You need to know the secrets to finding cheap camping gear if you like to camp or backpack. The up-front cost for summer outdoor adventuring can be a lot, but once you’ve got what you need, it’s dirt cheap.
Still, it can be hard to know what’s a good price for things like camping gear for kids, or how to find cheap camping gear, and more.
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 sleeping bags.
If you’re only doing summer camping, a 40 degree Coleman sleeping bag from Walmart might do the trick ($35.99). If you think you may be camping in the desert or during cooler temps, you’ll need something warmer.
2. Aim to save at least 30 – 60% on tents.
Walmart, Target, Amazon, and DICK’S Sporting Goods all offer tents for half price at different times of the year. In 2021, Walmart marked tents down by 60% after Christmas.
At the end of summer 2021 (early September), Target marked tents down 30%. Amazon’s tents were dirt cheap from June – July.
3. Consider getting two smaller tents instead of a large one to save money.
Think outside the box when it comes to tents. If you find 3-person tents on sale, but you need a 5- or 6- person tent, and those are full price, why not buy two 3-person tents instead?
I’ve found that in general, it’s nice to have two tents as long as our camping site has the space.
Here’s a real-world example: the Coleman Sundome Tent on Amazon is currently offering a 2-person tent for $35.49 and a 4-person tent for $79. You’d save $8 if you bought two 2-person tents instead of a 4-person tent.
4. If you need a large tent (sleeps 10+), go with Walmart’s Ozark brand.
It may not be as durable as a tent made by a well-known brand that REI sells, but you’ll save $70, which you can use to buy other camping supplies. By the time you need to replace it, you’ll know if your family enjoys camping enough to invest in a more expensive tent.
5. Check out discount outdoor gear stores like Sierra and Backcountry.com.
Online stores like Sierra.com and Backcountry.com sell cheap camping gear because a lot of it is past season. Look for promotions like “Get 15% off your first Backcountry.com order when you sign up for emails” in order to save even more money.
6. 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 $31.47 for a $35 Cabela’s gift card.
Also look for sister companies that take gift cards interchangeably. This is helpful to get more savings, and in the event Raise is out of stock of one store’s gift card. Buy a Field & Stream gift card to use at DICK’S Sporting Goods, or a Bass Pro Shops gift card to use at Cabela’s.
- DICK’S Sporting Goods: 11.1% off
- Field & Stream: 10.1% off
- Bass Pro Shops: 7.5% off
- Cabela’s: 7.2% off
- Sportsman’s Warehouse: 5.1% off
- REI: 3% off
7. Buy cheap camping gear for kids (like mini lanterns and hammocks) on Amazon.
I’m not saying a hammock is a necessity, but it’ll probably keep your kids entertained. Maybe they’ll even take a nap! Fingers crossed.
8. Buy batteries on Amazon and save $0.87 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 100,000 reviews.
Of course, 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.
9. Aim to pay $20 or less on kids’ sleeping bags.
You don’t want to spend a lot of money on camping gear for kids, especially sleeping bags. Why? They’ll outgrow bags so quickly. In theory, you could buy them an adult-size bag, but they may get cold with all that extra space at the feet. Solution? Cheap sleeping bags.
Sierra is a great spot to shop for cheap kids sleeping bags as you can find them year-round for $19.99.
If you’re shopping in the off-season (winter), watch for Walmart’s Ozark Trail kids sleeping bags to reach less than $10 in stores.
10. Earn points through DICK’S Sporting Goods loyalty program to spend on cheap 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.
11. Cabela’s may not always have cheap camping gear, but they’ll price match competitors.
Cabela’s will match a lower advertised price from a competitor store with a physical store within 100 miles — and even some online competitors like DICK’S Sporting Goods, L.L. Bean, and REI — within 30 days of purchase.
And better yet, they’ll give you an additional 5% savings on top of your price match if you’re a Cabela’s CLUB member.
DICK’S Sporting Goods has a price match policy too.
12. Shop DICK’S Sporting Goods and Cabela’s online through Ibotta for up to 3% off.
If you’re shopping online, initiating your purchase through the Ibotta app is an easy way to save extra money on top of other direct store coupons or discounts.
13. Buy REI Co-Op backpacks and save up to 50%.
Shopping for backpacks for a hiking trip? Check REI.com prices, because you can often find a backpack for up to 50% less than regular in-store REI offerings.
Or buy a backpack during REI’s Anniversary Sale in mid-May to save 30%.
14. Use coupons to buy hot dogs and other camping food.
You can save a ton of money using manufacturer coupons on items you need for camping.
Download the Krazy Coupon Lady app and we’ll tell you when we find deals on camping food. Or find coupons right now for these items:
15. Buy hiking gear — like dehydrated meals — from Costco.
Costco doesn’t always carry the big box of Mountain House pouches, but they usually do during late winter and again at the start of summer. Also, just because they’re out at Costco.com doesn’t mean they don’t have them in the store.
This is the best deal I know of on this brand of dehydrated meals. Check out the savings compared to Amazon
Mountain House Dehydrated Hiking and Backpacking Food
16. Buy a Coleman 2-burner propane stove from Sierra.
Unless you plan to roast hot dogs for every meal, you’ll want a camp stove.
Sierra has the best price on the Coleman Classic 2-burner stove. In fact, you’ll pay about the same price you’d pay at Walmart for a store-brand stove (Ozark 2-burner camp stove).
17. If camping is a one-time deal for you, rent camping gear.
REI offers rentals on camping and hiking gear in certain stores. Local universities often rent this type of gear as well.
You can also rent camping gear at DICK’S Sporting Goods. Lots of options, so 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.
18. Shop for used camping gear in your city.
In my city there are three or four used outdoor gear spots, and over the years I’ve scored a $300 down coat for $50, $100 snowshoes for $25, a $300 inflatable kayak for $120, and more.
It’s always worth swinging through these small local shops to see what discount outdoor gear you can find. Conversely, when your kids outgrow something, or you’re ready to upgrade, sell your outdoor and camping gear to make an extra buck.