Getting ready for camping season on a budget


Camping season in the PNW is upon us! Whether you love to camp or have never been, the biggest barrier is usually the price. So here’s some ways to camp on a budget.

PORTLAND, Ore. — In this week’s Let’s Get Out There, we stay a little closer to home and head to the outdoor shop Next Adventure in Southeast Portland. When it comes to camping, finding the right gear can be intimidating, so here are some ways to make it fun and affordable.

When it comes to getting outside in the Pacific Northwest, there’s no limit to what you can do. The only limit for most of us might be the cost of all the equipment. 

“We cover the pretty much the whole gamut,” said Deek Heykamp, co-owner of Next Adventure. “Camping, backpacking, everything you need for footwear, your apparel and of course skis and snowboards during the winter.”

While top-of-the-line gear adds up quickly, there’s no reason you can’t get out there on a budget.

“One of our core values here at Next Adventure is to elevate adventure for everyone,” Heykamp said. “We definitely look at the barriers that people might face getting into camping or any outdoor activity.”

There are many ways to start your camping collection if you’re just starting out, but what is your financial threshold? KGW reporter Mike Benner went camping as a teenager, but now he’s getting ready to take his 6-year-old twin boys camping for a night or two — a completely different animal. He came to Next Adventure to get some questions answered.

“The basics are we want to start you with … your shelter,” Heykamp said. “Your sleep system has got to be some sort of a sleeping pad.”

You can opt for a cot as well — and don’t forget the sleeping bag. Heykamp noted these three items, along with a stove and cookware, are enough to get you going.

For example, Heykamp collected gear from around the store for a two-person camping trip. A tent, two sleeping bags, pads and a propane stove came out to a total of just over $500.

Before you tune out, consider wandering downstairs to the shop’s bargain basement. Aisles and aisles of used gear might agree more with your personal price point.

“If you’re a camper on a budget, this is the place to come because we really cater to that group,” Heykamp said.

Not everyone is open to used gear, but it your finances are tight and you still have the camping bug, you might want to think about it. Heykamp was able to find all brand name items, a two-person tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and stove for under $100 total.

“If you’re intimidated by just learning about the stuff that you need, there’s lots of ways that we can help you get into the sport at the right price and feel confident with the equipment that you need when you get outside,” he said.

As for Benner, he felt like his questions were answered.

“I feel really good,” he said. “In fact, I feel a lot better now than I did walking in. I mean, I think I’m ready to survive one or two days in the wilderness with 6-year-old boys … we’re not backpacking into the deep wilderness. We’re just driving up, throwing down a tent, dig around, eat some hot dogs.”

And getting in some good father-son time.

“That’s right,” said Benner. “Can never get enough of that.”

Let’s Get Out there airs once a week on KGW’s 4 p.m. newscast and The Good Stuff, which airs Monday-Thursday at 7 p.m. We’re including viewer photos for this series. You can text your photos to 503-226-5088 or post them on the KGW Facebook page.

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