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View Full Version : It's so cheap to hike the AT!!!



llittle_llama
03-25-2017, 00:33
So a friend asked me how much I spent on all my gear last night. I replied with maybe $1500 or so. Doesn't seem to bad considering how much I have. Got home and started thinking about it and remembered my REI dividends had come in a week or so ago since I don't need anything else at the moment I never opened it....



$300!!!!!!

So at 10% of every purchase that makes my true total $3,000! Then I thought about it more and remembered my wife has a membership too. Asked her what hers was and it was another $75. Then I remembered all my sale items, garage items, and the garage sale items aren't counted. Then there are the things I bought on Amazon, eBay, here in the classifieds, and other online retailers. I have spent thousands preparing for this trip! Granted I have 4 tents now (One is going back to REI, one is a garage sale from REI and cannot be returned and the last is my Fly Creek UL1 I'm going to sell on here), and 3 sleeping bags (two of which I'll be putting up for sale) for the most part it's all accounted for.

So tell me, what did you think​ you spent/would spend on gear and what did you actually spend (food not included)?

fastfoxengineering
03-25-2017, 01:24
I've spent a good amount of money on gear. It's more from trying different equipment to find what I like and I learned it all the hard way.

Also, hiking is one of my main hobbies, so I have different gear for different hikes. I've also spent money on some diy materials to learn some things.

I have since narrowed my gear down to no more than I can fit in a foot locker. However, there's still alot of various gear I have. Couple different rated quilts, two backs, etc.

If I was thru hiking the AT and know what I know now. I'd prob spend about a grand and be completely happy with my setup. That's buying everything new and some diy thrown in.

Add $500 if I wanted some top brand clothing.

So I should conclude with $1500 and I'd have my dream kit for an AT thru hike. But I'd most likely still be able to use most of that gear afterwards.

I should add, that's only counting one pair of shoes. I'd most likely go through 4-5 pairs on a long hike like the AT.

If your curious, my base weight would be about 6-7lbs for a typical northbound hike.

The little stuff is cheap. Water bottles, a pocket knife, lighter, ground sheet, butt pad, pencil and paper, lexan spoon. That's no more than $25 a third of my gear list.

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Bronk
03-25-2017, 11:11
I was discussing fishing lures and equipment with a friend of mine several years back and he said something pretty profound: "Some lures are designed to catch fish, and others are designed to catch fisherman."

You can spend as much or as little as you want on gear. There are quite a few on this forum that spend far more time shopping for gear than they do hiking. Using the stuff is the only way you're going to figure out what works for you. I try to do one big purchase a year so that I'm cycling through my gear every 5 years or so. Which means if I make a bad purchase I'm just living with it for a couple years. But I don't make many bad purchases anymore...I'm on the other side of the learning curve. I always tell newer people to start with inexpensive gear and then upgrade one piece of gear at a time...otherwise you end up with $3,000 to $5,000 worth of gear and you're only using about $1500 worth of it.

I think you're better off starting with a dirtbag $300 set of equipment and upgrading...that way you're not spending a lot of money on a hobby you might not even like, and if you decide you do like it you're getting some experience before you blow lots of money on stuff you don't know much about.

llittle_llama
03-25-2017, 11:23
I think you're better off starting with a dirtbag $300 set of equipment and upgrading...that way you're not spending a lot of money on a hobby you might not even like, and if you decide you do like it you're getting some experience before you blow lots of money on stuff you don't know much about.

Well I totally agree with that, it's just too easy to upgrade things right away. For instance I started with the cheap three dollar plastic shovel from REI for digging my cat holes, but once I post it up on here that I had that everyone told me that it was wrong and that there was a much better way to be had. Purchasing the nice titanium shovel has literally given me the best shovel I will ever have. I will never have a need to upgrade it or replace it and that money will never have to be spent again. It's the same with the water filter system, I bought the cheap Sawyer and I plan on using it the whole way through. There isn't too many things that are small like that you can upgrade, but it feels like it's easier to just buy the really nice small things and never have to worry about them again. I'll never need to replace my fork or spoon know that I have them in titanium, but titanium cook set should never have to be replaced, and I love my pack so I don't see myself are placing it anytime soon.

