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horicon
06-15-2013, 15:26
What would be the cost and time required to hike the AT?
$3000 and 6 months?

BuckeyeBill
06-15-2013, 15:28
I am budgeting $6000.00 and 6 months for my thru hike.

Bearhawk
06-15-2013, 15:50
The time and budget greatly depends on your hiking style. Are you a slow or fast hiker?, how many days in trail towns are you planning?, are you doing mail drops or re-supplying along the way?
That being said, most thru hikers will complete the trail between 4-6 months and spend anywhere from $2000-$6000. The average being about 5 months and $3500 allowing for a few zeros in town, gear repair, and hotel stays.p

Rasty
06-15-2013, 16:18
One variable to a hikes cost is your ability to cross a paved road (Or gravel) without words like "Fried Chicken or Pizza or Burger" entering your head. You may wake up in the morning fully intending to bypass that town and your will power will be strong until the moment your foot touches asphalt. This phenomenon alone has cost many a hike upwards of $2 additional per mile, because gateway foods like "Fried Chicken" lead to having a single beer which leads to 12 beers and a hotel room stay.

Biggie Master
06-15-2013, 17:03
One variable to a hikes cost is your ability to cross a paved road (Or gravel) without words like "Fried Chicken or Pizza or Burger" entering your head. You may wake up in the morning fully intending to bypass that town and your will power will be strong until the moment your foot touches asphalt. This phenomenon alone has cost many a hike upwards of $2 additional per mile, because gateway foods like "Fried Chicken" lead to having a single beer which leads to 12 beers and a hotel room stay.

Does that make fried chicken a gateway drug? :)

DavidNH
06-15-2013, 17:57
Old Eagle.. 3,000 dollars for a six month hike? you kidding me? double this to $6,000 (this is 2013 not 1990) and then see if you can do it for less. Plan on 5,000 minimum. I mean minimum!

Old Hiker
06-15-2013, 18:02
I am budgeting $6000.00 and 6 months for my thru hike.

Saving at least $6000, but 5.5 months for me. Have to get back to work by 20 (=/-) Aug 2016 to start work again.

bigcranky
06-15-2013, 19:47
As I get older I find myself spending less money on fun and more money on privacy and comfort. So while fried chicken and beer rate pretty high on my list, I'm more able to ignore that (especially if it's more than a few tenths off the trail), but once I get to town I want a private motel room and a nice dinner out rather than a hostel bunk and a cheap AYCE Chinese buffet.

garlic08
06-16-2013, 15:08
It's about $1000 per month. I did it quite comfortably in 3.5 months for $3500 The trail can certainly be hiked for $3000, but it would probably cost more than that for a six month hike. A faster hike is usually a cheaper hike.

Stir Fry
06-16-2013, 16:21
For me $1,000 a month is a good starting point. This is a trip of a life time there is a lot to think about and I sure don't wan't lack of cash to be something I have to worry about. You can do it for $500 a month, but that only gives you $16 a day. Can you eat, replace any gear, do loundry, or get anything extra with $16 a day besides I think you will miss out on some of the fun things about the AT. For me it just make sence to take more then I'll need and enjoy myself.

RED-DOG
06-17-2013, 08:01
$5,000 and 4-6 months, last year on my thru i Budgeted $7,000 and spent $5,700, and i only took 6 zero's basically the only time i went to town is when i needed food and a cheap hostel when one was available, but it all depends on how much time you spend in towns on comfort items trust me hardly any body can pass a hotel or hostel with out staying the night and eating at a good restuarant, the biggest chunk of money is spent on gear, I spent roughly around $2,000 on gear last year, and on my 2006 thru i only spent $4,000 that's gear and everything, I would at least budget $5,000 and go from their.

RED-DOG
06-17-2013, 08:15
I have a Question for you do you have all of your gear if so then the only thing you need to worry about is replacement gear on the trail. But i would still budget $5,000.:)

da fungo
06-17-2013, 09:39
Do these numbers include transportation to/from the trailheads?

I tend to think not, but just want clarity.

Of course, another category of expense to consider is the potential cost of a divorce, for married but solo hikers!

DavidNH
06-17-2013, 11:53
da fungo.. these costs are almost certainly not including travel to and from the trail heads. Would your wife really divorce you because you went hiking for six months?

da fungo
06-19-2013, 06:58
DavidNHI'm not married, but my ex would have divorced me if she didn't kill me for bringing up the idea.My girlfriend, who is a much nicer person, would have a tough time with my being gone that long.

Double Wide
06-19-2013, 08:24
I have $6000 saved already for next spring, and I truthfully have about 99% of my gear ready and good to go. If I *had* to go tomorrow, I could do it. But between now and next March, I'll probably drop $545 on a new WM sleeping bag and a couple hundred more on a few other odds and ends (silk liner, a new lightweight watch, a few more pairs of my favorite Merino wool socks to keep in reserve), but basically I'm set. I'm guessing that the money will be spent quicker right at the beginning if the weather is bad and I need to wait out any late winter storms, but once I get past the Smokies, the hike will be cheaper until I get to New England. Transport to the trail ain't gonna be much. I'm about five hours away from Amicalola, and my dad lives in N. Georgia, so getting to there won't be much of an expense at all. Getting back from Maine, however, will cost some $$$.

Also, since this is a once-in-a-lifetime event, I plan on having a little extra in the hiking fund, just so that I'm not missing out on stuff. I also plan on taking a side trip into NYC and eating pizza at the original Grimaldi's under the Brooklyn Bridge while I'm in the neighborhood, and would like to spend a couple of days in Boston after I'm done. But while actually hiking, I'm planning on about $2.50 per mile. I don't mind sharing cheap motel rooms and staying in hostels, and I really *do* like to tent as often as possible. I've been reading some TJs where folks are spending every other night in a motel and shuttling back and forth to the trail all through GA/NC, but that gets expensive and it's not for me. But being cold, wet, muddy, and stinky for too long will certainly tractor-beam my ass into town just like everyone else...

JohKnip
06-30-2013, 22:36
I'm budgeting $6,000 for the trail (that will include travel expenses, but exclude initial gear purchases). I don't really drink at all (except for the occasional cocktail at nice restaurants, which I don't plan on running into on the trail) or smoke, so I don't really have to worry about those things burning through my money. Probably also won't stay in many hotels, especially if a hostel is available.

