Camping and enjoying nature can be, and should be, accessible to all. If you want to try camping and don’t think you can afford the gear, let us assure you that most of it is already in your home. Below is a list of tips to keep the cost down on that first trip into nature.
1: Borrow Camping Gear
Ask friends, neighbors or family to borrow gear as most campers are more than happy to help people get onto camping by sharing gear. Just respect their gear and return it in the same condition.
2: Camp with a Group
Connect with friends or sign-up for a group camping experience and you will have the opportunity to not only share equipment but learn some useful tricks of the trade.
3: Purchase Second-Hand Gear or Clearance Items
Watch for rummage sales, scratch and dent sales or purchase gear at the end of the season to score big savings. Just make sure it is not damaged.
4: Use a Shower Curtain as a Foot Print or Ground Cover
Don’t throw away that dull, old shower curtain! Give it one more scrub and pack it to put under your tent to keep the bottom clean and dry.
5: Purchase a Tarp From a Hardware Store to String up as a Shelter
Watch some YouTube videos on making a shelter with a tarp. Camping on a nice evening when the bugs are minimal and the weather conditions are pleasant will be very memorable. The kiddos will love it as it is like sleeping in a “fort”.
6: A large Ziplock Bag Filled with Air can Double as a Pillow
Want to cut down on packing volume for mere pennies? Pack a large ziplock bag inside your sleep bag. Then at night, fill it full of fresh air from your lungs and you have yourself an air pillow.
7: Bring Your Bedding From Home to Double as Sleep System
You certainly don’t need to buy an air mattress, sleeping bag and all the other things that go into making a dream sleep system. Just pack you extra blankets! Bring several thick blankets to place under you to keep the ground from pulling the heat out of you. Cover on top with your normal blankets you use at home. When our kiddos were young, we did not have full sleep systems and the inside of our tent looked like one huge blanket pile. The kids loved jumping and rolling in all the blankets and was very comfy. As a result, wonderful memories were made on a shoestring budget!
8: Waterproof Matches by Dipping them in Nail Polish or Melted Paraffin
Don’t let the moisture or a spilled drink dampen the fun. Protect your matches with some nail polish or wax to keep them dry till it is time to heat up the fun.
9: Make Fire Starters out of Cardboard Egg Cartons and Mixing Melted Old Candles with Dryer Lint
Once again, check out YouTube on how to make fire starters for free out of dryer lint. No sense beating yourself up trying to get the fire going when the supplies should be right in your home to make quality fire starters.
10: Cook Over a Campfire Instead of Purchasing a Camp Stove
Enjoy a meal over the open flame of your campfire. Your local library should have plenty of books on campfire cooking. Really no need to by a $100.00 stove!
11: Keep your Menu and Grocery List Simple
Keep the cost down with simple bagels for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. Not necessary to go gourmet when roughing it your first few times!
12: Bring your Everyday Cookware From Home.
Grab your older pots, pans and cups from the back of the cupboard. You don’t have to have titanium cookwear to get the adventure rolling!
13: A Frisbee can Double as Entertainment and at Meal Time put Your Paper Plate Inside it to give it Support.
Cut down on items by packing things that can do double duty.
The above listed items are all tricks we have used over the years as we’ve built our gear collections. Use what you already have!
Our biggest pointer is to buy a storage tub and put a big label on it that says “camping gear”. As the years go by and you see amazing deals, buy the item and stow it away in your new camping adventure tub. That will make the next adventure easier to pack for as you will have gear already set aside and ready to go.
Just remember, adventure does not have to be expensive and that very first camping trip can be in your very own backyard!