Hikingjim
03-25-2017, 12:04
My typical kit that is AT-suitable is worth about 2k new. Mostly things bought over the years, gifts from people. "what do you want for christmas? Gear. This specific gear. Nothing else."

If I added in the other money I have spent on canoes, kayak, mountain biking, -20 extra winter camping gear, skis, etc, then it's quite a bit! Probably spent about 1k a year on various things for about 10 years straight, but have the equipment necessary for multiple activities, all seasons

TX Aggie
03-25-2017, 20:02
I'm not doing a thru hike anytime soon, and for me my camping/hiking funds are funds that were previously being used for..... "other outdoor recreational activities." My spending has been to transition from heavy Army gear, to update lighter weight gear for myself and 2 kids. Luckily I can make due with most of what I have and transition slowly. It's just I'm nowhere near the lightweight packer category yet. My last overnight with my girls on the AT, my pack tipped the scales around 60 lbs.

At 45, I'm starting to see the advantages of spending a little money on lighter gear.

Patriot76
03-25-2017, 22:16
There are gear nerds, ultra light backpackers, light weight backpackers, and cheap backpackers. I am a combination of a light weight backpacker (age and knee replacements) and cheap. I was introduced to backpacking at the age of 15 in a school class called "Outdoor Survival." In that class we made one item from a Frostline Kit. That was in the 1970's and my choice was a backpack which I do not think they offer any more. More importantly, my first backpacking trip was to the Stratesbowl carrying a grocery bag (paper) and carrying my Coleman sleeping bag on my shoulders.

Long story short, I still use many of my purchases from the 1970's. I destroyed the Frostline backpack in the late 70's and purchased a Kelty Tioga that I still use for long trips and hunting adventures My graduation gift was a Eureka Timberline 4 season tent that I still use during the winter. Now my three season sleeping setup includes the plastic used to protect mattresses used as a tarp tent, poncho for a ground cloth, foam sleeping pad/sitting pad, and a first generation polarguard sleeping bag purchased when I graduated and a military poncho liner. I sleep under another liner every night because it is light weight and warm. Total weight including a newer backpack purchased in the 1980's is less than 10 pds. and since they were purchased a few years back, $ 380.

All of my clothes and other equipment are old, but useful. Am I happy with my setup, yes. Would I trade it, that depends on my through hike of the AT next year.

The point of this post is to say you do not need to invest in a lot of gear to try backpacking. Start with what you have at home and supplement as needed.

dharmabum2
03-25-2017, 22:34
There are gear nerds, ultra light backpackers, light weight backpackers, and cheap backpackers. I am a combination of a light weight backpacker (age and knee replacements) and cheap. I was introduced to backpacking at the age of 15 in a school class called "Outdoor Survival." In that class we made one item from a Frostline Kit. That was in the 1970's and my choice was a backpack which I do not think they offer any more. More importantly, my first backpacking trip was to the Stratesbowl carrying a grocery bag (paper) and carrying my Coleman sleeping bag on my shoulders.

Long story short, I still use many of my purchases from the 1970's. I destroyed the Frostline backpack in the late 70's and purchased a Kelty Tioga that I still use for long trips and hunting adventures My graduation gift was a Eureka Timberline 4 season tent that I still use during the winter. Now my three season sleeping setup includes the plastic used to protect mattresses used as a tarp tent, poncho for a ground cloth, foam sleeping pad/sitting pad, and a first generation polarguard sleeping bag purchased when I graduated and a military poncho liner. I sleep under another liner every night because it is light weight and warm. Total weight including a newer backpack purchased in the 1980's is less than 10 pds. and since they were purchased a few years back, $ 380.

All of my clothes and other equipment are old, but useful. Am I happy with my setup, yes. Would I trade it, that depends on my through hike of the AT next year.

