Hiking is a perfect way to see the most beautiful places without spending too much money. It’s the perfect hobby for people loving nature, in fact it is a wonderful way to see your own country and the rest of the world without breaking your piggy bank.
Some might think that hiking is an expensive hobby but hiking equipment doesn’t have to be expensive, the important thing to remember about equipment is, it must fit its purpose.
For example, if you are going to do a hike like the Inca Trail Peru you will have different equipment than climbing Kilimanjaro.
Hiking can be done on a budget and here is my list of five ways.
5 Ways to Hiking without breaking your piggy bank:
1. Ask your friends:
Hiking is a popular hobby, it’s possible that you already know someone that has hiked before and has equipment that you can borrow.
2. Rent your equipment:
Renting equipment is a perfect way to start your hobby especially the first few times when you are going hiking. A lot of parks have begun renting out hiking and backpacking gear.
Renting hiking gear is very useful when you are hiking as part of a holiday destination. There isn’t always enough space for tents and backpacks than you can rent certain equipment that you might need on the hike..
3. Thrift stores are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow:
It’s unbelievable all the goodies you can find at your local thrift store, as hiking is a popular hobby. This is the place where you can find a lot of hiking gear at a fraction of the price.
A few tips when buying second-hand hiking gear
- Don’t be afraid of small tears or dirt. Most outdoor equipment can be repaired for example back packs, tents, and jackets. You can also get excellent deals on outerwear that might be a little stained, these can be re-waterproofed and be good as new.
- Smell the goods, yes you read correctly. Take a sniff and if it’s smelling moldy don’t buy it.
Waterproof equipment must not smell of mildew. Mildew is a surface fungus that can easily be identified as a patch of gray or even white fungus that is lying on the surface of a moist area.
Mildew weakens the fabric and leave nasty stains; you might not always see it but smelling it is hard to miss.
- Check for discoloration on tent poles. Even if all the tent pens are in working order and accountable for check if they are faded in spots. This could mean that a pole was under heavy stress and could snap at any moment.
- Somethings you shouldn’t buy for example helmets and climbing gear. Helmets have a very short lifetime even if it was in a box in a garage. Rather, buys a new helmet and harness.
- Bring batteries and canisters. When buying for example a headlamp, test it out while in the store. The same goes for buying a camping stove, make sure everything is in working order before you buy it.
4. Skip the fancy food
You don’t need all the expensive hiking food from hiking retailers most of the time the food is already in your pantry.
Making your own hiking food can really reduce the cost per meal and provide your body with quick hits of energy throughout the day.
- Dehydrating meals for hiking give you endless recipe ideas and not as complicated as you think it is.
- Already assembled meals save a lot of time and can be bought at your local grocery store. For example, 2-minute noodles, tuna packets, corned beef, precooked rice, wraps etc.
Let’s not forget Ramen, this is a budget widespread meal that you probably have tasted before. It is an excellent meal for hiking as you can add just about anything and boiling water.
- Trail mix, nuts, raisins, chocolates, biltong anything can really go into your trail mix.
5. Use your phone
Today most smartphones have compasses, maps, and GPS gadgets available offline as well as emergency communication. So, you can skip most of the expensive gadgets and start with your phone.
Smartphones are great for taking photos as well, but you should take a power bank especially if you are using your phone for multiple tasks. I have a solar power bank; it charges while I am hiking and has a flashlight as well. It was an excellent buy and not even that expensive.
I would advise you to get a map or print out the map of the trail that you are going to hike especially if it is a multi-day trail.
Learning to read a compass and a map is in my opinion an essential skill when hiking.
It is always better to be prepared for example what will you do if your phone is your only communication, and it falls and breaks or stops working? You will have to have a plan B, hence the map and compass.
Interesting Hiking Apps to check out
I love hiking apps and there are a lot of good free apps out there.
This is my list of 7 excellent FREE apps which you can try when hiking:
- Windy Maps
- Polaris Navigation
- Offline Maps
With this app, you can plan your route and it has offline maps available.
The app has a “First Aid” tab where it shows the emergency number of your region and it even has a “HELP NEARBY” button which you can click, and it will show all hospitals and rescue points close to the trail you are on.
This is a very handy app when planning your route. It even has a tracker function where you can just start to walk, and it would track and record your activity.