Don H
07-01-2013, 08:19
I always liked to get a motel room in town and have dinner in a nice restaurant while the younger crowd were eating AYCE Chinese and packing 10 into a motel room. Of course they spent more money on beer than I did ;)

Restaurants and single rooms add up.

garbanz
07-01-2013, 08:49
I thrued in 2011. It took me 5 mos and 5 days--20 of which were zeros in motels. During this time I put $6000 on my charge card. Food was a major expense.

Bronk
07-02-2013, 03:20
One variable to a hikes cost is your ability to cross a paved road (Or gravel) without words like "Fried Chicken or Pizza or Burger" entering your head. You may wake up in the morning fully intending to bypass that town and your will power will be strong until the moment your foot touches asphalt. This phenomenon alone has cost many a hike upwards of $2 additional per mile, because gateway foods like "Fried Chicken" lead to having a single beer which leads to 12 beers and a hotel room stay.

This is precisely what gets a lot of people. What are you going to do when you walk out of the woods and see the road...just as you arrive a car stops and offers you a ride even though you weren't planning on going into town (this happens often at trailheads)...or maybe there are two or three other hikers you've been hiking with or near for the past few days and they are all going into town...or maybe you've been traveling with a group of hikers for several weeks or months? You will adopt the habits of all of those in your group. In fact, when you are in a group, every time you cross a road at least one member of the group will want to go to town, and when group decisions are made you can bet nobody is going to pass up pizza and beer and a hot shower and clean sheets. Its not so much how much you spend, but how much your friends are spending, because your habits will match theirs if you are typical of most people.

Cyngbaeld
07-05-2013, 07:56
Has anybody actually kept a cost journal? It would be good to know where people are typically spending their money.

Guess my companions in this mad adventure and I will have to see how frugally it can be done!

Water Rat
07-05-2013, 08:38
Has anybody actually kept a cost journal? It would be good to know where people are typically spending their money.

Guess my companions in this mad adventure and I will have to see how frugally it can be done!

:welcometo White Blaze! Others have kept journals of their costs, but everyone will spend a different amount on their hike. I have not personally hiked the AT, but do know costs are going to vary based on:

How much gear you need to purchase on the trail - things break and shoes/boots get trashed along the way?
Is the amount you are saving up going to include costs for your initial gear set-up, or do you already have that?
Will you be staying in town during your hike?
How many zero days are you planning? Those tend to add to your overall budget
Hostels or hotels in town?
Do you drink?
Will you be taking any shuttles?

These are just a handful of variables. You will find this question has been asked a few times on White Blaze and the answers can be found through searches (Google White Blaze and whatever topic you are interested in...that is a good place to start). This site has a lot of valuable information!

Here is a link to get you started: http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?79898-Costs-of-a-thru-hike
(http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?79898-Costs-of-a-thru-hike)
Happy hiking! :)

kidchill
07-05-2013, 18:32
I would recommend around 5K...I spent much more then this, but I also make good money and didn't care if I spent it. Also, I prefer to have my own bed, shower, and TV. I totally pigged out, totally drank my ass off, took quite a number of zero's, and absolutely preferred to have my own room while in town. You'll hear of people spending a minimal amount of money, as well as people spending 10K+. It all depends on how YOU decide to do your hike. My only thought is this, once you're out there, your bank account will not be growing, only shrinking...so, IMO, it's better to have more money then less. Also, if you can cut real world bills prior to the trail, this will help. My monthly student loan payments, just my student loans, are $1500...so I HAD to have a healthy bank roll! Just realize, there WILL be unanticipated costs...just a for instance...I went through 4 pairs of trail runners..Around $100 a pop, that's $400. My last minute flight from ATL home cost me about $400...So, just shoes and flying home was almost a grand...It adds up. Anything north of the Mason Dixon line will cost more! Just a three day resupply in the New England states (and this is cheap food) is relatively expensive...especially CT, VT, NH, and ME. Just realize you will be spending much more money on food/supplies up north. Good luck!

horicon
07-06-2013, 17:56
Other than using a Credit Card, How can you fund "your thru hike"

Rasty
07-06-2013, 18:37
Other than using a Credit Card, How can you fund "your thru hike"

Debit card through your checking or savings account?

max patch
07-06-2013, 18:52
but once I get to town I want a private motel room and a nice dinner out rather than a hostel bunk and a cheap AYCE Chinese buffet.


I always liked to get a motel room in town and have dinner in a nice restaurant while the younger crowd were eating AYCE Chinese and packing 10 into a motel room.

I'll also be in the motel - solo, not sharing - but I'll be at that AYCE Chinese place with everyone else.

max patch
07-06-2013, 18:54
Other than using a Credit Card, How can you fund "your thru hike"

Get a second part-time job if you need to.

flightrisk
07-07-2013, 00:33
This is the single most informative thread I've read on this blog.

BigEnso
08-11-2013, 15:33
da fungo.. these costs are almost certainly not including travel to and from the trail heads. Would your wife really divorce you because you went hiking for six months?
You guys are lucky. I am having to figure in about $3,000 in transportation costs just to get to Springer and home from Katahadin. Just one of the burdens of living in Thailand. :sun

David

bigcranky
08-11-2013, 16:16
I'll also be in the motel - solo, not sharing - but I'll be at that AYCE Chinese place with everyone else.

Oh, I'm not totally opposed to the Chinese buffet -- if it's the one in Waynesboro. Definitely not to be missed!!!!

Poedog
08-23-2013, 21:18
The girlfriend and I are dehydrating about half of our food, which will eliminate much of our food bill. Being a chef with a commercial kitchen at our disposal helps with this. We already live a relatively simple lifestyle in the wilds of Big Sur; hours from bars and grocery stores (i.e. places to spend money), so temptation to splurge is minimal. We just naturally sleep on our sleeping pads everynight, so we won't be craving the king-sized tempurpedic of a hotel room. Wash clothes in a freezer bag ziplock; after all, you're only taking a handful of clothes, right? Walk your buns into town.

It seems to us that if you keep your diet in check, avoid the first world luxuries that already have made us a nation of softies, and meditate on what you're REALLY out there for, there is no reason you can't finish without spending more than 2-3K (or less). IIRC, I read about someone who made it to NJ on $20 (scavenging along the way, but hey, $20!)

