Cost’s Associated with Camping

Being in school full-time means that I have limited time to plan trips or make arrangements to go on camping trips. Along with school I have also have a work commitment, which means I have to work a certain amount of hours each week in order to pay my monthly bills. Adding the cost of camping to that monthly amount can sometimes be quite stressful! So here is a breakdown of some of the costs associated with camping.

Cost’s Associated with Camping:

  • Gas to get you to your destination and back
  • Food for your trip (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for however many days your gone)
    • This gets pricey on a 10 day canoe trip!
  • Gear
  • Reservation costs
    • Backcountry is generally cheaper than staying in a campground
    • National Parks are also cheaper than Provincial parks
    • Some campgrounds offer premium sites or electrical sites


Has anyone seen the crazy prices of gas lately? Well even if a miracle happens, driving up north always seems to be pricey.

When your driving with a canoe on top your car your fuel economy drops significantly due to many different factors such as weight or the drag from the wind. Oh and why do I know all this? Being a student makes my budget way smaller than everyone else’s, meaning I literally record every dollar that I spend and want to know exactly where its going when I spend it. Having a small car makes this a bit cheaper but that also means a smaller gas tank, which means the distance I get out of a tank is a lot less than say a van or a truck.Plus whenever I go away its usually at least a 3-4 hour drive away from where I live so I usually average how much I’ll spend on gas each trip.


  • Distance (round-trip)
  • Canoe on top?
  • Fully loaded vehicle (weight)


Food. My most favourite thing in the entire world ❤️ So when you go camping sometimes your meals aren’t as planned and you don’t always follow the same 3 meals a day schedule that you normally do when your at home. Snacks become meals and dinners always happen way earlier than they should or way later. Planning food for trips can be insanely stressful but it can also get pricey when you have to buy food for a 12 day canoe trip for more than yourself (in my case me and my sister split costs).

Cheap Food Ideas for Backcountry Camping

  • Knorr Pasta
    • We love the Fettuccini Alfredo and Bacon Carbonara
  • Kraft Dinner (KD)
    • specialty for those on a #StudentBudget 😉
  • Hot Dogs
    • Yes they aren’t exactly light-weight but they did stay good up until day 9 unrefrigerated on a canoe trip!
  • Crackers, HotRods, and No-Name Cheese-strings for Lunch
    • yes I did say No-Name Cheese-strings because the brand name ones are way more expensive then the off brand ones and they taste the exact same!!
  • Hit up your local grocery store at the end of a flyer week or beginning of a new one for last weeks sales and markdowns on meat. Buy a roast or packages of beef that are marked down to make your own jerky and save money rather than buying smaller packs for the same price as you would buy a tray of beef for.

    Bacon, eggs and hash browns has to be may favourite meal!


Okay, so yes this is probably my third time mentioning this student budget thing but here’s to saying it again!

When your in school full-time you don’t have a lot of money to begin with. Now your gonna use it to buy camping gear? Are you crazy? You have a car payment due next week, are you even going to be able to cover it? What are you thinking? Helloooooooooo?

That’s literally everything that goes through my head when I spent money on camping gear or anything camping related. So a lot of my gear I have received as a Christmas gift, I bought used but in good condition, or I just spent good money on a high quality product that I know is going to last me awhile.

Camping gear is one of those things that you don’t really want to cheap out on. Use that backpack until it falls apart on you on the middle of a long buggy portage and it drives you crazy so you literally are forced to buy a new one.

Things to Consider:

  • Buy Used
    • Check places like  Kijiji, Mec Gear Swap, Facebook Marketplace, LetGo, etc.
    • Thrift Stores are home to many amazing products its just always a matter of going and checking.
      • They usually have an awesome selection of wool blankets which are awesome for winter camping!
    • Check the condition of the product
    • Consider the price difference between buying it used or brand new
  • Make sure to consider what your going to be using it for and how long, is it worth it to buy it used or just buy it new instead
  • Price
    • If you see a 60L backpack for $35 and all the other more known brands are selling it for $100+ start to look for reviews to make sure that the quality of the material in the product are different.
      • Much like no-name food there are off-brands that also make high-quality gear that nobody knows about because the big name brands hog the spotlight
    • Spend a good amount on high-quality gear once and you won’t have to replace it for awhile
      • Usually these more expensive pieces of gear tend to have a life-time warranty or an extended warranty
  • How often will you use it?
    • Do you really need that lightweight $40 blow-up pillow or can you just use your sweater or small clothes bag as a pillow? At least thats what I do!


Although camping should be free… and it is in some places by the way! Sadly its not free and thats so that reservation processes are fair.

National Parks are cheaper to camp in the campground than it is to stay in Provincial Parks. Backcountry camping is also waaaay cheaper in National Parks compared to

Provincial Parks.

Some places offer premium sites such as electrical sites, sites closer to amenities, sites closer to the beach or boardwalk access to lookouts and such, etc.

So for paying a higher price for the site each night you will get to enjoy some sort of bonus.

Thanks for reading!

Although these aren’t all the costs associated with camping they are the ones pop out most in my mind!





2 thoughts on “Cost’s Associated with Camping”

  1. Some other ideas on cutting costs:
    – Some schools have outdoors clubs or programs where gear is loaned or rented.
    – If there is a local ADK chapter they likely have a gear yard sale once or twice a year.
    – There is a backpacking gear flea market for women on Facebook.
    – freecampsites.net – these are accessible by road, but useful when you need a place to crash on your way to the “real” camping
    – sell off those items you’ve outgrown, never liked, used to like but don’t like now…
    – avoid the REI site, gear review sites, Amazon, sporting goods stores… cause you’ll see something you just HAVE to get 🙂
    – I live in NY state and buy and Empire Pass, which gives me free day admission to NY state campgrounds and parks. I go out and stay at free locations and every few days visit a state campground to shower, wash dishes, and drop off trash. The pass is only worth it if you get enough use, but you could just buy a $7 day pass (per car) at the entrance. Research for the locales you go to.
    – You can probably pick up a used dehydrator cheap or free from someone who bought it then never used it. Jerky, vegetables, fruit, slaw, sauces… Toss it on the tray and let it dehydrate while you’re in class.
    – If you’re young, and poor, and full of youthful vigor you don’t have to have the lightest weight food or gear 🙂

    Now I want to get out and camp more than ever!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *