Cost of Our Camping Gear

Our family started tent camping, Summer of 2021. At that time, MBP was 4 and AHP was 17 months. Just like the rest of the world, I was eager to start traveling, but still cautious. Adults in the household were vaccinated at the time, but our kids were not. Camping was a great option, being outdoors 100% of the time.

Camping with kids is very different from camping without kids. Actually camping with a toddler and a preschooler is entirely different itself. After two years of camping we are still learning and accumulating gears that works best for us. This year was better than last year, mainly because we started with nothing.

Our First Year Camping

I’m not really sure what I was thinking when I booked our first camping trip. I’m pretty sure I saw a lot of pictures of the beach or the mountains, with kids as young as mine and thought, hey we could do it too. I read some articles about camping with kids and decided that a State Park with flushed toilet and running water is the best way to start. Plus points if there is a playground. I then remember that I really enjoyed Lake Chelan the last time I went. It didn’t matter that I went there sans kids and stayed in a 2 bedroom air-conditioned airbnb condo. I found an availability for two nights at Lake Chelan State Park and felt that I won a lottery. Apparently, this state park is booked way in advance and it is hard to get a reservation during the summer. I told my husband my plan after booking the site. There were some questions about the location, but ultimately he tagged along.

Once we have our reservation, I decided to rent our gear. I’m not entirely sure if we will like camping, so I went to Arrive Outdoor and reserved everything I thought I would need. It included a top of the line tent that sleeps 6, 3 sleeping pads, 1 men’s sleeping bag, 4 headlamps, a lantern, a power bank, a grill kit, Jetboil basecamp stove and pan and an MSR Alpine 4 pot set. The total cost for 2 nights was $178, but I have a great discount code and I only have to pay $87. Score!! The problem is that the gear never arrived on time. Instead of arriving the day before we leave, it arrived on the day we were leaving. Arrive Outdoor was nice enough to refund me the money.

Since I was tracking the rental order, I knew that the gear will not arrive on time. So how did we do this? Well, we purchased the “necessary” gear from Costco and Walmart. I bought a 6 person Core Block Out tent from Costco and purchased Campstove, Twin Air Mattress and Propane from Walmart. We brought our pack and play. I have a sleeping bag and my husband’s old Air Mattress and some really thin sheets which we used as blankets. For cooking, we borrowed a cooler from my parents and used our pots and pans at home. Our sleeping set up had some issues. First, the old air mattress didn’t inflate, so my husband and I were basically on the ground. The sheets didn’t work as a blanket, and it got cold at night, so we are sharing one sleeping bag. Our cooking set up was fine and we didn’t starve.

Despite some initial problems, we enjoyed the trip and followed it with 4 more camping trips for 6 nights in total.

The beautiful Lake Chelan

Our Second Year Camping

After the camping season in 2021, I kept an eye on some camping gears on facebook marketplace and sales at REI. So far our total cost is $583.98. There are some items that are not necessary. There are some items that are optional and very specific to our family.

Sleep System


We purchased a Core 6 Person Block Out Tent from Costco. It was originally priced for $99.99. After we got back camping, it was on sale for $69.99. Costco refunded me the difference. I was actually really glad that I purchased this tent. It works for us because we are a good weather camper. This is not a 3 season tent, it is basically just a summer tent. The only good thing about it is that it is block out – and for us that is enough benefit that we are still using it. AHP still naps and it is easier for him to nap in this tent. He napped more last year and once this year. At night, we can go to bed at 8PM even when the sun is out and the kids can sleep until 7AM without the sun waking them up at 5 or 6AM.

Now, that is the only benefit of this tent. As I said, this is not a 3 season tent. We had a rainy day this year, and there were puddles inside the tent. I was diligent and made sure there were towels in the corner. This tent also doesn’t have a good ventilation. If the rainfly is on, expect to have condensation in your tent. If the rainfly is not on and you have a dog, there will still be condensation even if you open all the “windows”. I figure out that I can open the roof window and door window once the kids are in bed and it’s already dark to get more airflow. I will usually wake up when the sun is out and at that time, I’ll close it again to keep the tent “dark”. Once, AHP woke up at 6AM before I was able to close the windows and he insisted that it is day time. Also, one of the pole broke this year and I have to purchase a replacement. The pole is only $10, but there is a flat shipping rate of $7 so bought 2, for a total of $27.

