Camping Gear on a Budget

12 May 2013

When you first go camping it can be really expensive to get all the gear you need, and the problem is you might hate it. If the sun is shining and the birds are chirruping there can be nothing better, but if a storm blows in on your first trip, chances are your tent and sleeping bags will be on eBay by Sunday night.
Here's how to give it a try without spending too much.

Camping Gear on a Budget
Borrow one from your camping buddies. The problem with borrowing camping gear is the state it might have been left in. A packet of crisps and couple of half eaten chocy bars left to fester in the inner tent over the winter months will not start the trip off well. But it's free.
If you haven't got any friends or you don't fancy the stinky inner tent, here's what I recommend. For a family of 4 I recommend either a five or six person tent. If you're feeling confident about your camping future, go for as big as you can afford, otherwise you can get a good weekender tent for less that £100.
Have a look at these:

Hi Gear Voyager Elite 6 Family Tent (Go Outdoors)
Vango Omega 600XL Touring Tent (OutdoorGear UK)
Freedom Trail Sendero 5 Family Tent (Go Outdoors)
Sleeping Gear
Since it's your first time camping, and it's probably summer, you can get away with just using you normal bed covers. The only thing is - you look a bit daft shoving your Thomas the Tank Engine Duvet into the tent. If you want to be more professional and not sneered at by your fellow campers who have all the gear, you should maybe get some sleeping bags. Any time between June and August in the UK and you could get away with a two season sleeping bag, but if you shiver like a Yorkshire Terrier in your house with the central heating on all night I'd go for a three-season bag and a jumper. These should do the trick:
Hi Gear Ridgeline Convertible Sleeping Bag (Go Outdoors)
Vango Wilderness 250S Sleeping Bag (Simply Hike)

For night time raid the bedroom and grab the following:

Thick socks, if your tootsies are warm it makes a big difference.
Warmest pyjamas
Old bed covers, not your Egyptian cotton ones, the ones you reserve for guests.
Sleeping Mats
If you don't get something to sleep on then you'll probably never go camping again. Those cheap foam mats are as comfortable as a concrete floor, so for first timers I recommend an air bed. You're going to need a double for the grownups and a couple of singles. If you get a good deal that'll be less than £50.
Take a single burner stove (Go Outdoors) and a four pack of butane gas canisters that'll keep you going for the weekend. Don't go crazy with the menu on your first outing, just cook some pasta or fry some sausages, no need to show off. A foldable barbeque (Go Outdoors) is always nice so you can burn the meat good and proper but they're not essential so I won't include in this price. A single burner stove with gas will cost about £25.
Cooking Gear
To begin with don't buy any camping pots and pans. They are useful because they are light and can be stored in a small space, but wait until you're sure you're going to like it before you splash out.

Raid the kitchen and grab the following:

A medium sized pan,
A frying pan,
A wooden spoon,
Some mugs,
Knives and forks,
Washing-up liquid, cloth and drying towel
Wash basin.
Matches in case your stove's automatic igniter packs in (and it might)

You will also need some sort of large water container. Buy one of those big square bottles of water from the supermarket that should do it. You'll be able to refill at the campsite. Cost: £5.
Forget about the camping chairs for the time being: just buy a cheap tarp for outside the tent and sit down on your pillow. A tarp will cost about a £10.

Hygiene Essentials
You should have the following items lying around:

Tooth brush
Tooth paste
Toilet Paper

If you don't have these items then you're a smelly pongster.
For the evening
At night you're going to need a lantern, a warm fleece and a scary story. Maybe a bottle of wine wouldn't be unreasonable. Battery operated lanterns you can get for about £10.
Finally, get a bag and shove some warm clothes in it and put on some boots that you don't mind getting muddy and you're ready to go.

Thanks for reading.

Ian Young

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