But sure, if you enjoy spending a lot of time in bars, eating out, watching TV, etc, then the chances of you being sucked into the vortex of 'normal life' are substantially higher. Read accounts of minimalists hiking the trail, speed hikers, early hikers (Earl Shaffer, Emma Gatewood) and implement some of their philosophies into your plan.

Beer and burgers will be consumed, but it doesn't require spending $100 and taking a zero to do it.

mrcoffeect
08-24-2013, 07:50
This is precisely what gets a lot of people. What are you going to do when you walk out of the woods and see the road...just as you arrive a car stops and offers you a ride even though you weren't planning on going into town (this happens often at trailheads)...or maybe there are two or three other hikers you've been hiking with or near for the past few days and they are all going into town...or maybe you've been traveling with a group of hikers for several weeks or months? You will adopt the habits of all of those in your group. In fact, when you are in a group, every time you cross a road at least one member of the group will want to go to town, and when group decisions are made you can bet nobody is going to pass up pizza and beer and a hot shower and clean sheets. Its not so much how much you spend, but how much your friends are spending, because your habits will match theirs if you are typical of most people.

this is so true.

Don H
08-24-2013, 07:53
I've seen more than one thru-hiker leave the trail because they ran out of money.

q-tip
08-24-2013, 10:49
if it might help, I have UL-Lightweight gear lists with costs for the items-PM if interested---my gear was $3,500---I replaced most of it on the trail--my first pack was 38 lbs. got it down to 18.....

Poedog
08-24-2013, 16:33
Distance yourself from the herd. Spend less.

Migrating Bird
08-24-2013, 18:01
The only difference between a Hostel and fine hotels is they are "smelt" differently:)

ratherbclimbin
09-23-2013, 21:17
I will be keeping track of all of my cost next year. My girlfriend and I have saved up 12000 dollars for our 2014 AT and PCT thru hike combo. We have all gear necessary and will be resupplying as we go. Our goal is to hike, hike, and hike. Limiting our needs and consumption is very important to us and may make our hike significantly cheaper. Honestly I dont see how people are always telling others a cheap hike isnt possible. Some people thru hike not for the towns but for the trail. Maybe to be closer to nature and to one's self. Always remember in order to save money just stay out of town except to resupply and hike at your maximum pace. Faster hike means a cheaper hike. Overall HYOH.

Mr Breeze
09-23-2013, 21:58
It took me 6 months to do it last year. With a budget of $2500.

AttorneyAtLunch
09-23-2013, 23:57
This is the single most informative thread I've read on this blog.
Totally agree, I'm copying it all into a Word Doc.

AtlantaDave
11-30-2013, 12:44
I'm budgeting $5k for the trip with at least $10K disposable for when I return. It may seem like overkill but I have to budget for the worse case scenario that I may not have a job when I return. I think it's best to budget for the worst case scenario and be pleasantly surprised at the end. Just my thoughts.

Mr Breeze
11-30-2013, 14:14
It took me 6 months to complete my thru hike last year. And i did it with $2500. So it can ben done for $3000.

Stink Bug
11-30-2013, 18:13
All told, my girlfriend and I spent around $14K over the course of our 5 month hike. I pretty much put everything I could on my credit card and paid it all off when I got home, so I have pretty accurate records for what was spent and what it was spent on.

That cost included:

1. Transport from PA to Springer and also Katahdin back to PA.
2. 6 pairs of trail runners.
3. 2 pack replacements.
4. Trekking pole replacement.
5. Postage for mail drops (2 food drops and swapping out cold/warm weather gear).
6. 5 zero days in NYC visiting with friends.
7. 17 zero/nero days in motels/hostels.
8. Buying 2 complete hammock systems at Trail Days! Yes it was an impulse splurge...!

Odd Man Out
11-30-2013, 21:55
Just the 5 days in NYC could cost you $14K :rolleyes:

soulrebel
12-01-2013, 09:16
I'd take all of this with a grain of salt. The folks that are quoting a low price have previous experience in hiking or just plain don't treat themselves. I'd save up $10k for any hike. Covers all the incidentals, luxuries, side trips, emergencies, gear replacement, and reintegration to society. If I had my gear, previous experience, good physical shape, and a job/place to come back to then maybe $7k

jj2044
12-07-2013, 11:24
I will be keeping track of all of my cost next year. My girlfriend and I have saved up 12000 dollars for our 2014 AT and PCT thru hike combo. We have all gear necessary and will be resupplying as we go. Our goal is to hike, hike, and hike. Limiting our needs and consumption is very important to us and may make our hike significantly cheaper. Honestly I dont see how people are always telling others a cheap hike isnt possible. Some people thru hike not for the towns but for the trail. Maybe to be closer to nature and to one's self. Always remember in order to save money just stay out of town except to resupply and hike at your maximum pace. Faster hike means a cheaper hike. Overall HYOH.finish your hikes then come back and tell us how it goes. its one thing for someone who as already done it before to do it on the cheap complete another for someone that's never hiked or little experience to do it on the cheap the first time.

colorado_rob
12-07-2013, 11:54
Just another data point, my 1000 miles of the AT this last spring cost me around 4 grand. I did not scrimp at all, stayed in hotels rather than hostels for the most part when in town. Used mail drops for trail food (included in cost, of course). This included plane fare and shuttle costs. Didn't need any gear, so none of that included in the 4 grand.

MuddyWaters
12-07-2013, 15:12
Make a spreadsheet, and add it up.

Trail food - $50 per week
Hotel stay- 1/2 per week (shared)= 30
town meals - 3 per [email protected] $13 per = $40 (lunch, dinner, next day bkfast)
laundry - $5 per week

For a 20 week hike, even this minimal case with 1/2 day per week in town shows $2500, with 2/3 of the cost occuring ....in town.
Stay out of towns , is the message.
The problem is you need food, more food than you can carry, and you can only get that..... in town.

Throw in multiday town stays, and food binges, and week off for traildays, money for new gear, sidetrips, travel to and from trail, and the sky is the limit. I can see someone easily spending up to $8K or more if they didnt control expenses well.

I always admit to people that my wife did teach me ONE thing...that is.....If you have to scrimp and save money on vacation, you might as well stay at home and save until you dont. The point of going on vacation is to enjoy yourself. Hiking is a vacation.