Anyway, if you like dark, do not have a dog and will only camp during the summer, then buy this tent.

Sleeping Pad and Sleeping Bags

I know that we will need a sleep system that will work for me. I already have a hard time sleeping in a hotel, so I know that I will have a hard time sleeping in a tent without a bed. I’m also a side sleeper so I need a sleeping pad that will feel like an actual bed. It took trying out some sleeping pads. First we bought 3 Klymit Static V Luxe Sleeping Pads. Costco was selling it for $69.99 and the sales guy was able to convince us to buy it. Well, it’s better than sleeping on the ground, but it was loud. I was not comfortable. Then I found 2 Large Therm-a-rest Luxury Sleeping Pad in Facebook Market Place. The seller was selling it for $30 each. I bought 2 for $50. It was advertised as used and have some stains, but was always stored correctly. I purchased it the day before our camping trip. Once I got home, I tested it and made sure it inflated. I wiped it and did some sniff test and we were good to go. The cost of this pad, if I buy new is $189.95 each. Yup I got it for a bargain. We were now using 2 Klymits and 2 Therm-a-Rest and I was more comfortable. Fast forward to June 2022 and one of my neighbor posted 2 Therm-a-Rest XXL MondoKing mattress. It was not the latest edition, but she was only selling it for $75 each. I offered to pay $100 for both and she accepted. The new version of this mattress sells for $259.95 each. It will cost just as much as a real mattress if I buy this new. So , I got another bargain. I tested it at home and realize that one of the mattress have a tear. I searched the internet and was able to repair it using the Permanent Home Repair Kit from Therm-a-Rest. I ordered it on Amazon for $16.36. I used an existing gift card, received from my sister, so my cost is $0. My husband and MBP now uses the MondoKing. AHP uses the LuxuryMat and I sleep between MBP and AHP so I used both the MondoKing and Luxury Mat. What happened to our Klymit’s mattress? Well, I kept the receipt and returned it to Costco just under a year after we purchased it. Thank you, Costco!

The latest edition of MondoKing

Sleeping bags are also necessary for us. We live and camp here in the Pacific Northwest and it gets cold at night. I have a Northface Cat Meows Sleeping Bag. I got this back in 2010 when I went backpacking and can’t recall the price. I also bought MBP a Teton toddler sleeping bag from my neighborhood page for $5. MBP used it last year and outgrown it. AHP is now using the Teton and we bought MBP a REI Co-op Kindercone 25 Sleeping Bag. It was on sale for $48.49 and currently listed at $69.95. I bought it with a gift card I got from my birthday 3 years ago and paid $26.38 for the remaining balance. For my husband, we got him a CORE Sleeping Bag from Costco for $27.99.


For cooking, we kept it very basic. The Coleman Classic Propane Gas Camping Stove is still working for us. We got it from Walmart for $43.88. It is still being sold from Walmart at $48. We still uses our pots and pans and silverware from our kitchen. I try to minimize the time washing the dishes. We uses disposable as much as we can. Sometimes, we book a campsite that has an outdoor kitchen. My husband uses this and most of our food are grilled.

Other Gears

For lights, we bought 3 headlamps for $14.99 and 3 lanterns for $12.99 from Costco. I also purchased camping chairs for $20.58, tarp for $14.99 and an air mattress for $16.97 from Walmart. We uses the tarp as a footprint for our tent. We rarely use our camping chairs because with kids, we are really rarely in our campsite. The air mattress was used once for our first camping trip. Sadly, Walmart do not have a good return policy and the air mattress is just in our garage. I also got a solar charger for our phones from Amazon during Prime Day for $39.99.

