How much does camping cost? Depending on how much you’re willing to spend on gear and how much gear you want, camping can cost anywhere between $150 – $1,500.
Remember that camping does cost more the first time since you need to buy a bunch of gear, but every time after that it’ll be much cheaper.
In this article, I’m going to cover all sorts of things such as the tent, food, campground costs, and more. Naturally, prices vary all over the country, but I’m going to do my best to give a general, average cost of camping.
Tents come in many different sizes and the larger it is, the more expensive it becomes. Bigger tents also tend to have more features to them.
A good tent for anyone is a three-season, four-person. Three-season tents are more versatile and can handle some rain, so that you don’t have to worry about the weather, and they are spacious enough so that even if you’re just two people you can enjoy the camping trip. A tent like I’ve described can cost from $50 to $100, depending on the quality.
If you’re looking for something that is even more lightweight, more durable, and easier to assemble then it’ll cost upward of $100.
In warm conditions, you don’t need to buy any sort of bedding and can just take some blankets and pillows from home which costs nothing.
Otherwise, sleeping bags can cost anywhere between $20 and $75, to which you may also want a sleeping pad to place underneath for some extra comfort. Plus, they provide even more insulation on cold nights. These are slightly more expensive as a basic one costs about $30 and a thicker, more durable one costs $100 and up.
Air mattresses are even more expensive; the average queen sized one costs between $100 and $200.
You’re going to need a source of light for when it gets dark. Most people already have a simple flashlight at home and that will do just fine for basic camping trips. If you don’t already own one, they only cost around $10, just make sure you have spare batteries on you.
Headlamps are also really great as they let you use your hands; handy for late night cooking or reading. These are pricier though, as expected, costing around $40.
For about $50 or so, you could get a hand crank lantern, no batteries needed and it can be charged with or without electricity. Otherwise, if you’d like something more eco-friendly, there are solar-powered flashlights that range from under $20 to over $200. The price differs so much because it depends on the brightness. Check out the best camping flashlights.
To save up on money, you can bring pots and pans from home and just use those to cook over your campfire. You would just need to buy firewood and matches which would cost about $6.
If you’re willing to spend more money, a propane-fueled, two-burner camp stove will cook food and boil water much quicker and easier. These can cost around $80.
For those of you who have an RV, renting a kitchen kit costs around $100.
We may as well include cooler costs here, as they are necessary to keep food and drinks cold. Cheap coolers are made of Styrofoam, which aren’t as durable, but they cost less than $10, whereas more long-lasting mid-range coolers can cost around $20. Check out the best camping coolers here.
The best of the best; top brand coolers, cost hundreds but they are wildlife-proof and can keep ice from melting for a week.
The most cost-effective method is to take up fishing and catch your own food from a nearby river. This doesn’t cost anything, as long as you’ve already got the necessary gear and a fishing license is not required.
Not many people like to take the primitive route, which is understandable, so the next best affordable option is to get some freeze-dried backpacking meals, which can cost around $10 a meal.
For those who aren’t concerned with budgeting, you can eat at a restaurant that can be found at camp lodges. These places often cost $50 per person, give or take.
Campgrounds can cost anywhere from $12 to $45 for a night, depending on whether it’s a primitive site that just has a fire pit or one with full utilities. Moreover, some sites charge you per night as a group, whereas others have a base fee that is up to 6-10 people and then charge additionally per person after that.
Regular, non-electric campsites for tents on public land are the most affordable; around $20 for a night.
When camping at state parks, some may require that you purchase an annual park pass to enter, depending on the state. These passes can cost from $30 to $80.
Standard electric campsites, which can accommodate a small tent with electricity to charge phones and/or blow up an air mattress, cost around $26 for a night. The price is usually higher on weekends.
RV campsites cost anywhere between $25 and $80 per night, depending on certain things like the location and the size of the space.
