Camping gear for less than $100

By Marion Fernandez
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Camping is one of the cheapest types of vacation that you can take. That is, if you have the gear. If you are setting out on your own for the first time, or perhaps your circumstances in life have changed and you need new gear, buying it can really add up. If you are lucky, you may have friends who can loan you their gear, but if not, you may find yourself stuck spending more than you planned on or simply doing without.

Never fear. There are always workarounds to get out into nature and where you want to be. Cheap camping gear is out there waiting for you.

Tents

A quality tent is a camping necessity.

Tents are a camping necessity, unless you have a camper, which of course costs even more than a tent. Not only is a tent where you will sleep at night, but it is also your shelter from the rain, your dressing room for clothing changes, and your portable den where you and your friends can hang out. While tents can cost hundreds of dollars, you can find a 6-person tent on Amazon for less than $100, meaning if you need a smaller tent, you can get one for even less.

Shelter

Beyond tents, you need to have some way of keeping the rain off your campfire or your gear as well as creating needed shade if it is really sunny. Fortunately, the easiest and cheapest way to create a shelter when you are camping is to simply use a tarp. Your local sporting goods store will have one or you can always order online. A good-sized tarp can easily be acquired for less than $10.

Pocket torch

Torch for lighting a fire

Trying to light a campfire can be frustrating. If your wood is damp or just won’t catch, battling a fire when you really want one is incredibly aggravating. That is why pocket torches are so awesome. You can either get one that is a small torch, all ready to go, or you can get an attachment that turns a standard lighter into a blowtorch to get that fire going. The attachments run at about $25 online.

Camping chairs

Thankfully, camping chairs are consistently affordable, but there is still quite a range in prices depending on how elaborate you like your chair to be. Normally, an ordinary folding camp chair is about $20, give or take, with different size options, for children on up to a larger size if you need more room. Some have cup holders, others will even have pop-up tables to set your drinks or plates on. Regardless, having a chair of some kind makes camping much easier.

Hiking backpack

Finding the right backpack can make a huge difference

Most of us like to do a bit of hiking while we are camping or, even better, hike to the campsite. But looking at packs in some of the more mainstream stores will make anyone cringe at the heavy price tag. Luckily, unless you are picky about brand, you can find an excellent backpack online for about $70.

Sleeping bags

Sure, you could go super cheap and just skip the sleeping bag and bring the blankets and pillows that you use at home, but realistically, this is just not a good idea for camping. The reason that sleeping bags are used is because they will use your own body heat to help keep you warm. You are completely wrapped up, instead of just having a blanket on top. Sleeping bags do not run to a great deal of money generally. If you are camping in incredibly cold weather, you may need to spring for a pricier mummy bag. Otherwise, you can easily find one for under $100.

Propane stove

Camping stoves are a nice addition when you are unable to cook on the campfire.

Cooking over the campfire is the classic way of doing things and can be incredibly effective. But if you are in prime fire season or wet season, a campfire may not be the best idea for you. Propane stoves do not cost much money and can be relied on to keep you cooking, so long as you have enough propane. They can get up to some higher prices, but looking at your baseline camping propane stove, without any bells and whistles, you can get one for under $50. This is not an essential camping need, but it is nice when you do have one to use.

Air mattress

Ok, I know that many people think that air mattresses are just a bit of plush that you do not need when you are camping. Yet, an air mattress is more than just cushy padding. The mattress lifts you off of the cold, hard ground, helping keep your back from completely giving up on you while keeping you a little warmer at night. Plus, no one likes having a rock jab them in the back all night long. The mattress does not take up much room nor will it cost you loads of money.

Quality lanterns

Lanterns exist in many forms & pricepoints.  

Thankfully, there are so many kinds of lantern available out there that you do not need to feel like you are missing out if you are trying to save money. From LED lights that last for a month to solar-powered lanterns, you can find a lantern relatively cheaply that should meet all of your lighting needs when you are out there in the woods. Make sure you have the batteries with you if you have a lantern that does use them.

Personal water filter

This is one of the newest tools out on the market, but it has been wanted for a long time. Having clean water is not always a concern, depending on where you are camping, but it is something that you should consider. While humans can live for several weeks without food, we cannot live without water. Using tainted water will inevitably make you sick, ruining your whole camping adventure. Personal water filters run to about $50 and will take all of the worry out of your water needs when you are in the woods. If you get one, carry it with you while hiking as well. You can never be too safe.

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