've been a sniper. Ha ha ha. He went to "every school they offered him" and said SERE and POW school was the worst.

RETURN TO NORMAL PROGRAMMING.

rafe
11-28-2016, 20:01
+1 to egilbe's post. I don't comment much on trail budgets for all sorts of reasons. But mostly because I'm a LASHer not a thru-hiker, and I make sure I have enough dough on hand to do the thing in comfort. Once I'm on the trail I spend what I want and don't worry about it.

In contrast to our man Tipi, I think hot showers represent the very crown and pinnacle of Western civilization, so I figure that need into my budget (both money and time.) The comforts of civilization are not lost on me.

Took me umpteen hikes and years to get from one end to the other, all of it on vacations, long weekends, etc. I really have no idea what it cost. Probably... a ton. No regrets.

pilgrimskywheel
11-28-2016, 20:31
Hey thanks for that very uplifting feedback man. Thanks for your service too. Love the pic by the way. I was born in '73' - but was still at the Bat when berets were black. I ran the EIB course in '93' for the grunts, and the commander made us all go through it even though we were ineligible to wear the award. Good training. THIS IS WHERE I LEARNED TO HIKE ON THE CHEAP AND TO IGNORE BAD ADVICE! (See how I did that?) I made like 13K as a private and I needed every nickel for beers and Mama San. So I learned to hike with the junk they give ya, and get food where I could - cause they never give ya enough. When I showed up at Mountain Crossings in '12' I was carrying standard issue equipment complete with pistol belt, LBE, 2 canteens, etc. I had spent ZERO on my gear and thought it was brilliant. I had an "alice pack" large, spy rigged with no frame, and was hauling just under 70 pounds. I should point out however this was, at the time, everything I owned on this earth. I spent 10 days painting the AT logos on the floor of the store for Winton Porter, and in the end Lumpy really squared me away. He traded every piece of standard issue junk I was toting for his own civilian hiker gear. He gave me my first legit pack a Mountain Hardware set up - sexy! Whoa what a difference! YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! (Or, paint for?) Great guy that Lumpy! Lots of GREAT advice - he helped make me the "Never Through Hiker" I am today. Cheers! Love ya Lump!

ScareBear
11-28-2016, 20:43
I have never paid $20 for a meal and dont plan to on my hike either.

You've never had a $20 restaurant meal, or you've never paid for one?

The former is sad and the latter is just cheap...

I can't see spending $20 for a meal on the trail. Even at NOC. However, there are ocaisions in life that are enhanced by having someone else cook and wait on you. Preferably with food you've never had before. $20 is a small price to pay, IMHO, for a fine meal and service. Hell, you can easily spend $20 bucks at Applebee's for some re-heated crap. I prefer Mom and Pop ethnic food joints...but....dinner can still hit $20....I'd be excluding a whole lot of life with that monetary limitation...

Good luck on the trail. You don't need to spend a lot to eat well on the trail. Especially if you are willing to carry just a little more weight and practice your technique...plenty of tomes on the topic...

egilbe
11-28-2016, 20:45
The Army made me not want to carry a pack or that heavy-assed gear they issued. I threw away my 20's being drunk, my 30's being married, my 40's recovering from marriage and my 50's, hiking. I'm pretty sure if I hadn't been in the Army in the 80's I would have spent more time hiking in my 20's and 30's. As it was, I spent my days hunting and fishing and Winters snowmobiling. Completely different goals in the great outdoors nowadays. I no longer hunt, fishing doesn't appeal to me as it did once upon a time and I very rarely drink.

People change, people's hiking styles and motivations change as they get older. Nobody is the same person in their 50's as they were in their 20's and that's a good thing.

ScareBear
11-28-2016, 20:46
+1 to egilbe's post. I don't comment much on trail budgets for all sorts of reasons. But mostly because I'm a LASHer not a thru-hiker, and I make sure I have enough dough on hand to do the thing in comfort. Once I'm on the trail I spend what I want and don't worry about it.

In contrast to our man Tipi, I think hot showers represent the very crown and pinnacle of Western civilization, so I figure that need into my budget (both money and time.) The comforts of civilization are not lost on me.

Took me umpteen hikes and years to get from one end to the other, all of it on vacations, long weekends, etc. I really have no idea what it cost. Probably... a ton. No regrets.

HEY!! You hiked my hike!!!!