To give you some campground average prices, and to show you just how much prices can fluctuate, let’s take a look at a couple of different states and their prices:
- Florida: between $65-$85 in winter, $90-$120 in spring, $97-$126 in summer, and $67-$90 in autumn
- Utah: For a back-in standard, $35-$50 in winter, $60 in summer, and $50 in autumn
- Maine: $60-$100 with visitor fees ($3), additional adult fees ($5), additional child fees ($3), and additional vehicle fees ($5)
- Idaho: $37 year-round with additional visitor fees ($6) and additional vehicle fees ($8)
- Texas: $162-$255 year-round
- Michigan: For premium sites, $55 in the spring and fall, $60 during the summer, and $65 during the holiday season
- Oregon: $64-$80 in summer, $54-$69 in spring, $44-$59 in winter
- Montana: $60-$100 in spring and autumn, $90-$225 in summer
- Pennsylvania: $10-$38 year-round
- Arizona: $41 in winter (November 1st through April 1st) with a 50-amp full hookup and $56 in summer (April 1st through November 1st) with a 50-amp full hookup
- Alabama: $40 year-round, with an additional $40 for monthly RV storage if desired
From here onwards, these options are extra.
You may want a foldable camping chair so that you can sit back and relax. Relatively cheap ones cost about $20 and slightly more comfortable and larger ones have prices of $80 on average. Then there are the more luxurious, high-tech ones which are still lightweight and portable that cost over $200.
Not sure what to do on your camping trip besides hang around a campfire? Well, you can go for a hike which is free. Ranger-led hikes (and other similar programs) tend to be free as well and they are a great way to learn about the local environment.
However, if you fancy spending a bit of money to do something more exciting; there might be water rafting or zip lining close to wherever you’ve set up camp. This is something you should research beforehand if you’re really interested. These kinds of activities can cost $40 per person, but this can vary from one place to the next.
Every camper should be prepared for absolutely anything and weather can change drastically within a matter of minutes. Plus, if you plan on camping regularly, you’re bound to encounter some bad weather at least once.
Your tent should come with a sufficient rainfly that offers enough protection in rain, but you should also have some water-resistant clothing to protect yourself. Slip-over ponchos cost somewhere around $12, and a decent rain jacket with matching waterproof pants start from $20 to $70.
So, with minimal spending, you can expect the average cost of a camping trip to be somewhere between $100-$200, and then the ‘second level’ with moderate spending is around $500, and lastly luxurious camping costs between $1,000-$2,000.
What you need to keep in mind is that a lot of the things you buy for camping are things that you can continue using for a long time like a tent, a decent backpack, illumination, a foldable chair, a cooler, etc. Hence, it goes without saying that spending money on camping gear is definitely an investment.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the average cost of a campsite?
Regular, non-electric campsites for tents on public land costs around $20 a night and $40 for two nights. Keep in mind that camping at state parks may require an annual park pass for entry, but this depends on the state. A standard electric campsite that accommodates a small tent with enough electricity to charge phones and blow up an air mattress costs $26 for a night and $52 for two nights.
RV campsites can cost anywhere between $25 and $80 per night, depending on certain things like the location and the size of the space.
What is the cheapest way to camp?
The absolute cheapest way to camp is to get yourself a small, low-priced tent, catch your own dinner by fishing if possible, and only partake in free activities such as hiking during your camping trip. You should bring along a lot of things from home as well, such as pots and pans to cook in and pillows and blankets for sleeping.
Is Camping an expensive hobby?
No, camping costs do not need to be expensive. To start with you do need to invest some money in camping gear like a tent, illumination, a sleeping pad or bag, and so on but these are things that will last a long time. Once you have the necessary gear, other expenses like campsites aren’t much ($20 a night).
How much should you pay for a tent?
A decent, three-season, four-person tent costs around $70. This is the kind of tent I recommend because they are lightweight, durable, and spacious. Even if you’re just two people, you will appreciate the extra space to keep your gear inside with you. Only if you are one person who never plans to camp with anyone else ever should you go for a smaller tent. Check out the best 4 person tents here.
Is it cheaper to camp or stay in a hotel?
Camping is definitely cheaper than staying in a hotel. However, camping can be as expensive as staying in a hotel depending on how ‘luxurious’ you want your camping trip to be (also known as ‘glamping).
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