If you haven’t gotten involved in it yet, you might think that backpacking would be a cheap hobby. What could be more natural and less expensive than going for a walk in the woods? Those first few day hikes with the same backpack you carry around the city, a plastic water bottle and a sandwich might be just that. However, if you decide you want to get a little more serious about your new pastime, you might find the sticker shock that you experience scarier than the prospect of getting lost or meeting a grizzly bear. Fortunately, there are tricks and tips that can help you afford what appears to be the high entry cost of this hobby.
There are many advantages of finding a new hobby, but you should still be well informed. First, look on all claims related to high-end equipment with skepticism. You don’t have to have this year’s pack or the most ultralight tent on the market. You don’t need very much at all. Think carefully about what you do need, something to sleep in, something to carry your stuff in, and shoes to walk in.
You will be reliant on shelter to protect you from the elements and your feet to get you in and out of the wilderness. So you’ll need a pair of shoes and a tent that you can feel confident about, but it may be possible to find ever those at lower prices and, in the case of the tent, secondhand. In general, though, it’s not a great idea to skimp on the gear you need for your survival, so if you’re heading into challenging conditions, you may want to spend a little more.
Consider a Personal Loan
Your credit card might be your first thought if you’re light on funds and taking a trip and you want to make sure you have a tent that’s going to withstand heavy rain or cold temperatures. However, you may want to consider a personal loan instead, particularly if it offers a lower interest rate. There are pros and cons of a personal loan, and when you understand them, you can decide if this might be the right way to finance some of your equipment purchases.
Used gear is mentioned above, and sometimes, secondhand gear may be in nearly as good condition as something purchased new. Another option is looking for big sale days, such as Black Friday, or end of season sales. Just like fashion, gear ages out, and you can often get something much cheaper once it’s been on the market for a while. Do your research and talk to other backpackers about what they use.
Many prefer a mix of high-end and low-cost gear and can give you tips on where it’s safe to cut corners and where you’re better off spending more. Keep in mind that you don’t have to go out and buy everything at once. Buy slowly, over a couple of years. If you do end up with equipment you can’t use or don’t like, sell it instead of giving it away or just leaving it to take up space in your garage, and use what you get from it toward a new purchase.
Making Money From Your Hobby
Over time, you might be able to make a little or a lot of money off doing what you love. This is generally not for absolute beginners although you could certainly blog or make videos about your first efforts, and if you’re talented and charismatic, there’s potential for monetization. Over time, as you become more experienced, there are a number of other ways to make money, including working as a guide. There are seasonal jobs in national parks, and while you may spend them cooking or cleaning cabins, they give you plenty of opportunities to get out in nature too and might lead you to an eventual new career as a park ranger. Other options include selling your photos or writing articles for magazines.