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  1. #1
    Registered User JDCool1's Avatar
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    Default Cost of Thru Hike

    I know this topic has been addressed sometime in the past, however, each year things change to require a different look at the financial cost of long distance hiking. What is it costing in 2007-8? this information is helpful to some of us who need to include this factor in our planning. Comments welcome.
    What did it cost you, including transportation, meals, lodging, gear, misc.?
    Thanks.
    J D Cool

  2. #2
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    SGT Rock
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    NO SNIVELING

  3. #3

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    Wow, that's gone up from the old adage of $1 a mile! Especially with the cost of some of the new ultralite gear.
    ad astra per aspera

  4. #4

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    In 2006, many prices had gone up since the guidebooks were published and the reason given was usually the cost of energy in its various forms. With oil at $80 a barrel and even pricier alcohol being pushed as a substitute, and the the dollar hitting new lows, you can expect more of the same.

    It all boils down to the dollar being worth less and less. If you compare the purchasing power of the dollar now to what it was when $1/mile was a standard figure, it might actually be cheaper now in constant terms.

    The price of postage is a pretty good proxy since it takes into account everything from fuel to hourly wages, etc. and the actual service it buys is constant over the years: http://www.akdart.com/postrate.html

    On the other hand, hiking the A.T. has never been cheaper for Canadians, Europeans, etc.

    I don't agree with all of Sgt. Rock's individual line item calculations but the total looks about right.
    Last edited by Appalachian Tater; 09-14-2007 at 17:54.

  5. #5
    Registered User Joe8484's Avatar
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    I havent made a detailed budget yet but my estimates are at $3000. Thats based on a 5 month thru with less hotel/hostel stays.

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    That was a great summary Rock. Very useful. So $4500ish or $2/mile, including $500 emergency. I could see trying to squeeze that down a bit or live it up a bit but I think that $2/mile sounds like a baseline I should be work from. Thanks.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Marta's Avatar
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    I didn't see cost of getting to and home from the trail heads factored in there. The southern end won't be expensive but the northern end could either be cheap (hitching) or pretty pricey (whole family flies up and rents car and motel rooms to celebrate).

    Cheers!
    Marta/Five-Leaf
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  8. #8
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    That's a good point, about the return trip.

    I wonder also if it could still be done as cheap as $1/mile, not including return fare. I would like to plan and budget that amount, but then probably have that much again for emergencies and discretionary spending. For example, if I saw a service I thought might be worth supporting, I would like to have the wiggle room in my budget. I'm sure the Rock already has that factored in. My mindset is to be cheap wherever I can so as to be generous when I should. Otherwise I tend to get stuck somewhere in the middle all the time, paying for stuff I probably shouldn't and not paying for stuff I probably should. I would like to always buy something when I pass a little old lady at a fruit stand, or stay at a hostel I come across if it looks like its doing great things but needs more business. That's what I'm saying. Of course if you already know the trail very well then that can already be factored in. So I guess I'll budget for $2, but try and get by on $1, until I come across stuff I really like and then pay more as I sees it.

  9. #9
    Registered User ChinMusic's Avatar
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    As for the logistics of actually paying for stuff, do most places take credit cards or do you have to carry a significant amount of cash?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by JAK View Post
    That's a good point, about the return trip.

    I wonder also if it could still be done as cheap as $1/mile, not including return fare. I would like to plan and budget that amount, but then probably have that much again for emergencies and discretionary spending. For example, if I saw a service I thought might be worth supporting, I would like to have the wiggle room in my budget. I'm sure the Rock already has that factored in. My mindset is to be cheap wherever I can so as to be generous when I should. Otherwise I tend to get stuck somewhere in the middle all the time, paying for stuff I probably shouldn't and not paying for stuff I probably should. I would like to always buy something when I pass a little old lady at a fruit stand, or stay at a hostel I come across if it looks like its doing great things but needs more business. That's what I'm saying. Of course if you already know the trail very well then that can already be factored in. So I guess I'll budget for $2, but try and get by on $1, until I come across stuff I really like and then pay more as I sees it.
    Great way to be !!!!!
    Read WeatherCarrot's (?) article in the articles section here on WB.
    I spent $750 from Springer to Damascus this year.......... That was including everything except transportation to Springer....... However it was minimal gear purchase in towns...... And no booze or cigs............
    I don't know what the future would of held on in to the last 3/4 of the way, but I was convinced that it could be done on $3000 if you were careful with your dough........It wouldn't mean you couldn't stay at hostels and eat out, but you couldn't stay at the General Morgan Inn and chow in their restaurant........ I saw a lot of people spending a lot of money by getting caught up in the town trap.......... I took one zero. Neroed into towns, stayed the afternoon and night, and got out early the next day........

  11. #11
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    That is good to know mixinmaster.

    I estimated that on a worst case spending scenario - and I did forget to estimate the cost to get to the trail heads. $10 for the south and about $190 for the north is what I have calculated after doing some research.

