Good Camping Gear on a Budget

camping gear

Most top-of-the-line camping gear is loaded with luxuries and features that mimic the comforts of home. But unless you’re getting out every weekend or like to “glamp” (a glamorous version of camping), the latest and greatest technology isn’t a prerequisite to having a great time in the outdoors. In fact, there are more options now than ever for high-quality, affordable camping gear, so we’ve written this article to help point you in the right direction. From essentials like a camping tent and sleeping bag to kitchen items like a camping stove and cooler, below is our list of the best budget camping gear (which totals just over $350 at the time of publishing!). For a complete list of options, check out our detailed camping gear reviews. 

Camping Tent: Coleman Sundome 6 ($102)

Camping Gear

Many of the best camping tents retail for $400 or more, have near-vertical walls, and are constructed with high-end materials for reliable protection against bad weather. But the truth is that the majority of us venture out on clear summer nights and don’t need to spend up for extra features or full storm protection. For fair-weather campers, the Coleman Sundome 6 gets the job done, offering good privacy, protection from light to moderate rain, and a layer of separation between you and the bugs. Don’t expect premium quality here—the tent in general is made from inexpensive materials and the rainfly does not extend all the way down the sides. But for just $102 on Amazon at the time of publishing, the Sundome features a spacious 100 square feet of floor area, has good ventilation, and is surprisingly durable. It’s worth noting that you can get the smaller Sundome 4 for a little cheaper, but that tent offers considerably less interior space and we usually recommend sizing up. For a full list of options, see our article on the best camping tents.

Camping Sleeping Bag: Coleman Green Valley ($50)

Camping Gear

Unlike backpacking gear—where weight and packability are paramount—comfort is the name of the game for camping sleeping bags. The best models will be roomy (look for rectangular designs), feature soft fabrics, and come filled with ample insulation (usually synthetic fill) for warmth on cool nights. Our favorite budget model for 2021 is another Coleman offering: their synthetic Green Valley, which is rated to 30˚F and will keep you comfortable in most mild 3-season conditions. At only $50, you can expect cheaper materials and fill (you will probably want to add extra layers to stay warm as you approach the 40˚ mark), but it’s a steal considering most options in this category cost well over $100, with some premium down bags creeping into the $300+ range. For more options, see the best camping sleeping bags.

Camping Mattress: Alps Mountaineering Apex ($60)

If you’re like us, a key ingredient to quality night’s sleep is a good mattress. Top-end camping camping mats can cost upward of $200, but you can rest almost as easy on a model like the $60 Alps Mountaineering Apex. This foam-filled, 3-inch mat provides good warmth and a comfortable suede face fabric that is a big step up from the sticky plastic found on other budget mattresses. And like many of the top models, the Apex is self-inflating, meaning you won’t get dizzy trying to set up your bed. The bad news is that the “regular” version is only 20 inches wide, which is relatively narrow for a camping mattress, and 3 inches of padding is on the thin side. For all of our top picks, see our article on the best camping mattresses.

Camping Stove: Coleman Classic Propane ($44)

Premium camping stoves are made with heat output and flame control that can rival your home kitchen, but these models can cost you $150 or more. For the casual camp chef, the Coleman Classic Propane is a tried and true stove for just $44. The Classic is the bread-and-butter of camp stoves: it’s simple to operate and features two burners so you can boil water for coffee while flipping your pancakes. More expensive models will come with their own stand or a larger cooking surface (some even have three burners), but for simple camp cooking, the Coleman can be everything you need and nothing you don’t. For a complete list of options in this category, check out our article on the best camping stoves.

These are some good options to invest in.

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