I am in this group online of people who take their hikes seriously. They ask questions about the best gear while also commenting on the conditions of portions of the trails being discussed. It was in this group that a meme that has been circulating for years was posted. Man oh man, people were offended. Here is the meme:
To be honest, I find this to be hilarious because often I am the ‘guy’ with the hydration pack, 2 hiking sticks, and a North Face vest. I used to be much worse about it too, but I have since calmed way down, and this is why I feel like I know what I am talking about when it comes to the money being spent on hiking trips.
When we first planned on hiking a portion of the Superior Hiking Trail, we went to Scheel’s (a sporting goods and attire store) and let the sales person sell us the best boots in the world, and I think we spent close to $200 each on just boots. I am not saying that I regret this purchase at all because I wear these boots pretty much weekly in all seasons, and they still work like new. I think the only thing that is not perfect about them right now is that I need to replace a shoe lace. I have had them since 2014. I remember though, I was so proud to own these boots. Like, I was now an official outdoor woman or something. Devon, my husband who, you know, runs this blog, was in the same boat. Ladies and gentlemen, our boots even made an appearance in our 2015 wedding. Like these boots were an actual decoration. See proof below.
After these boots, we made more outdoorsy purchases! Oh my gosh, like, we were so outdoorsy! We went hiking like once a month in our North Face backpacks with Nalgenes on carabiners. We even bout a life straw. I will say though, we have yet to actually use it. It just feels so real and so good to buy these items! I think I also have a hammock somewhere in my camping buckets. Oh, we also used these boots in our baby announcement.
Here is the thing though—we started hiking more often. We learned quickly how annoying it is to carry things for long. We learned how expensive this gear hobby was getting. We learned that we needed to find a happy medium. Like I said before, I am not the kid with Crocs in the woods. I am still extra, but I have found out how I can be extra when I need to be.
For starters, I stick mostly to State Parks and nature areas for locations. They are completely affordable when you have an annual pass. Like $30 is going out to eat a couple times. If you have the money for that Chipotle burrito a few times, you can get a pass! Cool, now to save more many turn huge camping trips into day trips. Yea, it is cool to have your own little lot of land for a day or two, but that add another $30 to your trip. Save those for special occasions. Day hikes are just as effective. I camp with family, or we give them as gifts to each other. Every park I have been to allows for the same amazing fire cooking to be done with fire pits and grills in their picnic areas. So, cool, we saved $30+ already.
Next, let’s talk about sunscreen and bug spray. Buy them ahead of time. They will almost always cost more at the actual park. Also, do you really think you need to spend more to get the SPF 100? No. I am legit the freckle queen, and 30 always works. Also, don’t buy more than 50% DEET because studies legit show that any more only adds like an hour of protection. It is just a way to waste more money. So like, $35 have been saved now.
So now, let’s talk clothing. I am such a hypocrite here. I’m going to be honest. But we have our priorities. Take or leave this part. I say this because I live for Outside Magazine and brand name gear. But, as someone who spends way too much on this gear, I do know what I am talking about. When shopping for clothing, ask yourself the following question: Is it really worth it? I seriously mean this. Like, do you really need to spend $100 on that jacket? You get what? A warmer hike? Less water on you from rain? No. You get a brand. They say they’re better, but often, they are just a brand. I really could be just as good at hiking and comfortable with $50 hiking boots. So my advice is to spend more time researching what you buy. Look at the reviews. Ask around. Remember my networking on Instagram post last week? Use this network for advice! Yes, they love their Chaco’s, but so many also love much more affordable and equally effective options people! I’m going to ruin our data while also making an accurate prediction, so let’s say we have now saved $130+ by not buying brand name gear when we found affordable and effective gear at like Target and locally.
Finally, let’s talk about food. When you get food at a restaurant local to the park you’re hiking, you pay like $10+ a person. When you bring some charcoal and hotdog fixings, you can spend $10 to feed a whole group by using a parks picnic area. That save us like $30, bringing our total to $145+ in savings.
I mean we could continue to go on and on and on and on like a Journey song, but I hope you are starting to get the point. It is all about what you prioritize. If you care enough about it, you will make it work. I don’t camp often, and I have limited my brand name purchases. I eat at parks instead of not. I also research what I am buying. That is how I can afford all these trips I take.
If you have more advice for saving money while hiking, use the hashtag #TWLHikingClub on Instagram and/or Twitter for a chance to be featured by The Wild Life!
If you have a story about or from hiking please do not hesitate to share. We will totally feature your story and pictures. To contact us with your story, message us on Instagram, @teacherwhohikes. You can also message The Wild Life on Facebook.