Camping has a huge up-front cost, but once you’ve got what you need, it’s dirt cheap.
Plus, it can be hard to know where to start. Where should I buy a sleeping bag? What about camping gear for kids?
Think of camping like an investment, and plan to save loads of money on camping supplies when you use these tips and tricks!
1. Shop Costco or Sportsman’s Warehouse for oversized flannel sleeping bags.
If you’re only doing summer camping, a 30-40 degree Coleman sleeping bag from Walmart might do the trick ($28.81).
But if you think you may be camping in the desert or during cooler temps, you’ll need something warmer.
Look for oversized, flannel sleeping bags that’ll keep you warm in 0 degree weather at Costco ($59.99) or on sale at Sportsman’s Warehouse ($69.99). Compare these prices to a similar sleeping bag at Cabela’s ($129.99).
2. Aim to save at least 50% on tents.
You can do this two ways. First, by shopping DICK’S Sporting Goods from April-June. Markdowns start around 25% off and reach as much as 50% off in early June.
For example, in May we saw a 4-person Coleman tent on sale for $39.98 (reg. $89.99).
Or you can shop Amazon for up to 50% savings on tents.
3. Consider getting two smaller tents instead of a large one to save money.
If your camping spot has the space, you can save money this way.
Case in point: the Coleman Sundome tent. When comparing prices on different sizes of this tent, I found that it was actually cheaper by $10.00 to buy two 3-person tents than one 6-person tent.
4. If you need a large tent (sleeps 10+), go with Walmart’s Ozark brand.
It may not last as long as a tent made by a well-known brand, but you’ll save almost $95, which you can use to buy other camping supplies.
5. Check for a discounted gift card from Raise before you make a purchase.
Raise gift cards save you a percentage of money up front because you’re paying less money and getting the full value of a gift card.
For example, you might pay $90.50 for a $100.00 Cabela’s gift card.
Also look for sister companies that take gift cards interchangeably like Field & Stream to use at DICK’S Sporting Goods or Bass Pro Shops to use at Cabela’s.
- Field & Stream: 10.1% off
- Cabela’s: 10% off
- Bass Pro Shops: 9% off
- DICK’S Sporting Goods: 7.5% off
- Sportsman’s Warehouse: 7.4% off
- REI: 2.2% off
6. Get kids’ Wise Owl Outfitters hammocks on Amazon for $19.99.
Amazon sells Wise Owl Outfitters hammocks for $10 less than its nearest competitor.
I’m not saying this is a camping necessity, but it might keep small children entertained.
TIP: If you’re planning to do a lot of camping in the future, but you don’t want to spend the money on this now, consider getting one for your kids at Christmas.
7. Buy batteries on Amazon and save $0.63 per battery.
AmazonBasics is Amazon’s in-house brand, and their batteries are just as good as Energizer or Duracell — they’re rated 4.5 stars out of 5 with over 2,600 reviews.
The batteries come in all sizes, but with air mattresses to inflate and lanterns to keep lit, you’ll probably need a lot of size C.
There are tons of generic products you can find for dirt cheap on Amazon.
8. Aim to pay $15 or less on kids’ sleeping bags.
When it comes to kids’ sleeping bags, you can find something that works well at Walmart.
Since you’ll likely be buying a youth size, I recommend you don’t spend too much; they’ll likely outgrow it after a few summers of use.
Look to pay $15.00 or less on Ozark youth sleeping bags at Walmart. In fact, later in the summer look for them to hit $5.00 on clearance.
9. Earn points through DICK’S Sporting Goods loyalty program to spend on camping gear.
DICK’S Sporting Goods has a great loyalty program with 3.3% cash back.
You’ll earn one point for every dollar you spend and then when you reach 300 points, you’ll receive a $10 reward to spend.
So think of all of those soccer cleats, baseball mitts and various sports balls you’ve bought this year as money toward your new camping gear.
10. Cabelas.com has better prices than in store at Cabela’s.
Overall, clearance is more plentiful online, but the good news is you can ask Cabela’s to give you the cheaper online price when you’re shopping in the store.
11. Shop DICK’S Sporting Goods and Cabela’s online through Ibotta for 5% off.
If you’re shopping online, initiating your purchase through the Ibotta app is an easy way to save an extra 5% on top of other direct store coupons or discounts.
12. Buy REI Outlet backpacks and save up to 50%.
Shopping for backpacks for a hiking trip? Check online REI Outlet prices, because you can often find a backpack for up to 50% less than regular REI offerings.
Or buy a backpack during REI’s Anniversary Sale in late May to save 30%.
13. Use coupons to buy hot dogs, hamburgers, buns and s’mores fixings.
You can save a ton of money using manufacturer coupons on items you need for camping.
Download the Krazy Coupon Lady app and we will tell you when we find deals on camping food. Or find coupons right now for these items:
14. Buy dehydrated meals for backpacking in bulk from Amazon.
You’ll save around $2.60 per pouch when you buy dehydrated meals in bulk from Amazon.
15. Price match at DICK’S Sporting Goods to get the lowest price.
The key to a strong price-matching game is using an app like ShopSavvy to compare prices.
Scan a barcode for an item you like at DICK’S Sporting Goods using ShopSavvy to find out where it’s cheapest. Then take that information to customer service and ask for the competitor’s lower price.
16. Buy a 2-burner propane stove from Walmart.
Unless you plan to roast hot dogs for every meal, you’ll want a camp stove.
Walmart has the best price on the Coleman Classic 2-burner stove by over $11.00.
Or spring for Walmart’s store brand version, Ozark, for only $29.83. Either way, it’s Walmart.
17. If camping is a one-time deal for you, consider renting.
REI offers rentals on camping and hiking gear in certain stores, and local universities often rent this type of gear as well.
If you’re not ready to put a ring on it when it comes to camping, renting is a good way to try it out and see if it’s something you want to invest in.