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Camping Gear Cost

How Much Does Camping Gear Cost?

average costBackpacking Gear: $300-$2,200+high costCar Camping Gear: $300-$2,500
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Many people enjoy "getting away from it all" by eating, sleeping and relaxing outdoors. Going camping can vary from loading tents, sleeping bags and more into the family vehicle and unloading it all at an official campsite, to stuffing ultra-lightweight equipment into a pack and heading into the wilderness carrying everything on your back. Typically, backpacking gear needs to be both lightweight and durable, while for family car camping equipment the emphasis is on comfort and functionality.

Typical costs:

  • Expect to pay $300-$2,200 or more for one person for the basics needed to go backpacking -- a pack, a tarp or tent, a sleeping bag and pad, and possibly a stove to heat food and beverages. Total costs depend on the items selected, with higher prices for pieces that are both lightweight and durable. Backpacks start at $50-$60, but typically cost $90-$300 for a multi-day pack and $300-$800 or more for all-weather expedition-grade backpacks. Lightweight backpacking stoves start around $30-$60 but typically cost $70-$200. See How Much Does Backpacking Gear Cost.
  • Also called family camping, base camping or tent camping, car camping means everything is packed into a vehicle and doesn't have to be hauled long distances. Typical car camping equipment includes a tent, sleeping bags with pads and/or folding cots, a stove, a lantern and/or flashlights and an ice chest. A family of four might spend $300-$500 for entry-level gear, or as much as $1,000-$2,500 for high-end camping equipment. Tents start around $45-$180 but typically cost $200-$500 for a spacious cabin tent, or as much as $500-$1,200 for a "camping palace" that sleeps up to 12 people. One-burner propane stoves start at $20-$45; two-burners typically cost $30-$100; and three- and four-burner propane stoves can be $100-$300 or more. See How Much Does Car Camping Equipment Cost.
Related articles: Backpacking Equipment, Car Camping Equipment, Tent, Camp Stove

What should be included:
  • When car camping, in addition to the basic equipment people bring everything from trash bags and dish soap to binoculars and board games. Get Outdoors New England posts a list of potential items to take on a car camping trip[1] .
  • Backpacking requires planning ahead to have the right gear and enough food without hefting a heavy backpack. Some backpackers strive to pack as lightly as possible, using ultralight equipment. provides a sample packing list[2] for a typical backpacking trip, and posts a sample three-day backpacking menu[3] .
Additional costs:
  • Campground fees for car camping can cost $8-$50 a night, depending on location and the amenities provided -- Porta-Potties or flush toilets, a single cold water faucet to hot showers, electrical outlets or community facilities like a swimming pool or coin-operated laundry room. There may be additional fees of $5-$25 for parking more than one vehicle in a campsite.
  • For backpackers, many wilderness areas require a backcountry permit ($5-$25 or more) for anyone staying overnight. And prepackaged, lightweight backpacking food can cost $4-$15 for a meal for two; buying only prepared backpacking food can add up.
  • To try camping before investing in equipment, some sporting goods stores like the REI[4] chain will rent both car camping and backpacking gear, although the selection may be limited. Rental prices vary by location, the length of the rental and the quality of the equipment. At[5] , tents rent for $29-$55 a week; stoves rent for $9-$15 weekly; backpacks are $34-$39 weekly; and sleeping bags cost $20-$21 a week (plus UPS shipping costs from Arizona).
Shopping for camping gear:
  • Camping equipment is available from a variety of retailers, including big box stores like Walmart[6] and Target[7] ; sports stores like Dick's Sporting Goods[8] and REI[9] ; and online retailers like Amazon[10] .
  • Two major car camping equipment manufacturers are Coleman[11] and The North Face[12] . Manufacturers of backpacking equipment include Coleman[13] , Gregory[14] , Jansport[15] , Kelty[16] , Mountain Hardware[17] , The North Face[18] and Osprey Packs[19] .
  • Trailspace explains how to choose a backpack[20] and posts user reviews of backpacks[21] , tents[22] , sleeping bags and pads[23] and stoves and cookware[24] .
  • REI sporting goods lists tips for choosing a backpack[25] , backpacking tent[26] , backpacking sleeping bags[27] , car camping tent[28] and car camping sleeping bag[29] .
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