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Backpacking on a budget: Is it Possible? 9 Reasons The Answer is, Yes!

Backpacker backpacking on a budget

Backpacking on a budget: Is it Possible? 9 Reasons The Answer is, Yes!

Backpacking is a wonderful pastime that gets you healthier and stronger.

More than just exercise, it lets you go out on adventures and reconnect with nature, all while enjoying the company of family or friends. 

For all the fun backpacking can be, it can also be expensive. Extremely expensive. 

This can be due to the high-end, lightweight, and durable gear, clothes, and the food we often pine over on Amazon before bedtime. However, just one look at that price tag and you might think twice about that weekend trip you’re planning.  

Backpacking On A Budget

Backpacking doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. You can certainly enjoy this pastime even while on a budget. Below we’ve listed our top 9 tips on how to go backpacking without breaking the bank. 

1. Travel Light  

The first rule of backpacking is to travel light. 

Most novice backpackers pack for the destination ahead while forgetting about the journey to get there. Lugging around a heavy backpack can become tiring after your first hundred miles. You might give up before you get to your destination — all without even using the things you bought and brought in the first place. 

Remember to always pack the bare minimum of items you believe you can get away with. Then throw out five things you need the least. Then throw out five to ten more.

Choose double or multi-purpose gear or clothing, discard reading material as you finish them, make sure clothing doesn’t keep odor and is easy to wash. These are just some of the ways to keep light.

2. Look for Milder Climates 

If you’re looking to travel for your backpacking trip, you may want to choose a place with milder climates. 

A milder climate means you don’t need to buy and bring along gear and clothing specifically for the cold. This doesn’t only save you money but weight as well. 

3. Listen to Fellow Travelers 

No man is an island. This certainly rings true, especially, for backpacking. 

You never know what budget backpacking tips you’ll learn from more experienced and like-minded veterans. 

You can ask them for directions, affordable places to eat and stay in, even get gear recommendations. 

4. Look for Big Sales  

When looking for affordable backpacking gear, it’s always a good idea to look or wait, for big sales. 

Ever notice sales on chocolates and candies after Halloween? Or holiday decorations after the new year? They happen for backpacking gear too. 

A lot of stores and online shops selling backpacking gear often have big sales as seasons change to make room for new, season-appropriate gear. 

Looking to buy insulated jackets or snow camping tents for winter? Wait till they go on sale in the summer. 

You may also want to keep an eye on shops come the holidays. Labor Day, Black Friday, Cyber Week, and Memorial Day will usually be good times to go deal hunting for gear. You can save from 10% to 30% on gear by waiting for these sales periods. 

5. Borrow or Rent Your Gear 

If you have friends who’ve been into backpacking before you have, odds are they may have some spare gear you can borrow. 

You may be able to sweeten the deal by offering to do them a favor like walk their dog for a week or mow their lawn. 

Remember to take good care of the items you’re borrowing. Make sure you clean them thoroughly and return them promptly after use. 

If your friends don’t have the gear you’re looking for, you may want to look locally or online for the gear you can rent. This is a great option if you only go backpacking once or twice a year or you’re just starting the hobby. 

6. Buy Used Gear 

If you backpack more often and are embarrassed to just keep borrowing gear from your friends, you can always buy second-hand gear. 

Look out for local garage sales or pawn shops that sell second-hand gear. Some stores also buy and sell used gear. 

There are also lots of sites like eBay, Craigslist, or Facebook where folks are selling used backpacking gear. 

7. Maintain the Gear You Have

This may not seem like a budget tip, but, keeping what gear you have in tip-top shape can save you a lot of money down the line. 

By maintaining your gear, you save yourself from having it fail on you while you’re out on a trip then needing to buy or rent a replacement.

Here are a few ways you can help maintain your gear: 

Storing your sleeping bag compressed in its stuff sack can damage its insulation. Instead, store it in a large mesh sack or hang it in your closet. 

Invest in a footprint for your tent. While they may be a bit costly, a footprint can protect your tent’s bottom from damaging substances like sticks and rocks or tree sap. You can make one yourself by getting some Tyvek and cutting it down to the appropriate size. 

Keep your tent dry while in storage. After use, set up your tent in a hot sunny area or hang it up to dry fully before storing it. 

Duct tape is your best friend. Got a tear in your tent and it’s raining? Duct tape. Your water bottle fell and is now leaking? A back-to-back layer of duct tape. Duct tape can save your life and your gear if you know how to use it.  

8. Stay Legal 

One quick way to spend money on a trip is to do something against the local laws. 

Things like smoking where it’s prohibited, hunting and fishing out of season or in no fishing spots, or not disposing of your waste properly are just some of the examples. 

Getting caught can not only net you a fine but (depending on the local laws) may even get you some jail time. 

9. Stick to Your Budget

The quickest way you can waste money is by giving in to your impulses and buying something you don’t need for your trip. 

While it can be argued that every piece of backpacking gear has its use, most times you won’t need more than the big three of backpacking — pack, shelter, sleeping bag. 

So before you buy that posh full set of non-stick outdoor cooking gear, make sure you need it for the immediate trip you’re taking. 


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To your next adventure!


I'm David Aston, Founding Nomad of AdventureHacks, Inc. My mission is to inspire adventure on the ground, in the water and through the air. If I also happen to inspire you to purchase gear, my team and I plant a tree in its native environment for every order.

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