Camping is a wonderful hobby that can be enjoyed with the entire family. Unfortunately, if you’re first starting, it’s also an expensive hobby. Just use what you have! Here’s some tips from Liz about how you can use what you already have to get a taste of camping before you spend money on special equipment.
Beginning Campers: Use What You Have
Camping gear includes tents, sleeping bags, grills, and more! If you’ve thought about taking your first camping trip or are just curious about the hobby, the price tags can be a huge deterrent. Don’t let the expense frighten you from discovering a great activity, though! If you just want to test the camping waters, you probably already have everything you need in your home.
State parks, national parks, state forests and national forests typically have pay-to-stay campgrounds. The average cost is around $25 a night. While not expensive when compared to the cost of staying in a hotel or motel, it is certainly more expensive than staying at home. If this is over your budget, there is no reason you need to stay at an official campground! The price of these sites is because of the amenities: bathrooms, showers, grills, picnic benches. Staying at a site without these comforts won’t take away from your camping experience. To find another site, buy a guide of local trails with clearings on the paths. Look for ones with parking near the trailhead so you can be close enough to your car that you do not need a camping backpack to carry your gear.
It isn’t necessary to have a spacious, rainproof, well-vented tent to sleep well. With the help of some string and two large nails or stakes, that old tarp that has been lying unused in your garage can provide you with the exact same benefits. At your campsite, find two trees near the cleared space. Tie the tarp tautly between the two trees. Stake the other end; if you didn’t bring stakes or nails, sticks that can be driven into the ground also work. You should now have a very inexpensive lean-to shelter that will keep you dry and covered all night!
If you’re camping in extreme weather, then an actual sleeping bag is necessary. However, if this is your first time camping, chances are that you are going in nice weather and won’t be fearful of snowstorms or freezing temperatures. For your first trip, any sleeping bag you have in the house will do; it doesn’t matter if it’s a huge, cotton bag that you’ve had since middle school. If you don’t have any sleeping bags in the house, a flannel blanket or cotton quilt will keep you warm and cozy under the stars.
Having a sleepless night will ruin a camping trip, so being comfortable on the hard ground is smart. Fancy, inflatable thermal sleeping pads aren’t the only things that can get this job done. Simple foam sleeping pads are inexpensive and cushy enough to protect your back from the rocky ground. However, even a sleeping bag isn’t necessary! An old, thick blanket is a great cushion when folded over on itself! Just test it out at home first, so you know you’ll sleep comfortably.
Liz Childers writes about camping stoves for Camping Gear Outlet and picnic backpacks for Picnic World.