View Full Version : camping on a budget
01-30-2012, 12:32 AM
I love camping. I just learned this last summer. So now its time to get our gear. We have sleeping bags, we have a tent, a cooler, first aid kit, and lantern. What else do you use when camping? I went down the camping alse and was amazed at all the stuff they sell. What do I really need? Oh we will be cooking over a fire (so we need stuff for that). do we need a table? whats a french press? Also any good sales? TIA!
01-30-2012, 01:00 AM
I suggest getting a large tote to store all of the odds and ends in. You should get a set of cheap dishes, cutting boards, towels, games etc. While you might have these things for your kitchen, it makes it easier not to have to try and remember everything you are supposed to grab, and then unpack it when you get back. Also, this makes your camping gear a good double as an emergency kit in case of evacuation.
Most campsites will have tables, pottys, showers, so you don't really need those unless you are going rough.
I suggest a camp stove. Even though you will be cooking over the campfire, do you want to wait for the coals to get hot for your coffee or cocoa in the morning? Plus, I don't like ashes in my drinks. :)
A french press is a way to make coffee by putting the grounds and water in together and you literally press the grounds to the bottom, leaving you with coffee. Do you need one? We just put DH's old coffee maker into our camping gear. Heat water, pour it directly on top of the grounds. Coffee!
As for sales, they usually clearance out a lot of gear at the end of the summer. Also be sure to check out craigslist/ yard sales/ thrift shops depending on where you live. Camping is something that most people *think* they will like, they buy all the gear... then a few years later they are cleaning out the garage and realize the tent hasn't been out of the bag in 5 years. We live in Southern California so camping gear usually doesn't last in the thrift stores. It is grabbed up by our homeless population.
The one thing I refuse to camp without: air mattress!
01-30-2012, 01:11 AM
Thanks, were looking at a new air matress because no one wants to find the hole in ours. What sorta lanterns work best? I know we need a second one (we tend to run two tents, were a family of 5/6). We just picked up some cheap plates, cups and a salt & peper set today. Most of our local campsites are considered rough,no amenities. I did the packing and unpacking thing last summer and it sucked. I never remembered everythign!
01-30-2012, 08:23 AM
I Love my aerobed (bought online on clearance) my kids use either a folding cot (walmart) or a Thermarest rollout (camping catalog)
I also buy yearly a stash of cheap dollar tree flashlights(or booklights) as it seems the kids lose them all every summer:thumbsup2
Walmart has a nice supply of lanterns, I use one big propane lamp for outdoors night activit,then I have a couple of extra battery or solar paowered lamps around too....
I 2nd the campstove, we have a Coleman 2 burner and usually cook on that, the fire is fun, but messier and takes longer:thumbsup2
I stocked my 'camping box' from Goodwill, pans for cooking, mismatched silverware,even a cooler or two...
Oh, I like at least 2 coolers...one for meats,icky stuff,the other for drinks,cheese sticks,yogurts,etc,more accessible.....
I keep my camping stuff in a corner of my garage,so it's all in one spot when it's camping time....makes life easier..... remember, you can bring a ton of gear,or go more minimalist,depends on your style.....(I'm a minimalist,except for a million snacks:rotfl:)
01-30-2012, 08:32 AM
Here are some ideas...
Rope to tie to trees, pole (some spots have a pole to hang lantern )or tent to hang wet towels or clothes
lantern, not anything that uses liquids
cast iron skillet
good hot pads to hold hot skillet
big plastic containers for food and firewood
firestarters...cardboard egg containers with melted wax
small folding table
chairs to sit around the fire
big container of water to drink
pad for under sleeping bag
If extremely hot, a fan to plug in if you are at an electric spot
flashlight to find bathroom
These are just ideas because we have a camper now and I can't remember camping in a tent that well.
01-30-2012, 09:04 AM
We have been camping for over 20 years now including a trip cross country and back which made us into semi-minimalist campers - not a lot of extras BUT there are some things you just gotta have and most can be had at the dollar store or Walmart or Target or YARD SALES :thumbsup2. A few things I recommend getting at a camping store like BassPro or Campmor.
Two good rubbermaid tubs to store all your gear in. We have the "camping" stuff in one and the cooking stuff in the other so the dishes don't end up with dirt from the tarps, etc.
