Currently the world is in turmoil. The United Kingdom, where I live is in a mess. We are still dealing with the massive financial fallout of leaving the EU and the effects of the Covid pandemic combined, and to top it off, as I write this, Russia has just invaded the Ukraine, the prices of both domestic and vehicle fuel have gone through the roof. The general cost of living is at an all time high and wages are still extremely low, as low as I can remember them for many years.
To top it off, staying healthy is becoming expensive. Our population is now more unhealthy than I can ever recall due to a diet of readily available, processed, unhealthy, but incredibly affordable fast food. This is the diet that so many of us are poisoning our bodies with without realising.
The cost of many healthy foods are going up in the supermarkets exponentially, and the prices of gym memberships and home sporting equipment are barely affordable to anyone.
People, in desperation are now looking for cheaper alternatives to stay healthy, and luckily the outdoors is still freely available for all of us to roam, both in this country and many others. But is Hiking expensive? Well we’re about to find out.
So, Is Hiking Expensive Or Is It Affordable?
Hiking is not expensive, or at least Hiking does not have to be expensive if you are sensible about what you spend on the basics.
You can get started in Hiking with next to no outlay on equipment. Most people already have a pair of Trainers (Sneakers), a pair of shorts or tracksuit bottoms loose enough to walk in, a coat and some form of backpack. If they don’t have them, I’m sure they could pick them up for a very affordable price.
You could start your hiking journey with just these minimal pieces of equipment if you plan to start your Hiking journey in local parks and recreation/picnic areas.
Later, when you have had the chance to save a little bit of money, and once you know if Hiking is for you or not, you can procure some basic safety equipment and you can graduate to hills, valleys and mountain ranges .
What Basic Hiking Equipment Will I Need To Get Started?
We are now talking about what equipment we will need if we are going to be Hiking out of sight of others on challenging terrain in the countryside, not strolling around the lake at your local park.
There are a few pieces of Hiking equipment that I and many others feel are essential for proper Hiking:
- A Pair of proper Hiking Boots with Ankle Support
- Hiking Socks
- Hiking Shorts of Trousers
- Short and Long Sleeved Hiking Tops
- A Hat
- A Waterproof, Breathable Jacket
- A Daysack of Rucksack
- A First Aid Kit
- A Compass
I believe these to be the absolute basics for a proper hike. Let’s look at each of them, where to get them and how much they could cost in more detail.
Are Hiking Boots Expensive?
They can be, but they don’t have to be. Specialised Hiking boots are the best equipped footwear for withstanding multiple types of terrain. If you are just going for a flat, quick, day hike on a well defined trail, you may get away with wearing regular shoes or a pair of trainers, but if you are going for a proper hike on a challenging trail, then you must be a bit more cautious about choosing the right footwear.
Hiking Boots are probably the number one most important piece of Hiking equipment that you will invest in, but they don’t have to be the most expensive.
When choosing Hiking Boots you need to consider their comfort, durability, whether they offer ankle support, how much grip they have on the soles and weather they are waterproof and/or breathable.
That being said you can still pick up a good pair of Hiking Boots with all of the attributes above for somewhere in the region of £60 in the UK, that would be around $80 in the USA.
You can probably get slightly better prices by buying them online, but if you are more traditional like me, and prefer to try them on and walk around the shop in them to see how well they fit, most of the good Outdoors Retailers and Sports Shops stock a more realistically priced range as well as an expensive one.
I bought my current Hiking Boots from Decathlon for around £60 and they are great and have lasted for several years and have several more years of wear left in them.
Are Hiking Socks Expensive?
Hiking Socks also range from the very expensive but high performing Merino Wool Socks, to far more affordable Socks made from modern microfibres that offer comparable performance.
Manufacturers are blending multiple materials to give the Hiker exactly what they desire. It is incredibly uncommon to find a modern Hiking Sock made from just one material. Cheap Cotton Socks are out, so don’t buy them or wear them for Hiking.
In this case buying socks online is preferable, as you won’t be allowed to try on socks in the shop anyway, you may as well take advantage of the cost savings of buying them online.
I like to pick sock with a blend on Merino Wool and some form of microfibre that will give me better performance and fit better due to the extra elasticity.
Good Hiking Socks can be picked up online for £6-10 for 3 pairs. That should be enough to get you started, you can always add more pairs later.
How Much Do Hiking Shorts and Trousers Cost?
I think that Hiking Shorts or Long Trousers are a must. I don’t mean wearing a pair of jeans here. I am talking about specialist shorts designed with Hiking in mind.