    Although I am estimating about $4.5K, I would like to get by with spending less than $2K. I don't smoke, and boozing down the trail ain't my style. I don't like hotels, but I do like to eat.

    All that said, I would rather have $4.5K allotted and use half than go the other way.
    SGT Rock
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    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
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    NO SNIVELING

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by SGT Rock View Post
    I estimated that on a worst case spending scenario - and I did forget to estimate the cost to get to the trail heads. $10 for the south and about $190 for the north is what I have calculated after doing some research.
    After 5 long hikes and a lot of shorter ones, I've found that the most expensive part of the hike "can" be getting home afterward. You're tired, hungry and sore, so a soft bed and a good meal look really good - and damn the expense.

    Price increases - we spent 6 months "on the road" this year - mostly in the Rockies and Canada. In comparison to our CDT thru last year, the prices were a shock - a hamburger cost $2 more this year than last - motels were generally $20 more than last year - and even worse in Canada. And grocery prices aren't what they used to was either.

    It's not quite that bad on the East Coast - but it may be by next year.

    BTW - the $1 per mile went down the tubes at least 10 -15 years ago. Those who keep quoting that number need to learn to deal with reality.

  13. #13
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    Not to drift too far off topic, but it would be interesting to see some data on how much the cost of travel has inflated over the past 20 years. In general inflation has been fairly low, or so they claim, but I'll bet when it comes to stuff like coffee and donuts its been pretty high, and gasoline of course. When it comes to good healthy food, not just fast food, it seems to be getting much much harder to find a decent place. It's not to bad on the highway, but in towns it seems to be getting harder and harder, unless you go upscale. Not too bad for breakfast, and not too bad on highways. When we want to eat out we've been doing it more and more just for breakfast or brunch rather than dinner, or sometimes we drive up the highway a bit to find a truck stop. I know Tim Horton's coffee seems to be going up and up every year...

    back in a flash - off to get my extra large double double.

  14. #14
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    Another thing that can really drive up the cost of a thru is buying gear along the trail. Not that it is necessarily any more expensive from the outfitters near the trail but it's just plain costly.

    I ended up having to (and in some cases elected to) buy a few pieces of new gear during my 2003 thru. In the future I would seriously try (to the best extent possible) having all my major gear researched and field tested before my hike and then only replace as necessary.

    'Slogger
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

  15. #15

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    You're right about this Footslogger, I learned this one year with boots, so when I found the right ones ( after breaking them in ) I bought another pair, and broke them in and had them ready to ship when the first pair blew out.

    I didn't like the idea of breaking in new boots on trail, not to mention how much extra it would cost in the middle of the journey.

    Just watching the $$$$ that Mtn. Crossings makes on people with major gear changes that short of a distance "in" is amazing!
    ad astra per aspera

  16. #16
    Registered User Cannibal's Avatar
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    Rock- What does the "days out" represent? Do you have to pay the wife $5 for everyday you're gone?

  17. #17
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Well I looked at this like an Army TDY settlement.

    Lodging - look at hostels and hotels. I also decided to include the possible stays at pay campsites in this as hostels, that is why the number is high.
    Meals - look at re-supplies
    Incidental expenses - that is that $5 per day which is more than the Army pays.
    Official telephone and mail - that is the mail drops

    Add to all that an emergency contingency fund for a gear replacement or travel back home for emergency. As to gear - most everything in my pack has over 100 miles on it, and I am pretty darn happy with the stuff.
    SGT Rock
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    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

  18. #18
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    Most of my hikes have cost between $2800 to $3500 dollars. I spend more money than most people on such things as tobacco and alcohol, but probably spend a lot less than most people on restaurant meals and lodging. I also spend virtually NOTHING on gear during a trip unless it's absolutely unavoidable.

    Therefore, I think Rock's estimate is probably a good one.

    For most folks I think $3500 to $4500 is about right.

    A few quick budget tips:

    *Save at least 60%, or maybe more of your budget for the North. Just
    about everything costs more up there, lodging, food, etc.

    *Whatever your budget is, add an extra 15% for emergencies.

    *Have enough money saved so you won't have to go back to work
    immediately after your trip as I assure you, you won't want to.

    *Try and have some sort of insurance plan. Medical emergencies can be
    horribly expensive.

    *Avoid leaving too early in the season if you are a Northbounder. Leaving
    too early means a much greater chance of encountering extended periods
    of bad weather. You'll be spending more time in towns, some of it
    unplanned. This could mean spending hundreds of extra dollars on motels,
    meals, etc. Much of this money could in all likelihood be saved if you left
    Georgia just a few weeks later.

  19. #19
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    Jack,

    What's "too early" in your mind?

    Johnny

  20. #20
    Registered User Cannibal's Avatar
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    Too early? Can you provide me your definition of that phrase. I'm currently thinking Springer on March 1. I know that's a little early, but is it "too early"?

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