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  1. #1
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    Default How to Fund a Thru Hike

    Hi everyone, I am planning on thru hiking the AT in March 2021 and I'm just curious as to what some of y'all have done to help fund the trip! I'm currently in college and I will be starting my hike after I graduate so unfortunately it is hard to save a lot of money being a student and all. Any information helps!

  2. #2

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    In the old days I went thru dumpsters for food and used food stamps and learned about every wild edible plant I could.

  3. #3
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    get a job and save........

  4. #4
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    Just after college is a good time to thru - hike. It's easier to store all your stuff away, you don't (in theory) have a lot of off trail expenses you'll have to cover when on the trail, and you're already at a transition point in your life. Start saving now - open up a bank account specifically dedicated to the hike. All gifts for birthdays, holidays, graduation, etc.. should be (if asked) requested as cash and put into the bank account. Work a part-time job either during school and/or summer and put the money or a portion of the money into your hiking account. This will take a dedicated mind set and some work, but can be done if you really want it to work.

    To save money for the hike will take work, sacrifice, and some creative thinking - but it can be done if you want it bad enough. Set a goal for yourself of saving around $4000 and work hard to meet that goal. you can sell things you own of value that you don't need. Start re-selling on ebay for some extra money. some might suggest a go fund me - although many (including myself) view this as a rather crass move to fund a vacation, but to each their own.

    Don't skimp on the money - at your age most of the money will be spent socializing in town with friends that you meet (unless your one of the rare 20 somethings that keep to themselves and out of town).

    You can buy some food in bulk ahead of time and mail yourself some maildrops along the way to help save on money.

    collect cans
    sell scrap metal

  5. #5
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    The approach(es) to funding an AT thru are based on how you're expecting to thru hike the AT. 1) Doing a faster(shorter duration) thru hike is associated with less total thru hiking costs 2) Starting later when the most inclement coldest snowiest iciest weather is over or the risks vastly decreased can do the same. 3) Hitting the TH ready to rock is associated with lower costs and the first two pts 4) Avoiding town stays and stays under a roof off trail are associated with lower thru budgets

  6. #6
    Registered User soilman's Avatar
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    I did my first AT hike right after I graduated college. I worked, I saved, I spent less. But things were different 43 years ago.
    More walking, less talking.

  7. #7

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    It's not easy these days. What ever you do, don't go into debt doing it.

    First of all, if your on any kind of budget, don't start in March. That takes more expensive gear and your more likely to fail early. You graduate that early? Most collage kids start more like the end of April or early May.

    Start to collect gear now and use it. Unless of course, you already own gear and are an experienced backpacker, that make things easier.

    Be as frugal as you can be and put that money aside in a bank.

    This is all easier said then done.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  8. #8
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    Skip starting in March and save on motel/hostel bills waiting out storms and cold weather, and save on having to have full winter bag and other winter gear. Start April 15 or later and do more miles per day than you could in March postholing through snow in cold and shorter days. Buy used gear. Learn to love cheap food and limit beer, pizza, etc. in towns. Do neros instead of zeros where you can.

    You have roughly 65 weeks to save. Saving $75 per week would be $4800+, enough for a reasonable thru-hike experience including transportation, replacement shoes, etc. Lots of jobs available in Ft Collins. Working 8 to 10 hours per week would probably do it at the $11/hr+ (soon to be $12) minimum wage there.

    But if you do decide to try the gofundme route, think twice about posting it here, the reception usually isn't particularly friendly.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    get a job and save........
    yup. close thread

  10. #10
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    The gold standard is one dollar per mile, but if you are frugal enough, you may make it with half that amount. The problem is the temptations are many, especially for a young guy like yourself.

  11. #11

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    Typically if a young person would like to do something in today's time you can beg and plead with hard working citizens of the community and they will foot the bill for you.
    Or you could start a youtube channel and post a video once a day and people will be awaiting for you at road crossings and take you to pay for your meals and lodging and shoes and new gear.
    Or if your a pretty lady you will have an abundance of sprite young lads wanting to hike with you and coincidentally someone will always pickup the tab.

    Or you can be like the other 99% and get a job and save. You will need $4500 after gear expenses, and enough money left over to reenter the reality and get a job.
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  12. #12
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    I would suggest a SoBo, you will or should have a little more time to save, but mainly you will have less temptations to spend and less temptations to spring for a bed. Things also cost more up north, which may be a good thing as you still have to buy them when you get there either way (NoBo or SoBo), but it will teach you how to spend frugally as the higher prices are better incentive to not spend. The higher cost up north and lower cost down south should help you budget, as opposed to thinking you can make it NoBo then the higher costs were more than expected.

  13. #13
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    Keep in mind that Thru-Hiking is recreation and a vacation. It is not a service to mankind (although there are many ways to service mankind that are not as difficult as thru-hiking).

    One should not seek charity for thru-hiking.

  14. #14

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    I did my first 1000+mile AT hike starting the day after I graduated high school. I used old army surplus gear and minimized costs. I stretched $20 bills to last for weeks. Did what I had to do, avoided needless expenses. And I met many others doing the same thing.