I am gravitating towards shorts over trousers, as I wear shorts pretty much all of the time, even when the weather id awful. They just seem right for Hiking.
Specialist shorts can be Rip-Stop, Breathable and made from modern microfibres and will cost between £15 and £30 online or in retailers depending on how many features you want them to have.
How Much Should I Pay For A Hiking Top?
Hiking Tops, including short and long sleeved versions are specifically built for the purpose of Hiking. You could probably get away with wearing one of your existing tops to begin with, but sooner of later you should pick up a professional Hiking Top. Their many benefits can include:
- Suitable Pocket Positioning to avoid backpack straps
- Stretch Fabrics
- High Performance Modern Materials
- Quick Drying
- Odour Resistant
- Provides UV Protection
- Spare Hiking Shirts pack incredibly small in your Rucksack
- Cooling or Temperature Regulating Materials
You would think with this impressive list of attributes that they would be expensive, but the reality is, if you shop around they can be quite affordable.
I generally buy my Hiking Tops online as they are always of stretch fibres so the size only needs to be approximate to give a snug, comfortable fit. A good quality Hiking Top can be picked up for £15-£20 Online.
How Much Are Hiking Jackets?
More than likely a good quality, waterproof, rip stop, breathable Hiking Jacket with good quality Zips will be your largest expense when kitting yourself out for Hiking.
Modern Hiking Jackets are relatively expensive because of all the technology and high quality materials that go into their manufacture.
You will want to try your Hiking Jacket on in a retail outlet to ensure it fits well and everything is how you want it to be. I would not buy my Hiking Jacket online as it is going to be such a major purchase that will last for many years that I wouldn’t want to buy it untried.
A good quality Hiking Jacket can be picked up for around £100 in the UK from an Outdoors Shop.
Are Hiking Daypacks Expensive?
While you are out hiking on the trails, you will almost always need to take along a suitable daysack to carry your convenience items and safety kit in. Apart from food and water, you need to carry a variety of other essentials such as warm clothing.
You don’t need to look for a daysack that comes at a steep price. As long as you can find one of reasonable quality, that isn’t too heavy empty and isn’t going to fall apart on you the first time it rains, you should be ok.
Again Amazon has an amazing selection of daysacks and it appears to be a cut throat market with many sellers trying to undercut each other with special offers, discounts and sales.
You can pick up a decent 25-30 litre daysack that will be suitable for most hikes online for around £30.
Are Hiking Rucksacks Expensive?
Rucksacks will be a bit more expensive than daysacks. They are generally built better to withstand more of a beating out on the trails for days on end in all weather conditions. They are obviously larger too.
We always advise our DofE Students to purchase a Rucksack of around 70 Litres or more. This is easily large enough to hold enough food and equipment for a 4-5 day hike.
Rucksacks like daysacks can also be picked up online reasonably priced. However, with something that is going to be so vital to the success of your expedition, I think I would like to actually try it on, feel the quality of it and check it out for comfort. I would advise at least trying a model on in a shop, even if you then go on to buy that same model online.
Decent Rucksacks can be bought for around £50 -£70
How Much Is A Basic First Aid Kit?
I believe that every Hiker should take a First Aid kit with them on every hike, no matter how short of local it is. If not for your own safety, then for the safety of others.
When on every Hike, there is always the possibility of getting cuts, bee stings, scratches rashes, blisters and the like. Bring along a small personal First Aid Kit containing some antihistamines, antiseptic cream or spray, insect repellent. Include something for pain relief such as Ibuprofen Gel, Paracetamols or Cool Sprays as well as some Elastoplasts (Band-Aids) and Bandages.
You can pick up a suitable First Aid Kit on Amazon for £10-£15 containing what I consider to be the essentials above.
How Much Does A Baseplate (Silva) Compass Cost?
Whenever you head out into unfamiliar territory you should have a map and compass with you. IMHO of course.
I know that technology has moved on and many people use GPS and their Smartphones nowadays, but they can be temperamental. Learning to use, and then using, a map and compass is a valuable skill and could save your life one day.
A Baseplate Compass (Silva Compass to everyone in the UK) is a very affordable piece of hiking equipment and shouldn’t cost more than £10-£15 on Amazon of in a retail outlet.
Summary And Recap On “Is Hiking Expensive”?
So as you can see, you could actually start Hiking around Local Parks by spending absolutely nothing. When you progress a little, you could pick up some relatively good Hiking Gear for under a couple of hundred pounds.
So Hiking is not expensive, especially when you compare it to monthly gym memberships of outlays on expensive Peloton Bikes and similar things.