The point of this post is to say you do not need to invest in a lot of gear to try backpacking. Start with what you have at home and supplement as needed.
I just finished reading the story of Grandma Gatewood and its startling to observe the difference between her gear needs and ours. Reading these posts and others it seems that for some the gear has become paramount. I'm wanting to realize more of spiritual than consumerist experience.

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rocketsocks
03-26-2017, 00:24
I just finished reading the story of Grandma Gatewood and its startling to observe the difference between her gear needs and ours. Reading these posts and others it seems that for some the gear has become paramount. I'm wanting to realize more of spiritual than consumerist experience.

Sent from my ASUS_Z00TD using TapatalkOh, well, in that case...throw a loaf of bread in an old sack and jump over the back fence, see where life takes ya!

PennyPincher
03-26-2017, 00:30
I just finished reading the story of Grandma Gatewood and its startling to observe the difference between her gear needs and ours. Reading these posts and others it seems that for some the gear has become paramount. I'm wanting to realize more of spiritual than consumerist experience.

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Not the only difference. The number of miles she covered in a day. The friendliness of people who fed her and let her sleep in their homes. While there is still some of that, there are many more who would abuse it and thus the kindness is spread thinner in some ways.

Patriot76
03-26-2017, 06:46
Oh, well, in that case...throw a loaf of bread in an old sack and jump over the back fence, see where life takes ya!

It is amazing you bring up a loaf of bread. That is what I had with peanut butter, 4 cans of soup/beans, a sheet of plastic, emergency kit with whistle, compass, and fire starters in a paper bag. I do not think they had plastic bags back then.

Where did life take me? A love for the wilderness, respect for dreams, desire to set goals, not caring what others think, and most importantly self sufficiency at the age of 60. If you do not hike for your experience and do it to impress others, there are other and cheaper ways. I agree with Dharmabum 2, spiritual experience over consumerist experience.

Every one has the right to select naturalist or consumerist. The original back packers were the mountain men and trappers that came west in search of their lifestyle. I am still searching for mine.

b-square
03-26-2017, 08:56
Reminds me of the old commercial. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?.....The world may never know. Some things are best left unanswered.

4eyedbuzzard
03-26-2017, 09:09
It is amazing you bring up a loaf of bread. That is what I had with peanut butter, 4 cans of soup/beans, a sheet of plastic, emergency kit with whistle, compass, and fire starters in a paper bag. I do not think they had plastic bags back then.

Where did life take me? A love for the wilderness, respect for dreams, desire to set goals, not caring what others think, and most importantly self sufficiency at the age of 60. If you do not hike for your experience and do it to impress others, there are other and cheaper ways. I agree with Dharmabum 2, spiritual experience over consumerist experience.

Every one has the right to select naturalist or consumerist. The original back packers were the mountain men and trappers that came west in search of their lifestyle. I am still searching for mine.

"Who has not felt the urge to throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." - John Muir.

garlic08
03-26-2017, 11:02
...The original back packers were the mountain men and trappers that came west in search of their lifestyle...

It's nice to think of it so romantically, and I do, too. But I wonder, if beaver hats never became fashionable, or if there was no gold in them thar hills, how many mountain men we would have had. I think it was a difficult job for many of them.

egilbe
03-26-2017, 11:10
The mountain men were after beaver. Good money in beaver pelts, at the time. Overtrapping beaver may have been mans first man made ecological disaster. All those damns and natural flood control went with the beaver. All in search of profit. Money is the root of all evil.

Old Hiker
03-26-2017, 11:32
"So tell me, what did you think​ you spent/would spend on gear and what did you actually spend (food not included)?"

Hard to say, since I've been camping/hiking for many decades, starting with the Scouts. I've tried really "cool" gear that worked at the time, then upgraded to better/lighter gear, either after the original gear wore out or I got tired of futzing with it.

Even some GREAT gear has worn out and I've had to replace it: Pocket Rocket, 1st SoLong 6.