    But that was 45 years ago...

    So look at your current "expenses". Do you pay $1K+/year for a phone? Well chuck it and then you have money for your hike (and someone else will always have a phone if you need to make a brief call). All you really need is strong shoes and minimal gear, and you will probably eat less $ than you would if you stayed home.
    Last edited by RockDoc; 11-12-2019 at 11:25.

  15. #15
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    Jeeze! This used to be a more frisky place.

    I fully expected the first response to be something along the lines of "All thru hikers are some kind of Outlaw so just go the fully Monty and rob a bank and run for the woods."

    A little more creativity please.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyPaper View Post
    Keep in mind that Thru-Hiking is recreation and a vacation. It is not a service to mankind (although there are many ways to service mankind that are not as difficult as thru-hiking)....
    I disagree and would tell you to HYOH. A thru hike is what one makes of it. If a person does it for the reason that you state, that's what they will most likely get out of it. For some it can be a period of soul searching, or outreach to be helpful, which the AT is a excellent place to give and have others received , it can be a spiritual pilgrimage or a educational experience. Getting in touch with one's self, who they are and meant to be, is a service to humanity, as one can't help others till they first 'know thyself'.

    To me a vacation is a escape from real life, a thru hike is real life and becomes real life and helps one define what is important in real life. Many have expressed that a thru hike is more real life then their off trail life, which is a fundamental difference.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    I disagree and would tell you to HYOH. A thru hike is what one makes of it. If a person does it for the reason that you state, that's what they will most likely get out of it. For some it can be a period of soul searching, or outreach to be helpful, which the AT is a excellent place to give and have others received , it can be a spiritual pilgrimage or a educational experience. Getting in touch with one's self, who they are and meant to be, is a service to humanity, as one can't help others till they first 'know thyself'.

    To me a vacation is a escape from real life, a thru hike is real life and becomes real life and helps one define what is important in real life. Many have expressed that a thru hike is more real life then their off trail life, which is a fundamental difference.
    The argument that the AT is a place for soul searching could also be said of playing video games in your parent's basement. One is free to hike their own hike, but not at my expense (and I would not recommend others see this as a charity either). If you can find someone gullible enough to buy into the idea that thru-hiking is a pilgrimage and who will thus fund your thru-hike, more power to you. BTW: I am hiking my own hike and doing at my own expense. When I come across thru-hikers on the trail, I see them as fellow vacationers. Nothing more noble than my 4 night get away.

    If one wants to serve his fellow mankind, I'd suggest volunteering to feed the homeless or something like that.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyPaper View Post
    Keep in mind that Thru-Hiking is recreation and a vacation. It is not a service to mankind (although there are many ways to service mankind that are not as difficult as thru-hiking).

    One should not seek charity for thru-hiking.
    I think thru-hiking or backpacking for some length of time is a tremendous service to mankind. Just think---the hiker is off the grid so is not using electricity or heat thereby reducing coal burning; he/she/it/they is not driving a vehicle therefore not polluting our air and buying gasoline; is not in consumer mode and purchasing more and more useless black friday crap; is not flying in airplanes ruining more of our air and causing noise pollution; and is not spending beaucoup amounts of money when actually out on the trail. His/her carbon bootprint is minimal.

    When I leave on a 21 or 24 day backpacking trip I start with a dollar in my trail wallet and end up with that same dollar at the end.

    And we all depend on charity when backpacking---the charity and gift of our national forests and wilderness areas, the charity of trail workers who keep the trails open, the charity of car drivers when we need to hitch---and of course the charity of the always open Dumpster.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Starchild View Post
    To me a vacation is a escape from real life, a thru hike is real life and becomes real life and helps one define what is important in real life. Many have expressed that a thru hike is more real life then their off trail life, which is a fundamental difference.
    Real life to me is the time I spend in the woods---either backpacking or sleeping outside or living in a Tipi etc etc.

    The escape from real life to me is our current indoor life with conveniences and gainful work and all the rest. Therefore such a life could be considered the real vacation from the outdoor life.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyPaper View Post
    .... One is free to hike their own hike, but not at my expense ...
    Nobody said you had to fund another's hike.

    And that is the crux of my contention. It is what you make of it. For you it's a vacation and thus should be self funded thus you feel like everyone should be self funded, as if they are not, the thru hike is not a vacation, but something more meaningful. So you need it to be a vacation, but please keep that to yourself, the AT is really much bigger than the box you try to put it in and respect other hikers and how they chose to hike their own hike.

    As for charity work, let each person decide how they want to help please. Your solutions don't work for everyone. Also not everyone wants or needs your suggestion or a organization to help humanity. Actually I would argue that helping fro one's heart, and not at the suggestion of another's ideals as to how one must help and without the organization is more effective help for humanity. My way of giving back is gift of my gifts, what I excel at, what I am able to give abundantly, though sometimes it is needed to give out of one's scarcity, but as one is gifted, one should certainly give.

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