Hiking on a Budget – A Full Guide

Last updated 16. January 2020

How To Go Hiking On A Budget

Hiking is an activity that ought to be enjoyed by all. There is a wide range of available products on the market for both the budget conscious and the affluent. But just because you don’t want to allocate your monthly rent payment towards the best backpacking gear shouldn’t mean you can’t experience the joys of the great outdoors. There are plenty of options for you if you want to have a little bit of money when you’re planning your hiking adventures.

In this guide, we will be outlining some of the ways you can get out on the trail without spending too much money. From giving you gear selection tips, you trail hunting, everything is possible and you will hit the trails in no time.


One of the most expensive parts of hiking is the gear you will be using. Luckily, there are plenty of options that you can outfit yourself with, without breaking the bank. For budget-conscious hikers, we recommend that you do not buy new gear. Although new gear may be higher quality and may last longer, it will also cost much more.

For your hiking apparel including hiking boots, pants, jackets, and anything else you’ll wear check out thrift stores and second-hand outdoor shops. They usually have really high-end gear from a few years ago that somebody has upgraded from. this means you’ll be getting what you need in terms of durability, support, and comfort, at a discounted price.

Sometimes this can even work in your favor if the boots are already broken in and the waterproofing has already been tested. Just be sure to inspect things carefully if you’re going this route.

Borrowing is another popular option among hikers and campers. Especially when it comes to things like tents, air-mattresses, and hammocks. Ask around to your friends and family to see if they have any hiking gear they would be willing to lend you for the weekend. It can save you a lot of money if you don’t need to buy your own gaiters, trekking poles, or other additional items that you may only use one or twice.

Deciding to go for a hike without appropriate gear is also possible. You can always go hiking in your regular sneakers, wearing jeans, and sporting a backpack designed for urban use. The only thing is that you will have to put up with the lack of comfort, durability, and versatility you get. Hiking gear is much better suited to handle the elements and keep you comfortable and safe. Sacrificing some comfort is always an option if you want to save a few bucks here and there.

Finding Your Trails

Another expensive aspect of hiking is getting to and from the trails. You may already have a trip booked ahead of time and you’re just looking to trim a little bit of the expenses that can add up.

When possible, always try to use public forms of transportation to and from your hiking destinations. Going private always costs more. If you can find a group of people who are hiking the same trail as you, it is possible that you can hitch a ride and save some of that extra money.

You may not have to go super far away from home in order to get to your favorite hiking trail. There are many trail maps available online, and you may be surprised how close trails may be to your house.

The most popular hiking trails will likely be close enough to public transportation hubs where you can easily access the trailhead. Additionally, depending on how far away your trail actually is, you may just be able to take the shoelace express and walk to your destination.


Hiking Food

Food is a pretty important part of a hikers packing list. You can find high nutrient food that is designed for hiking that is high-cost, but you can also find good food that is budget friendly. With hiking food, you want to make sure that you are getting high-calorie dense foods. This will allow you to fill up with less consumption, and likely less money spent.

For example, a handful of nuts may cost more per pound than a chocolate bar, but the energy you will get from a healthy source of fats like peanuts, or almonds will be much better than a cheaper source.

Also, you may find yourself needing to buy more of the low-quality food in order to equal the nutritional benefits of your high-quality. Don’t be afraid to pay a little more for food that you will not have to consume quite as much of.

For some of your larger meals, pasta and rice are excellent options. They fill you up well and they are quite inexpensive. Feel free to add in your own additions or spices to enhance the taste a little bit. But remember, every addition is extra money spent.

You have a lot of leeways when it comes to the food budget. You don’t need to spend exta cash on hi-tech freeze dried meals. They are a great option if you have room in your budget, but otherwise, keep it simple and you will be fine.

Split Costs

Another great way to save money on a hike is to go in a group or with a friend. This way you bundle together some of your larger costs for transportation and food. Splitting up these costs will take some of the burdens off of you, and you can mutually benefit each other. Buying things in bulk and pre-booking transportation for numerous people will help you save money, and will also deepen your bond with your hiking mates in the process.

Go Hardcore

This last tip is for people who want to push their limits. Some hikers like to extend their comfort zone by sleeping without a tent, or hiking quickly to cut down on food costs. If you don’t need to pay extra money for a tent, air bed, trekking poles, and other things that make your life a little more comfortable, you can go more “caveman” style and try to face the elements.

Cooking food over an open fire instead of using a propane stove can be an exhilarating experience. Going without a guide and navigating trails on your own will certainly cut down on the cost. Choosing to sleep in a hammock instead of sleeping in a tent can give you a little more budget wiggle room too. You can always try hammock tents as a combination!

If you’re the type of person who wants to push the limits, you can use your imagination to figure out how a minimalist hiking trip could seriously save you some money.


Hiking on a budget can be just as much fun as hiking with the best gear money can buy. Even though you may end up having to sacrifice some comfort, you will surely be able to find the options that work best for you. Exercise your ability to come up with ways to get yourself to your destination and support yourself without spending too much money.

You may find that you enjoy the process of figuring out the best way to do things while also keeping your budget low. Don’t let a smaller budget discourage you, and get out there and enjoy the beautiful wilderness.

If you liked the article, please leave your feedback.

Recommended Reads