Stove & a Lantern (or 2) - definitely want Coleman. They can be had at Target or Walmart. Used can be had cheap on Craigslist or yardsales (or even better - dumpster diving - I picked up our stove and lanterns on the side of the road - someone had put them out for trash - they just need a good cleaning). Despite plans for cooking over the campfire you really will want to get a stove as a backup. All it takes is a month without rain for campfires to get banned - some places never allow them - and cooking mac n cheese over the fire is a PITA. No need to go fancy - two burner stove simple wind shield. For a latern - I wouldn't do battery for this the batteries just don't last long enough. Propane or dual fuel are best. Always buy a set of extra mantles to keep in the box. Definitely don't be afraid of old. The lanterns and stove I found are from the 70's and our secondary stove is really vintage (as in 1930's - out of my grandma's basement) and they all still work great. The vintage are actually better than the new ones we have as they are made in USA and are bigger and better/heavier metal was used.
A dish pan - most campgrounds REALLY frown on you washing dishes in the bathroom sinks and not all of them offer up a wash station.
I second or third hitting goodwill for plates, cups, utensils, pots & pans. I got all our camping silverware there for under $2. I found that vintage tupperware can be had on e-bay for cheap and is really great cause it nests. Unless you decide to get a JetBoil or Don't waste your money on special "camping" cooksets. The quality just isn't there for the price they charge.
Plastic tablecloth. Trust me. You'll want one. Don't get the one in the camping aisle. Hit the dollar store for a flannel backed one and it will last you - we've had ours going on 10 years.
Tarps and bungie cords and some sturdy rope - You'll want to string one over the table. Enough rope for this plus for a clothes line for your towels.
A package of clothes pins.
A roll of quarters.
A good hammer with puller or camp mallet for when you camp in areas with rocky ground.
Dust pan and whisk broom - so we're not sleeping in dirt and/or pine needles.
LARGE plastic pitcher (with a lid) for holding water. If the water is really far away then you may want to invest in a 5 gallon jerry can designated for carrying water and keeping it at your campsite.
A french press works well for coffee and can be had for under $20 - when going really streamlined DH uses instant.
We keep a box of Extra Long Matches AND a candle lighter in our box. (The lighter is good for a campfire and the stove but too wide to fit in the openings in most lanterns.
Flashlights and/or headlamps for the kids.
Airmattress - I got a self inflating queen sized Coleman at BassPro for $35.
ETA - One item we wouldn't be without - Good long Metal Marmallow Sticks. Good for cooking hot dogs and shish kebab and I always set one to the side to use as a fire poker.
01-30-2012, 09:17 AM
I started out wanting to camp when DH and I got married -- he equated it too much to the army and doesn't care for it. DD12 and I have started doing "chick weekends" and really enjoy it.
Water jug (I think ours is 5 gallon)
Camp Stove (ours is very low budget -- basically a frame with 2 burners and a propane can)
Clothesline and clothespins
Chairs (for sitting by the fire)
Metal toasting sticks (I don't like wood in my s'mores)
2 bins for washing (one for soapy water/one for rinse)
Tent and tarp for under the tent
We use battery lanterns (the huge battery one -- can be a flashlight or lantern) and rarely have had to replace the battery. We find it's much less fuss than the propane and the mantles, etc., and the light's brighter.
We don't use air mattresses, just bring extra blankets for padding. I'll probably think of other stuff, but I think this covers it.
01-30-2012, 09:17 AM
It looks like the previous posters have covered everything! I do want to echo about the lantern, definitely go for ones that run on fuel. They have the ability to be brighter and you won't be running through a set of batteries every night. Do get extra mantles to have on hand.
Also a stove with 2 burners. You will be glad you have it. Camping on the fire can be fun but time consuming. We usually grill a lot too.
I don't like to use our bedding from home when we camp, especially pillows. They tend to get a musty smell even after just 1 night in a tent. And you definitely will want a good air mattress.
Battery operated lanterns for inside the tents are great.
And make sure your tent is waterproofed before you go! Nothing worse than rain on the first night and your tent leaking!!
01-30-2012, 10:09 AM
3boymthr I Love your list!!! it's great- just add the folding camp chairs.....:thumbsup2
01-30-2012, 10:36 AM
1. Coffee Pot
2. Camp Stove. do not forget the fuel
4. 2 totes, one for dishes, batteries, matches, detergents, paper good, The other for food.
5. Clip on head lights (this is great for kids)
6. little lamp for in the tent
7. I pack clothes in laundry basket for all 7 of us, and just keep it in the tent. Easier than bags, luggage type stuff.
8. clothes line rope, to hang towels
9. EZ up or tarp to go over
10. the table you will need. We use the picnic table on site, to eat with a fold up at the end, for the stove and cooking stuff. Cooler and bins go under it.