I love the fact that the app shows your hiking history as well and that you can add photos to your hike. This is a very nice feature especially if you are going to do the hike again or share it with other hiking enthusiasts.
It also has categories like Travel tips, accommodation, and restaurants to name a few.
You can even set the units for example the Distance from mph to km and ˚F to ˚C. This personalization helps so that you can make use of all the functions on the app for example the weather forecast.
This app has an “Explore” button, which shows all the surrounding trails. You can set the activity from hiking to sledding and then search for specific routes.
Wikiloc also has live tracking and recording ability.
Something great about this app is It has the option “Promoted Trails”, these trails are from around the world and linked to other enthusiasts’ Wikiloc profiles.
The trails have pictures and normally show distance, and elevation gain and have a trail rank. Going onto the trail you have an option “Navigate Trail” and “Send to GPS”. These trails can also be shared, via FB or even WhatsApp.
Wikiloc even links to the weather.
This app supports basic GPS functionality and it has maps, waypoints, and a compass, and you can save your trails.
There is an option for “Current position” and All Maps, and you can even draw a Trail. This app has a compass as well.
It’s relatively accurate and I have used it a few times, but I found it a little bit difficult to navigate. It took me a while to figure out the basics and this app has a lot more to offer. I am sure this reflects more on my abilities than on the apps.
This app has online and offline maps of local trails, meaning trails in South Africa, it’s setup by region.
Depending on the trails you are hiking, it shows everything about the trail. Information including opening hours, contact details, entrance fees, and permits. It shows a map of the trail which includes waypoints through to viewpoints.
Emergency numbers are also available for these trails with just a click of a button.
Forge also shows the weather, and you can share the experience as well on social media.
A nice feature they have is an “app tutorial” where they show exactly how the app works the app is easy enough to understand without the tutorial, but it is always nice to see what exactly the app can do.
This is a popular app, and I am sure you have used it before, there is a free version, and it works well enough.
This app includes trails from around the world, it shows the length, estimated time as well as a difficult rating of each trail.
AllTrails have a “LifeLine” tab that you can switch on that keeps your friends and loved ones informed while you’re out on the trail. This is an excellent feature if you have coverage.
However, you should always make sure that someone reliable knows where you are going and when to start looking for you.
This is a very useful app as it gives you access to maps.
Maps are retrieved from the Internet. Everything that is displayed is stored locally to remain available when offline.
This app has a layer map feature the layers are displayed in different colours.
It has a function to search for the map you require, might it be by coordinates or by name.
Offline Maps have a landmark option that allows you to save, retrieve and display on the map various items like locations and paths, like waypoints.
It has an accurate location that can be activated or deactivated, this makes it easy to navigate.
Settings like distance, slope, and pressure units to name a few can only be set to your preference.
The app has a compass feature for orientation when used on your phone as well, however, I have found my compass to be a little bit more accurate than the phone compass on this app. I don’t think it’s anything to do with the application but more with the phone’s compass. I however prefer to use a regular compass, it’s much more accurate and I really like to be able to read the map and know exactly where I am going.
It also has an option to Print the map which is super awesome in my book and one of the reasons why I use this app.
The online help for this app is easy to use and explains in detail with the necessary screenshots accompanying each point.
Relive is all about sharing and tracking your adventure as well as reaching your goals.
You can link Revive to different trackers like Gamin Connect, Runkeeper and Ride with GPS to name a few to turn more activities into awesome videos.
You can select your activity for example hiking and trail running and than on the feed option you can follow other people with the same goals and even participate in the challenges.
What I like most about the app is the creation of videos. The video quality is reasonable even when HD is disabled. There is however sometimes a “flickering” map, the reason for this is explained in the Help & Support manager.
Overall, it’s a nice app to use especially if you are up to a challenge and wants to share with like minded people.
Most of these apps have payable version as well or in-app features that can be bought, however I have found that the free version works well for me. My go to applications when preparing for a hike is Windy Maps and Offline Maps.
Conclusion to 5 Ways to Hike Without Breaking Your Piggy Bank
Make sure your equipment fits its purpose. Ask your friends and check out secondhand equipment but keep into consideration my free tips when buying secondhand gear.
Try making your own hiking food and use your smartphone.
“Only one who wanders finds a new path.” – Norwegian Proverb
Let’s have some fun!