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Experience the Outdoors for Less: Great Deals on Camping Essentials
While camping is an affordable way to vacation, getting into the hobby requires a lot of expenses upfront. We’ve rounded up a list of the best deals on camping gear so you can explore the wilderness without draining your savings account.
Remember, you don’t need to get all the cheap camping essentials you can think of from the get-go. Instead, start with a quality budget camping set — like a tent, sleeping pad and portable grill — then build up your stash along the way.
To help send you off on your next outdoor adventure, we've rounded up good deals on all the camping gear you'll really need while out in the wilds:
Camping Combo Sets
Get the most bang for your buck by shopping deals on camping combo sets. While the included supplies might be a little less durable than what you'd get if you purchased them individually, the plus side is you get all the camping gear you’ll definitely need for one low price.
This Ozark Trail 22-Piece Camping Combo is on sale at Walmart for $99 (down from $149) and comes with the following:
- 1 4-person tent, 1 gear loft, 8 steel tent stakes
- 2 sleeping bags, 2 pillows, 2 foam sleeping pads
- 2 chairs
- 2 dry bags and 1 carry-all bag
- 1 lantern
If you're still figuring out how much you enjoy camping, combo sets are a good place to start. Once you're sure you are meant to be one with nature, you can slowly replace the pieces of your set you use the most with higher-quality items designed to last for years.
Your tent can make or break your camping trip. Don’t buy a tent based on the exact number of people you plan on camping with — sharing a three-person tent with two friends can feel more claustrophobic than you might anticipate.
If your budget allows, upgrade the size of your tent to give yourself plenty of room. This Coleman Weathermaster 10-person tent retails for $254.99 direct from Coleman, but we’ve seen deals on it for as low as $165 on Amazon. And if that's too much room, consider Coleman's Cimmaron 8-person modified dome tent, which is currently on sale for $95 at Walmart (down from $150).
Solo campers can pick up a Winterial 3-person backpacking tent for just $76.50 when they use the code WINTERIAL15 on the company's site. It retails for $90, so you'll be getting about a 15% discount.
Sleeping Bag, Pads and Pillows
If you want to wake up feeling rested and ready to explore, a good sleep setup is essential. Since you'll be coming into physical contact with this gear a lot, it's a good category to invest a little extra money in.
Opt for higher-quality sleeping bags like The North Face Wasatch 55° Sleeping Bag, which is 6% to 7% off at Dick's Sporting Goods.
Outdoors stores like REI regularly offer sales and coupons, so check back often (or set up a Deal Alert) to ensure you get the cheapest price on your preferred sleeping bag. The REI Outlet also has regular discounts on camping supply essentials. For example, the Mountain Hardwear HyperLamina Spark Sleeping Bag is 40% off its retail price.
Even in the softest sleeping bag, it's hard to forget you're laying on the ground. If you think you'll have a hard time getting cozy, it's a good idea to bring along an inflatable pad for extra comfort. The Klymit Self-Inflate V Sleeping Pad is currently 25% off MSRP, making it $59.73. Finally, an inflatable camping pillow can help make your nighttime better and Amazon has several highly-rated styles for several under $20.
Weather can be all over the place when you're camping, especially if you're planning on staying in higher altitudes. Look for multi-weather jackets that aren't too bulky to pack but will still keep you warm and dry.
The North Face is a quality brand that will last you many camping trips. While it typically runs a premium price, you can often grab discounted North Face clothing when the new season's styles are released.
Outdoor retailor Backcountry has several favorite camping and hiking brands on sale. The North Face Fanorak Windbreaker is only $50 (down from $79) and will protect you from harsh wind, rain and cold. For women, the North Face Alkali Tri Jacket is a three-in-one jacket for all-weather scenarios on sale for $125 (originally $279).
Backpacks and Bags
If you're going to carry everything you need to camp, you'll need a reliable bag — especially if you plan on hiking to your campsite. Since camping bags and backpacks come in a variety of sizes, it's a good idea to figure out what you really need your backpack for and start shopping from there.
For example, if you're planning on backpacking with all your gear, a lightweight bag that can accommodate all your supplies is essential. Look for something like this Granite Gear Crown VC 60 Pack from the REI Outlet, which is currently $119.73, a savings of 40%.
However, if you're not planning on lugging your bag up a mountain, you may want to opt for a slightly larger waterproof sack with plenty of room for everything you'll need. The North Face Antarctica Edition 71L Base Camp Duffel is on sale for $85 (regular price $145). It offers the room and organizational pockets of a duffel bag but can be worn comfortably as a backpack for easy transport across short distances.
There are two important qualities to look for when it comes to a camp grill: it needs to be durable and you need to be able to cook more than one thing at a time. The Marsh Allen Cast Iron Hibachi Grill fits that bill and is also extremely affordable at $29.99.
According to Slickdealer comparable grills sell at Walmart for $38, so even full price at Ace Hardware is arguably pretty reasonable. Pro tip: test your grill out at home before your camping trip.
For heavy-duty cooking, the Camp Chef Tundra 3 Burner Stove retails for $199.99 but has been spotted for under $140 in-store at Costco.
Look for a cooler that will keep food cold for several days. Even if you're only camping for a day or two, a larger cooler will ensure you have enough room for ice, perishable foods and a few sodas or beers.
The Coleman Xtreme 150 Qt Cooler keeps food cold for six days and is just under $60. Past models have gone on sale for $61 to $68 in the last two years, so this is a solid price.
Headlamps, Lanterns and Flashlights
When you are miles away from electricity, you don’t want to be dependent on a single light source. A headlamp is a good choice for hands-free lighting, while a lantern offers a lot of soft light in one area.
You can pick up three Life+Gear 600 lumen COB LED Lanterns for just $30.98 so you don't have to leave any part of your campsite in the dark. To access the deal, add all three lanterns to your cart (this gives you $19.99 off) then enter the code SUMMER when checking out for an additional 15% discount.
A sturdy flashlight is also a must-have. While it's good to have a few, make sure at least one is waterproof, has different light settings and can be used as a weapon if needed. The NITECORE Waterproof Flashlight is highly-rated and can regularly be found for over 28% off its retail price on sites like Amazon.
Pastimes and Entertainment
Because looking at trees all day can get boring, right?
Items like kayaks, fishing gear, mountain bikes and water tubes can help you turn up the fun on your trip. While these toys aren’t necessary, why not snag one if you see a great deal? This 2-Person Inflatable Kayak from Intex Challenger retails for over $213 but can be found on sale for less than $85.
Slickdealer nkutke262 says, "I paid this exact price back in November 2016. Mine is still going strong," so you can be sure you're getting a good deal and a sturdy product.
Once you have the essentials, you can start keeping an eye out for secondary items like pavilion tents, collapsible furniture or a portable fire pit. To ensure you get the best prices on whatever you're dreaming about, set up some Deal Alerts and get notified when a related camping gear offer pops up on the forum.
Check out the top outdoors deal from our Frontpage for more ways to save on camping necessities:
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Any product or service prices/offers that appear in this article are accurate at time of publish, and are subject to change without notice. Please verify the actual selling price and offer details on the merchant’s site before making a purchase.