5 Tips to Go Backpacking on a Budget

We get it: backpacking can be expensive. But you don’t have to shell out a lot of cash to get outside this weekend. Follow these tips to hit the trail for less.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Buy used. Check out your local consignment shop for base layers, jackets, and shoes, or look for hidden gems like tents and backpacks at a yard sale. No consignment shops in your town? Check out craigslist, geartrade.com, or the Mountain Equipment Co-Op Gear Swap.

Clean out the attic. Chances are, mom’s external frame pack from 30 years ago still works. It’ll be heavy, but you’ve always wanted stronger quads, right? Dust off the cobwebs and give it a whirl; you might even get a compliment on the trail. So retro!

Join the club. Sign up for a co-op membership to get a discount every time you shop, as well as other perks like members-only events and opportunities to give back to the community. In addition to REI Co-Op ($20 lifetime membership), several lesser-known ones like Mountain Equipment Co-Op ($5 lifetime membership) and Gear Co-Op (free membership) offer great value.

Stay close to home. Long drives can amount to a lot of money spent on gas, and you don’t need to truck across state lines to have a great adventure.

Get cooking. Instead of paying a premium for fancy dehydrated meals, buy in bulk and package your own food ahead of time. You’ll save money and packweight, and you’ll likely reduce your sodium intake. For meal planning inspiration, check out BACKPACKER’s recipes and the AIM Adventure U Backcountry Kitchen course. 

For more in-depth tips, lessons, and backpacking inspiration, check out the AIM Adventure U Backpacking 101 course. Buy it once, and you’ll have unlimited access to course materials, so you can keep the learning juices flowing year after year.