Camping on a Budget

Camping on a Budget

By: Mikayla Koltzow

Camping can be a very affordable activity, and that’s one of the biggest draws to it! Camping brings you that special experience of staying somewhere away from home and everyday life, without having to worry about expensive travel, hotel, or restaurant costs. The gear needed for camping can be attained very affordably, but like any outdoor activity, it’s easy for the receipts to add up if you do not go in with a plan. Keep reading for our tips for camping on a budget!

Two people in TETON Sports LEEF Mummy Sleeping Bags talking together.

Tips for Camping on a Budget

  1. Set a budget! How much are you comfortable spending?
Just like with any budgeting, you’ll first want to determine how much you are looking to spend. Camping can be achieved on just about any budget. If you want to keep the costs minimal, that’s achievable, and you will just need to utilize what you already have, borrow from anyone you are comfortable asking, and consider camping at undeveloped sites.
  1. Determine what you already own that you can use.

Camping gear is designed to be used for shelter, warmth, and comfort. A van or SUV with the rear seats removed or pushed down can work perfectly as a shelter if you don’t have a tent, hammock, or camper. A truck bed can also be a great way to sleep under the stars, so long as you are okay sleeping out in the open. Blankets can work nearly as well as a sleeping bag. For comfort, you can lie down blankets beneath you, blow up an air mattress, or borrow a foam topper from your bed. Get creative!

Two TETON Sports Scout & Explorer Backpacks leaning against a tree.

  1. Do not rush and buy all your desired camping gear at once.
Make a list of the camping items you want to acquire over time and prioritize which to get first. If it’s your first time camping, go camping in your or a friend’s yard first to get a feel for what you will actually need to get, and what is already working out for you. Waiting to get new camping items over time also allows you to watch for the best deals.
  1. Do not feel like you need to buy the best that is out there.
If it fits your budget go ahead, but especially for starting out, you just need items that will do their job. You typically do not need the top-rated insulating gear at the lightest possible weights. To keep your upfront costs lower: shop around for affordable and quality brands (hello, TETON Sports), rent gear, watch for sales, and always consider checking the second-hand market whether online or in local thrift stores.
  1. Camp in seasons with mild weather.

Mild weather means you will not have to worry about rain or snow, getting too hot or cold, or having any issues accessing where you want to camp. Comfortable weather means you will not need to worry about a fancy tent or camper, or heavily insulated sleeping bags or sleeping pads.

Supplies You Can Bring Camping

There are just three primary things you typically want for camping (and in everyday life, as well): shelter, food, and water.

  1. For shelter you will want a tent, hammock, camper, or vehicle you can comfortably sleep in. For added warmth, you can bring a sleeping bag or blankets. To add comfort to your shelter, you may want to add a sleeping pad and pillow.
  2. Food is up to your own personal preference. Just be sure that whatever food you bring, you have the tools needed to prepare or store it. For dehydrated meals, ramen, instant rice, and similar, you will need a camp stove, fuel, and potentially a pot to boil water. For canned foods, you may need a can opener and strainer. For pre-cooked meals you bring from your home, you may need a cooler and ice to keep the food fresh. And do not forget your dishes and utensils!
  3. For water just bring some large, filled-up containers, always bringing more than you think you will need! And if you have a travel water filter and expect to camp close to a fresh water source, definitely bring that along too.

Camping really is an activity that can fill up as much time as you want, while costing very little. If it is an activity you fall in love with, you can very easily acquire gear along the way that will only make the experience even more convenient and comfortable – perhaps even more stylish and picturesque. Happy camping!

A hand holding the lid of a pot in an outdoor camp kitchen.

About the Author: Mikayla Koeltzow

Mikayla is always looking to see new places and experience new things in order to slow life down and create unique memories. Photography and writing are her absolute favorite ways to document these moments. When not working or relaxing with her dog, you’ll most often find her (and her dog) hiking, backpacking, camping, road tripping, or hanging out with friends and family.