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Push Your Limits, Not Your Bank Account

You’ve decided to push your limits and try a new activity, but are you worried that it will be really expensive? While many activities have relatively low start up costs, other activities can really break the bank if you’re not careful – and if you don’t know about the alternatives. Let’s go through a few and show you what I mean.

To begin, let’s quickly go over the relatively inexpensive pursuits. Walking, running, calisthenic programs, and even day-hiking can be really affordable. All that you really need are some weather-appropriate clothes, a good pair of shoes, and some way to stay hydrated.  If you are day hiking, you’ll also need a bag or small pack to carry your safety equipment (your 10 essentials), water and snacks. All in all, not out of reach for most people.

Okay, so what about paddle boarding and kayaking? It looks like so much fun, but is it expensive? It can be. You need a boat or board, paddles, life jacket, helmet in certain waters, a way to keep stuff dry, and a way to transport the boat or board to your destination, plus – depending on if you’re doing a lake or river – you’ll need transportation from the take-out spot back to the put-in location.  You could easily spend $1,000 before even getting on the water.  You really don’t want to spend all of that money only to find that you absolutely hate it, so how do you start?

Well, here is what I did. When my husband and I bought our house, we realized that we had boat entry points as close as 10 minutes away.  We wanted to take advantage of them and get on the water, but we weren’t sure exactly how. Our first outing, we had a cheap (and I do mean CHEAP), blow up raft. Let’s just say that experiment didn’t go so well.  Next, we tried inner tubes. It was ok, but meh. If I really wanted to do that, I could find plenty of companies to help, but it wasn’t really our thing. What we really wanted to try was kayaking, but as neither of us had been before, we weren’t entirely sure where to start.  We got online and started looking, and we found that there was an outfitter about an hour from us! They had a beginner kayaking package available on a super calm river, and they provided everything we would need for a 2 hour paddle. Perfect! We chose our day and off we went. We both absolutely loved it!! By the next summer, we ended up purchasing our own boats. This was a great investment for us because we knew that we loved it and we were sure that we’d use them. Others in our group didn’t much care for it, however. It’s a good thing that they spent just a little bit of money instead of investing in equipment that they’d never use again.

One of the activities that I really want try is backpacking. However, looking at the amount of equipment that I would need to carry on my back for just one night is overwhelming. The cost would be insane, not to mention the weight. I have car camping equipment, but a lot of that won’t work for backpacking. Most of its’ weights are just not “backpacker friendly”. Again, the gear is expensive and I have no idea if I would really like it or not – my husband thinks I’ve romanticized the whole thing and would most likely not like it at all.  Without actually trying it though, how will I really ever know! One option that I’ve found is to look at REI and their gear rental program. REI is great,  but they aren’t the only ones. I’ve since found so many options. A quick online search and you can find local companies that will rent an entire backpacking package including the backpack, sleeping system, cooking, and water filtration. How cool is that?

Want to try backpacking, but a little concerned about relying on your own skills as well as the costs? There are guided backpacking trips for every level as well.  REI has one, of course, but a quick search will come up with outfitters in your area. There are even classes that will teach you how to use a compass and map so you can polish up your skills for the backcountry!

Some other places to look for rentals besides local outfitters would be your city/county parks, state and national parks.  Not only can you find equipment to rent, but if you are interested, there are places that will conduct classes for you as well.  In the middle of the pandemic, this might be a little difficult, but keep looking. There are places out there.

If you consider car camping a challenge, I know that Georgia State Parks has a first-time camper program that will rent all the equipment you need, plus help you and your family with the adventure planning! Check out your local state parks as well to see if they offer some kind of program or recommendation that could help you. Also, don’t discount your friend who frequently camps. They might have some extra equipment and maybe they can teach you the ins and out as well.

Regardless of what adventure will push your limits, you don’t have to be concerned about it pushing your bank account. If you try out your new adventure and find out you absolutely love it, there are many used equipment pages that sell used gear, anywhere from people who have decided to upgrade or they bought all the equipment and found out that they hated it! Either way it’s a win for you!


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