Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How much does a Reality Hike Cost? 11/4/14: 2173.3 to 2183.9 Miles

Buy on Amazon
Virtual Hike
Street View

I suspect it is areas of Montana like this one that give the state the name "Big Sky Country." 

A reality hiker should reach this leg in the beginning of June. The days will be exceptionally long because it is so far north. It's a perfect time to strive for some big mile days, weeks, and even a month. 

See what's possible without injury. It might be useful later.

How much would a Reality Hike Cost?


I don't have an answer yet, but the only way to get an answer is to brainstorm the costs. Before starting a hike, I'd have the costs reduced to the minimum. The highest cost items may be things the reality hiker won't think of. These are repetitive purchases that aren't needed. Eliminating these can reduce costs by thousands! 

This isn't only for reality hikers. Many of the same costs occur in our normal lives. If the reality hiker eliminates these a couple years before the hike, they may be able to save almost enough to take the 48 state hike.


Assume a motel room costs an average of $60 a night. I've noticed those who walk the American Discovery Trail stop in a motel about every fourth night. This amounts to $5,400 for motels. If the reality hiker stays in a motel every fifth night, the cost would be $4,380. 

Is staying in a motel necessary? Except for emergency weather conditions, I don't think it is necessary. In fact, when hiking long distances, I've found it is difficult to get back on the trail after spending a night in a motel or at home. 


Most people opt for some type of hiking or running shoe. On the average this type of shoe will last about 400 miles. This number can vary widely depending on the shoe and walker's tendency to wear out shoes. Using 400 miles, the walker would have to buy 44 pairs of shoes. If they cost $100 apiece, that's $4,400 for shoes. That's about the same cost as motels.

My Danner combat boots have lasted over 3,000 miles. I see no reason why they can't last another 1,500 miles.  Even at full price, two pairs of these boots would cost $360. 

I'd bring a pair of running shoes to wear when I wasn't hiking. The reason for this is combat boots can get uncomfortable around the top if worn all the time.


It takes about 100 calories to walk a mile. The walker would average 2,400 calories a day for the walking and about 1,800 a day for existing. Let's call it 4,000 calories a day. It is possible to buy 4,000 calories for about $8.00 a day, but since the walker will be buying in higher cost locations, I'm going to assume $12.00 a day. The total cost would be about $4,380.


The tent, sleeping bag and pushcart will cost about $1,000. Many people will economize on the tent and sleeping bag. I feel this will result in additional nights in a motel. It may cost more to pay less.


So far, the cost is about $12,000. This is what we used to call a WAG in the military, meaning "Wild Ass Guess." The saying for the Appalachian Trail is, "Take half the gear and twice the money." Therefore, I'm going to say it will cost $24,000 if the walker doesn't go in style.

I'll include information on repetitive purchases in a later post. I'll also brainstorm ways to save for a reality hike. Remember, this is the first pass at the costs and is not meant to be exact.

Please Comment:

If you have any suggestions, please take a minute to leave a comment.

Fitbit Competition

So far, I'm in first place in both competitions. Some of these people can do 30 mile days, so I need to work on getting at least that far ahead.


  1. I'm curious what kind of food you would be buying at $12 per day? Can you give a brief daily menu? :)

    1. Deanna,I'm not sure if you think the estimate is high or low. Breakfast would be oatmeal or some other bulk hot cereal. This is the linchpin for an inexpensive day. The rest of the day would be half a plate of what's commonly called starch. Half a plate of vegetables and fresh fruit or raisins.

      It will likely take four meals to get the calories, but I'd like to keep it to three meals with no snacks.

      Although I say 4,000 calories in the post, active populations tend to eat about 2,200 calories. I've found my caloric requirements are less than the charts say.