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  1. #1

    Default Can you afford to hike?

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

  2. #2
    Registered User Hikes in Rain's Avatar
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    Yes and no. Gear can be incredibly expensive, or amazingly cheap. All depends on you. Check out the Dirtbagging article.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hikes in Rain View Post
    Yes and no. Gear can be incredibly expensive, or amazingly cheap. All depends on you. Check out the Dirtbagging article.
    Could not agree with this more, if you bide your time, you can ferret out some gear that will be quite adequate.

  4. #4

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    think flea markets, yard sale, second hand stores, wally world, classifieds...and finally asking here for gear, many have stuff they can let go.

  5. #5
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    It is expensive, but as you say...what sport or hobby or pursuit isn't these days? I suppose one could do it cheap with gear from WalMart and Army Navy stores. The conundrum is heavy/cheap/poorly made/disposable gear makes it less fun. I always advise noobs to try to rent some gear from REI or borrow some to see if they like it and then take some trips. Buying cheap gear becomes expensive because you will end up replacing it IF you decide you are interested in long distance hiking.


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

  6. #6

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


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

  7. #7
    Registered User kayak karl's Avatar
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    Still one of the cheapest vacations out there @ about $250 a week, meals included
    I'm so confused, I'm not sure if I lost my horse or found a rope.

  8. #8

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

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    Registered User Old Hiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kayak karl View Post
    Still one of the cheapest vacations out there @ about $250 a week, meals included
    Oh, well, if you’re going to include food:http://www.carnival.com/itinerary/7-day-western-caribbean-cruise/miami/glory/7-days/cw6/?numGuests=2&destination=all-destinations&dest=any&datFrom=042015&datTo=042017& dur=D2

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

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

    Still: I’ll take the woods.
    Old Hiker
    AT Hike 2012 - 497 Miles of 2184
    AT Thru Hiker - 29 FEB - 03 OCT 2016 2189.1 miles
    Just because my teeth are showing, does NOT mean I'm smiling.
    Hányszor lennél inkább máshol?

  10. #10
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    You could spend several thousand dollars on the latest super ultralight gear made from unobtanium. Or you could spend a heck of a lot less. Neither set of gear will get you to Maine, it's just gear.

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

    For me, the real cost is the hike itself, though as KK points out, it's a lot less than most vacations.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  11. #11

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    Gear doesnt have to be expensive, and what you actually need is simple.
    Food and travel, IS expensive.

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    Gear doesnt have to be expensive, and what you actually need is simple.
    Food and travel, IS expensive.

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

  13. #13

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

  14. #14

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

  15. #15
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    Even if one spends several thousand dollars on gear, most of this stuff will last many a season and that's what makes it affordable. Once you have your gear, it's gas and food.


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  16. #16
    Garlic
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    A good friend of mine hiked the AT at age 57 upon retirement from his gov't job. He arranged his life so it was actually cheaper to be in the woods. He saved money when he hiked.

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

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

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

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

    In summary, yes, you can afford to hike. It might take a year to get everything together and it's doubtful you'll get everything right the first time. For many, that's part of the experience.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  17. #17

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    If you have section hiked CT, MA and VT then you presumably already have most of the equipment you need for hiking involving overnight camping. None of us needs to have state-of-the-art stuff to go on a long hike.
    Life Member: ATC, ALDHA, Superior Hiking Trail Association

  18. #18
    Registered User brancher's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigcranky View Post
    ... Or you could spend a heck of a lot less. Neither set of gear will get you to Maine, it's just gear.

    I think a very comfortable kit can be put together new for less than $1000,......
    ... Or far less! I spent years on a tight backpacking budget (kids, bills, mortgages, etc), and managed to score some decent and lightweight stuff without breaking the bank.
    Examples:
    Built a Tarptent - the patterns are still on the Shires' site I think.
    Ebay: Great deals on decent backpacks and shelters
    Target: wicking clothes, nylon shorts, etc.
    Walmart: anodized aluminum cookware for CHEAP -- OR, just buy a 12cm Imusa pot for $4 bucks and kluge it into a cook set.

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

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

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

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


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

    Hope this gives you some ideas.... YMMV

    Have fun with it!

  19. #19
    Registered User Walkintom's Avatar
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    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem."

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

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

  20. #20
    Registered User canoe's Avatar
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    Not sure where some are coming up with several thousand $$ for gear? I believe one can buy top of the line cutting edge for 1500-2000. If one will watch for sales,clearance, and discounted retail store. one can do better than that. All brand new

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