Backpacking Trip Spending Report
Here are the costs:
- $160 for two nights in a crappy motel 6 in mammoth lakes, CA
- $60 on gas to drive 300 miles each way
- $50 on hiking food (estimated – we had some leftover from the last trip that we failed to go on!)
- $20 on a hat for me
- $60 on a hiking shirt for T
- $60 on restaurants on the road and in mammoth lakes
- $20 for a brand new bear canister we had randomly spotted at a thrift store near our house, retails for $80
- $15 on epoxy for my boot (ug)
- $20 on bug spray, 2 bug head nets (not needed)
- Total: 465 for two of us
Some of these numbers are guesses at this point. On almost all accounts, this was way more expensive than it needed to be for a backpacking trip.
First, we had a failure on the permits. You can get them in advance, but they only allow a certain number for mail in. We were too late to get on of those, so we had to be there early on Thursday to get a walk in permit for a Friday start (we were hoping to get out Thursday anyway – no luck). This was the cheapest place in town (with crappy beds, sheets, towels…) and it was still pretty expensive!
The new gear was only partly necessary. I have a baseball cap, but I think it looks really dumb and I rarely wear it… so I wanted a different hat. I got one of the cheaper bucket hats available, and it still looked dumb enough that I took it off for most pictures, but at least I wore it. T’s hiking shirt was super ridiculously expensive. I scored this little hoodie (in blue) for about $20 earlier this summer, and found it to be a great warm weather hiking shirt. It is super lightweight and breathable, and it protects me from the sun without having to goop sunscreen all over. T was jealous (and he really has been wanting a long sleeve lightweight shirt forever) and “invested” in a REI brand shirt. He claims it was worth it, and he’s pretty cheap.
Bear canisters to store food in are required or recommended in the back country of almost all the national parks and national forests in northern California. People used to be reckless with their food, and bears came to associate humans with a free easy meal! Not a good situation! Some bears got smart enough to get at counterbalanced food too. We ran into several bears last year, and one of them wasn’t even the least bit afraid of us. Anyway, these things retail for about $80 and rent for about $10, so when we spotted a brand new one for $20, we scooped it up. They do add about 2.5 pounds to our (uh… to T’s…) packs, but I think they’ve done a lot towards restoring the appropriate relationship between bears and humans (mutual fear and terror!)
Restaurants… you know the drill. They were all pretty mediocre.
The epoxy… I have Asolo Stryngers, which retail for about $200. I think I paid less than $100 on a discount site. But maybe because they were an old pair? Or had a bad batch of glue? Anyway, when we went on the really really hot hike this summer, the glue on the soles started to come off. I brought them to a boot repair shop, but they either only did 1 boot, or they didn’t use strong enough glue. T has the same brand, so I think it is just unique to my boots – a fluke. I’ve been looking for the warranty info, but it really seemed easiest just to get some strong epoxy and glue them up ourselves. We used marine epoxy – waterproof and good to 200 degrees — and it seems to be holding up great. Annoying though!
Our typical day of hiking food consists of: oatmeal, coffee, cliff bars as needed, cheeze-its, trail mix bought in bulk, peanut butter sandwiches on pitas or flat bread, jerky, cliff shot blocks, camelback elixer, and one dehydrated meal. Some of it is cheaper, and some of it is “specialty” food, but the energy things really help. It also all has to fit into our bear canister, plus our toiletries and garbage.
That’s all of note. Like I said, it was more expensive than anticipated, but some of the cost was for things we’ll use over and over (shirt, hat, bear canister). And also? It was so so so worth it. I just don’t know how to describe the feeling being in the mountains gives me. I came back so relaxed, refreshed, rejuvenated, and daydreamy. In fact, I’m trying to set up a 1 night getaway in a couple weeks!