-Animal
12-07-2013, 16:54
A cheap hike can be done and I have as much fun hiking assomeone who spends 8 times as much. HYOH

George
12-07-2013, 18:03
A cheap hike can be done and I have as much fun hiking assomeone who spends 8 times as much. HYOH


just a little hungrier

-Animal
12-07-2013, 18:22
just a little hungrier
No, you can buy many foods at, or over, 1000 calories per $1if you buy only at the major food stores. Without hitchhiking I can stop at amajor food store every 150-200 miles and resupply. I carry a bucket so there isplenty of room for food. I eat well at around $100 a month.

4eyedbuzzard
12-07-2013, 20:31
... I eat well at around $100 a month.

IMO, there is no way given food prices that anyone hiking (burning 5000+ cal/day) can eat well (or healthy) on $100 per month. You can eat cheap carbs and a lot of crap, but there is no way a hiker is getting what their hiking body requires in the way of proteins, fruits, vegetables, etc. at that price.

-Animal
12-07-2013, 21:14
IMO, there is no way given food prices that anyone hiking (burning 5000+ cal/day) can eat well (or healthy) on $100 per month. You can eat cheap carbs and a lot of crap, but there is no way a hiker is getting what their hiking body requires in the way of proteins, fruits, vegetables, etc. at that price.
Sigh. It’s easy, just go to the store and do the research. Compare price vs calories and make a list of everything that is 800 calories or more per $1. When you buy a real high cal per $ item like lard and peanut butter (found them both at 3000+cal per $1) buy the fruits and vegetables you want. Then figure out how to combine them to make great tasting balanced meals.
Examples- (1= 1 jar or package or can or serving)
1 Peanut Butter, 1 Jelly, and 1 Bread is $3.55 and is over 4600cal
1 Spaghetti and 1 Meat Sauce is $1.98 and over 2000cal
1 Beans, 1 Rice, and 1 Lard is $2.22 and over 2500cal
1 Hotdogs, 1 Tortias, and 1 Ketchup is $2.30 and over 2100cal
Do you know the calories for pancakes cooked in lard and smothered with jelly, butter, and syrup?
Go and look for yourself.

colorado_rob
12-07-2013, 22:18
All this talk about food costs, I thought was only a very small percentage of my hike cost. Well.... is Beer included in "food" ?

4eyedbuzzard
12-08-2013, 00:00
... is Beer included in "food" ?
I think it's in the entertainment or mental health categories depending upon one's reason for drinking it (other than it's cold and tastes good).

George
12-08-2013, 01:06
A cheap hike can be done and I have as much fun hiking assomeone who spends 8 times as much. HYOH

the person who spends 1000 total on a through and eats as well / much as the person spending 8000 is figuring out how to mostly freeload

if you cannot see this and must argue against reality --- well................ there is little reason to read your posts, there are better fantasy authors

Sarcasm the elf
12-08-2013, 01:49
Sigh. It’s easy, just go to the store and do the research. Compare price vs calories and make a list of everything that is 800 calories or more per $1. When you buy a real high cal per $ item like lard and peanut butter (found them both at 3000+cal per $1) buy the fruits and vegetables you want. Then figure out how to combine them to make great tasting balanced meals.
Examples- (1= 1 jar or package or can or serving)
1 Peanut Butter, 1 Jelly, and 1 Bread is $3.55 and is over 4600cal
1 Spaghetti and 1 Meat Sauce is $1.98 and over 2000cal
1 Beans, 1 Rice, and 1 Lard is $2.22 and over 2500cal
1 Hotdogs, 1 Tortias, and 1 Ketchup is $2.30 and over 2100cal
Do you know the calories for pancakes cooked in lard and smothered with jelly, butter, and syrup?
Go and look for yourself.

Is there any chance that you were featuredin Squatch's A.T. Documentary? I seem to remember him talking to someone hiking carrying an extra 5-gallon food bucket.

-Animal
12-08-2013, 04:18
the person who spends 1000 total on a through and eats as well / much as the person spending 8000 is figuring out how to mostly freeload

if you cannot see this and must argue against reality --- well................ there is little reason to read your posts, there are better fantasy authors
I remember you George J. we worked together at hardcore this year and you should know I’m not in fantasy land or a freeloader.
Yes, I’m the one in Squatch’s documentary.

garlic08
12-08-2013, 09:41
I think looking at food expenses can be important for some. Food was nearly 50% of my AT expenses, and I paid attention to what I spent. I spent about $750 on trail rations, and about the same amount on town food. That was about $15/day total. My total hiking cost was about $3500.

An AT hike is not a pure vacation for everyone. For some, it's a pilgrimage of sorts, or something they're driven to do, or an adventure, or an athletic feat. For many, it needs to be done on a shoestring budget. Not me, but I understand those who do it differently.

I also enjoy hearing about those who hiked the AT differently than I did. To me, the diversity was part of the attraction of the AT. A bucket o'food? Now, I would have liked to have seen that.

George
12-08-2013, 15:13
I remember you George J. we worked together at hardcore this year and you should know I’m not in fantasy land or a freeloader.
Yes, I’m the one in Squatch’s documentary.

OK, this is the math that brought me to the skepticism:

using the quoted 1 to 8 spending ratio, I went with 1000 on the low end and 8000 on the high end - to me that is a wide but realistic span of total expense (other than those who have to include international travel) - there are of course expenses other than food so 400 left for food would be about it - a fast pace would allow 4 month completion ( if everything goes almost perfect ) - so a 100 per month makes the numbers come together .......

OK, so the bucket of food, which I now remember, would be the key - enabling the majority of food purchases at the few locations along the trail that are truly econmical - I believe that is the framework of the theory .. but

in reality, the numbers still do not work out - and I stand on my skepticism for the benefit of the newbie who gets an unrealistic picture of the hardships vs enjoyment and hunger associated with a sub-minimal budget - points I consider in this conclusion:

1)hauling a lot of food makes for a slower hike, so the 4 month timetable (and hence the minimal budget) becomes increasingly less realistic

2) the extra load is nearly universally regarded to make a less enjoyable experience(especially starting and in the areas of tougher trail conditions)

3)a heavy load is more likely to result in injury - 7 years ago, less than 24 hours in the Berlin NH hospital for a broken ankle was over 30,000 for a buddy - what would it be today? - makes the food saving seem insignificant - a solid plan for economy would try to minimize, not increase chance of injury

