I’m a little bit of a numbers geek, so naturally I wanted to know how much money Rt and I spent on our thru-hike. We asked previous year’s hikers on Facebook how much they had spent on their trips while researching for our own. The general consensus was about $5000 per person for six months of hiking. That number can vary wildly with factors such as how much gear you already own, how many off trail expenses you are paying, and how much you are willing to spend in towns. Five thousand was the most common number thrown around for a comfortable hike. I figured I would put together a blog post just in case any readers or future hikers wanted exact monetary figures for a five month hike. I went through Rt’s and my bank account and added up every dollar we spent from April 11th to September 20th while on trail.
Our grand total was $13,972!
Or $6986 per person.
That seems like a lot, so let me break it down for you.
There were three main categories for the total: gear purchased (we started out with no gear at all), off trail costs like student loans and our cell phone bill for five months, and the money we spent while hiking. I put it into a nice pie chart : )
The “off trail” section is money we would have been spending even if we weren’t hiking, but it is an important factor to remember when you are figuring out how much you’ll need to save. I broke down the “during thru-hike” section into pertinent categories and made another pie chart!
For the “food on trail” section I added the cost of the food we bought to mail to ourselves and the cost of food we bought in towns to take on trail. The “food in town” section is purely money spent on cheeseburgers, ice cream, beer, etc.
So the majority of the money we spent was on food. Not surprising.
Ways we could have saved money:
There were gear items we could have bought used. A lot of the clothes I bought were on sale but honestly I could have gotten them from a thrift shop and they would have been fine. We’ll post gear reviews soon : )
Food in town is a huge place to save, although arguably the hardest. A few friends on trail would hit the hiker box when they got into town and eat that instead of buying pizza or soda. Food was a constant topic of conversation on trail so not gorging on town food takes a lot of willpower. Rt and I decided we were ok with spending money on food, but you could save a handful by skipping a few meals in town if you have extra trail food or hiker boxing a dinner.
Lodging is another place we could have saved a few bucks. There are times when you really really want to spend the night in town, which is fine. But if it’s not raining and there is a nice camp spot two miles out of town and all your chores are done then you’ll save money by getting your self in gear and heading out on trail.
I would say that Rt and I had a reasonably comfortable hike. We didn’t stay in the fanciest hotels or eat all organic, but we had a lot of food and good gear.
If you were to take out the off trail expenses and the purchased gear, we would have spent about $3432 per person. If you’re looking to do a thru-hike and you have your gear already, I would say that around $5000 would still be a good number to save so you could have extra for emergencies. I hope this breakdown is interesting! I sure had fun doing it : )