Sponsors and Charities
There’s no getting around it. Thru hiking is expensive. Gear, food, and hostels can set you back thousands of dollars. Add those expenses up with your car insurance, bills, and rent/mortgage while you’re away and a 6 month adventure can end up costing a small fortune. You can attempt to alleviate some of the financial strain on your pockets by contacting companies to see if they are willing to sponsor/donate product to you for the hike. It’s not as easy as you may think. It takes a ton of time, patience, and perseverance. I have been EXTREMELY blessed with some amazing companies that are helping me out with my adventure. I’d like to share how I’ve found success as well as some of the companies that have been generous enough to donate product for my hike.
I’ve found that most big box (well known) companies do not get involved with individual hikers. This is understandable because most of these companies donate a lot of time and money to trail maintenance and organizations that need the help. That being said, there are many smaller companies out there who aren’t well known to the hiking community but really should be. Finding these companies, trying their product, and deciding who you would like to pursue a mutually beneficial agreement with will take time and patience. I choose only to write to companies with products that I truly believe in, and I suggest you do the same. Who wants to support something they don’t believe in?
Once you find companies that you would like to work with, it’s time to start drafting letters. I like to begin with an introduction outlining who I am, what my goals are, and why I’ve chosen to set those goals for myself. Connecting with the reader on a personal level will give them an understanding of who you are and allow them a glimpse into your life. The more you know about someone, the more likely you are to take an interest in their pursuits. Don’t get too carried away. You don’t need to tell them your entire life story.
After an introduction, it’s time to relay your love for their product and why you think it would be beneficial for other hikers on the trail. Letting them know that their product could thrive in the outdoor community will perk their ears as it’s an opportunity for them to expand. This rings especially true with nutritional products. If you are like most thru hikers, your diet consists mainly of Snicker bars, Ramen noodles, and pasta sides. Anything that will get you more calories is enticing. In my opinion, this is not the way to go about eating. Just because a honey bun is 500 calories and delicious, doesn’t mean it’s the best option. Having the right vitamins and nutrients in your body can be a game changer. Enlightening these companies on the typical hiker diet and why their product would help to improve the experiences of hikers on the trail is a good segue into you proposal.
It’s time to let them know what you are asking for. Be reasonable, honest, and respectful. In other words, don’t ask for hundreds of dollars worth of stuff. After you detail what you need, it’s time to sell yourself and explain what they will get in return for their donation. Are you very active in the online hiker community? Do you have a decent following on social media platforms? Do you have a YouTube channel? For me, I am a member of several backpacking forums on Facebook. I also am active on Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. Explain to them how you can help advertise their product and spread the word. This is why you only want products you truly believe in. It’s your belief in the products that will make your job an easy one. You’d be surprised at how a simple Facebook post can get people asking questions and talking. For instance, yesterday someone on FB asked what people do for electrolytes on the trail. I replied “My solution for electrolytes is Cocohydro by Big Tree Farms (one of my “sponsors”.) Dehydrated coconut water is an amazing source of electrolytes and the stuff tastes awesome.” Almost immediately I had several people asking me for pictures of the product and where they could purchase it. This is where your value to companies lies. Spreading the word and introducing their product and it’s benefits to the hiking community can go a long way. Let them know this. You have value.
I am doing a fund raiser for The Optic Neuritis foundation. It’s my goal to raise them $3 for every mile I hike. Telling your potential sponsors that you will be hiking to benefit a charity lets them know that you aren’t just some greedy hiker trying to get free product. Choose something that is close to home. I have Optic Neuritis so my choice was obvious. Knowing that someone is depending on you to complete your goal can help you push through the worst of times. Make the hike about more than just you. While you are walking you can be raising money and helping people. Why not do that? There are tons of amazing charities out there. Pick one and give back. Karma is real.
Thank them for their time. If they make it through your letter and it is well written, you may actually hear back from them. My success rate is about 1 in 12 companies, but many of them were big box companies I shouldn’t have bothered with in the first place. Not that I don’t love the bigger companies… I just understand that if they donated to every hiker that asked they’d be out of business. Many of them help the hiker community in other ways.
If you say you are going to do something for a company, DO IT. Not fulfilling your duties will spoil opportunities for future hikers. I plug all the companies that have helped me on social media and am in the process of recording YouTube reviews, some of which will be “on trail.”
As I stated above, I have been very blessed. I have nine companies that have helped me out with products. Two of them have chosen to remain anonymous because they don’t donate product often and have made exceptions in my case.
A GIGANTIC Thank You goes out to to the following:
Altra running- Lone Peak 2.5 …Ask anyone who has ever worn them. These runners are not only comfortable, but extremely durable.
Vitchelo- If you need an affordable quality headlamp check them out. They’re a best seller on Amazon.
Simple Squares- Amazing Organic Paleo nutrition bars. Only 5 ingredients and gmo and gluten free.
Big Tree Farms- Cocohydro is dehydrated coconut water. I lived in Hawaii for 5 years and this tastes like the real thing because it is.
Four Sigmatic- Cordyceps elixir is simply awesome. Drinking this in place of coffee in the morning provides sustained energy without the crash.
Raw Revolution- Glo bars contain high amounts of protein and contain organic and raw ingredients. Get some. Treat your taste buds.I love em.
Last but not least…
Dr. Bronners- The soap for everything. body, hair, dishes, cleaning, and even laundry. 2 drops goes a long way. Best soap ever. Fair Trade and gmo free too!
The products below are going to help me get to Maine and I can’t thank these companies enough.
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Adam: Thank you, thank you, thank you. This was thoughtfully written with good ideas esp. social media.
I’m going to try it for next year.
Just wanted to thank you again for that Lime Cocohydro you gave me on the Garfield descent.
It was delicious.
Thank you , me and my brother Josh, of no blood kin, have decide we are going to start here in Louisiana drive to where the Mississippi River, divides the land. Then swim across ,then walk the tripple crown starting the AT ,would like to go pro the quest of perspectives, being aware of the word of God and living as intended, as the earth was presented. Won’t to stop by nursing homes and talk to everyone there abt life.telling them we are going to try to do all the things that are considered great, as in walking the tripple crown , hang gliding, etc. sword fighting in Rome as a gladiator, these is what were doing don’t know exactly all hills to top but that’s not the issues where not doing it for gain but to show LOVE ,so we have no differences of one accord . Actively looking for someone to help the AT is the first task,after we swim the divide, wisdom of the spirit will set us free ,I’m ready to start walking back home , called by my true name that I haven’t heard, in what feels like 300 years, We walk the crown for you and the kid with no legs ,the one who smiles while he cry ,all. How would I get the world to send me hand wrote massages, to do with it what they won’t. If u won’t me to take a prayer to a peak ,I picture us spreading love. under gods law ,I will seek to do my best to adhere. Plz let me know anything u belive, so our Perspectives gain, love, wisdom,knowledge so we can feel compassion again,by understanding I agree with you in full. COME , HELP . Congrats on ur achievements. Thank you for your time.any advice on funding or anything ,I mean any advice plz let me know.keep it up