4) As others have posted here, the needed nutrition does not jive with the quality / quantity of the food budget ( derived from using this 1 to 8 ratio ) no matter where along the trail it is purchased (but especially in the north end) - I consider my food/ and other consumables budget far from extravagant, yet with some postage etc it never ends up less than 20 per day (food,drink, fuel, TP, soap etc)


all right, in case any one is still reading this by now, I will plug in some less dramatic/ controversial numbers that would be more realistic/ repeatable / not relying on the best luck to work

The modified original:

"A cheap hike can be done and I have as much fun hiking assomeone who spends X8X - 4- times as much. HYOH"

keeping the high end the same leaves a 2000 budget

adding some to the non- consumable end leaves 1000 - stretching the schedule to 5 months leaves 200 a month - now it is looking real -

some of these months in the middle of trail the 100 with no hitching may be doable, this also coincides with less hazardous trail conditions ( and the hikers being tuned up) that make the extra load feasible - the first full supermarket within a short distance of the trail that I can recall is Erwin - before this, IMO obtaining and carrying weeks of food without outside assistance is not a plan to be promoted as feasible

so at the more expensive/ less convenient north and south ends the budget could be over 200 a month / 15 a day - that is in the range of healthy / not hungry but still a very minimal budget

In the end, I am not arguing with your system, only with your price points

Home Fires
12-08-2013, 15:29
I always admit to people that my wife did teach me ONE thing...that is.....If you have to scrimp and save money on vacation, you might as well stay at home and save until you dont. The point of going on vacation is to enjoy yourself. Hiking is a vacation.

While I don't completely disagree, one of us is going on vacation to enjoy himself and one of us is staying home on a third of the income and twice the costs. More than twice, actually, since I'm putting two on the trail. But the kid's been an income drain for a lotta years, so I really shouldn't count her in this calculation...

-Animal
12-08-2013, 17:59
OK, this is the math that brought me to the skepticism:

using the quoted 1 to 8 spending ratio, I went with 1000 on the low end and 8000 on the high end - to me that is a wide but realistic span of total expense (other than those who have to include international travel) - there are of course expenses other than food so 400 left for food would be about it - a fast pace would allow 4 month completion ( if everything goes almost perfect ) - so a 100 per month makes the numbers come together .......

OK, so the bucket of food, which I now remember, would be the key - enabling the majority of food purchases at the few locations along the trail that are truly econmical - I believe that is the framework of the theory .. but

in reality, the numbers still do not work out - and I stand on my skepticism for the benefit of the newbie who gets an unrealistic picture of the hardships vs enjoyment and hunger associated with a sub-minimal budget - points I consider in this conclusion:

1)hauling a lot of food makes for a slower hike, so the 4 month timetable (and hence the minimal budget) becomes increasingly less realistic

2) the extra load is nearly universally regarded to make a less enjoyable experience(especially starting and in the areas of tougher trail conditions)

3)a heavy load is more likely to result in injury - 7 years ago, less than 24 hours in the Berlin NH hospital for a broken ankle was over 30,000 for a buddy - what would it be today? - makes the food saving seem insignificant - a solid plan for economy would try to minimize, not increase chance of injury

4) As others have posted here, the needed nutrition does not jive with the quality / quantity of the food budget ( derived from using this 1 to 8 ratio ) no matter where along the trail it is purchased (but especially in the north end) - I consider my food/ and other consumables budget far from extravagant, yet with some postage etc it never ends up less than 20 per day (food,drink, fuel, TP, soap etc)


all right, in case any one is still reading this by now, I will plug in some less dramatic/ controversial numbers that would be more realistic/ repeatable / not relying on the best luck to work

The modified original:

"A cheap hike can be done and I have as much fun hiking assomeone who spends X8X - 4- times as much. HYOH"

keeping the high end the same leaves a 2000 budget

adding some to the non- consumable end leaves 1000 - stretching the schedule to 5 months leaves 200 a month - now it is looking real -

some of these months in the middle of trail the 100 with no hitching may be doable, this also coincides with less hazardous trail conditions ( and the hikers being tuned up) that make the extra load feasible - the first full supermarket within a short distance of the trail that I can recall is Erwin - before this, IMO obtaining and carrying weeks of food without outside assistance is not a plan to be promoted as feasible

so at the more expensive/ less convenient north and south ends the budget could be over 200 a month / 15 a day - that is in the range of healthy / not hungry but still a very minimal budget

In the end, I am not arguing with your system, only with your price pointsGeorge, thank you for all that effort and math. Only one problem… if you read the original quote that sparked your skepticism and think about what it says…
“A cheap hike can be done and I have as much fun hiking as someone who spends 8 times as much. HYOH”
…you will see it was not about food at all.

Just out of curiosity what is this extra $600 in expenses that you tried to take away from the $1000 so I only had $400 for food?
Cost for all my gear and to get to and from the trail is less than $400. I’m lucky enough to have flight passes.
I’ll be thru-hiking in 2014 using the same system I’ve used the last two years with success no matter who thinks it can’t be done. See you all on the trail. HYOH
Newbies, do not try my system.

George
12-09-2013, 00:11
and after my comment, that it would be a little hungrier - it was led into the food thing

now it may vary, but you have to acknowledge if a food obsessed ( as normal ) hiker had an 8000 budget, the tendency would be to eat like a king - in ways a budget 1/8 the size does not allow

prepaid gear, or transportation that was obtained other ways does not exclude the expense - that is accounting tricks, not reality

Double Wide
12-12-2013, 08:55
Wait a minute....

25216

Mags
12-12-2013, 09:21
prepaid gear, or transportation that was obtained other ways does not exclude the expense - that is accounting tricks, not reality

That is usually (not always) how "cheap thru-hikes" are done. :)

In past threads, turned out a person's parents bought the food and mailed it...
OR they had gear replacements ready to go or bought for them....
Well, you get the idea.

:)

From an earlier thread:


Marta's excellent quiz. If you can honestly answer the questions as mainly A&B, perhaps you can do a sub-$2000 hike. I'll add that perhaps Garlic's figure of $1000/mo is a good baseline. If you are more disciplined, stop less in towns and hike all day, a thru-hike is less expensive due to simply being shorter.


Can you do a cheap thru-hike?

1) What sort of car do you drive?
a) No car. I take the bus or ride a junker bike.
b) Beater more than 15 years old. Bought it used.
c) Reliable car, but nothing flashy.
d) Car my parents gave me.
e) I like nice wheels, and money is no object.