Greenlight
11-28-2016, 20:47
I want to know what you ate every day. A week's menu if you will, including every calorie you consumed in that week. I'd also like to see your gear list. I know that you can get some cheap Chinese knockoff gear on Amazon for next to nothing, and believe it or not some of it is pretty solid and reliable stuff. But still...I think the way you presented your information in the original post was a bit off putting. I've learned a lot here. Does all of it apply to everyone? Nope. It isn't intended to. People come here because they love hiking. They love the AT. They have thru-hiked. They're planning a thru-hike. Or they're section hiking and will continue to do that until they die. There is a lot of hiking experience here, and a deep knowledge of every inch of the trail.



Iím sorry that Iíve offended some of you. LOL Some of you are passionate. I stand by what I said. Too many people insist there is a minimum cost per mile. Too many bash and discourage when folks post their future gear list. Iím obviously not a literary genius but my point was to take these type of responses with a grain of salt. I personally saw hikers who hiked on a shoestring budget who went the whole way and had fun. It is adventitious for the industry to create an idea that more is better. While preparing last year, hiking this year, and talking to folks who want to go sometime in the future, almost everyone had the alarm of cost. When I asked why they thought it would be so costly they typically recite something they heard on the internet or out of a magazine. My experience was several websites including this one. Iím personally glad I ignored most of the discouragement and decided to try the trail anyway. I never said that spending thousands was a bad idea or impractical. Do what you want. But to tell people that hiking on $250 a month will leave you holding a sign begging for change is disingenuous. I hiked comfortably halfway thru on a $250-month budget and I certainly was not the only one. One of my friends made it to Maine on a total of $1200. He didnít steal or beg as far as I know. He saved enough to go to Hawaii and hike the trails there. I wonít argue the merits of ďhike your own hikeĒ. Yes, some people must go into most every town. Some must eat out and get a motel most every time. Some however stay on the trail and that is where the money is saved. Attack me if you must, after all I inadvertently attack some of you. Iím sure that some of you who have hundreds or even thousands of posts have been encouraging and on point every time. Bwahahahahahahahaha

Venchka
11-28-2016, 21:18
[QUOTE=Dogwood;2107544]This is getting awesome now. I feel I'm in the Star Wars cantina bar room scene.

"SORRY ABOUT THE MESS!"

Thank you for your service!
Cheers.
Wayne


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

gracebowen
11-28-2016, 21:18
Scarebear both. It may be sad and cheap to you but its normal to me. My entire life has been lived at or below poverty level. I support up people on $2500 a month. We do okay though because I have learned how to do well with what I have.

I admit I get the occasional food box and get some clothes from charity. I got 2 patagonia skirts today in anticipation of my possible thru hike in 5 years. Heck at this rate it may just be a dream. If I get to go I will have to do it cheap but at least I am used to it.

gracebowen
11-28-2016, 21:19
Stupid phone. It should say I support up to 6 people.

pilgrimskywheel
11-28-2016, 21:32
YOU GO GIRL! This has been my big day for cliches GRACE so here goes: "It's hard to soar like an eagle when you're surrounded by turkeys." And, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." The preparation stage of your thru-hike dream is an important and integral part of that hike. Your on it now kid! "Hang on to your dreams!" Not everyone can stretch buck, but anybody can take a cheap shot.

gracebowen
11-28-2016, 21:35
YOU GO GIRL! This has been my big day for cliches GRACE so here goes: "It's hard to soar like an eagle when you're surrounded by turkeys." And, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." The preparation stage of your thru-hike dream is an important and integral part of that hike. Your on it now kid! "Hang on to your dreams!" Not everyone can stretch buck, but anybody can take a cheap shot.

Thank you.

pilgrimskywheel
11-28-2016, 21:35
OOPS! I meant to say: "NOT EVERYONE CAN STRETCH A BUCK, BUT ANYBODY CAN TAKE A CHEAP SHOT" - E. Shaffer

gracebowen
11-28-2016, 21:38
YOU GO GIRL! This has been my big day for cliches GRACE so here goes: "It's hard to soar like an eagle when you're surrounded by turkeys." And, "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." The preparation stage of your thru-hike dream is an important and integral part of that hike. Your on it now kid! "Hang on to your dreams!" Not everyone can stretch buck, but anybody can take a cheap shot.

