TODAY I'M OUTSIDE

July 5, 2020

How to Multi-Day Hike on a Budget

Written by

Daniel Wade

How to Multi-Day Hike on a Budget | Today I'm Outside

How to Multi-Day Hike on a Budget

Here’s how to gear up and hit the trails without breaking the bank.

Well, let’s start by being quite honest here; hiking can be a really expensive hobby. Fortunately, you don’t have to shell out a fortune to get out and enjoy the wide-open space, gorgeous scenery, and of course, fresh air. If you’re planning to take multiday hiking (spending at least a night out there) without money or on a tight budget, it’s important to consider several things when planning the hike. The most important thing is to know the type of gear required for the hike, how to use it, and how much it will cost you to acquire it.

Hiking can be a costly hobby considering all the special equipment needed to hike comfortably. For instance, you’ll have to spend more money if you’re going for extreme hikes such as high altitude hiking. However, there are a lot of ways that you can reduce your cash expenses and fit your hiking hobby in an even tighter budget. With these tips on your fingertips, you can keep your hiking adventures cost-effective and budget-friendly.

So if you want to hike without money or on a tighter budget, this article provides you with everything you need to know about hiking on a budget.

Table of Contents:

Check on the Hiking and Weather Conditions

One of the most important things to keep in mind if you’re planning to multiday hike on a budget is the hiking and weather conditions. You’re going to be out there for more than a day so you should think about where and when you will be hiking. Both the weather and hiking conditions will help you determine if the conditions are extreme or favorable for a low-budget gear.

The most important thing, whether hiking on a budget or not, is your health and safety. If the conditions are extreme, it’s always advisable not to bring low-quality gear. This means that you’ll have to spend a little more on high-quality gear. Generally, high-quality gears are more expensive but they come with lower weight and better safety.

So if you’re planning to multiday hike on a stricter budget, it’d be advisable to avoid very extreme hiking conditions that require pricier gears. You should avoid areas where the temperatures are likely to drop below freezing points, especially at night. For example, avoid very high altitude hikes if you’re planning to hike on a budget. Such hikes are often extreme and require high-quality gear, which can be quite expensive.

That being said, you should choose hiking conditions that are not very extreme; places where you can do just fine with budget gear. Again, keep in mind that hiking in milder conditions will not necessarily make your adventure less challenging or less exciting. If anything, it will enable you to hike on a budget while still having a unique experience.

Stay Close to Home

It wouldn’t be advisable to fly out of the country for hiking expeditions if you’re looking to hike on a budget. Similarly, long drives will only cost you more in terms of car service and gas. So what is your best option? Just stay close to home. We bet there are lots of thrilling hiking trails in your area. If anything, you don’t have to truck across several states or countries to enjoy a memorable multiday hike. The answer may be lying in your backyard or within your local area.

Go for Hiking Boots that Won’t Cost You a Fortune

One of the most essential pieces of hiking equipment should be your hiking boots. The best thing to do when choosing hiking boots is to go for a proper pair of hiking boots that suit the hiking terrain. Without a proper pair of hiking boots, the whole hiking experience will be strenuous and tedious.

Unfortunately, most high-quality hiking boots will cost you a small fortune, which will put a strain on your tight budget. This, however, doesn’t mean you can’t find a reliable pair of hiking boots that won’t cost you a fortune. With a perfect search, you’ll find a fairly priced pair of hiking boots. Various online platforms sell some affordable and quality pair of hiking boots. All you have to do is try avoiding big brands, which tend to be more expensive.

Of course, you’ll have to know exactly what you need. This is because you don’t want to spend money on a pair of hiking boots only to find out that they’re not fit for you. Keep in mind that hiking always entails long walks so you should always go for shoes that are very comfortable on long walks.

The most important feature to look at when choosing hiking shoes is a broad and sturdy grip. This is very crucial for almost every terrain from mossy rocks, muddy patches, and unstable gravel to wet hillsides. That’s not all; ensure that the shoe has proper support around the ankle area if you want to avoid straining or injuring your ankles.

