How much does the PCT cost? Part 1

PCT gear

You’re just walking in the woods, why would it cost that much?!

Of all the reasons people quit their thru-hike–injuries, family/friends responsibilities, exhaustion–running out of money is one of the biggest. The exact amount needed is different for everyone and will require a thorough examination of your current situation. That said, most estimates are about $4-8,000 total.

This is a wide estimate and you could land on either end of that figure. Do you already have lightweight backpacking gear or will you need to buy some? If so, will you buy it new or used? Are you ok only eating what others decide not to pack (free from the hiker box) or are you buying big meals in town? How often are you staying in hotels and how many people are you splitting the room with? All these decisions, made now or later on the trail, will factor into how much the journey will cost.

Below is the amount I have spent and saved, including my financial responsibilities back home. I’ll update my total cost at the end of the trip, but for now, here is what I’ve spent or saved for bills so far. These are estimated for 6 months on the trail.


Here is the full list of gear I’ve collected over the past few years:

THE BIG 3 (OR 5):

* These three links are directly to the makers. Ultralight gear is made and sold by very small shops. I’m not affiliated with these companies, but do love their gear!

  • Brooks Racey 7″ shorts – 34
  • Lucy Revolution Run Top – $50
  • Mountain Hardwear hoodie – $30
  • Patagonia Barely Bra – $31
  • Altra Lone Peak 2.5  – $43
    • I bought these used.
  • Injinji Run Lightweight Toe Socks – $12
  • MSR PocketRocket Stove – $40
  • Sea to Summit X-Pot – $45
  • Gerber UL Knife – 14
  • Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter – Gift

Total gear price = $2448

*There are things that I did not include on this list, such as first aid kit, lighter, journals, pens, etc. I will also be buying a few pairs of shoes along the way and will likely be replacing clothes, so the total might jump closer to $3,000.


My current food strategy is to ship myself dehydrated and specialty items, like powdered coconut milk, that I’m unlikely to find along the way. I”ll supplement that with food in town and items like bars.

PCT resupply boxes

So far, I’ve spent about $300 preparing meals and extra snacks to ship. This is of course, not enough food, and I expect the total will be closer to $1,500-$2,000. This is the estimate that past hikers have given, not including restaurants. Again, this can be dependent on personal diet and if you’re willing to eat whatever is left in hiker boxes, and how many boxes you’re shipping.

Life Maintenance:

Here’s where things really start adding up for me. My financial responsibilities do not stop while I’m on the trail. If I really needed it, I suppose I could defer my student loans for a few months. However, I’d like to pay them off someday.

Here is a list of my bills based on 6 months on the trail:

  • Rent – $2685
  • Student Loans – $1540
  • Phone – $430
  • Dog food & emergency funds – $860
  • Travel Insurance – $400
  • Plane Tickets – $129

Total: $6044

Costs while on trail:

I’ve seen recommendations to plan for about $1,000 a month while on the trail. This will cover food (part of that $1,500-2,000), hotels, going out and new gear purchases. For me, this means another $5,000-6,000, on top of what I’ve already spent or saved for life. Honestly, I am cutting it really close with my budget and will need to find ways to lower my spending while on the trail. Maybe I’ll find a campsite in town rather than a hotel, bum a shower from someone who is staying at a hotel, scavenge out of the hiker box for food or gear, and go out less to restaurants while in town.

The Damage:

So far, the total I have spent on gear, food, and saved for bills is about $8792. This is not including what I will spend on trail. Once I have finished, I’ll update with a follow up (Part 2) of my total. 

For me, this number is OBSCENE! The only way I could pay for all of my gear was to collect over a few years. I did not purchase all at once and I have used most of it. Everyone’s financial responsibilities are different. You might be doing this on far less or much more.

Overall, I’m glad that I took the time to accumulate my gear, giving plenty of time to test it. The past couple years gave me opportunity to save more money and feel comfortable with taking this much time off.

How about you? What would your total look like? If you’ve thru-hiked before, what was your total cost? Comment below.



  1. I think being able to test your gear over the years in invaluable. Seeing what works and what doesn’t will be so worth it (hopefully financially and psychologically). You want to have confidence going into a journey like this and I am sure you will find comfort knowing you have reliable, tested out gear!

    I didn’t even think about the full money aspect of this, golly! It is going to be an amazing experience so don’t overthink it too much, but I get you can shrink that number down a bit!

    1. Thanks Joy! I know there will be items that I swap out, mainly clothes, but everything else I feel comfortable with. I’m hoping to spend less than the estimated $1000 a month while on the trail. We’ll see when the hiker-hunger hits. 😉

  2. This is so cool that you are doing this…however, I do have a question. Are you dehydrating any of the food that you are taking or are you purchasing the prepared ones? I would be willing to do some dehydrating of some things if you are interested. Love you

    1. My plan is a mix of the two. I’ve been dehydrating meals and will supplement that with buying food along the way. I wouldn’t say no to a free meal though lol!

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