Special Report

The Most Expensive Hobbies

Grant Suneson, Samuel Stebbins

1. Trap shooting

Trap shooting is a sport that involves shooting clay disks with a shotgun as they fly through the air. Trap shooting can be done at a designated facility, like a state park or gun club, and participants are often charged per shot — and that can add up.

For those with enough land to safely trap shoot on their own property, obtaining all the necessary equipment can be expensive. Shotguns alone range in price from several hundred dollars to several thousand. Launching mechanisms for clay disks can range in price depending on their sophistication, from less than one hundred dollars to several thousand. Even after the initial investment, trap shooters will need to continually purchase clays, which are relatively inexpensive, and shotgun ammunition, which runs about $5-$10 per box of 25.

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2. Skiing

Downhill skiing is one of the most popular outdoor hobbies in the United States, and it is also one of the most expensive. The cost of equipment alone — which includes skis, ski boots, a helmet, googles, and appropriately warm outerwear can easily exceed $1,000.

Those without their own equipment have the option to rent at the mountain, but ski and boot rentals can range in price from about $25-$45 per day. When added to the price of a daily lift ticket, which usually costs an additional $40-80, a single day of skiing can easily exceed $100.

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3. Golfing

Golfing offers enthusiasts a chance to compete without requiring strenuous physical activity, making it among the most popular hobbies in the country. There are more than 24 million golfers in the U.S., each of whom had to spend hundreds of dollars on their hobby. Many bags of golf clubs cost well over $300, with golfers adding and replacing clubs as needed over the years.

Golfers also have to pay to play, whether that means booking a tee time at a public golf course or becoming a member at a private club. According to Golfweek, the median public golf course charges $36 for an 18-hole round, while club memberships are often thousands of dollars per year, not to mention one-time initiation fees.

4. Model trains

Model train enthusiasts can sink thousands of dollars into their hobby, building up lengthy trains with a variety of different cars and elaborate surrounding environments. Full size trains can cost hundreds of dollars, with certain specific cars costing that much on their own. Hobbyists must also purchase tracks and electronics to make the trains run. Model train makers also build custom layouts featuring landscapes, buildings, backdrops and more, which can cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars. Of course, they can also hire someone to build custom layouts as well — which also costs thousands of dollars.

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5. Sneaker collecting

While most people see shoes as the thing you put on before you leave the house, people who collect shoes, called sneakerheads, see shoes as art worthy of collecting. With the rise of hip hop and the Air Jordan brand in the 1980s, sneakers became status symbols for the young and hip. Some wear their sneakers around, while others simply display them.

Pairs of designer sneakers can range from hundreds to even sometimes thousands of dollars. As the market has grown and expanded, there is an estimated $1 billion resale economy from companies like Nike, Adidas, and others.