Other Other Gears

Our “new to us” car came with a hitch and a bike carrier. We haven’t had a chance to use the bike carrier, but we decided to purchase a Cargo Rack. We drive a 2010 Toyota Prius. Storage is ok when our dog doesn’t come with us, but there were several camping trips where she joined us and we needed a way to store our gear. Since our car already have a hitch, it is cheaper to buy a cargo rack than a rooftop box. It is also better for fuel efficiency and we didn’t notice any difference on our gas consumption when using the cargo carrier. We purchased a Curt Tray Hitch Cargo Carrier for $117.99. We used partial points and paid $103.19. We also bought a cargo bag for the carrier for $43.41

Tips on Getting Your Gear on a Budget

Try Rental or Borrow Things

Even though renting didn’t worked for us, I still recommend going this route if you are a beginner, or starting from scratch. This will give you an idea of items that are a must have for you vs items that are just good to have. For us, we don’t use the camp chairs much, so there’s no point of buying a good one. I used (or at least tried) to used Arrive Outdoor, but I also used REI in the past when I was just starting backpacking many many years ago. When renting, look for discount codes. My first rental only cost $87. On our second camping trip, my parents and my sister came with us. We lent my sister our 2 person tent (that we got as a wedding present) and my parents borrowed my brother’s 3 person tent.

Our three tents in action

There are also some non-profit organization that lends gear. In Washington State, the Washington Trail Association (WTA) have a lending library. The Mountaineers also lends gear for a fee.

Don’t forget your local buy nothing group or local neighborhood page. You can ask your neighbor to borrow some of the gear, and folks usually lend it. Just make sure to take care of the items you borrowed and return it on time.

Get Used Gear

Things will inevitably get dirty when you are camping, so there’s really no need to buy items that are new. Also, a lot of people try camping and will either realize that they don’t like it or they like it so much that they are upgrading their gears. This is how I found our sleeping pads. I highly doubt that the MondoKing Pad got a lot of used. It was so clean when I got it. The previous owner of the LuxuryMat is upgrading their gear.

Speaking of used gear, don’t be afraid to buy a gear that has some flaw. Most items can be repaired and reputable brands will even repair it for you for a small fee. I opted to repair my MondoKing by myself, but I could have also send it to Therm-a-Rest and they will repair the pad for a fee. I know that Nemo will also repair your gear for a fee.

I used my neighborhood FB page quite a bit, but I still see items on Craigslist.

Don’t but more than what you need

If you will only camp during the summer, there is no need to buy a 4 season tent. Really, there is no need to buy a tent that will cost over $500. REI is my go to store for outdoor things, but buying a $500 tent will not make sense if you will only camp once or twice during the summer. Same with sleeping bags or really any gear. Costco usually sells tents and camping gear during the camping season and most of their items are good enough. This is where we got our lantern and headlamps. Bonus point is that Costco have a really good return policy!

Shop on Sale or Outlet Store and don’t forget to use coupons/ coupon code

If you can’t find used gear and really need to get something new, wait to shop on sales. REI has a big memorial day sale or usually have member only sale. This is where I got MBP’s sleeping bag. I bought some items on I subscribed to the site and won $200 gift card. I didn’t buy any camping gear, but I bought an Altra running shoes.

We have already camped 18 nights for 2 years and have put the gears to test. We may add more items like a Thermacell for mosquito repellant or a Camping Grill, but so far we are pretty happy with our gear. The more you packed in, the more you will need to pack out, so I try to minimize our gears as much as I can.

Per my calculation the total cost of our gear if I bought everything new is $1,464.4. We paid $583.93 and saved $880.47, by buying items pre-loved, buying from Costco and waiting for discounts.