Thank you. Sometimes I feel like I'm surrounded by turkeys. Last month I had to spend $100 extra to bail out my elderly mom because she fell for a scam.

pilgrimskywheel
11-28-2016, 21:44
There everywhere!

pilgrimskywheel
11-28-2016, 21:49
They're everywhere!

Greenlight
11-28-2016, 23:12
Dateline Fumbuck, VA (A fictional trail town on the AT) June 1, 2017: "They've never heard of kale smoothies here, Wuggums, what the hell are we going to do?!"

What is the best food to eat when you're hiking the Appalachian Trail? ALL OF IT.

I've found that I can eat anything if I squirt enough Sriracha on it. On the trail at least. The military taught me that coping mechanism. It's called culinary warfare.

Oatmeal, Knorr, and grits are snacks. What did you really eat?

...You can fit quite a bit into an Osprey



Maybe if you'd spent more money you'd have made it to Maine......just kidding...I can't eat crap food...when I get the opportunity to thru I'll gladly eat real food when available.. WGASHYDI!!!!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

pilgrimskywheel
11-28-2016, 23:55
Yup. They're everywhere. Everywhere.

stumpknocker
11-29-2016, 05:52
Well, this thread has been all over the place. Looking back I can see it wasn't the best thread to talk about hiking on a budget, but it has turned into a good direction.
I really think there is a need for sharing information on ways of hiking for less money....maybe even getting a new thread started in "Straight Forward".

Some of you gave good examples. I've known a few hikers who did things along the way to help out their budgets like pilgrimskywheel did.
gracebowen will probably have a good hike when she gets to it. It seems like she knows how to stretch a dollar.

One more example I saw of a hiker saving money was on the climb north out of Pearisburg, VA.
The guy must have had a craving for steak, but didn't want to pay restaurant prices. He bought a steak at the grocery that he said was on sale and packed it out.
He had a fire going at the tenting area on the way up to Rice Field and he was just getting ready to lay the steak on a bed of coals when I stopped to talk.
I sat down and we talked while he watched the steak.
I had eaten at a fast food place before I left town and felt like I had eaten fast food. He was eating a large steak and I think a potato for probably the cost of my fast food meal...and it was one of the best smelling steaks I remember in my lifetime.

Again, that probably wouldn't work for me, but it definitely worked for him.
My thing is walking...not spending time in camp.
The camping part for me is setting up my tent late, crawling inside and eating dinner, then going to sleep so my body can repair to walk all day again tomorrow.

Eating, resupplying, then heading back to the trail and tenting works best for me.
It's especially true in NE where the older motels don't bat an eye at charging $100.00 for a room.

Way back in this thread someone was disgusted that the OP wore the same shirt.
I only carry one shirt in the summer and it's the one on my back.
It's easy and refreshing to stop and wash the shirt and clean my body a little before I hitch into town. That takes the funk right out of the shirt and it's usually completely dry before I catch a ride.

Hopefully someone will mention something they do to budget that not many have thought of yet. :)

Engine
11-29-2016, 07:36
I'd say the old dogma is still in effect and is the "new dogma". Many backpackers are hypnotized by the Fast & Light hysteria whereby hikers DO count other men's miles and resupply interruptions ("Let's go to town more often!!") and most especially pack weights and how each one rates according to these weights. There is no antiquity in this fast and light mindset---it's currently the rage. Study the Ultralight movement aka religion.

Then again, labeling hikers from "section hiker" to "thruhiker" to mere backpacker to whatever else is superfluous and comical---but never underestimate the human ego and the pride and aloofness which comes from "I am a genuine Thruhiker."---the apparent (and erroneous) highest rung on the Backpacking Pyramid.

The "giant peer pressure engine" is alive and well in backpacking circles---just spend a week on the Appalachian Trail and you'll get your bellyful. And I get your point about Muir---Take what you will and start walking. It's just walking.

Tipi, I cut my backpacking teeth on 10-17 days trips with no resupply and packs that weighed ridiculous amounts when leaving the trailhead. Over many years my wife and I have looked critically at what we needed and what we didn't, eventually pairing our base weight down quite a bit. From there it was a relatively small step to start a hike with base weights under 15 pounds and now our winter weight is between 10 and 12 pounds. We can do this sensibly because we have those years of experience and we can make informed choices about what gear is needed versus what gear we just wanted. I still cross that line on occasion while trying to find those last couple pounds, but in all honesty, I doubt we'll get much lighter at this point. We have found our own limit where required function and acceptable comfort meet.

