• Hannah Smentkowski

Damn, Camping is Expensive: my top 3 cheap and pricey camping gear that I use

Updated: Sep 1

I love camping gear (and my dog, I swear). Everything from headlamps to backpacks to tents, I know each piece of gear I acquire will get me that much closer to a better outdoor experience. I used to work for a local outdoor gear store so I was lucky to snag some kick-ass deals for a while, but damn is camping expensive!

Today I'm here to show you some of my favorite camping pieces I have acquired. From the top of the line to some great low-cost options so you can decide what works best for you and your budget.

(Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and if you go through them to make a purchase I will earn a small commission at zero extra cost to you. I link to these companies and their products because of their quality and not because of the commission. Thank you!)

1. Tents

I started shopping for my very first solo outdoor adventure at good 'ol Walmart. As much as I detest shopping there, I'm still broke, in my 20s, and we all have to start somewhere. To this day I'm still using that tent for car camping and I love it, but you're going to want something a lot lighter for backpacking, and that's where the expensive option comes in.

Low-cost Option: Ozark Trails "2 -Person 4-Season Backpacking tent" $45


  • very sturdy (bought 4 years ago with little damage so far)

  • tons of inside space, with 2 large outdoor vestibules

  • great for 1-2 people car camping


  • weight (at nearly 6lbs, I wouldn't really consider it a backpacking tent unless you're lucky enough to split it between two hikers)

  • definitely not a 4-season tent (3-season sure, but I do not recommend using this tent in winter)

High-End Option: Nemo "Dagger 2P" $430


  • tons of internal space

  • very light for a 2 person tent (3.5 lbs)

  • all in one, lightweight, color-coded poles (all of the poles are connected, so even my dumb ass can't lose one)

  • 2 large vestibules for gear storage

  • diffused fabric on top internal pockets to use your headlamp as a lantern


  • fragile (just light any ultralight tent you should take care, but that's what the footprint is for )

2. Backpacking Packs

This is one of the items I will urge you to NEVER buy at Walmart!

A backpacking bag should have an internal or external frame to support the bag and your back. This frame is one of the key components that allow you to carry 30lbs on your back, over 3 days and 25 miles of hiking without crying every day wishing you never did this. Walmart's bag selection does not have any type of support, and their weak hip belts aren't going to save you. Believe me when I say do not skimp on your backpack, if you buy a good one, it should last you a lifetime.