Camping is one of our favourite ways to get away from the usual routine. And, it’s one of the cheapest.
But assembling your supplies can be expensive, especially the first time out.
You’ll need sleeping bags and a tent, air mattresses or cots, kitchen supplies, food, fire supplies, and more.
While sleeping bags and tents are investment pieces, you can watch for sales at Walmart or Canadian Tire and save a ton of money. I just saved $160 buying new air mattresses at Canadian Tire for our family!
But most of the other items you’ll need can be found at the Dollar Store. There’s no need to buy specially designed camping pots and pans, utensils, or fire starters. Head to your Dollar Store first!
Even if you’re canoe camping or backpacking, many of these items will be useful too.
Dollar Store Camping Supplies
- basin / collapsible sink
- melamine or metal plates and bowls or paper plates and bowls (awesome for car camping – just use them as kindling for your campfire!)
- cutlery – our dollar store has heavy duty camping cutlery on a carabiner right now – perfect for backpacking
- plastic mugs (metal doesn’t insulate against heat, so sticking with plastic/melamine will guard against burns!)
- pots and pans – unless you’re backpacking, buy one pot and one (non-Teflon) frying pan from the Dollar Store. No need for campfire scorch marks on your everyday set!
- dishcloth & tea towel
- marshmallow roasting sticks
- dish soap (if you’re lucky, your dollar store may even have bio-degradable camping soap!)
- plastic tablecloth
- tablecloth clips
- egg carrier
- watertight dry bag (yes, I even found one at our Dollar Store!)
- cooler bag
- ice packs
- resealable bags in all sizes
- garbage bags
- collapsible water jug
Here’s a list of some Super-Easy Camping Meals.
- tent pegs
- small tarps (perfect for underneath your tent)
- solar lights (to light the way for midnight bathroom runs)
- travel size toiletries
- hand sanitizer
- bug spray
- face cloth (I found an “ultralight” microfibre facecloth at Dollar Tree recently, for much less than you’d pay at an outdoor store!)
- toiletry bag
- drawstring bag for dirty laundry
- compact rain poncho (ideal for canoe camping/backpacking)
- water bottle (stainless steel is far more durable than plastic!)
- army knife / multi-tool
- compact sewing kit
- hand warmers
- folding camp stool
- folding shovel
- waterproof pouch for phone
- water toys
- water squirters
- sun hats
- beach blanket / picnic blanket
- beach towels
- sand toys, shovels, buckets
- mesh bags to carry those sand toys (perfect for shaking the sand out before leaving)
- milk jugs (awesomely durable sand shovels!)
- fire starter
- lighter fluid
- First Aid Kit
- flashlights / lanterns
- colouring books / rainy day activities for kids / bubbles
- glow sticks (put them on the kids at night around the campfire for visibility)
- snacks, ingredients for GORP (Good Old Raisins & Peanuts)
In case you need one, here’s a car camping packing list.
You don’t really have to pay those huge prices for specially marketed camping equipment for most of your supplies. And many of these items are reusable, time and again. Buy a large plastic storage container and keep all of your supplies organized in it for use year after year!