2) Where do you live?
a) Hellhole
b) Small apartment.
c) Modest single-family home.
d) I've always lived with my parents, or in a dorm room or apartment they've paid for.
e) I like to be comfortable, and make a good impression on friends and family.

3) Where did you get your current winter coat?
a) Cast-off ffreebie
b) Goodwill shop
c) Big box store.
d) From my parents.
e) Quality clothing is worth the money.

4) When is the last time you went out to eat, and where did you go?
a) I can't remember that far back in time.
b) McDonald's dollar menu
c) Outback or Applebee's.
d) Wherever my parents took me.
e) What I put in my body is important, so I'm picky about what I'll accept.

5) Where do you buy groceries?
a) I scrounge.
b) Super Wal-Mart
c) Grocery store with decent selection.
d) My folks do the shopping.
e) I only buy organically-grown food.

I think you get the point.

People who always choose A have a chance of doing a cheap thru-hike. Not spending money permeates every decision they make.

B's might be able to pull it off.

C's will probably do a moderately-priced hike, which they prudently save for and execute under budget.

I think the folks who are deluded about their ability to live cheaply are often D's. They haven't been out on their own financially, and don't really have the mental tools for making the choices that will let them stretch their money far enough to finish a hike. They are shocked, shocked I tell you, at how quickly money leaks away.

E's won't scrimp on their hike, but they probably don't need to.

colorado_rob
12-12-2013, 09:29
For some reason this popped into my head this morning, the $4000 number I quoted for my 1000 mile AT hike last year included the cost of my wife joining me for part of it, subtracting those costs it is more like $3000 total spent. If I had been moderately frugal, I bet I could have been down in the low/mid 2’s, but no lower than that.

One important point one has to ask oneself for these costs: How much do I spend in my “normal” life to live? For me, gas, food and day-to-day expenses at home come out to about $800 a month (not including mortgage or rent/utilities/insurance, which are still there when I’m hiking). So for the 9 weeks I was on the trail, I would have spent close to two grand on living at home anyway, so the EXTRA cost of hiking the AT was maybe just a bit over a grand.
(For those youngsters living with their parents, of course this argument doesn’t apply).

Coffee
12-12-2013, 10:21
One important point one has to ask oneself for these costs: How much do I spend in my “normal” life to live? For me, gas, food and day-to-day expenses at home come out to about $800 a month (not including mortgage or rent/utilities/insurance, which are still there when I’m hiking). So for the 9 weeks I was on the trail, I would have spent close to two grand on living at home anyway, so the EXTRA cost of hiking the AT was maybe just a bit over a grand.
(For those youngsters living with their parents, of course this argument doesn’t apply).

I have recently discovered the same thing as I make up a budget for my 2015 PCT thru hike. When I'm on the trail, I'm not buying gas, food, and other things that I would normally be buying at home. Also, if I choose to rent out my home for six months, my overall expenses for 2015 will be lower doing the thru hike than they would be otherwise.

I think that the main cost for most people who aren't retired (or very young with few good employment prospects) turns out to be the opportunity cost of lost earnings.

Marta
12-12-2013, 10:33
Thanks for digging out The Quiz, Mags. I still stand by it.

A further thought--for a lot of people thru-hiking involves a great deal of suffering. For many AT dreamers this comes as a shock. (What's funny about that is that the Trail literature emphasizes the writer's suffering, which is often presented to the reader as amusing. Then somehow that same reader will be shocked--shocked--to find suffering to be far less amusing when it's their own.)

The suffering is both physical and mental. How much suffering you're in for depends on how ready you are for the journey and what your previous experiences, in life and in hiking, have been. If you have had a lot of tough experiences (a lot of vets are attracted to hiking), you'll be dealing with one set of issues; if you're very young, you'll be dealing with another set; if you're old, soft, or sad, you'll be deal with a bunch of other things.

If you stick with The Hike, you'll figure out ways to lessen your suffering. Carrying less weight is an obvious help. Figuring out what to eat, how to sleep warm, how to stay healthy, and how to appreciate the pleasures of the hiking life all happen over time.

Until then, though, you'll probably depend on expensive crutches to keep you going. The most common crutches are cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, restaurant food, hotels/hostels/B&Bs, and new gear purchases. All that will sop up as much money as you can throw at it. A significant number of hikers decide they would rather shorten their hikes rather than go without their chosen indulgences.

Marta
12-12-2013, 10:36
I think that the main cost for most people who aren't retired (or very young with few good employment prospects) turns out to be the opportunity cost of lost earnings.

I agree wholeheartedly.

wornoutboots
12-12-2013, 10:48
How many hostels are there on the trail? Just trying to calculate if one was to stay in a hostel vs a hotel when they did go into town. how much they cld potentially save?

colorado_rob
12-12-2013, 11:20
Yeah, I hear ya on the opportunity cost thing, and I don’t disagree; I guess that’s why there are so many youngsters (low income) and retiree’s (like me) on these trails. Still, though, “opportunity cost” can be looked at another way, like “life opportunity”, meaning if you are healthy and you do not do the trail, you’re missing an opportunity. Do it now, earn your money later. If you can afford it, of course, which is the main purpose of this thread. I wax, sorry.

Mags
12-12-2013, 11:35
I wax, sorry.



Wax away. Why and how to do these hikes is ultimately more important than what gear to bring. :)

Good discussion.

I had a good run in my 20s and early 30s. As 40 looms, trying to balance the desire of wanting to retire at a decent age but still missing the previous journeys I've done. Quite a bit.

I normally don't plug something we did that costs money, but we had a recent podcast about this (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/thetrailshow3). On the show was Buck-30 who is perpetual thru-hiker. He managed to line up a good off-trail housing arrangement and is fortunate enough to work seasonally in a relatively high paying job to fund the other 8-9 months of his year.

In any case, may be worth a listen for some as it is about funding a thru-hike.

Coffee
12-12-2013, 11:37
Yeah, I hear ya on the opportunity cost thing, and I don’t disagree; I guess that’s why there are so many youngsters (low income) and retiree’s (like me) on these trails. Still, though, “opportunity cost” can be looked at another way, like “life opportunity”, meaning if you are healthy and you do not do the trail, you’re missing an opportunity. Do it now, earn your money later. If you can afford it, of course, which is the main purpose of this thread. I wax, sorry.