I said all of that so you would know where I come from when I say this; your constant denigration of those who seek to go lighter has me wondering if you have ever tried it yourself. If you haven't, let me just say how eye opening a relatively easy 20+ mile day through difficult terrain can be. Especially when you wake up the next morning without immense soreness in your shoulders, hips, knees, and feet. Don't get me wrong, the traditional method of backpacking does come with its own benefits. And I can see how current trad hikers might feel as if they are constantly being singled out as being behind the curve, when in fact, they are simply enjoying their hike their way. If you have dipped your toes in the lightweight "fad", of which Grandma Gatewood was a practitioner, I would like to hear what your thoughts are from your own experience.

Tipi Walter
11-29-2016, 09:23
Engine---interesting post. It's neat you cut your teeth on long trips without resupply, like 17 days---a trip length I am very familiar with. And then you say you've evolved to a winter base weight of 10 to 12 lbs, and yet there's no mention of still pulling 17 day trips w/o resupply. In my mind a 17 day trip would include around 35 to 40 lbs of JUST FOOD and fuel and winter items like microspikes and more clothing. So tell me, how do you pull such a long trip and what is your total pack weight?

Years ago I packed very light on occasion and used only a tarp with minimal gear and of course hit some rough spots on winter trips in the mountains of NC---think spindrift in blizzards at -10F whereby everything under my tarp with me included woke up under 8-10 inches of wind blown snow. So over time I evolved a kit able to handle the good and the bad and the ugly all at the same time.

My current "base weight" system comes to around 30 lbs---and then add 18 to 21 days worth of food and fuel (44ozs of white gas), several books (book rolls---home-copied interwad stuff), ample clothing, and other accoutrements of idiocy. My current tent is my beloved friend and has gotten me thru dozens of tough storms atop open balds and 150 hour rainstorms and high winds at 5,500 feet or polar vortexes in subzero temps and still offers outstanding sq footage (36) and ample room for all my crap and room to sit out a series of blizzards on zero days when movement is futile due to snow depths. This tent weighs 8 lbs 10 ozs----Oops, not Ultralight approved. But ask anyone who has spent 6 days in their tent due to a series of mountain snowstorms and he'll tell you the bigger the tent the better the experience (within reason).

My denigration of the Fast and Light mvt and Ultralight philosophy in general has to do with the UL concept being pushed on forums and blogs and even used as corporate logos such as the Thermarest Fast & Light series of pads. This philosophy creates a hierarchy of value whereby those with envious and ordained Uber Lightness become holier than thou and will now take your questions etc. And of course such lightness can only achieved by doing what I call Snippet Trips---short 3 or 4 day trips with minimal food and fuel or long trail trips with debilitating and constant town visits for resupplies.

Show me an Ultralighter with a 45 lb food load and we'll talk.

CHRIS TOWNSEND
Expert British backpacker Chris Townsend has some interesting things to say about food and backpacking---

"At around 2 lbs a day a week's food weighs 14 lbs and when you start adding those weights to a pack it ceases to be ultralight."


"Much more than a week's food and however ultralight your basic gear your total load will not be ultralight . . ."


"The answer to the problem of food weight is to resupply more often. This is fine if you're happy . . . to leave the wilds every few days. However staying out for long periods of time with no contact with civilization is appealing and can make for a deeper contact with nature and a more satisfying experience."

MORE CHRIS TOWNSEND from October 26, 2012 and titled "Ultralight, Lightweight, Traditional . . . Or Maybe Just Backpacking?" Here are some quotes:

"Backpacking only has one definition: Hiking with camping gear so you can stay out overnight . . . . There are no rules and style and gear is a personal choice. Labels are arbitrary and have no real significance."

"Over the last few weeks there's been a debate on backpacking blogs about the trend in recent years for putting backpackers into categories---ultralight, lightweight, traditional and so on. Now over the years I've mostly ignored this as not really anything to do with backpacking itself, though I have been mildly concerned at times by both the holier-than-thou and competitive aspects that sometimes appear in the ultralight approach. Backpacking should be about the experience not the tools and there's nothing "superior" about any weight of load . . ."