If you are on an even tighter budget and can’t afford even the fairly priced options, a good alternative can be your running shoes. Just make sure that they have a good grip, offer appropriate ankle support, and are comfortable. Keep in mind that running shoes will not last as long on hiking terrains as hiking shoes. So no matter your budget, you should consider investing in reliable hiking boots as they’ll be more economical in the long run.

Budget for the Hike

Budgeting is a very powerful tool particularly if you’re planning to hike on a budget. Although it may seem daunting, it will be of great help if you want to keep things on the low. Here’s how you can do it.

  • Estimate how long you want to hike (for example, do you want to hike for three days or a week?)
  • Figure out your on-trail costs (Will you have to buy meals? Do you have to hire camp setup?)
  • Set aside emergency fund – Things can happen when you’re out there. Your gear can fail, you can get sick, so you need to set aside some money for the bad days on the trail.
  • Stick and adhere to your budget – This will help you track all your expenses

Use Your Phone as GPS

As a serious hiker, you should never underrate your chances of getting lost while out there, which can leave you in very tricky situations. Generally, it’s always advisable to get a GPS device or a digital map to help you navigate the area. Unfortunately, most of these devices can be expensive when you’re hiking on a budget.

If so, you can choose to use your smartphone to download a map to help provide direction. You can also use Google maps to help you know your intended route. Your phone will, however, not be of much help if you’re hiking in an area with no network signals. That being said, the simplest thing to do is to never venture too far from a well-marked trail or signposts.

Choosing Hiking Essentials

A fundamental part of going for multiday hiking on a budget is to forget about all the fancy and unnecessary hiking accessories. In other words, you should only go with what you absolutely need. It’s also vital to look for how you can get these essentials without spending any money.

Food

Food is obviously one of the most vital essentials when going for a multiday hiking trip. This will, of course, cost you some money. After all, you always have to pay for food whether or not you’re hiking. You shouldn’t, therefore, consider it an additional cost if you look at it from that perspective. All you have to do is to ensure that you don’t buy unnecessary foodstuff or pay over the roof for your meals, especially if you are hiking on a budget.

Keep in mind that hiking meals are generally more expensive than normal day meals. This is why it’s of great importance to ensure that you’re very careful with the type of meals that you buy. The best budget-friendly options are pre-prepared meals that will only require you to add boiling water but this will still cost you some good money. Some of the most perfect examples include but are not limited to; Greenbelly backpacking meal bars, mountain house breakfast skillet, mountain house chicken and dumplings with veggies, and peak refuel beef pasta marinara.

You can also buy dehydrated ingredients and make your meals while at the camp but this will cost money as well. Some of these ingredients include Starkist tuna. The original Israeli couscous, harmony house foods dried spinach flakes, mashed potatoes, beef jerky, and dried mushrooms.

You’ll, however, need a camping stove to prepare these meals and this will, of course, cost some money. You should also check whether or not a camping stove is allowed in the area you’re camping. But if you’re hell-bent on preparing your meals while on the trail and you don’t want to spend on a camping stove, you can consider using a regular fire.

This leaves you with an even better budget-friendly approach: bringing completely dehydrated meals from home! This is not only the cheapest option but it’s also the healthiest option. However, you’ll have to own a food dehydrator, which may require an initial investment if you don’t own one.

Water

Needless to say, water is an important essential of any hiking trip. We all need to keep our bodies sufficiently hydrated so that we can perform at our optimal best. This is integral during multiday hikes. Fortunately, water can be found virtually everywhere for free but it’s essential to ensure that it’s safe for you.

You should always remember that even the freshest, cleanest, and streaming water is not entirely safe to drink. One of the worst things that can happen to you when hiking on a budget is falling sick. To avoid this, you should prioritize drinking safe water. The easiest way to filter water when on a hiking trail is by using a water purifier. But like most hiking accessories, it will still cost you money.

So what do you do? The cheapest option to ensure that your drinking water is safe when hiking on a budget is by boiling it. We have to admit that this may not be very convenient for most hikers given that youll have to find a pan and make fire. However, it will cost next to nothing if anything at all.

