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Family Camping Bargains You Should Know About

This section is dedicated to bargains for you and your family to use while camping.  I will reveal different ways that you can camp for next to nothing and in some places, for FREE!  I will show you where to get new, quality, name- brand camping equipment for a good price and in some cases up to 50% of the cost.

Equipment Bargain Shopping
There are bargains around everywhere in the camping industry from retail stores to large department/wholesale stores and on the Internet.  I will give you some tips on where and when to look for bargains for your family camping needs.

First of all, buy camping gear like you would buy anything else - shop around.  Go to a sporting goods store and browse the camping section.  I do it often, just to see what’s new!  Go to Target and other large department stores and see what they have.  They are usually pretty inexpensive, but not a great selection.  I have even found that Wal-Mart carries a pretty good selection and is always well priced for budget-minded shoppers.

Also, check newspapers and sales flyers that clutter your mailbox from local sporting goods stores to see what’s on sale.  Typically when the camping season slows down in the fall, most of the sales start.  I’m already looking for camping equipment for next season. 

Join a club that gives discounts or rebates on top of their normally discounted price.  A good example of that is REI.  I’m an REI Member of their co-op that gives me up to 10% rebate on any equipment I purchase!  They have retail stores as well as an Internet store.  For campers anywhere in the world, your best choice is to use the Internet store.  Additionally, they have a discount site, that offers savings of 30–60% on top-brand gear.

Large retail chains and sporting good stores change their displays as the seasons change.  So, in the summer they may have a tent erected and on display for customers to walk around, sit inside, etc.  When winter comes they will probably replace that tent with snowboarding gear or skis.  What do they do with the tent?  It’s considered a “demo” unit or “floor model” and will sell for a highly discounted price!  So don’t be shy, ask the store manager about buying these special items from the floor of the store.

Lastly, there are bargains to be found at Army and Navy Surplus stores.  This equipment is used and certified by the U.S. government and is typically in good shape, if not new, and will sell for 30-45% below retail.  These stores also have different equipment than you will find at the local sporting goods store.  For instance, I found a small fold-up camping shovel there, that I couldn’t find anywhere else.  So, for those hard to get items, check out the Surplus stores. 

Equipment Rentals
There are a number of sporting goods stores that will rent camping gear to you for a couple of days or more.  Check with your local stores to see if they offer this.  For campers just starting out, this is an ideal way to get your “feet wet” without spending a lot of money.  You can also decide if certain gear like a tent or sleeping bag is right for you before you purchase it AND if you ask the manager, he/she will most likely apply a portion of the rental fee you paid towards the purchase of the equipment.  But, you gotta ask!

Bargain Campsites
Typically most state, provincial and national parks charge a fee of $15-20 per night during the camping season.  However, on the off-season, these same parks will lower their rates 25-50%.  So, just after Labor Day, when the kids are back at school, is a good time to find those bargains.  The sites are less crowded too!

Do a Google search of the campsites in your state, province or country to see if there are any free sites available.  Caution:  Free campgrounds typically have no amenities such as water, toilets, etc.  I would only do this type of camping with the Scouts, not with the family.

Like all bargains, they are constantly changing.  So, to keep up with the ever-changing bargains, deals and discounts, subscribe to my Newsletter at


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