Year BoughtCamping Item/sOriginal CostOur Cost
2021Nick's Sleeping Bag27.9927.99
2021Adam Sleeping Bag205
2021Camping Chair20.5820.58
2021Camp Stove43.8843.88
2021Air Mattress16.9716.97
2021Camp Propane15.9915.99
2021Thermarest LuxuryMap Sleeping Bag379.950
2022Max Sleeping Bag48.4926.38
2022Hitch Cargo Rack117.99103.19
2022Cargo Bag43.410
2022Thermarest MondoKing Sleeping Bag (x2)519.9100
2022Thermarest Camping Mattress Repair Kit16.360
2022Solar Charger39.9921
2022Tent Pole Replacement2727

Thanks for reading! What’s your must have’s camping gear?

YMCA Camp Lake Wenatchee – Family Camp

Our last camping trip for 2022 was spent at YMCA Lake Wenatchee Campgrounds for the Labor Day Family Camp. We spent 3 nights and 4 days in the campground. We booked a tent site for the long weekend which cost $175. We also added an all inclusive meal, which includes 8 meals for 2 adults for $170. Kids under 5 gets free meals with paying adults and our boys, age 5 and 2 got the free meals.

Getting There

It takes just under 3 hours for us to get to the Campground. We always break our drive halfway to have lunch in a playground and let the boys get their wiggles out. This time, we spent about an hour in Osperay Park, in Sultan WA, just off highway 2. The playground seems fairly new and have a zip line. We had our packed lunch and let the kids burn off their energy before another hour on the road.

Checking In

We got to the campground fairly early. The folks were still preparing for our arrival and don’t have our names on the site yet. We met Erin, the camp director and she checked us in. She was also super nice to the boys. After checking in, one of the camp counselor lead us to our camp site. I really liked our campsite. It was huge and have a long driveway, so the kids can run around. We set up our tent on the flattest spot that we could find. Once all settled, we checked out the campgrounds. I always like to visit the nearest bathroom and was nicely surprised to see that it was spotless, has a couple of showers and have A/C on.

The campground map – tons of cabins but we chose to tent camp

First Day

We checked out the lodge, the basketball courts and the tennis court. There wasn’t any plan activities for the day and I was hoping that we could swim. Unfortunately, we can’t swim on the lake unless it is designated swim time because it requires a lifeguard. We could go and walk to the state park if we really want to. It’s a bummer because our first day was the hottest part of the day.

Dinner was served at 5 PM with an ice cream social at 7PM. It was spaghetti with a choice between red or white sauce and a garlic bread. There weren’t a lot of campers at this time yet. After dinner we spent some time in first floor of the lodge and found some toy building straws that the kids played with. We went back for the ice cream social, which wasn’t really social and then signed up for some activities for the weekend.

I woke up a few times at night because I heard some howling/barking. Thoughts came to mind and let’s just say that I wasn’t able to sleep.

Second Day

Activities in the morning included boating and archery. Boating was cancelled due to wind. It was ok since we didn’t signed up for it. MBP was signed up for archery and we spent the morning there. I also found out that I wasn’t the only one who heard howling. Apparently it was wolves. Or at least some campers thought it was wolves. AHP got bored and just want to walk back and forth on the trails.

After archery, I found a bite on my right hand that got super swollen. At lunch I started to get dizzy and I took some children’s Benadryl. After lunch, we drove to the closest emergency room in Leavenworth. At this point the swelling seems to stop. The nurse saw me in the reception and look at my hand. She told me that she had the same reaction and that it should go away in a week. I signed a note to not be treated (thank goodness) and off we went to Safeway to got a Benadryl Ointment. We also got some sneakers for the boys.

Some Archery

We went back onsite and at this point the kids made some arts and crafts and made some friends with other kids. Dinner was pizza. I was hungry since I missed lunch, so I ate a ton. Good thing is there were enough pizza for everyone.

Showing off their Sun Catchers

There was a campfire for the night (though there wasn’t any “fire” because of the burn ban). We can hear it from our tent and MBP and AHP just won’t sleep. I let MBP go in the last 10 minutes just so he can see it.