Clothes

As we noted earlier, you may need to invest more in the right gear if you’re going for a multiday hike in extreme conditions. But because, you should always avoid extreme conditions when hiking on a budget, going with the clothes that you already own can be a great alternative.

In most cases, normal sports clothing made from synthetic material can be a great option. Throw in your regular waterproof jacket or fleece and you’ll be good to go. You may also want to avoid any cotton clothing as much as possible since they are inappropriate for hiking.

Camp Setup

As long as you go with our advice and choose mild conditions when hiking on a budget, you won’t have to go for a high quality (or costly) camp setup. Whether you prefer a hammock, a tent, a tarp or a bivy, you can almost get away with any regular camp setup. You should also bring with you an affordable sleeping bag that’s suitable for the temperature.

Unlike high-quality hiking gears that are always very light, cheaper hiking gears will always be heavier. This is, of course, one of those sacrifices that you’ll have to make if you decide to go for a multiday hike on a budget. But if you don’t want to carry a heavy camp setup, you can choose to build your tent. Unfortunately, this is not advisable for beginners. Again, it not always allowed, so your only option might be to contend with a cheaper (but heavier) camp setup.

Other Essentials

Although you may only need some of these items in certain situations, they don’t have to be expensive. In other words, they should perfectly fit in your budget-conscious hiking plan. They include:

  • Sun protection
  • Headlamp (for night use)
  • Matches/Lighters (to light fire)
  • Knife
  • First aid kit (being creative and improvising will save you some money)

How to Get these Hiking Essential without Spending Money

You now know what you absolutely need to multiday hike on a budget. The next question should be how to find them. Well, we never lack answers.

Look in the Attic or Garage

There are chances that your dad’s hiking boots from over 40 years ago are somewhere in the attic or garage. To be brutally honest with you; most of these hiking items from years ago will be heavy. But you’ve always dreamt of having stronger quads, right? Well, all you have to do is ensure that you categorically need them. Just dust off the cobwebs and you might have a useful essential that could even get approval from a fellow hiker on a budget!

Borrow from Friends/Relatives

Whether it’s the hiking boots, a camp setup or a sleeping bag, there’s a possibility that somebody you know owns one of these items. You can choose to borrow the available items before spending any money. Just make sure that you look after them perfectly. You never know, you might need to borrow again so it’s good to be in good books with the lender(s).

Get Some Hiking Festival Leftovers

If by any bad luck you don’t get the essentials from friends or relatives, you can consider looking for hiking leftovers. All you have to do is walk on the camping fields once the festivals are over and you’ll find all kinds of stuff left behind by hikers. You never know, just ride on your luck and you might get something worthy for your budget-conscious hiking trip.

Join a Club or Rent

Several platforms offer members-only discounts on various items. For example, REI Co-Op, Gear Co-Op, and Mountain Equipment Co-Op have a couple of discounts for their members on various items. You can consider signing up with them and you’ll enjoy several discounts, especially when you’re looking for affordable hiking items.

Some of these platforms also offer registered members the chance to rent the items. You can consider platforms such as LowerGear Outdoors, Xscape Pod, and Outdoors Geek.

Buy Used Hiking Items

In addition to your local hiking or consignment shop, you can check various online platforms such as geartrade.com, craigslist, and mountain equipment Co-Op. and gear swap for used hiking items. Make sure that it’s something that you need, it’s in working condition, and it’s affordable.

Check Out for Big Sales

Most platforms offer big sales when seasons change. This is generally to entice customers like you and also to make room for new items. You should take advantage of these big sales and get something that you might need.

Parting Shot

Hiking on a budget can be a daunting undertaking, but this doesn’t mean it’s not possible. The most important thing to do if you’re planning to hike on a budget is to avoid extreme conditions that need high quality and expensive hiking gear. You should also do everything to limit your expenses. Borrowing the hiking items, bringing food from home, looking in the attic for hiking items or buying used ones should be among your priorities. You should also not forget to budget and stick to it.

All in all, being on a stricter budget shouldn’t be an excuse to avoid hitting the trails. Make some sacrifices, carry the most indispensable essentials, and go for it!

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How to Multi-Day Hike on a Budget

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