How Much Does It Cost To Go Camping In A Tent

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What is the best time of year to camp in a tent?

The best time of the year to go camping is early fall and late spring. This is because temperatures are cool enough that you don’t sweat yourself to death but not yet cold enough that you shiver all night. In the fall there is a lot of foliage to see and enjoy, plus you get two seasons in one trip with hikes up mountains at both daybreak and sundown.

During late spring it’s not too hot or wet, so you can pack light without worrying about getting all the stuff you need to stay warm or dry. The weather is good for hiking and exploring, with less chance of storms or heavy rain. And bugs are at a minimum.

Camping is also available during the summer but that is when most everyone else wants to do it so you should be prepared for large crowds and higher prices.

When people go camping, they want to be able to sleep outside and have a campfire.

There are some people who have never gone camping in a tent.

Because you don’t have much room or luxuries tent camping provides for a unique bonding experience with your friends or family.

Since this is your first-time tent camping you’re wondering how much it costs.

In this article we will look at the costs of tent camping in one of three ways:

  • One-time investments such as your camping gear such as tents and sleeping bags.

  • Campsite Fees

  • Money-saving tips

But first, let’s look at the costs of tent camping.

Costs of Tent Camping

I feel the need to write about the costs of tent camping because it’s such a great form of adventure and I want more people to experience it. Tent camping is becoming increasingly popular as more and more people are getting outdoorsy in their leisure time.

In particular, after a year of lockdowns. Plus there is no better way to practice social distancing than camping.

The costs of camping can be broken down into 3 primary types:

Your essential camping gear such as a tent and sleeping bag. This is a one-time investment that you can use over and over again for years to come. It’s a good idea to get the best gear you can afford at this point in your life because it will save you money in the long run.

The next cost is Campsite fees. These are variable and will depend upon where you are staying, whether it’s a national park, state park, or “free” places such as BLM Land or National Forests.

The third cost is camping food and other consumables such as firewood, propane for the camping stove, etc.

The last cost is your fuel costs to get to your campsite. However, for a weekend adventure, you are likely to stay close to home.

Let’s look at the first cost, your essential gear.

Essential Tent Camping Gear

The thing that you will need the most is a tent.

This is where you will be spending the majority of your time when camping.

Camping tents come in various designs and sizes. You will want a 3-season tent that is sized for at least 1 more person than will be sleeping in the tent.

We have an article about how to buy a tent here.

You might also want to get an air mattress or sleeping pad to help you stay comfortable during the night.

And of course, you will need a sleeping bag. You can read our guide for choosing sleeping bags here.

It’s also important to get headlamps so that you can see at night time!

All of this gear comes in various price ranges. You can start with cheap gear if you are not sure that camping is right for you, but it can pay off over time if you invest in higher quality camp gear if you enjoy camping.

You can borrow gear from friends or you can rent it too if you are just starting out.

Those are the basic essentials for tent camping. Of course, there are lots of other things that you might want to bring like chairs and tables and coolers and generators and such, but we will get into all of that in another article.

The next cost is the cost of your campsite.

Campsite Fees

Most campsites will require you to pay a campsite fee. State and National parks may also require you to pay an entrance fee. If live in a state with BLM land you can often camp for free at a dispersed site but it won’t have any facilities such as restrooms or trash bins.

National forests and grasslands may allow dispersed camping without an entrance fee but pay attention to rules around hunting season. I know the National Forests here in Texas, will require you to camp at designated spots in deer hunting season for your safety.

Otherwise, you can literally, just put your tent anywhere.

Read this to learn more about BLM camping.

Finally, you can look for private land on sites such as Hipcamp. This private land is often on unused pasture land on a family farm. The hosts often will give tours of the farm or even let you assist in the feeding of the animals.

Remember to book early because many of these places fill up quickly.

The next costs are our food and drinks and related consumables.

Camping Food, Drinks, And Propane

Cooking food while camping is usually the process of cooking over a propane stove.

With this, people have to make sure that they’ve got enough fuel on hand to keep their stove lit for cooking.

They also need to make sure that campers are careful with the use of fire as it is a dangerous thing in the forest.

While camping, you can bring along fresh meat or canned goods. It is also safe to bring along some dry food that you’ll be able to eat without reheating, like chips for snacking.

If you think canned tuna is boring, we have collected 101 recipes for canned tuna.

Or if you want more inspiration for fresh meals then check out our 101 lists of camping meals.

Camping drinks can be anything from soft drinks to alcohol.

Some children may enjoy the taste of hot chocolate while camping in cold weather, while adults might like a cooler and the taste of beer instead.

While camping, campfires can be fun for the atmosphere but most campers will usually cook over a propane stove because it’s more convenient than starting up a fire. Propane is also much easier to light and does not need constant supervision.

We will now look at the last variable cost, the cost to get to our campsite.

Travel Costs

Most campers in North America go camping within an hour of their house.

There are only a few places where you can be blessed enough to fly for camping, such as at the top of a tall mountain or in the hinterlands of Africa on a bucket list backpacking trip.

Perhaps you can be lucky like me and have a campsite that’s 20 minutes from your house.

If you’re willing to go the extra mile, you can save some money.

Save Money

Tent camping is an economical and fun way to spend a weekend.

One way to save money while tent camping is to borrow any necessary gear that you don’t already have.

You can also look for sales on the gear in the months before your trip.

With proper care, your tent camping equipment should last you for many years or even decades. If you stay local, consider reusing what you can from your own homes like pots and pans.

I love spending time with my family outdoors. We just recently went camping and it was a really fun experience.

There’s something about having a picnic by the water, roasting smores around the campfire, and waking up to stare at the stars that are both relaxing and exhilarating.

It’s not only a weekend getaway for parents - kids will have plenty of new things to do!

I think camping is such a fun way to relax with you’re family, enjoy time outside, eat delicious food, and make some memories! Try it out!

I have been camping since I was a kid in Boy Scouts. While there is an initial investment in basic gear, camping doesn’t have to be expensive, in particular, when you compare it to a hotel or even Airbnb stay.

Camping is an economical way for people to get a break from their busy lives. It also means that you won’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning and the air is so fresh. You should take camping gear with you when you go, like a tent and food.

I hope this article has given you an idea of what to expect when camping in a tent, and I’ve also given you some tips on how you can save money.

If you want to learn even more about camping then check out our Essential Outdoor Skills Course.