01-30-2012, 06:34 PM
Our family LOVES camping! We started out the first year with a tiny little tent, an air mattress, flashlights and some long skewers for roasting weenies and marshmallows. Every year, we invest in one or two more items for our camping kit. The first investment (after our EXREMELY minimalist first trip:lmao:) was a camp stove which I highly recommend. We also outlaw electronics on our trips so we spend a lot of quality time fishing and playing games with the kids! Have fun! :thumbsup2
North of Mouse
01-30-2012, 06:44 PM
Will just add to make sure to use cylinder fuel to screw on lantern, not one that takes liquid fuel, much easier to carry and less dangerous. We've had both, liquid in earlier days before cylinders.
Family Fun Mom
01-30-2012, 07:02 PM
Buy a couple of these! We go camping with a big group of friends every year and these are a huge hit for nightime-by-the-fire snacks. You can fill them with whatever you can dream up. All you need is some cooking spray, white bread, and whatever filling you like (pizza fixins, ham and cheese, fruit, ect). Just be sure to spray the inside good so the bread doesn't stick. Kids love them. Grown ups love them. Everybody loves them!
01-30-2012, 07:28 PM
Camp stove! We did the "cook over the fire" thing, and unless you're just cooking hot dogs or marshmallows on a stick, it will take forever.
I also highly recommend tarps and lots of rope! If you end up with a rainy weekend, it can keep you much more comfortable to rig up a tarp so you have somewhere to sit out of the rain.
Oh, and don't forget flashlights and/or battery powered lanterns to take IN the tent. Don't take a fuel burning lantern in your tent. Fire risk is just too high!
(I will note I have a couple small jars with tea candles in them that I put on the picnic table. DH laughed at me...until the Coleman lantern broke during our trip! We have horrible luck with mantles in those things. I switched to an old fashioned oil lantern and much prefer it. No propane to deal with and I just have to light the wick!)
01-30-2012, 08:10 PM
Thanks again for all the aswome advice. I didnt think of alot of this stuff. Why a roll of quarters? We found our marshmellow forks from last year! Whats a good lantern and stove brand? we want cheap but good quality. Any favorites? So far im shoving all the "kitchen" stuff in the cooler till we buy a tote. I have a old rolling duffel bag that our tent poles, sleeping bag and first aid disaster (i mean kit, Really, who puts shampoo in a first aid kit?) in that. It seems to work. Also can i ask a really stupid question, how the heck do you get that huge tent in the tiny bag they provide?:rotfl: Its simalar to the Coleman Spring Valley 6-Person Dome Tent, 10.5' x 9.5'. I followed the instuctions on the tent bag and the stupid thing still wont fit. I cant see hiking up to our campsite carrying the trash bag the tent is currently crammed in.:rotfl:
01-30-2012, 08:40 PM
Great lists so far! I would add the table especially if you are primitive sites. We own this one that folds up into a suitcase and seats 4 (Paid about $100 at Cabelas):
I am over 40 and do NOT sleep on the floor. Hubby & I have cots while the kids sleep on foam mats on the floor & sleeping bags. Too many bad experiences with air matteress, plus the cots let you "sit" in the tent and provide storage space underneath. Here is what we have (paid about $60 on Amazon):
Hope that helps.
01-30-2012, 09:57 PM
For campstoves and lanterns - go Coleman. Good Quality and not too pricey if you stick to the simpler models but mostly because the parts can be had everywhere. Nothing worse than trying to find a mantle or replacement glass or replacement nut for your lantern and you can't because it's an off brand.
The Quarters - multiple reasons - @ laundromat to run the dryer to take the damp out of the bedding if it rains or run the washer if your towels fall in the mud - for the random arcade games if the kids are really good - for a quick push pop again if the kids are good or if you need a bribe and - most importantly - there are still the random campgrounds where the showers run on quarters.:eek:
A few other extras that we have - a deck of cards - for those nights when it rains and you're trapped under the tarp (or in the tent) without a fire to sit around - a can opener and since my kids are boy scouts we always have a pocket knife or 5 hanging around - usually the swiss army kind with all the handy tools (corkscrew anyone?).
Tips on getting the tent back in the back :laughing: Ooooh. Have your kids stand on it and roll it as tight as you can making sure the window flaps and doors are unzipped and work it so from the back to the door that the air can come out of the tent but really it's easier to buy a cheap duffle bag that's slightly larger than the tent when it's as tight as you can get it, actually is it's MUCH easier. High end tents actually come in a duffle so you don't have to try and squeeze them back in that teeny tiny bag. :thumbsup2
01-30-2012, 11:14 PM
I have gotten almost every single camping item through yard sale-ing.