RAIN AND WIND
Another Townsend quote---
"Of course there is a converse to "stupid light", namely "stupid heavy", and I have to admit to doing this in the past. I have only gone "stupid light" a few times and that was for short trips when testing gear. However I've carried unnecessarily heavy loads too often, sometimes for days on end on long walks. Partly I think this was because I'm a British backpacker and therefore had to deal with rain and wind. Staying warm and dry was more important than the weight of gear."

Let's repeat: "Staying warm and dry was more important than the weight of gear." This is something I've been saying for years.

"However whilst I may have been carrying more weight than necessary, sometimes much more, this did not really affect my enjoyment of trips."

Thanks Mr Townsend for the voice of reason.

Engine
11-29-2016, 10:17
Thank you for the well thought out answer to my inquiry. It seems you missed the point I was trying to make when I shared the progression I have made toward lighter gear. But, I don't think we are as far apart on our thinking related to this subject as it might appear.

To answer your question, I don't mention 17 days trips without resupply simply because for the last 20 years I was too busy working to get enough time away to enjoy trips of that nature. Due to those constraints, our more recent typical backcountry trips have ended up lasting between 4 and 8 days. With that in mind, my pack typically weighs between 25 and 35 pounds for a trip of that length.

If I were to go out for a 2+ week trip without resupply I would grab my old Gregory off the wall and obviously my total weight would increase. Simply stated, it's using the right tool for the job. During a thru hike, as long as the hiker has the experience and knowledge to handle some adversity, going lighter is a big advantage since resupply is only a few days away if needed.

You mention the books and other accouterments to your kit and it tells me we are comparing apples and oranges. I don't pitch a tent until it's nearly dark and I'm up with the sun to break camp and start the next day's journey. You are, it appears, taking a bit more time to smell the roses and appreciate the benefits additional creature comforts can provide when not hiking. Neither "version" of backpacking is incorrect...they are simply the model we each have gravitated toward.

In regard to the interesting quotes, I agree there is absolutely some truth in the stupid light argument. Too little can be a far more dangerous problem than too much, hence my qualifier earlier about hikers needing to have the experience to make sound judgments. I don't label myself an ultralight backpacker. I believe I'm more of a backpacker who has embraced new technology and techniques which allow for greater enjoyment while hiking. The trade off, which I'm willing to accept to some degree, is a bit less comfort while I'm camping, which is a small slice of my hiking pie.

Next time I head into the Yellowstone backcountry for a few weeks, I'm sure my pack will very closely resemble yours when you're on an extended trip. But there is nothing wrong with lightening the load when the extra weight is unnecessary. My current 12-pound base will allow me to be comfortable and safe for whatever nature throws at me next March in Georgia and North Carolina. If I were heading out in northern Michigan around the same time, I would bring a different toolkit...

Tipi Walter
11-29-2016, 10:37
Thanks for the post and interesting comments. At this point what with Gatlinburg on fire, we'll be lucky to go backpacking anywhere in the Southeast no matter what kind of weight we're carrying.

garlic08
11-29-2016, 10:57
...Simply stated, it's using the right tool for the job....

We all need to keep this simple maxim in mind. We also need to consider that some people are not physically able to use all tools. The aging arthritic craftsman who can use a jeweler's hammer to great advantage may not be able to break a concrete slab with a 16 pound sledge. The brute who breaks rocks may not have the agility to tack up trim.

This conversation reminds me of one I had with an old backpacker friend who was wondering how one goes about hiking 2000+ miles in one trip--it was simply beyond her. When I described the lighter load that enabled me to do it in middle age, and the corresponding change in traveling style, she said, "But that's not backpacking." That was an "aha" moment, and I thought that pretty much summed it up. I realized it had become a whole different activity for me, compared to what I used to do with her. A different tool, indeed.

Old Hiker
11-29-2016, 15:11
I'm just wondering:

How do you know if it's BAD advice if you don't TAKE it and it DOESN'T work for YOU?

Also, just because if was (in YOUR opinion) BAD advice, doesn't mean it won't work for someone else.

pilgrimskywheel
11-29-2016, 18:44
Zzzzz Zzzzz Zzzzz


I'm just wondering:

How do you know if it's BAD advice if you don't TAKE it and it DOESN'T work for YOU?

Also, just because if was (in YOUR opinion) BAD advice, doesn't mean it won't work for someone else.