Some gear I loved I couldn't master the learning curve of wet, blowing, 35* mornings: Clark Jungle hammock.

I'm pretty satisfied with my gear. I could drop some weight here and there, but most of the weight would either be stuff I never used on the Trail, so I don't have to buy more or less food/water between resupplies. I actually found out *gasp* I would live without over-carrying either one.

I'd like to drop a pound or so on another pack, but it has to be one that is just as durable as my Osprey was. Maybe try a Packa, since my pack is smaller now than my JanSport was.

Right NOW, for NOW, I doubt I'll be making any long distance hikes any time soon. Legs, knees and feet are still bad, even 6 months after finishing. I'd like to. I want to. I would like to try another Thru hike to see if I could move faster. I'm trolling journals, videos and posts on WhiteBlaze. Gimme another couple 3 years. Then I'll start looking and maybe buying gear.

Old Hiker
03-26-2017, 11:35
.......................... Money is the root of all evil.

Not quite: "For the LOVE of money is a root of all kinds of evil, " emphasis added.

John B
03-26-2017, 11:54
Am I missing something? You spent all that money buying gear for a thru, and now you're not going to hike because you can't figure out how to haul all of that stuff in a 65L pack? And the solution is to quit the hike and sell all of your stuff?? What did I miss?

Old Hiker
03-26-2017, 12:11
Am I missing something? You spent all that money buying gear for a thru, and now you're not going to hike because you can't figure out how to haul all of that stuff in a 65L pack? And the solution is to quit the hike and sell all of your stuff?? What did I miss?

Wrong thread, methinks.

Old Hiker
03-26-2017, 12:12
Am I missing something? You spent all that money buying gear for a thru, and now you're not going to hike because you can't figure out how to haul all of that stuff in a 65L pack? And the solution is to quit the hike and sell all of your stuff?? What did I miss?

Wrong thread, methinks.

middle to middle
03-26-2017, 15:00
It was fun reading all the mail and shopping and trying stuff. I recall early in hike stopping and making a pile of stuff and leaving it in middle of trail for someone else. At one point my UPS guy idolized me with all the good stuff I was getting from such great suppliers. The process of what I needed and could do without was very interesting. Also as a senior retired guy with money contrasted to thy young poor people just starting in a career with no money. The trail hardening process managed to dispense with the unnecessary. I managed to unload everything even the tent going to a tarp. Coffee and alcohol were two things I never really wanted to give up.
I was in sales and a very personable guy who thought he wanted solitude. Not so I was very lonely most of the time. Great time all considered.

TX Aggie
03-26-2017, 15:21
The mountain men were after beaver. Good money in beaver pelts, at the time. Overtrapping beaver may have been mans first man made ecological disaster. All those damns and natural flood control went with the beaver. All in search of profit. Money is the root of all evil.

According to the dinosaurs a meteor, not man, was responsible for the greatest ecological disaster on earth.

All about perspective.

As for greed: it's that same "greed" that is now responsible for the most efficient management of hunting lands and wildlife since before the time of the plains Indians.

AfterParty
03-26-2017, 15:45
I spent a lot. Maybe 2500-3000 took me a year to accumulate everything I have. Did my first 14 mile of many 1000s to come. I had virtually no gear so I bought some stuff and traded some of what I had or sold it. Then got better stuff. Lighter stuff would be a more accurate statement. I will be in peak physical shape on day 1. Its how I roll. Does it matter that I spent so much no could I have done the trail for less absolutely without a doubt. Might have been less comfortable an struggled mentally but still could be done. I do have some things to sell that I have eliminated from my pack. So the number is not necessarily accurate.