Third Day

After pancake breakfast, we went boating. I wasn’t really sure what we signed up for. I thought it was electric boat, but it was a good old fashion canoe. I didn’t seat properly and my husband ended up paddling a lot. It got windy and one of the campers boat tipped over. We heard “help” and my husband tried to paddle there as fast as he can. Good thing another camper were already there and the kids in the tipped boat were “rescued” and were in another boat. At this point, the wind really started to picked up and I was even scared that our boat might tip as well. MBP though was having a lot of fun singing row row row your boat. AHP was sitting on my lap and I tried to position him so that I can also paddle. It took a while but we finally ended back on the shore. Whew – not sure what we’re thinking there. Next time we will definitely stay close.

We had lunch of mac and cheese and chicken nuggets. The kids played with their friends after lunch and then it was swim time. At swimming, AHP was just so so tired. He already missed 2 days of naps and wasn’t really sleeping well at night. He went back with my husband in the tent and finally napped! MBP and I stayed in the lake. It was rocky and I was glad that we have our crocs on. We really just played on the water since it was cold. MBP made some friend and I was very entertained watching the wind surfer. The lifeguards (Erin) told us that swim time is over. Back in the tent, AHP and my husband were napping. MBP and I took a shower and I gave him 15 minutes of iPad at the lodge. After that, he made some crafts – turtle from a paper plate. He then met his friends again who gave him ice cream. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who visited the ER. A 4 year old kid got bitten by a bee under her eyes and it got swollen. It looks bad, but it doesn’t seem to bother her. MBP didn’t really finish the ice cream. The kids went to the lodge and they all played. I was actually able to sit for a bit. AHP arrived, refreshed from his nap. The happy boy played until dinner time. For dinner they had some beef roast and mashed potatoes. They ran out of beef roast that they started bringing left over food. Yikes. The kids played after dinner and then we got ready for bed before the camp fire. The campfire was a big hit for the kids. MBP sang “Luna” while AHP sang the “chocolate” man. Before this, their friends visit our site and they were singing the song. The kids were loud and I can hear them from the bathroom.

Fourth Day

We had our usual routine to pack up before breakfast. I took care of all the sleeping pads and sleeping bags while my husband took care of the things outside and ready the car. Once things are packed up, we headed for breakfast. We had bacon and potatoes for breakfast which was a hit. After breakfast, our kids said goodbyes to their friends and we head back home.

What I like and don’t like about the camp

The campground is nice, specifically our campsite is huge. I also liked the activities. Archery, boating and the arts and crafts were hit for the kids. The camp is definitely built with kids in mind and most (if not all) families have kids. Our boys had a lot of fun making friends.

The camp can do better on meals, though. To do this, they probably need to charge more. I do feel bad because there were times that they ran out of food. I think they should charge for kids. I mean, even my 2 years old is eating just as much as me and I’m more than happy to pay. That said, if we do this again, we will definitely bring more snack or might even opt out to have our meals included and just eat in our campsite.

Overall, it was a great weekend to wrap our Summer!

Washington Kite Festival – Camping with Kids in Long Beach, WA

We visited Long Beach, WA to see the Annual Kite Festival. We didn’t have any plans in August and when I saw that the Annual Kite Festival is going to happen this year, I figure that it is a good camping trip for the family.

We stayed 3 nights at The Lamp Camp, about 4 miles from the main town. It is a private camp site and has some amenities, including an outdoor kitchen, sink, shower and a clubhouse. The trail leading to the beach is wonderful. We also spent quite a bit of time inside the clubhouse. The kids love the board games and we were able to complete a 300 puzzle pieces. The hosts were wonderful. My kid broke one of the jar inside the clubhouse. I called the host and she was there right away. I offered to pay or replace it but they refuse.

For our first day, we just stayed in the campsite and went to the beach. There were very few people at the beach and we let Leela off leash. She was very popular and made some friends. We saw a lot of birds diving for food and some dead crabs on the shore. MBP also flew a kite. It was windy and I was afraid that it will break, but it made it. When we got back, we stayed in the clubhouse while my husband grilled some brats for dinner. We then just stayed in the clubhouse and played some board games. MBP learned to play Uno.

