How Much Does It Cost To Hike The Pacific Crest Trail


The 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail is what many backpackers dream of. If you are among them, then you already know that it takes some serious planning. One of the most important aspects of getting ready for such a hike is budgeting. However, this part is often overlooked.

So how much does it cost to hike the PCT? On average, it will cost you around $6000. But, that amount can easily go up to several thousand dollars. That is why it is important to account for additional expenses when creating a budget. In this article, we will go through the Pacific Crest Trail cost and everything you will need for this adventure.

Budgeting for a PCT Thru-Hike

The following budget categories can help you create a budget for your PCT hike:

Home and travel: Pay attention to the bills that should be paid while you’re on the hike, as well as the cost of transportation to and from the trail.

Gear: You probably have a lot of hiking gear if you have hiked before. But, you will need new items and replacement gear for this multiple-month journey.

Trail time: Backpacking food is essential for any hiking trip. Trail food is cheaper than restaurant meals, but you will have to prepare a significant amount of money for several months in the wild.

Town time: In-town activities can easily add up if you are not careful enough. You may want to spend a night in a motel, enjoy a meal in a diner, or have some beer with your trail friend.

Contingency fund: It is a good idea to plan for the unexpected, such as trail detours.

Reentry fund: The end of a long-distance hike is challenging, both financially and mentally. Allow yourself plenty of time and money to return to everyday life.

Home and Travel Budget

It is most likely you will not have any income on the trail, so you will need to cover all the expenses while you are not at home. Pay attention to the following:

·         House rent or payment (unless you sublease or sell) and utilities (such as phone bills)

·         Loan payments, such as student loans or car loans

·         Insurance premiums (for example, medical insurance)

·         Hotels, meals, ground transportation, and flights to and from the trail

Gear Budget

You are probably wondering how much does it cost to hike the PCT in terms of gear. The cost can range from $2,000 to $4000, depending on how much you choose to upgrade and how much you already own. Some of the most expensive items on your list will include:

Tent. One-person tents range from $140 for those that weigh almost four pounds to more than $400 for those that weigh less than two pounds.

Pack. Hiking backpacks suitable for longer trips (70+ liters) range from $150 to more than $400. It would be better to focus on the one that fits rather than the ultralight one. It is important to get a pack you’re comfortable with, so spend what it takes.

Sleeping bag. A warm synthetic sleeping bag that weighs almost four pounds ranges from $100. On the other hand, a water-resistant model that weighs less than two pounds could cost more than $500.

Trail runners or hiking boots. Most hiking gear can last the entire trail, but you will most likely need a replacement budget as well. You can go through four to six pairs of trail runners during the PCT hike ($50 to $200 for a pair), so Pacific Crest Trail cost can go up depending on your needs. But, you will most likely need just a couple of pairs of hiking boots ($150 to $400 per pair). Getting the right fit is crucial for a comfortable hike.

PCT Gear Tips

·         Get the best possible quality. Feel free to spend some extra money on your rainwear and pack.

·         Splurging on featherweight gear can be a good idea if you want to travel light, but many hikers have succeeded to complete the PCT with more affordable gear.

·         Ask a successful PCT hiker for advice if you are still confused about something.

Trail-Time Budget

Luckily for you, trail life is relatively cheap. But, six months’ worth of food can add up. If you are not sure how much does it cost to hike the PCT in terms of food, you should know that your budget depends on the length of your hike. For example, spending $20 on food every day for six months will result in $3,600. The items that contribute to Pacific Crest Trail cost are:

·         Daily meals, snacks, and drinks such as coffee or energy drinks. Food prices can vary, but over-economizing by buying only ramen noodles is not advised. You need a high enough daily calorie intake and variety to get through those long hiking days.

·         The cost of shipping for resupply boxes. The price will vary depending on how far away you live, how much you ship from home, and how much you resupply in towns. Most hikers opt for grocery stores because it is more convenient.

·         Memory cards, batteries, fuel, and other supplies. These items do not cost much but you will most likely go through them along the way.

Town-Time Budget


Time spent in town is necessary to recharge your batteries. But, be careful because it is very easy to overindulge by paying from $50 to $100 a day. If you are wondering how much does it cost to hike the PCT in terms of time spent in towns, take a look at this list:

·         Hostels/hotels. Sharing a room can save you some money. However, make sure you don’t exceed occupancy limits.

·         Restaurant food. You may want to splurge on a delicious restaurant meal after a long day. However, you could go with grocery store food in order not to raise the Pacific Crest Trail Cost.

·         Beer. Save some money by buying beer at stores, rather than bars. You do not even have to worry about it if you are not fond of alcohol.

If you splurge on only one town day per week, there will be roughly 25 days during a 6-month-long period. It is a good idea to increase that number by three to account for the invitations which are hard to predict and hard to resist.

Contingency Budget 

It is best to have a budget for those unpredictable situations when calculating the Pacific Crest Trail cost. Perhaps you will suffer from an injury that requires rest, or you will have to detour due to a massive fire. Or, you might lose some of the gear along the way. Either way, such things can be easily fixed by setting aside a budget for the unexpected. Some go with percentages, like 10 percent of their overall budget, while others go with a fixed amount like $1000.

Reentry Budget

Transitioning into the working world after a long hike is huge. Many people leave their jobs to finish the PCT Trail. If you are one of them, set aside some money for a few weeks of job hunting and living expenses. Even if you have a job when you get back from the trail, allow yourself some time to transition before going to work. Overcoming the post-hike depression needs some time and patience.

Some hikers see their post-hike needs as a part of their contingency fund. You could do this as well but always make sure to count how much does it cost to hike the PCT in detail. 

Make Your Budget 

‘’Hike your hike’’, the popular PCT advice can also be applied to financial planning. Plan your budget as thoroughly as you prepare for the rest of your hike. It should be crafted according to your needs, not based on other people’s estimates. If you are not an experienced budgeter, you could try doing it at home first. This will help you develop the skills for a successfully planned trip. And once you get on the trail, make sure you manage your expenses so you can continue your journey without problems. If you avoid splurging too often you may even return home with a surplus in the bank and a lot of stories to tell.

Globo Surf Overview

Hiking The Pacific Crest Trail requires thorough planning, from choosing hiking socks to creating a budget. Even though budgeting is essential for a successful trip, it is often overlooked. But, there are some categories to pay attention to when creating a budget, such as home and travel expenses, gear expenses, contingency funds, and reentry funds.

Make sure to plan everything in detail so you have enough money for everything, including the unexpected. Avoid splurging on beer in bars and food in restaurants too often because this can significantly raise the cost of your hike. Get the quality gear, but don’t go too over the top and pay attention to the food you buy because over-economizing by getting only ramen noodles will not get you very far.

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