top of page
  • Writer's pictureCarmen Castro

Camping Start-Up Gear: Essentials, Add-Ons and an Approximate Budget

Updated: May 14

Camping Start-Up Gear, Golden Ears Park, Camping tent, big trees
Golden Ears Provincial Park

Camping is a fun activity that has become more popular in the last few years, and there is no wonder why. When loving nature, we look for new ways to spend more time outdoors; perhaps we need solitude, or perhaps we thrive by making memories with the people we love. Camping is one of those ways and can be an amazing experience when you are prepared and have the right gear to enjoy the time away from home. It is also a pleasant activity that can be done year-round if you are open to gaining knowledge and have a positive mindset, especially when talking about cold weather.

To tell you that getting camping start-up gear is cheap and easy could be a lie, but in some instances you can actually find secondhand gear in good condition or borrow it from someone you know, especially if you just want to give it a try. If you are actually interested in becoming a camper, then investing a bit in gear is probably the best bet for you because that way you’ll have more options to choose from and new gear will last you longer than used gear will.

Start-Up Gear for Front Country Camping


This would be where you sleep, so you want to make sure it is somewhat waterproof, especially if you are planning on using it in wetter seasons. Things to consider when purchasing a tent are:

Tent capacity: how many people will be sleeping in the tent? Keep in mind the extra space that you might need, for example, if you or any member of your party is a taller or bigger person or if you are bringing a pet along.

Tent seasonality: The time of year you are planning to use it will determine the seasonality of your tent.

3-season, being the most popular, can be used in fair weather in spring, summer, and fall; they offer waterproofness but aren't designed to stand windier or rainier conditions. 3-4 season tents that can withstand wetter and colder weather 4-season tents are sturdier and tougher tents to use in more severe weather conditions.

Tent shape: There are at least ten types of tents on the market, the most popular being the dome tent, which is freestanding, good in bad weather, and easy to set up. If layout is important to you, check out this article to learn more.

black and orange tent

Starting price: Tents are so diverse that prices vary widely; you can purchase an Azarxis 2 Person, 4 seasons, dome type tent for $145.99 on Amazon.

Add on: Footprint: This is a piece of material that will protect the bottom of your tent from rocks, sticks, or anything that can damage it over time. $25.99 at Amazon


Sleeping bags vary widely in price depending on packability, technicality, and seasonality. Things to consider when purchasing a sleeping bag are:

Packability: When front country camping or vehicle camping, space is not usually much of an issue, and you can get comfy sleeping bags that are a bit heavier and aren't as packable. But if you also plan on doing some backpacking, then you'll want to get something warm, light, and packable.

Temperature rating: It is recommended to choose a lower-rated temperature sleeping bag than the lowest temperature at your campsite. This is because you can always unzip if you get too warm, but if it gets colder, you are prepared to stay comfy and safe. The temperature rating will affect the sleeping bag seasonality as follows: Summer season 3-season (spring, summer, and fall) winter

Sleeping bag shape: There are at least five types of sleeping bags, the mummy being the most popular; it has a snug fit and zips up to your chin to keep you warm. Learn more about sleeping bag shapes here.

green and blue sleeping bag

Starting price: If you don't need anything too technical, Amazon has 3-season sleeping bags for kids, teenagers, and adults alike, starting at $30.99

Add on: Blanket: To make your sleep snugger, you can bring extra blankets. We like to use a sleeping bag from Canadian Tire that extends across the whole floor of the tent (3-person tent) and is cozy and warm to sleep on. $159.99

Compression sack: Some sleeping bags already come in a compression sack, and if they don't, you might want to add one to your gear to make travel easier, as it helps with the packability of the bag and therefore takes up less space. $19.99 at Amazon


Sleeping pads are truly an important part of your camping gear; not only will they offer comfort, but they'll also provide insulation, so your nights will be nice and warm. Things to consider when purchasing a sleeping pad are:

Type of sleeping pad: Air pads are best for car camping and front-country camping. Self-inflating pads are best for front-country camping and backpacking. Closed-cell foam pads are best for treks.

Sleeping pad warmth: sleeping pads get rated according to their capacity to keep you warm. From 1 R-value, which is minimally insulated, to 5.5 R-value plus, which will be the warmest, choose according to the activities you want to practice.

