Camping on the Cheap

Camping is fairly inexpensive hobby, but all hobbies have an upper and a lower price range. You can spend a lot more than you need to, or you can spend the bare minimum just to get by. If you buy the newest, lightest, and shiniest camping gear, you will, of course, end up spending a lot of money. Going camping on the cheap is easy, though. You just need to know when and when not to spend your money.

Look for free camping

Most maintained campsites charge a fee. While these rates are rarely outrageous, you can save a few bucks by finding free campsites, such as dispersed camping.

Eat, but not like a king

Sure, you might want to live it up with a gourmet spread, but you can save quite a bit by eating more modest meals. Prep meals at home instead of buying prepared foods, or opt for affordable foods like Ramen or hot dogs.

Cheap entertainment

Save money by doing things that are free like hiking, swimming, whittling, a exploring, identifying flora and fauna, etc. Splurge and buy a deck of cards for hours of entertainment.

Rough it

Often times you will spend more money to be comfortable. Embrace a night in nature, and sacrifice comfort for a spell. Spend money on the essentials and limit spending on the luxuries.

Know when to spend it

Identify when spending money is necessary and when you can make do. For example, you can’t go backpacking with a Jansport book bag. You need a hiking backpack. However if you have an old hiking backpack, you can probable make it work even if it’s a little bit dated.

Here are some tips for deciding whether or not you should upgrade your outdoor gear.

Learn what your needs are.

Do you need a $200 survival knife, or a $20 folding pocket knife? Do you need bells and whistles or just the basics? Is an ultralight tent a necessity or a luxury? Identify what your needs are and spend – or don’t spend – accordingly.

Campfire cooking

Cooking over a campfire will keep you from buying a pricey camp stove and spending money on fuel. Just remember that cooking over a fire in extreme heat or in rain can be a nightmare.

Use what you have

You don’t always need camping specific gear to go camping.

  • If you own a tarp, don’t buy a sunshade.
  • Use that old 5-gallon bucket in your garage instead of an expensive camp chair.
  • You can use blankets instead of sleeping bags.
  • You don’t necessarily need technical outdoor clothing for basic camping trips. Wear clothing you already own. Sure, you might be more comfortable in a pair of synthetic hiking pants than in your blue jeans, but being uncomfortable for an overnight or weekend trip isn’t a bad thing.

Purchase camping specific gear over time when it makes sense for your needs and your budget.


Buy military surplus

Military surplus makes for a rugged, affordable alternative to outdoor gear and camping equipment. We have the best selection of military surplus in Northwest Arkansas.

Shop out of season

You can get great deals on camping equipment, outdoor gear, and outdoor apparel by making purchases in the “wrong season”. Many manufacturers put last season’s gear on clearance, and retailers will discount gear as the seasons change to make room for inventory.

Investing in outdoor gear

Camping on the cheap doesn’t necessarily mean buying cheap camping equipment.

Which tent costs less, a $100 tent or a $300 tent? Yes, it’s a trick question. Camping gear that costs more tends to be higher quality, which means it tends to last longer than cheap camping gear.

If you plan on camping a lifetime, buy gear that will last a lifetime. It’s cheaper in the long-run.

Make the most of your gear

Use gear until it needs to be replaced. Upgrading prematurely wastes money.

Take care of your equipment. Clean it and store it properly, and make repairs as necessary.



What are your money saving tips to go camping on the cheap? Let us know in the comments below!


  1. Julias Roy says:

    Loving each tips… Those are really special for camping on the saving money. I think every explorer follow that advice get enjoyable adventure on the save money. Also, I like take care of your equipment, clean and repair to save money.

Leave a Reply

Follow us on Instagram

Something is wrong.
Instagram token error.


Load More