Coleman camp stove
Still looking for some cots and/or more mattresses and some sub 0 sleeping bags, but we are doing pretty well.
01-30-2012, 11:42 PM
I was lucky enough to find two sub 0 sleeping bags during fix up clean up (where all the people in the city though out furniture and other junk they dont want) that just have a hole in them. I still gatta sew them. I was thinking colman would be best. My tents a coleman. Guess Im buying a duffel bag this week! :rotfl:
01-30-2012, 11:46 PM
I've been camping for 21 years now and do a lot of camping in the summer (including renaissance/medieval reenactment camping) and I highly agree with the PP who recommended Coleman for a stove and lantern. I've had 2 of these now for many years and they are still going strong: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Coleman-LED-Classic-Lantern/13848593
they take a lot of batteries, but the batteries tend to last me from May through August on my various trips (one of them 2 weeks long).
For a coleman stove I have this one: http://www.coleman.com/coleman/colemancom/detail.asp?product_id=2000004126&categoryid=2010&brand, it's a little more expensive than others you may see, but I have to say this, the first one I had lasted me over 10 years and it probably would have gone longer but I decided it was time to get another and was so excited to find the same one again and snagged it up!
I also will not be caught camping without this (it's my very favorite item): http://www.walmart.com/ip/Coleman-Coffeemaker/10299012 I hate cleaning out percolaters and the fact that you have to drink the coffee immediately if not soon after it's made or it gets really bitter. This works just like a normal plug in coffee maker, you just put it on the stove instead.
Also if you are going to do a lot of cooking over the fire you should use cast iron as it'll hold up the best to open fire cooking. A cast iron dutch oven is a great way to cook a meal and you can find cook books with really easy meals to make in them.
Last think that I love to camp with is this: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Coleman-Queen-Airbed-Cot/16472399 I have one by Northwest Territory (Kmart brand) and paid like $60 or $70 but it's so worth it as it's like sleeping in a bed.
Have fun camping!
01-30-2012, 11:50 PM
I know my opinion is the minority, but I really love our battery operated lantern. It is a Coleman we got from Costco a few years back. It runs a CFL lightbulb and the batteries actually last quite awhile. My husband took it out for about 10-12 nights and I used it for 5 nights before we had to replace the batteries. We don't leave it on all the time, but it does get sometime on every night, as he takes it on outings with the boy scouts.
I also love it because I can take it into the tent and I wouldn't ever do that with fuel ones, to much risk of CO and fire...
We use a camp coffee percolator rather than a french press or other method. They're available at most camping or sporting good stores. Works fine over fire or camp stove.
We've cooked over campfire coals which works fine if you have a decent griddle for breakfasts or a grill for dinners. Camp stove and a small gas BBQ works better though.
We generally dry camp, meaning in areas without any facilities, no water, electricity or designated camp spots. That means we bring many water jugs.
For showers we stretch tarps around trees to make a private area, set a wood grate on ground to keep feet off mud, use small chair to set our clothes on, and a camp shower bag that we fill with heated water.
01-31-2012, 09:07 AM
Two things to add:
First, I love having a set of clips for the tablecloth. They're super-cheap, but really handy when it is windy. Also, I use them to flip the tablecloth over in half and clip it down over the plates/silver while I'm getting things ready. That way no leaves or needles fall onto them, but I don't have to get everything out at the last minute (we don't have a shelter for our table...yet).
Second, on the camp stove. We have the kind that has one burner and a grill. I love it! Every trip, we make foil dinners on it (works really, really well for that) in addition to grilling on it. Yum!
Thanks to OP for asking about this! We're going to be doing a cross-country trip this summer and we'll do some camping along the way, so paring the list down to essentials and making sure we have what we'll need are top priority. This thread has been really helpful! Now if I can just keep myself from hitting Gander Mountain and Bass Pro Shop and going broke buying fun stuff...:rotfl:
01-31-2012, 09:40 AM
I agree with clips for the tablecloth!
My DS13 is in Scouts and their sleeping bags are new with small stuff bags... this means you can't roll them up but rather you have to stuff them back in. Maybe your tent is like that.
If you have kids, take things for them and neighbor kids to play with. Remote control cars, water balloons, legos. We have had groups of kids at our camp site sometimes. The rule is no one can come in our camper and our son can not go in any other camper. You never know and they should stay safe.
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