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Thrifty Camping Ideas to Keep You on a Budget!

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A camping adventure does not have to break the bank, and with thrifty camping becoming an increasingly popular trend, you are in the right place to start your journey. Whether you are a seasoned camper on a budget or a beginner looking to immerse yourself in the great outdoors without emptying your wallet, understanding the must-have gear for thrifty camping is essential.

In this guide, we will share information on a handpicked selection of cost-effective, reliable, and cheap camping supplies that promise to enhance your experience while keeping your finances in check. Additionally, from compact sleeping bags to multi-functional tools, we have got you covered with practical and affordable options that do not compromise on quality.

A camping adventure does not have to break the bank, and with thrifty camping becoming an increasingly popular trend, you are in the right place to start your journey.


Tips for How to Camp on a Budget


Tips for How to Camp on a Budget



You can rent camping essentials.

Thrifty camping is possible by renting outdoor equipment. This is a cost-effective strategy for getting camping essentials on a budget, especially if you are not a frequent camper or are trying out new gear before buying.

This approach not only saves money but also offers the chance to use high-quality, well-maintained equipment without the commitment of a purchase. To start, research reputable rental shops or online platforms specializing in budget camping essentials. Compare prices, read reviews, and check the condition of the equipment upon collection. Do not forget to inquire about rental policies, including deposit fees and return conditions. Some of the essentials you can rent are:


renting store




Sleeping bags and packs


Cooking gear


Camping furniture


Navigation tools




Outdoor clothing


Climbing gear


You can buy second-hand, affordable camping gear.

Outdoor activities like camping are the best way to boost your energy and change your mood. However, if you have a limited budget and renting is not a comfortable option, you can buy second-hand essentials. Even though there are stores for used gear, you can check platforms or social media groups for high-quality and economical outdoor equipment. Some of the places you can get your essentials for thrifty camping are:


second-hand camping gear


Outdoor consignment shops


Thrift stores (e.g., Goodwill, Salvation Army)


Online marketplaces (e.g., eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree)


Specialized Online Stores (e.g., REI’s Used Gear, GearTrade)


Garage Sales and Flea Markets


Outdoor Forums and Community Boards


Sales at Sports and Outdoor Retailers (e.g., REI, Bass Pro Shops)


You can plan your meals ahead.

Camping food on a budget can only be possible if you plan your meals before you go camping. Here are some tips for thrifty camping with on-budget food.


cooking noodle on a portable stove


You can cook rice, pasta, or chili at home before going to camp.


You can get foil packets to cook your food on a campfire.


For breakfasts, you can prepare oatmeal with dried fruits.


To boost your energy, you can take some snacks, such as nuts and seeds.


You can stock canned beans, tuna, or hard cheeses that will not perish easily.


You can choose the camping area wisely.

Saving money is possible when you choose your equipment or your meals. But what is also important is the place where you will stay while camping. Some of the places that you can go thrifty camping can be summarized as below:


camping facility


To camp on a budget, you can choose facilities that are minimal. Because these facilities cannot offer a modern and multi-optional camping experience.


You can steer clear of national holidays when camping facilities increase their prices due to high demand.


You can camp during shoulder seasons (spring and fall), when rates at bigger campgrounds are typically lower.


You can look for stunning yet free camping spots outside national parks to avoid entry fees.


You can consider free camping in the wilderness, such as stealth camping in forests or wild camping in the hills, for a truly cost-free adventure.



You can consider your travel costs.

Thrifty camping tips and gear, food ideas, places for camping, and many others are shared with you. But it would help if you also considered your travel costs to stay on budget.


a hitchiker


You can explore camping destinations close to home to reduce travel time and fuel costs.


You can fill your tank at a cheaper gas station before heading to remote areas where fuel prices are higher. In addition, you can use apps like GasBuddy to find the best fuel deals along your route.


You can share a ride with fellow campers to split fuel costs and reduce individual expenses.


You can look into buses or trains that go near your camping destination to save on gas and reduce your carbon footprint.


For the most adventurous and budget-conscious, hitchhiking can be an exciting way to reach your camping spot.

You can check out other thrifty camping ideas.

You may go camping for a few days or longer. Regardless of its duration, you should create a well-organized camping plan so that you can consider your budget. We are sure that when you arrive at the camping facility, you will create your own tips to stay on budget. But before going, you should consider every possibility.


chemex coffee


You can utilize everyday items creatively for camping needs. For example, a water bottle can double as a lantern with a headlamp, or use a shoe organizer for easy campsite organization.


You can create wish lists for birthdays or holidays and focus on camping gear you desire but do not want to purchase yourself.


You can set aside a small amount of money regularly for camping gear. This fund can be used for special purchases or to cover camping-related expenses like park fees.


You should avoid buying overpriced items at campground stores by packing essentials. For example,  sunscreen, bug spray, and condiments can be some of these essentials. A checklist can help ensure you do not forget anything important.


You can prepare and pack meals that are easy to cook and require minimal ingredients to save on food costs.


Before throwing away old items, you can consider if they can be repurposed for camping – old towels for cleaning, containers for storage, etc.


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