Buying all the camping gear that you need to have for everyone in the family can get very expensive, very quickly.  If this is your first family camping trip, then you probably don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on new high end camping equipment until you for sure that family camping trips are something that you’ll be doing more in the future.

How can you get the gear that you and your family need without spending a small fortune? Here are five ways to find everything you need for less:

1. Borrow it – Do you have friends that go camping with their kids? Or do you family that have gone camping in the past or maybe you have some friends that are outdoor enthusiasts? Borrow anything you can from them. Borrow lanterns, sleeping bags, a stove, whatever they have.  Anything that you don’t have to buy is money saved.

2. Rent it – Not all of the camping gear that you need to have will be available for rental but some camping and outdoor sports stores like REI do rent things like tents and stoves and other large pieces of camping equipment. Since those are the things that you would end up spending the biggest amount of money on, it makes sense to see if you can rent those things instead of buying. Check with your local sporting goods and outdoor sports stores to see what equipment they rent.

3. Buy second hand – Scour local resale shops or used sporting goods stores for second hand camping gear that is still in good condition. Chances are pretty good that you will find some great gear that has only been used once that was purchased by other family campers who decided camping wasn’t for them.  You should probably not buy used sleeping bags, but other second hand equipment could save you lots money. You can also take your chances at garage sales and yard sales.

4. Equipment swaps – Do your kids play sports and have a lot of old sports gear? Look for local sports equipment swaps to see if you can trade your kids’ old, outgrown gear for some family camping gear. Many times local community sports leagues, sporting teams, Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups and other community groups will hold equipment swaps. Check with your local parks department to find equipment swaps in your area.

5. Look online – Scour sites like Craigslist, Freecycle, Offerup or Facebook Marketplace to find free or low cost camping equipment that is still in good condition.  Sometimes you can get amazing deals on equipment that is practically new when you look on the Internet.

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