The next day, we went to town for the actual festival. The festival has some programs for kids but it was definitely weather dependent. They gave away 200 handmade kites for the kids, but they were not able to fly it. It was so windy. The sand was getting into AHP’s eye and he doesn’t like. The kids still got kites. I asked for a direction to the kite museum and one of the guys giving away the kites suggested to walk the boardwalk all the way to the kite museum. MBP walked all the way and I only have to carry AHP on a small section of the walk.

The kite museum cost $6 per adult and $4 for kids 3 and up. It was only one level. It was ok. I mean there were good kites, but there were very few of them. The kids did well on not touching anything, or perhaps we just told them not to touch anything 1000 times. Well, we took some pictures and my husband walked back to get our car. We just went back to the campsite for lunch and had a little bit of quiet time, before dinner. My husband grilled some burgers for dinner. We went to town after and the kids played some arcades. The boys had a lot of fun. It was basically bed time once we got back to our campsite. The kids had an “easier” time sleeping.

The next day, the kids were able to fly their kites. It was actually really cool to see all different kites up in the air. There were some big ones too. We had our picnic lunch in town and got some ice cream for the kids. The ice cream was delicious and I’m a big fan. We went back to the campsite for some down time and went back to town for dinner.

It drizzled a bit at night, so we put up the rainfly for our tent. Once the kids settled in, I put all our camp chairs, shoes and everything outside inside the car so it won’t get wet.

It was wet on our last day, so we decided to pack up and have breakfast at McDonalds.

Another successful camping trip and I was glad to see the Kite Festival!

KOA Astoria/Warrenton/Seaside Camping with Kids

We spent 3 nights, camping at KOA in Astoria/Warrenton/Seaside, OR. KOA stands for Kamp of America (KOA) Campgrounds and have numerous locations in the US and Canada. This is our second year camping here. Last year we stayed at the tent site. This year, we booked a rustic “camping cabin”. The cabin has 2 bunk beds. The cabin has no kitchen and no bathroom and we brought our own linens. There’s a cute rocking chair in the porch and a table and a fire pit outside. The campsites have two camping kitchens with grills and stove available to use. It also has a full size sink so it was easy to wash the dishes.

The campsites is across Fort Stevens State Park and about 20 minute drive to Seaside, OR and a 15 minute drive to Astoria.

Of all the campsites we visited last year, this one stand out to MBP and he was excited to go back. This is definitely glamping for us, having electric and a “kitchen” available. MBP remembers the area and know the “fun zone” in general. We got there in the afternoon and spent the rest of the day exploring the campsites. The fun zone has a mini golf, a jump pillow, basketball and volleyball courts and the lifesize chess and checker sets.

MBP’s favorite, however are the video games, which in all honesty is falling apart. Regardless, he likes playing his pac man. There were also movie nights every night and the kids even get to watch an entire movie, AHP included.

On our second day, the kids enjoyed the campgrounds until it got too hot for me. I was able to convince the kids to leave the campsite and go to the beach, at Fort Stevens. We’ve been here before. The breeze was a nice reprieve. Once we were beached out, we went back to the campsites. My husband grill some brats for dinner and we head out to watch the movie – “How to train a dragon”.

This year, we also drove a bit south to visit Seaside. It has a great small beach town vibe. We spent some time in the arcade, and had lunch at Mo’s. We hang out at the beach a bit, but it was so windy. We went ahead and walk around the town. The kids rode the carousel and had ice cream before we head back to the campsites. AHP was tired and slept on the ride back. For dinner, we ordered Pizza from Fultano’s and they delivered. Yes, we are definitely glamping. We had dinner inside the game room since it was drizzling outside. After dinner, the kids tried to watch Jumanji. AHP wasn’t able to seat still so we left and just hanged out in the fun zone.

Overall, it was a good trip. The kids definitely enjoyed the amenities. I prefer camping that has more nature activities like hiking or swimming. It is something that we could have done as well, but it’s hard to convince the kids to leave the campsite.