Agree 100% - the opportunity cost is more than outweighed by the experience IMO.

ratherbclimbin
12-25-2013, 23:48
I am doing a cheap thru this year and will document all of my expenses . Id like to show people the AT is certainly possible on a shoestring budget.

4eyedbuzzard
12-26-2013, 12:29
I have recently discovered the same thing as I make up a budget for my 2015 PCT thru hike. When I'm on the trail, I'm not buying gas, food, and other things that I would normally be buying at home. Also, if I choose to rent out my home for six months, my overall expenses for 2015 will be lower doing the thru hike than they would be otherwise.

I think that the main cost for most people who aren't retired (or very young with few good employment prospects) turns out to be the opportunity cost of lost earnings.


I agree wholeheartedly.


Yeah, I hear ya on the opportunity cost thing, and I don’t disagree; I guess that’s why there are so many youngsters (low income) and retiree’s (like me) on these trails. Still, though, “opportunity cost” can be looked at another way, like “life opportunity”, meaning if you are healthy and you do not do the trail, you’re missing an opportunity. Do it now, earn your money later. If you can afford it, of course, which is the main purpose of this thread. I wax, sorry.




Agree 100% - the opportunity cost is more than outweighed by the experience IMO.

To those who are employed by the nation's largest employer - 2.7 million federal civilian employees and 1.6 million uniformed military - the opportunity cost is almost always too great. One cannot accumulate enough leave to do a thru-hike, and leave without pay for a hike just wouldn't be approved. There is just no way to take off that much time without essentially resigning and creating a break in service. This can have catastrophic implications for getting reinstated in a similar position, and especially on one's retirement which could be forfeited altogether as a result. I am sure there are millions of state and local government employees with similar restrictions, as well as private sector employees who are in the same boat. When the opportunity costs start to add up to many hundreds of thousands of dollars in future lost wages and retirement funds, you prudently resign yourself to section hiking and save thoughts of thru-hiking until retiring.

followinggrandma
12-26-2013, 21:33
I'm making the crazy attempt to do it in 120 days and for 2500. Wish me luck haha.

1234
12-27-2013, 12:44
I agree faster will be cheaper. Indigo hiked for 3k, she had all her gear and it was years old. 4 pair of boots $$ 100/pair. 1 new tent, $225. It is a lonely to hike cheap, while everyone else goes to town and to a restaurant you are resupplying and heading back out alone. Another cost is medial, you do not plan on getting injured and going to ER but it happens. If you have insurance that is not good nationawide, it COST$$$. Once home, MRI copay, physical therapy $30 copay 3 times a week. Oh by the way a slow hiker will surly keep up with the fastest by hiking cheap. Every 4/5 days they end up at the same place, one hiking 20 mile days and one hiking 10 mile days, one staying in towns a lot and one staying on the trail a lot.

Buttmonkey
12-27-2013, 16:56
When the opportunity costs start to add up to many hundreds of thousands of dollars in future lost wages and retirement funds, you prudently resign yourself to section hiking and save thoughts of thru-hiking until retiring.

Yup. That's why I'm tentatively looking at joining the AT thru-hike class of 2037.

Zep
12-27-2013, 23:40
Hey guys, I've been creeping these forums for about 4 years or so, and I'm pretty surprised that I've never seen anyone talk about food stamps.
I'm doing 2014 NOBO as cheap as I can, and I'm planning on taking food stamp card w/ me. I know it can be used in multiple states and you can use it practically anywhere that sells food. I've never heard of anyone doing this, but I can't see any reason why not to.
Thoughts?

horicon
12-28-2013, 08:15
Do you already have the card???

capehiker
12-28-2013, 08:35
Hey guys, I've been creeping these forums for about 4 years or so, and I'm pretty surprised that I've never seen anyone talk about food stamps.
I'm doing 2014 NOBO as cheap as I can, and I'm planning on taking food stamp card w/ me. I know it can be used in multiple states and you can use it practically anywhere that sells food. I've never heard of anyone doing this, but I can't see any reason why not to.
Thoughts?

I think this falls under the umbrella of ethics. Using food stamps and the SNAP program to supplement a hike is not keeping within the spirit of the program. This is for individuals/ families who can barely keep their head above water, not someone choosing to go on a six month hike.

bobp
12-28-2013, 09:06
Hey guys, I've been creeping these forums for about 4 years or so, and I'm pretty surprised that I've never seen anyone talk about food stamps.
I'm doing 2014 NOBO as cheap as I can, and I'm planning on taking food stamp card w/ me. I know it can be used in multiple states and you can use it practically anywhere that sells food. I've never heard of anyone doing this, but I can't see any reason why not to.
Thoughts?

Not a bad troll. As you get more practice, you'll be able to work in guns, weed, and other incendiary topics.

jrabbott
12-28-2013, 09:24
It's about $1000 per month. I did it quite comfortably in 3.5 months for $3500 The trail can certainly be hiked for $3000, but it would probably cost more than that for a six month hike. A faster hike is usually a cheaper hike.

Would be interested in reading your Trail Journal for a 3.5 mo hike - that would be my ideal timeframe!! Thanks!

RED-DOG
12-28-2013, 12:14
George, thank you for all that effort and math. Only one problem… if you read the original quote that sparked your skepticism and think about what it says…
“A cheap hike can be done and I have as much fun hiking as someone who spends 8 times as much. HYOH”
…you will see it was not about food at all.

Just out of curiosity what is this extra $600 in expenses that you tried to take away from the $1000 so I only had $400 for food?
Cost for all my gear and to get to and from the trail is less than $400. I’m lucky enough to have flight passes.
I’ll be thru-hiking in 2014 using the same system I’ve used the last two years with success no matter who thinks it can’t be done. See you all on the trail. HYOH
Newbies, do not try my system.
Will you be keeping a calculated track of how much money you spend on food, if so when you finish the ENTIRE AT in 2014 can you come on WB with all your info on how you did it, cause i for one would like to know. I did the trail three times and i really don't think it can be done.

-Animal
12-28-2013, 14:02
Will you be keeping a calculated track of how much money you spend on food, if so when you finish the ENTIRE AT in 2014 can you come on WB with all your info on how you did it, cause i for one would like to know. I did the trail three times and i really don't think it can be done.
Sure, no problem. I’ll be listing all the data/receipts on my journal-
http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=439808
Also, I’ll be listing all my gear the same way.