Dogwood
03-26-2017, 17:01
Being a NEWB to LD hiking/thru-hiking and gear knowledge I spent almost entirely at Campoor in 2005:

Pack: Osprey Aether 70 L $110(left over, 70% off original price)
Sleeping bag: Slumber Jack 25* synthetic $80
Shelter: Eureka Back Country 1 $100
Inflatable pad: Thermorest Prolite 4 long $80(no longer made)
Cookware: Snow Peak Mini Solo Ti kit $50
Stove: Snow Peak Giga $30
Water treatment: AM 2 part Drops $10
Maps: complete AT mapset $40(bought used)
Shoes: started with Vasque Breeze mid cuts $120 went with lighter version of the Breeze for second pr, FREE replacement by Campmoor HAND DELIVERED in NJ!, two pr the entire AT compared to others using light wt trail runners who used 4 pr at $100+ each, we finished at the same time)

Clothing I already had.

Ballpark it at $700.

As I evolved, as you will too!, traded out the over temp rated BULKY HEAVY Slumber Jack for a Montbell Super Stretch 850 FP down sleeping bag and the Osprey Aether 70L for a Granite Gear Vapor Trail pack. In New Hampshire splurged on a Marmot Helium 15* down bag that IMHO was better in thye 2005 version than later versions.

While gear facilitated being able to ramp up MPD avgs it's only one factor of which I'd estimate accounted for about 1/3 of this ability while on that AT NOBO.

Dogwood
03-26-2017, 17:08
I was discussing fishing lures and equipment with a friend of mine several years back and he said something pretty profound: "Some lures are designed to catch fish, and others are designed to catch fisherman."

You can spend as much or as little as you want on gear. There are quite a few on this forum that spend far more time shopping for gear than they do hiking. Using the stuff is the only way you're going to figure out what works for you. I try to do one big purchase a year so that I'm cycling through my gear every 5 years or so. Which means if I make a bad purchase I'm just living with it for a couple years. But I don't make many bad purchases anymore...I'm on the other side of the learning curve. I always tell newer people to start with inexpensive gear and then upgrade one piece of gear at a time...otherwise you end up with $3,000 to $5,000 worth of gear and you're only using about $1500 worth of it.

I think you're better off starting with a dirtbag $300 set of equipment and upgrading...that way you're not spending a lot of money on a hobby you might not even like, and if you decide you do like it you're getting some experience before you blow lots of money on stuff you don't know much about.

This is a very reliable AT approach for NEWB LD hikers. IMO, NEWBS can make the gear mistake that has them ATTEMPTING TO BECOME gear wonk perfectionists or attempting to fulfill a gear Nirvana wish list pre hike.

"There are quite a few on this forum that spend far more time shopping for gear than they do hiking. Using the stuff is the only way you're going to figure out what works for you."

THIS ^^^

"I think you're better off starting with a dirtbag $300 set of equipment and upgrading...that way you're not spending a lot of money on a hobby you might not even like, and if you decide you do like it you're getting some experience before you blow lots of money on stuff you don't know much about"

THIS ^^^

FiftyNine
03-28-2017, 06:57
I joke with my friends that after I bought everything, got new gear, keep adding gear, changing gear, I could've gone on a six month cruise.


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egilbe
03-28-2017, 06:58
According to the dinosaurs a meteor, not man, was responsible for the greatest ecological disaster on earth.

All about perspective.

As for greed: it's that same "greed" that is now responsible for the most efficient management of hunting lands and wildlife since before the time of the plains Indians.

The keyword was man made

fastfoxengineering
03-28-2017, 07:23
Gear is just a means to an end. Its just stuff that gets you to katadhin.

I think a lot of experienced hikers spend good money on gear because that gear makes them more efficient and helps them achieve goals.

Noone needs a $350 tarp or $400 sleeping bag. But after you use one for 6 months you may or may not see the merit in it.

When people look at my hobbies and go dude you have like $10,000 worth of hunting, hiking, firearm stuff.. that's ridiculous.

Well I usually look at my affordable Toyota Tacoma and then see they're driving a brand new GMC that they owe triple the amount on than what I spent on my hobby equipment.

It's all relative.

