General advice —how not to fund a thru-hike


Usually you won’t get far asking for people to fund your hike. Longer: too many people have tried it with poor results. People won’t generally be patient or gentle with you about it.


Every year people ask for advice on how to successfully use gofundme or similar platforms to pay for a long trail (e.g. for a hike of the Appalachian Trail or the PCT or similar trail).

Often they become very forceful on how they don’t want negative feedback. They want money and cheerleaders and nothing else while engaged in social media. I thought I would go over the issues and explain the common responses.

I’m addition, there are ways people succeed at public fund raising.

First, this doesn’t happen in a vacuum

Every year there are many people who come up with the idea of launching a GoFundMe to pay for a hike. Usually they show no sign of ever having looked at anyone else trying the same thing or of having read any prior posts in similar groups.

The PCT Reddit group deletes scores of gofundme posts each year. Scores. And they do it as fast as they are posted as a matter of policy. Some Facebook groups delete any post with the word gofundme in it.

Second, many have tried this before

Every year, a number of people try the approach of asking others for money. Most people in the relevant communities are aware that people are lucky to raise $50.00 or so this way (mostly from people who give them Christmas or birthday gifts as cash).

Third, every good hook has been tried

There is always a good hook. Maybe someone has rescued a dog that is violent and just needs a long trail and a lot of good outdoor time to possibly be saved. Maybe someone is trying to be the first user of an exoskeleton to complete the trail.

Not only that, but there are people raising money for charities where 100% of the money goes to the charity, not the hook of “send me money to hike and if I have any left over I’ll donate it.”

There are amazing hooks out there

There is always someone with a more compelling hardship. For example, 2019 had Test, with metastatic cancer, post surgery for tumors, hiking the trail. She didn’t use that to fund raise.

Someone with even greater hardship did.

Fundraising for a hike & a cause usually doesn’t work

For everyone who is raising money and going to give the “excess” (after they’ve paid for all their expenses and beer) to a good cause, there is someone who is self funded and giving 100% of the money raised to a cause.

Finally, going to hiking communities is a really bad idea

The people in the backpacking and hiking groups generally are raising money (working two jobs, selling things, saving) themselves — and many have been doing this for several years.

They are not the audience to give anyone money — though they are an audience that can caution people based on experience and the most likely to suggest you do as they do.

The bottom line

So, what do the points I’ve made mean?

  1. Many people will see fundraising to support your hike as public begging for others to support your vacation.
  2. Many people will see fundraising efforts for a hike as not likely to be successful (so many people fail at it) and a waste of time.
  3. Many people will see demands for positive attitude in an unfavorable light – as if you are demanding that they cheerlead you in a questionable endeavor.
  4. Many people will suggest that you work and save just as they did.
  5. Finally, there isn’t much good advice people can give you other than (a) save money, (b) set things up so 100% of the money goes to a charity without you touching it (the two things that have worked).


If you are the first in a space and produce prolific and entertaining content, like Darwin and Dixie do or did, you can be successful from social media posts and possibly Patreon.

Be aware that for most people you have to actually complete a long trail or be the first person on the trail that year before you will get an audience.

A number of people have floundered by trying to short circuit the process or upon discovering that it takes months of consistent effort before they have a hiking following.

Conclusion, in application

If you are aware of these factors going in, and that you have been preceded many, many times in your quest to have others come up with the money so you can take 4-5 months off and hike – and that many of those before you were hostile and obnoxious – then you are ready to discuss the effort and prepared for the probable result (that you will raise $50 or so if you are lucky).

Otherwise, the odds are not in your favor.

My original essay

Now on the PCT Reddit

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