Outdoor Economics
Posted In Rucksack on Sunday, March 7th 2021

Outdoor Economics

Northeast Outdoors Experience Staff


I recently had a phone conversation with a very good friend of mine who casually mentioned to me that some outdoor activities seemed to be a bit pricey to enjoy. That got me to thinking, something that seems unavoidable lately for some reason. What might be an average “cost” in general for some of the more popular outdoors activities? As I’m fairly sure that you reading an article on rock climbing isn’t going to have you rushing out with a rope and a hand-ax for Cathedral Ledge or some other death-defying climb, I thought I might estimate the investment for a few venues that might be required to “get going” and “keep going” outdoors. Bear in mind these are general estimates based on the average Joe who isn’t going to go out and buy a $500,000 fully equipped tuna sport-fisherman series cabin cruiser to be able to go Fishing or Boating.

Archery – New bow $300-800, 1 dozen arrows $35-100, broadheads and other miscellaneous gear (bow sights, string peep, mechanical release, quiver, string silencers, targets, stabilizers, arrow rest) $450. Total new…around $1000..generally a one-time investment…but plan on upgrading every year to the tune of a $100 or so.

ATVs – Wholesale price new…$1,000 - $17,000 – Choose your weapon! Keep in mind holding a bit back for riding gear, (helmet, boots, riding clothes, repair kit, registration, insurance, gas, maintenance costs, etc.) $1000? Hiking is looking better and better huh, or putting studded snow tires on the Subaru at the very least.

Birding – Quality binoculars $300-$800, identification manual(s) $25-$75, birdseed $20 per month, camera with all photographic accessories $1500-$2000, plane ticket to the Amazon to see rare species, $10,000. You get the picture.

Boating – Walmart kayak $300, Sailboat $5,000 – Tall Ship level, Bass boat $15,000-$40,000, Tuna boat (only lottery winners need apply), cigarette boat racing (see Tuna boat then add 50%)… Then there’s fuel, registration, insurance, safety equipment, maps, navigational equipment, sonars, trailers, new truck to pull the trailer, anchors, rope and oh yeah, don’t forget the boater’s definition of a boat, “a hole in the water where you pour your money”. The good news is Walmart does have excellent boats for bathtub use under $10.

Camping – Tent $50 at Walmart, RV trailer $5,000 - $20,000, RV $30,000-$500,000+. Assorted gear for “roughing it”, sleeping bag, cook stove, utensils, food, water purification system, first aid kit, compass, map, rope, survival kit, backpack, food, etc.) all for substantially less than that travel trailer you were considering.

Climbing – Climbing shoes $80-$200, harness $200, assorted ropes $500, pitons and other hardware, $500, life insurance – priceless.

Cycling – Mountain bike $300-$1000, touring bike, $400-$2,500, second hand Schwinn at a yard sale $25 but count on some repair costs, (new tires, tubes, emergency repair kit, pump, etc. and eventually the latest and greatest in “cycling specific clothing”) $200-$400. All in all, one of the more economically-feasible outdoor activities.

Fishing – Rod $20-$1,000 or more, reel $20-$500 or more, line $5-$100 or more, lures $5 – whatever your significant other will believe is “absolutely critical”, waders $100-$200, canoe or kayak $300-$700, fish finder $150-$400, fishing vest $50, assorted miscellaneous gear $200 but realize that not only are boats holes in the water, but you cast in that same water and the two activities almost go hand in hand. Also note that different species will require different equipment and fly fishing requires different equipment from spinning, bait casting, ice fishing and will increase costs across the board. ‘Nuff said…

Hiking – Finally something we all can afford. Hiking boots or shoes $50-$200. Map and compass $25, reimbursement to State Search and Rescue agencies should you not have compass and map $5,000 - $10,000.

Hunting – If you thought Fishing was bad, hold onto your wallet! Rifle, shotgun, handgun new will be from $300-$2000 or more depending on what you buy for whatever your intentions. Ammunition (when you can find it) $1 a shot for most, .50 caliber is $38 a round, reloading equipment to save a few pennies and shoot more $800, plus more powder, more primers, more cases, more bullets, more, more, more…. Range fees $25 per visit, hunting clothes $200-$300, hunting boots $50-$200, survival gear and first aid kit $50-$100, ATV to access woods (see above), licenses $50-$150 dollars, duck stamps and additional fees and tags  $50-$100, calls and scents $100, compass and maps (see Hiking with respect to getting lost) $25. I’ll stop here as these are the basics.

Photography – See Birding and take out the bird part, or leave it in if you like, your choice. Point and shoot cameras begin around $75. The more serious you are, the more serious will be the final bill. And no matter how much you spend, it always seems like you need the latest and greatest gizmo or whatchamacallit.

Running/Walking/Jogging – 1 pair of running shoes $75-$200, running clothes $75-$300. Probably another excellent consideration for the economy-minded outdoorsman. If walking is your thing, you already might have a pair of old sneakers and a sweat suit in your closet and you’re halfway to the store already!

Skiing – Nordic skis $200-$400, Alpine skis $300-$700, boots $50 (eBay) - $350, bindings $300-$450, lift tickets $60-$100 a day ($500-$600 season pass average), poles $30-$100, Ski clothes $200-$500, medical bills will be skill-level related.

Snowmobiling – I priced an entry level machine new at $13,000. Wanting to avoid a heart attack at the upper end of the range I decided to stop there. Bear in mind, clothing, gas, maintenance, registrations, helmets, goggles, emergency repair kits, etc.

I’m sure you can use your friends and contacts, eBay, second hand stores, craigslist, want ads, yard sales, newspapers or other means to buy almost anything used at secondhand prices and save a lot of money. Keep in mind that secondhand can mean the second set of hands that will foot any and all repair and replacement costs. I think I’ll walk to the store and see what the Smart Shopper has for sale. At least I’m going to Get Outdoors!

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