How To Hike The Appalachian Trail Part 2: Costs And Gear

Last month we discussed the epic undertaking that is hiking the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). A huge undertaking, the Appalachian Trail stretches 2,200 miles and cuts through 14 states. It’s truly a crowning achievement for hikers from all over the world, and only about 20 percent of all hikers who head out on the AT with intentions of completing it actually accomplish that feat. In our first article, we discussed exactly what the AT was. In this article, we’ll talk about how much it costs to hike the AT and what type of gear you’ll need.

In terms of costs, it’s important to remember that hiking the Appalachian Trail is a MAJOR undertaking. As such, it has a price tag attached to it that is far greater than your average day or overnight hike. An important part of planning your thru-hike attempt is to calculate your costs and plan accordingly. After all, finding an ATM along the trail isn’t the easiest task.

First off, think about your lodging plans during your hike. While you’ll definitely spend plenty of nights in your tent, you may elect—as many thru-hikers do—to spend the occasional night in a hotel room during your trip.  Those hotel stays will quickly add up some dollars when it comes to your monthly budget.

No two hikers are the same, so it’s pretty difficult to come up with a hard number in terms of the cost of hiking the AT, but a general rule is to plan for between $1,000 and $2,000 per month. A big part of that expense will be in the form of the gear you carry, including the planned costs of replacing gear as you progress along the trail. You’ll also spend money on food ($10 to $15 per day—more if you eat at restaurants in towns). You’ll also have to pay the occasional fee for camping in certain areas.

Speaking of that gear you’ll have to spend money on, here’s a look at what you’ll need to carry with you when hiking the AT. At a bare minimum, plan on bringing the following:

  • Backpack
  • Sleeping bag
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Cook set
  • Stove
  • Fuel
  • Clothing
  • Hiking boots/shoes
  • Headlamp/flashlight
  • Water bottle and filter
  • First Aid Kit
  • Fire starter
  • Toilet Paper
  • Food!

This list barely scratches the surface. If you’re serious about hiking the AT you’ll want to pick up a guidebook and talk to some expert outfitters for a comprehensive list of gear and supplies.

In the next article, we’ll discuss shelter options along the AT and how to get in shape.