This is up to the individual. Our guides do accept tips, and we can say that they are greatly appreciated, and go a long way towards making outdoor guiding a feasible career choice. However, we don't want to pressure our clients, and the following should be regarded as a guideline in case you're looking for guidance on this issue. Ultimately, as in many service industries, tipping is left up to the individual, but as a general practice, 10% - 20% of the trip cost is a common gratuity in Seward.
I get asked about this often so it is time to get an answer out to everyone.
Yes, backcountry tour guides work for tips and they are greatly appreciated. How much they get tipped has been a mystery since there is little information on the internet related to tipping a backcountry guide. Many of the tipping guidelines are for the guides on van tours which isn’t a good comparison to backcountry guides.
A backcountry guide does more than just lead the group down the trail. He or she takes care of the group’s safety, cooks for the group, takes care of the gear and makes sure the tour runs smoothly.
The average tip amount for an outdoor or backcountry guide is between 10% and 20% of the tour cost per person. For example, if the tour price was $1,000 per person, then the acceptable tip should be between $100 and $200 per person depending on the level of service provided by the guide.
The tip is given at the end of the tour and the tipping guideline is for guided tours in the United States. If the owner of a guide service happens to be your tour guide, he or she is tipped according to these same guidelines.
Just so you don’t think I’m making this up, here are my references.
FindALink.net has a Tipping Etiquette Guide that states Outdoor guides should receive 15% of the cost of the service as a tip. It differentiates outdoor tour guides from motor tour guides and confirms that the owner of the company should be tipped if he or she provides the service (leads the tour).
About.com has a Tipping Guide for travelers that further suggests that the tour guide should receive a tip of 10% to 20% of the tour cost.
As a last thought, the guide still needs to earn his or her tip. Just with any other profession, the tip should match the level of service."