Autummyst
12-28-2013, 14:30
I think this falls under the umbrella of ethics. Using food stamps and the SNAP program to supplement a hike is not keeping within the spirit of the program. This is for individuals/ families who can barely keep their head above water, not someone choosing to go on a six month hike.

................. +1

RED-DOG
12-28-2013, 16:26
Sure, no problem. I’ll be listing all the data/receipts on my journal-
http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?id=439808
Also, I’ll be listing all my gear the same way.
Okay great, i will be following your journal like i said i have done the trail three times the last was in 2012 and i spent $5700 dollars and thats everything, and i am always interested to learn from other people cheaper ways to hike,are you including Gear, and transportation cost into your budget, and by the way what is you over all budget ( it can't just be the $1000 ). Good Luck and happy trails. RED-DOG

-Animal
12-28-2013, 17:06
Okay great, i will be following your journal like i said i have done the trail three times the last was in 2012 and i spent $5700 dollars and thats everything, and i am always interested to learn from other people cheaper ways to hike,are you including Gear, and transportation cost into your budget, and by the way what is you over all budget ( it can't just be the $1000 ). Good Luck and happy trails. RED-DOG
I will list everything! I don’t have a min or max budget and can spend more money if I need to. I’m just trying to complete my hike for the least amount of money possible. Anything less than $1400 would be fantastic. Not going for any kind of record here…this is just a personal choice/challenge. Thanks for the luck. :)

Bronk
12-29-2013, 11:47
Hey guys, I've been creeping these forums for about 4 years or so, and I'm pretty surprised that I've never seen anyone talk about food stamps.
I'm doing 2014 NOBO as cheap as I can, and I'm planning on taking food stamp card w/ me. I know it can be used in multiple states and you can use it practically anywhere that sells food. I've never heard of anyone doing this, but I can't see any reason why not to.
Thoughts? Perhaps you shouldn't use it because a food stamp card was not meant for able bodied people who are able to work to use on a vacation.

4eyedbuzzard
12-29-2013, 12:27
Hey guys, I've been creeping these forums for about 4 years or so, and I'm pretty surprised that I've never seen anyone talk about food stamps.
I'm doing 2014 NOBO as cheap as I can, and I'm planning on taking food stamp card w/ me. I know it can be used in multiple states and you can use it practically anywhere that sells food. I've never heard of anyone doing this, but I can't see any reason why not to.
Thoughts?Yeah, the WB search function doesn't work well. There have been threads/discussions about hiking while collecting unemployment insurance, receiving food stamps, welfare, SSI, etc. in the past.
Let's just say that no one on WB who work(ed) for a living and/or otherwise paid for their own vacation was impressed with the idea. I wouldn't mention it on the trail either, especially when you wander into a shelter on a cold rainy night.

capehiker
12-29-2013, 14:28
On a Facebook 2014 page there is a girl who will be receiving a state disability check while hiking the trail. There's always those gaming the system. *sigh*

Zep
12-29-2013, 21:53
I'm not a troll, it was a serious inquiry lol.. Thanks for all the input guys. I am getting food stamps currently and I do work, I just don't make very much. I've never thought about it like cheating the system in a way because I've always needed them while getting them but I will be reconsidering using them on the trail. Gettin my ethics on ;)

fullcount
12-30-2013, 00:25
I am using the basic budget of $3/ mile for my thru. Rounding the trail to 2200 miles, this means $6,600 for the trip. I will try to keep a good record of my journey to see how well ( or not so well ) I do on the trip. I will be journaling on TrailJournals.com. I hope to further refine the budget to $2/ mile for food and the other $1/ mile for gear replacement and hostel stays.

What this will do for me is set a mental trigger as I hike. If I hike 8 miles in a day, I earn $16 for food and $8 for lodging or gear. Example, I am hiking NOBO and I get to Neels Gap at 31 miles into my hike. Keeping with the budget, I have $62 to spend on food resupply and $31 for gear / lodging needs. If I end up making a major purchase at Neels Gap, I could easily be in the red on my gear budget and will HAVE to hike some more to work off my weakness or lack of proper planning. I seriously doubt I will have spent $62 on food at this resupply point, but also realize I will have to bank some food budget for the north of the Mason Dixon food prices.

I despise having pay to walk through the Smokies or having to do work for stay / $$ in the Whites. Don't know how to budget for these robbery events. Also my budget does not include travel to and from the terminus on either end of the trip as I consider this a planning expense much like buying your initial gear for the expedition. I guess I will count the intermediate shuttles as a food expense as that is part of the cost of getting to your food resupply ( and in my case.....ice cream).

We'll see how it works.

GCHiker
01-05-2014, 17:26
To those who are employed by the nation's largest employer - 2.7 million federal civilian employees and 1.6 million uniformed military - the opportunity cost is almost always too great. One cannot accumulate enough leave to do a thru-hike, and leave without pay for a hike just wouldn't be approved. There is just no way to take off that much time without essentially resigning and creating a break in service. This can have catastrophic implications for getting reinstated in a similar position, and especially on one's retirement which could be forfeited altogether as a result. I am sure there are millions of state and local government employees with similar restrictions, as well as private sector employees who are in the same boat. When the opportunity costs start to add up to many hundreds of thousands of dollars in future lost wages and retirement funds, you prudently resign yourself to section hiking and save thoughts of thru-hiking until retiring.

I fall in this category.. Even though I work private sector blue collar, my job/employer is the BEST in my area as far as wages/retirement. It is not a job that one just "quits", as it is such a hard job to get. So with that said, I'll just have to section hike using my yearly vacation until I can retire.

GCHiker
01-05-2014, 17:28
Yup. That's why I'm tentatively looking at joining the AT thru-hike class of 2037.

2031 for me :)

GCHiker
01-05-2014, 17:32
I'm not a troll, it was a serious inquiry lol.. Thanks for all the input guys. I am getting food stamps currently and I do work, I just don't make very much. I've never thought about it like cheating the system in a way because I've always needed them while getting them but I will be reconsidering using them on the trail. Gettin my ethics on ;)
Disgusting

bigcranky
01-05-2014, 17:46
On a Facebook 2014 page there is a girl who will be receiving a state disability check while hiking the trail. There's always those gaming the system. *sigh*

Depends on the disability, I suppose.