Is Camping Expensive?

Photo credit: Gideon Haden ChomphosyMost people think about expense when they are looking into a new hobby. Some hobbies can get pretty expensive. Things like starting a wine collection, sailing, or collecting classic cars aren’t a pastime that falls into everyone’s price range. Luckily, camping is a much more affordable hobby. But if you’re new to camping, you’re probably wondering just how much it costs to camp.

Like any hobby, the cost of camping can vary greatly. If you’re committed to buying the lightest, latest, and greatest camping equipment, you will end up spending a lot of money. But you don’t have to have the most expensive, state-of-the-art camping supplies in order to have a good time.This is one of the most important things to convey to beginner campers. Camping can be affordable, and you don’t have to spend a fortune in order to enjoy your camping experience.

If you keep it simple…

The cheapest way to camp is to be content with the bare necessities. This means taking only the things that you absolutely need. Camping necessities include:

  • Shelter (Tent)
  • Bedding (Sleeping bag)
  • Food
  • Water
  • Fire (Matches, lighter, etc.)
  • Clothing

An argument could be made for things like a pocket knife, a light source, and a first aid kit, but ultimately those are luxuries rather than camping necessities. All that you really need for camping is shelter, warmth, food, and water.

Of course, having the bare necessities doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you will be comfortable. For example, things like a sleeping pad, a camp chair, a cooler, and a camp stove aren’t necessary items, but they will more than likely increase your comfort and your overall experience while camping. But as soon as you start adding these luxury items, the cost of camping starts going up.

So the amount of gear that you buy will affect the cost of the hobby. The type of gear you buy will determine how expensive camping is as well.

Cheap camping equipment vs. expensive camping equipment.

The price of a two person tent can be as low as $50 or over $400. Clearly, the quality of the gear that you buy will have a direct impact on the cost of camping. While most people don’t need the most expensive tent on the market, you shouldn’t necessarily go for the cheapest tent on the market either.

Keep in mind that you can’t necessarily trust a price tag when you’re determining the actual cost of an item. You might think that you’re saving money buying a $50 dollar tent, but that’s not always the case.

It’s OK to buy more affordable camping equipment when you’re starting out and getting a grip on camping. This way, if you decide that camping isn’t your cup of tea, you don’t end up sinking a fortune into a hobby that you hate. However, if you discover that you love camping and you end up getting outdoors every weekend, you probably want to invest in higher quality equipment.

The cheap stuff will suffice if you end up camping at a maintained site in the middle of summer once or twice a year. But if you end up camping every week, in the rain and the snow, whether it’s boiling or freezing, up in the mountains or down in the desert, you need high quality camping gear that will endure the elements.

The hidden costs of camping

For the most part, it’s pretty easy to see how much camping costs. You basically just look at how expensive your gear is. There are, however, a few cost associated with camping that aren’t quite as apparent.

  • You typically have to drive a good distance before you’re in camping territory. A weekend outing can burn half a tank of gas, and longer road trips will cost you even more in gas.
  • You’re going to have to spend money on food whether you’re camping or not, but it’s important to consider this cost when planning a camping trip.
  • Dispersed camping is a great way to camp for free, but most maintained camp sites charge overnight camping fees.
  • You will have to repair or replace your camping gear over time. While repairing your gear isn’t very expensive, you will have to replace your gear at some point.

While you can make it expensive, camping is an affordable hobby. You can get a lot of mileage out of camping as a hobby. A few dollars can provide entertainment for you or your family for an entire weekend.

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