People laying down on an open tent overlooking some mountains

Starting Price: On Amazon, you can find a 5.2 R-value four-season air pad starting at $99.99

Note: If you choose to go for an air mattress instead of sleeping pads, make sure to check for insulation; oftentimes, these bigger mattresses, although comfy, will lack insulation. Also keep in mind they will deflate more regularly in cold weather, making it a burden instead of an ease.

Add on: Foam pad: Usually used for backpacking, this thick layer of foam will add insulation and extra cushion to your night's sleep. $39.99 at Amazon Foot pump: Some sleeping pads will have an integrated hand pump, but you can also purchase one separately to aid you when getting your pad ready to sleep. (Please check sleeping pad compatibility before purchasing) $19.99 at Amazon


One of the perks of camping in the front country is that you can cook directly on the fire if there are no fire bans in place. You will only need a roasting stick, and you are good to go. Hot dogs, steaks, roasted vegetables, and, of course, S'mores are popular foods to roast on sticks.

Starting price: Roasting stick. $8.99 in Canadian Tire

Campfire sticks, cooking over the fire,

Firewood bundle. $15.19 at Rona Remember to also bring: plates, cups, utensils, cleaning supplies (for your dishes), a kettle, and a knife.

Add on: Campfire cooking rack: This can be multipurpose; you can cook directly on it (if food-safe) or use it to place on pots and pans. Prices range from $7.99 to $200 plus, depending on what your needs and tastes are. Camping stove: Another add-on that you might want to have in your camping gear is a small camping stove. It usually runs on propane and has two burners to easily cook your meals. Easy to pack and durable. Depending on the brand and features, they can cost around $105.98

For some yummy camping recipe ideas, check out our post: Camping Recipes: 3 Delicious and Easy Food Recipes to do While Camping


There are instances when you will need to bring potable water to a front country campsite. The amount of water that you will need for a single person will depend on the activities you plan to do while camping, the number of days that you are staying in the outdoors, and the season in which you are planning to do so. For example, you'll need more hydration on a hot summer day, and if you plan on hiking somewhere from camp, also take that into consideration. If you're camping for several days, getting a plastic jug might be a good idea.

Water jugs

Starting Price: 10.0 L water jug for $19.99 or 20.0 L for $24.99 at Canadian Tire

Add on: Hydration Pack: If you plan on doing a lot of activities around camp, a hydration pack is a great addition to your gear. There are some affordable options out there, starting at $38.99 and going up to $100 plus.

Camping clothing, hiking boots and runners


Depending on the activity and time of year, you might want to pack hiking clothes, a swimsuit, rain gear, sandals, sneakers, hiking boots, a hat, sunglasses, a toque, comfortable night clothes, and warm layers.

Add on: Long underwear top and bottom: This is a nice addition to your gear for the cooler nights, to wear underneath your clothing or to wear them to sleep. Amazon has the whole set for adults starting at $36.44 for men and $17.99 for women.

Toiletries, toiletries bag


Depending on your needs, you might want to bring sunscreen, a toothbrush, and toothpaste.

Add on: A waterproof travel toiletry bag is a good option to keep your items organised and dry. $17.95 at Amazon


Other things to consider bringing on your camping trip are:

Head Lamp

$11.99 at Mountain Warehouse

AAA Batteries (4 Pack)

$4.95 at MEC

Medical Kit

$13.59 at Amazon

Natrapel Mosquito, Tick and Insect Repellent Pump Spray

Bear Spray

Certified Standard Duty Poly Tarp, Waterproof, 6-ft x 8-ft

KingCord Cotton Cord, All Purpose, 1/8-in x 50-ft

Multitool Knife

Portable Cooler

8 Pack Paper Towel

Wand Lighter

Camping Chair

13.5'' Axe

Microfiber Beach Towel 71''x32''

Heavy-Duty Outdoor Triple Tap Extension Cord, 25', 14 AWG, 15A/125V AC

Garbage Bags

Total Estimate


Please keep in mind that the total budget excludes prices for clothing, toiletries, firewood, food, and add-ons, as these have very wide variations.


Camping is a fun experience that is enhanced when you are well-prepared. Remember that you are not required to spend a lot of money on camping equipment unless you want to. Continue to research and learn about the types of equipment that will work best for you. We recommend that you get the essentials first, then gradually add on gear as needed to lessen the financial burden.

Happy Camping!

Disclaimer: Prices shown here can change at any time and depend on each individual store. Prices don't reflect the cheapest gear, but the cheaper gear with better reviews.

Price updates will be made at the writer's discretion.


bottom of page