How Much Does an AT Thru-Hike Cost?…Depends
While doing my research for my thru-hike, I have only found a few videos and articles that talk about the cost of thru-hiking the AT, and the answers vary widely. Based on my research, as well as what I’ve spent so far, I am going to attempt to break down how much I think it is going to cost ME. Figuring out how much your thru-hike is going to cost is not an exact science, and there are many variables you should consider, such as injuries and replacing broken gear, just to name two.
I’ve spend a little over $2,000.00 on gear for my thru-hike, and I think I’ve done pretty well. I could’ve spent a lot more if I went with all brand-name gear, but I really didn’t see any benefit in the extra cost. I did make my own hammock, suspension system, and tarp to save a little money. However, I recommend that you don’t cheap out on your shelter, sleep system, pack, or footwear. One thing to keep in mind is that you will need 2 to 5 pairs of shoes to complete the trail (the trail is hard on shoes). Also, this does not include the food you will need on the trail. That will be covered in how much you should have saved for your hike.
While on the trail, I would plan on spending $2.00 to $4.00 per mile for your thru-hike. This equates to between $4,380.00 and $8,760. I am planning on a little over $2.00/mile for my hike. This money is going to cover re-supplies (food and disposable items), replacing broken gear, zero days, hostel and hotel stays, adult beverages (if you are so inclined), and any touristy things you might want to do while on the trail. One big expense that a lot of hikers seem to incur is drinking during town stops. I don’t drink so I’ll definitely save some money there. I’m also planning on limiting my hostel/hotel stays while in town for resupplies. I will be taking zero days in town and will enjoy a shower now and then, but I don’t need to stay in a hostel/hotel every 3 to 4 days when I go into town. I don’t think I’ll be able to save money on town food (being totally honest here). I like to eat, and when I have the chance to indulge in town food, I won’t hold back.
While there are many factors beyond your control on a thru-hike, there are almost as many within your control. How much or how little you spend is really determined by your self-control. As previously stated, I would recommend planning to spend $2.00 or more per mile so you have a cushion for the unexpected. It would be a shame if your hike was going well, but you had to go home because you ran out of money. Remember always hike your own hike and have fun.
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