Blog Travel

What it Cost: Backcountry Camping in the Grand Tetons

Todd Smidt by Todd Smidt

A few months ago a friend of mine from college asked me if I wanted to go backcountry camping over Labor Day in the Grand Tetons.  Though I’d never gone backcountry camping, I said yes.  One of my many flaws is that I’m not very good at saying no to adventure.

Now that the trip has come and passed I wanted to write my “What it cost” recap blog.  I started doing the financial rundown of my trips after I spent a month in Southeast Asia earlier in the year and received feedback about how helpful it was.  Below you’ll find a line by line list of what I spent to go backcountry camping in the Grand Tetons for five days.



A few quick notes:

  1. A lot of the gear I bought could have been borrowed from friends but I plan on hiking and camping more in the future so I decided to buy it.  I look at my tent, sleeping bag, backpack etc as investments that I’ll be able to reuse for years (plus REI 10% back for members is pretty neat).
  2. The prices below are what I paid.  For example the rental car was $197 total but there were 4 or us so I paid my share of $49.50.
  3. I didn’t love the price of my flight. Labor day is expensive time to travel and KC to SLC isn’t exactly a hot flight path.  In comparison my flight from KC to Costa Rica at the end of the month is about the same price.
  4. I did borrow some stuff from friends which means I didn’t have to buy.  Here is a list of things that if you can’t borrow you would have to purchase:
    1. Items Borrowed/already owned
      1. Inflatable sleeping pad
      2. Bear can
      3. Headlamp w/extra batteries
      4. Poop Trowel/shovel
      5. Bug Spray
      6. Hiking boots
      7. Sunhat

You can view my full packing list for backcountry camping in the Grand Tetons in a previous blog post.

Pre-Departure Purchases:

Kansas City to Salt Lake City (round trip)- $586
Airport Parking- $37.50
Subtotal- $623.5


Cotopaxi Tent (rainfly, footprint, and alcove)- $383
North Face Furnace Sleeping Bag– $180
Hydration Pack (2.5 L)- $34
Cooking Ware – $45
Stuff Sack (for tent, rainfly, footprint)- $6
65 L Backpack- $104
Compression Sack (for sleeping bag)- $25
Hood Pillow- $27
Food for the hike- $108
Bear Spray- $12.25
Adventure Mug- $10
Sawyer Water Filter System- $20
Fuel can- $5
Subtotal- $959.25


3 pairs hiking socks- $26
3 pairs of sock liners- $12
Subtotal- $38

On the road…
Car Rental from SLC- $49.25
Gas total- $15 (filled up twice)
Teton Lodge Hostel- $36.5
Grand Tetons Hiking Permit/Map- $20
Tetons Taxi-$18 (most expensive 6 mile taxi ride of my life)
Leigh Lake Parking- $7.5
Lift Pass- $42
SLC Ramada Inn- $23.75
Subtotal- $212

Subway dinner- $8.83
Post-camping gas station snack- $3
Me & Lous restaurant (Best restaurant in Malad City ID)- $25
Beers- $7.50
Beerhive Pub- $16.50
Subtotal- $60.83

Grand Total- $1,893.83

If I had already owned the gear I needed for this trip the price would easily have been closer to $1,000.  But I didn’t and I didn’t want to borrow it all either.  Now that I own most of the gear I need to go backcountry camping I’m all set for the next trip (hopefully going to BANFF next year) and it will be a lot less expensive.  Whenever you pick up a new hobby there is always a bit of financial investment and looking back on this trip only has me more excited for the next one.

Stay Gold.

Todd Smidt

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