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Where to Find Cheap Camping Gear

Are you looking forward to some camping trips in the coming months? The excitement of planning a trip is intoxicating, especially with an adventurous camping vacation. But if you don’t have the equipment, the costs can add up fast. If you need affordable camping equipment, there are plenty of great resources you can check out to find savings on camping essentials. Here are some of the best options for getting geared up for your trip.

Borrow From a Friend

Since it’s often first-time or beginner campers that don’t own their own equipment, the first resources you should look to for camping gear are friends and family. If you’re not sure whether you want to become a regular camper, borrowing is the most cost-effective way to figure out whether buying your own equipment is a smart investment. Ask around beforehand to find out who is willing to loan you equipment. Offer to arrange pickup and dropoff as a thank you for letting you borrow their gear. In addition to saving money, another bonus of using this method is that you can test out various camping equipment brands and styles to find out what you like before investing in your own.

Use Items From Home

Another avenue you can explore before buying camping gear is to bring items you already own from home. Many of today’s popular camping gear options can be replaced or supplemented with stuff you already have. For example, use your own comforters, pillows, blankets and sheets instead of a sleeping bag when temperatures aren’t expected to drop very low. You can even use a yoga mat instead of a sleeping pad. Meanwhile, you can use your own cookware, dishes and silverware rather than buying camping versions of those items. If you don’t want to risk losing or damaging your own, buy cheap versions from yard sales or a thrift store.

Yard Sales

When it comes to camping gear, yard sales are sure to be one of your best resources. Many people use these sales as an opportunity to unload their old camping gear. In many cases, the gear is still in great shape because it’s being sold by people who either (A) realized they barely used their camping equipment or (B) are experienced campers who took good care of their old stuff and are ready to upgrade to nicer equipment. It’s always a good idea to ask sellers if they are selling any camping equipment –they may consider selling items that they didn’t even put out for the sale.

Thrift Stores

Some thrift stores carry plenty of camping gear, while others carry none. You may need to make a few calls to local thrift shops to find out if camping gear is often available there. If you form good relationships with the staff, you may even be able to get them to alert you when new camping items become available. Always check for quality before you get excited about a deal – it’s important to inspect items for damage or overuse before making a thrift store purchase.


As always, Craigslist is one of the ultimate resources for reasonably priced used items, and that includes camping gear. Do your research, however, to make sure you’re getting a good deal. It’s always wise to compare the Craigslist price with the price for a new version of the item. Don’t be afraid to ask to see the equipment in person before you commit to buying, and make sure all the parts and pieces are included before handing over any cash. Of course, make sure you’re safe when picking up and purchasing items in person.


Like Craigslist, eBay is an incredible resource for affordable used camping gear. With this website, you should pay close attention to seller ratings to make sure you won’t get scammed. In addition, check out shipping costs before you bid – since camping items are often quite large, the shipping fees could add on a significant amount to the final cost.

Discount Websites and Stores

There are plenty of great websites that offer huge discounts on quality camping gear. These are excellent resources for those items that you prefer to buy new. Some of the most popular websites are GearTrade, Campmor and REI Outlet. You can also check out the discount sections at local sporting goods and camping supply stores, and sign up for newsletters that will alert you to special sales and promotions.


One of the lesser-known options for getting camping gear is renting. As with borrowing, this can be a great option for those who are trying out camping for the first time. For others, renting can be a good way to try out certain type of equipment before making an investment to buy their own. Either way, this isn’t a frugal option in the long-term, but it can be a smart solution for one or two trips.

Use these tips to be a savvy spender when it comes to getting your own camping gear.

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