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That’s why FOX Business consulted several outdoor experts who were familiar enough with the activity to come up with a preliminary budget of top camping costs. From campground fees to tents, sleeping gear, food and more, here is what you can expect to spend as a family of four camping for a weekend.
“Camping fees will vary wildly depending on where you choose to go, but can range from completely free if you find your own spot to upwards of $60 per night for a family of four,” said Nick Wilkesmann, the head of outdoor education at Haileybury Rendall School in Australia.
“Depending on the age of the children, I would actually recommend a family of four purchase two, two-person tents rather than a four-person tent. The primary reasons for this are that smaller tents tend to last longer, are easier to carry should you need to walk to your campsite, and mean you don't have to sleep right next to your kids,” Wilkesmann explained.
“For a decent cheap tent I would recommend the Pacific Pass 2 Person Family Dome Tent for $35 each on Amazon. It's not the absolutely cheapest tent available, but strikes a good balance between quality and affordability,” he added. “A good option for a sturdier tent that will last many years is the Marmot Tungsten 2-Person Tent for $214 each.”
Although most people want sleeping bags, they may not be necessary. You can take extra sheets or blankets for your bedding. You can expect to pay approximately $22 for a kids' Coleman sleeping bag and $25 to $35 for adult Coleman Warm Weather Sleeping Bags. "Budget-friendly Ozark Trail Warm Weather Sleeping Bags are available at Walmart for $9.97,” said Andrea Gentry of Embracing the Wind, a lifestyle blog that covers hiking, camping, travel and inspiration. “Many people balk at sleeping on the hard ground. Cots and inflatable mattresses are an option for a more comfortable night's sleep. Cots start at about $40 and Intex inflatable mattresses can be purchased for $8.97 each as a twin size at Walmart.”
“Food costs will depend on what your family likes to eat. Sandwich ingredients, hot dogs, hamburgers, and s’mores are more affordable than steak, eggs, bacon, grilled chicken and salads,” said Rhoda Toynbee of 4T-Adventure, an outdoors-loving family-of-four YouTube channel and blog. “An average weekend of camping food will probably cost between $50 and $75. Anything you don't use while camping can be used at home later.”
“A family of four going camping is likely going to want to hike. Everyone should wear some sort of hiking shoe because they provide more stability and comfort on uneven trails. Cost: less than $100.00. Hiking socks help wick moisture away from feet and prevent blisters. Cost: $15 to $20,” said Alicia Filley, a physical therapist and founder of The Healthy Hiker.
“The adults in the group should carry a daypack while hiking as a place to hold the essentials needed for safety and comfort, such as a small first aid kit, snacks or lunch, and rain gear. Daypacks designed for outdoor excursions will be more comfortable than traditional school backpacks. Cost: less than $50,” she added. “Everyone should bring their own water bottle and most people already have one. Cost: $0 [usually]. If the terrain is steep or uneven, hiking poles are a good investment. Cost: $20 to $50.”
Other camping gadgets
Small propane camping stoves can also be bought for $30 or $40 while some headlamps will run around $20, according to Seth Newton of OutMoreUSA.com, a blog dedicated to camping, backpacking, nature and more.
“You can bring pillows, pots and pans, and other household items from home,” Newton said. “I suggest spending no more than $300 on the essential camping gear if you're just starting out.”