Your trip cost will probably depend on two main factors: 1) how much gear do you need to buy, and 2) what type of food and accommodation do you expect to have? Read on for more...
However, we understand that most of you will not be in this type of situation, so we've broken down the main costs for you below:
A new canoe, kayak, or paddleboard typically costs anywhere from $700 to $2,000. We were fortunate enough to already have a canoe in our family (a Wenonah Boundary Waters kevlar canoe), so luckily that wasn't a cost concern for us.
Used canoes, kayaks, or paddleboards can also be purchased anywhere from $300-$1,000. Checking Craigslist may be your best option.
When buying your watercraft (used or new), the most important factor (other than price) should probably be product durability. Your watercraft may take a beating, so taking a heavy duty aluminium canoe may not be a bad choice. On the flipside, taking a lightweight canoe may also be helpful when it comes to the numerous time's you'll have to portage your gear in Northern Minnesota. Keep in mind that you'll also need to register your watercraft, which will only cost around $15.
Luckily, you probably won't need to purchase a lot of paddling gear. While loads of money can be spent on the nicest carbon paddles and fancy lifejackets, we highly recommend sticking to the basics: a simple wooden paddle, a lifejacket, and seatbacks (if you're in a canoe). All of this should not cost more than a couple hundred dollars. We also highly recommend buying or making a splash pad (a piece of fabric that can go over the middle of your canoe and keep your gear dry--check out the picture to the right).
This can add up in a hurry if you do not have any gear to begin with. If you walk into a large outdoor retail store, you might be shocked at the number of things you can buy, so it's important to set a budget beforehand and only buy the necessities. Please look at our Paddler Checklist and see what you need. Overall, (f you don't previously own any camping stuff) you should expect to spend around $1,000 to buy all new, high quality gear.
How will you get to the Mississippi River? How will you get home from the Mississippi River? Figure in your fuel or shipping costs based on where you live. An alternative to transporting your watercraft: many paddlers sell their canoe, kayak, or paddleboard (via Craigslist) when they arrive in New Orleans, so they can make back some of their money.
Life on the river can be fairly inexpensive. Of the 64 days we spent on the River, we stayed in a hotel three nights and ate in restaurants only a few times while also stopping at the rare riverside bar for a beer or two when possible. While on the River, we spent under $500 each.
In total, the trip could cost as little as a few hundred dollars or as much as $5,000.