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b-square
03-28-2017, 08:55
The keyword was man made

Man is an imperfect being - and to expect perfection is a fools folly. We learn from our mistakes and evolve to a more perfect existence, with the knowledge we will never get there.
Same goes for gear.

4eyedbuzzard
03-28-2017, 09:08
I think a hiker can equip very well for under $1500, and maybe even $1000 if they're willing to shop sales and clearance on last year's models, buy used gear, and/or carry a bit more weight. You don't need to spend big $ on Cuben this and that, Patagucci clothes, or Ti pots, etc. A quality down bag or quilt is generally the biggest expense and the one thing you can't go too cheap on. And having said that, Grandma Gatewood pretty much makes even that a false assumption.

TX Aggie
03-28-2017, 09:26
It's really interesting to see the light/ultralight debate from a historical perspective. It would be interesting to see what the average pack weight was 20, 50, 80 years ago. And it's not just pack weight, it's the little things like shoe/boot weight and materials. Clothing. Food. Water.
All cotton or wool materials. Leather or metal canteens. No cook stoves, just fire starting gear. Metal cooking gear tied to the outside of their packs.

That's why I'm so fascinated by the Great Weight Debate.


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H I T C H
03-29-2017, 10:20
I have read that an extra pound of footware equates to 5 extra pounds of pack weight.


Hitch

lonehiker
03-30-2017, 19:27
A person can easily achieve a sub 20 lb base weight for under 1,500.

Maineiac64
03-30-2017, 21:01
Well in the last year I have bought 2 tents, 3 sleeping bags, a hammock, 3 packs, 2 sleeping pads, 3 pairs of boots, 3 sets of hiking poles, 4 water filters, a stove, cook pot, and all manner of clothes and acessories. Then I got into fly fishing too.

Greenlight
03-30-2017, 21:10
I only wonder how long it will be until someone comes out with a Dyneema duff-sack that you line with a cheap felt liner and fill with leaf litter to use for a sleeping bag. And before y'all tear me apart, yeah, I know it rains, and you shouldn't disturb that layer, and this and that and all the rest...still an interesting thought.

Pondjumpr
03-31-2017, 08:40
.... Then I got into fly fishing too.

Ha, Ha. Good luck with that! I did the same about 3 years ago. I love it but MAN.... $$$$$ (I just got into Saltwater Fly Fishing last year) Get good gear with lifetime warranty. You will blow through the cheap stuff early on, meaning as soon as you use a nicer rod, reel, waders, shoes, etc.

I stopped trying to add up $ costs on my gear for outdoor activities many years ago. What I do, however, is look at meals at restaurants, hotel stays, etc. in terms of how much gear I could buy. Take my lunch for a week, buy a piece of gear with money saved. There are much worse places you could spend your time and money.

greensleep
03-31-2017, 09:14
I only wonder how long it will be until someone comes out with a Dyneema duff-sack that you line with a cheap felt liner and fill with leaf litter to use for a sleeping bag. And before y'all tear me apart, yeah, I know it rains, and you shouldn't disturb that layer, and this and that and all the rest...still an interesting thought.

There is a company that sells a wind shirt with pockets/chambers designed to hold leaves, crumpled paper, etc., effectively becoming a "puffy" jacket. Don't remember the name.

Dogwood
03-31-2017, 15:51
I'm finding this thread topic, " It's so cheap to hike the AT!!!" so ironically titled given the OP never left the driveway and found not enough space for all his "stuff" inside or on a backpack.

Bronk
03-31-2017, 16:20
I don't care what this dude says, he didn't abandon his plans because he couldn't fit his food bag in the pack. Its the equivalent of cancelling a trip to Europe an hour before your plane leaves because you can't get your suitcase closed. There's more going on here that's probably none of our business, but he never owed us an explanation and he didn't have to come on here telling fables about why he decided not to go. A simple "its just not the right time in my life, maybe next year" would have sufficed if he felt he had to say anything at all.

Bronk
03-31-2017, 16:22
Or maybe this whole thing was a big joke and this guy is laughing at all of us...if so, well played :-)