see all cities »


Camping on a dime

Any outdoor adventure can literally be as expensive or as affordable as you make it. I like to keep my hard earned dollars in my pocket while adventuring. Here are a few ideas on how you can go camping on a dime and save your money for your next gear purchase or ice cream stop instead.

A place to stay

As a citizen of Canada, you can camp for free on public land or Crown land. The limitations are usually that your structure has to be temporary, you leave the areas as clean (or better) than you found it and stays are limited to less than 14 days.

For a few bucks per night, provincial parks and conservation areas offer affordable camping. Typically, the amenities and location will dictate the cost. Consider campgrounds a little off the beaten trail with limited amenities for the best value. To reduce costs even further, note how many structures can be pitched on a site, and take along a few friends or another family to help reduce the cost even more.

If you’re looking for a quick stop over location, many large retailers offer overnight parking in their lots. As well, along the Trans-Canada Highway and other major highways, there are rest areas that can serve as a place to park and sleep for the night if you are too tired to continue. Some provinces restrict overnight stays so check before you go.

A little bite to eat

The easiest way to save money on food is to shop from your own fridge and cupboards. That chili or soup you froze extras of last month will taste amazing over the campfire. Prepare easy summer salads, vegetable sticks and simple snacks to take with you. Consider eating up what you have and not just buying more food for camping. Don’t forget the marshmallows and warm beverages for night time treats.

What do you already have?

Many of us have outdoor gear kicking around in our closets, and extra utensils or dishes that can be pressed into service. Take a look at what you already have and create an inventory or pile of items that can be added to your camping stash.

From the kitchen:

  • Mismatched mugs, travel mugs and reusable water bottles
  • Plastic utensils, cups and napkins from parties
  • Cast iron pans
  • Plastic measuring cups
  • Canned goods, granola bars and oatmeal packages

From the garage:

  • Sleeping bags, old blankets
  • Lanterns, flashlights
  • Long handled forks or skewers from BBQ set
  • Tools
  • Lawn chairs

Beg, borrow, or… ask nicely

Friends or family may already have what you’re looking for. Send a group email, Facebook post or call up your adventurous relatives. Borrow a piece of gear you’re not sure you want to invest in, or try a new tent layout before you commit to a similar one of your own. In some areas, they even have outdoor gear libraries or stores, where you can borrow gear you want to try for a low fee.

If you’re ready to get camping on a dime, check out the Garage Sale section on your local site, and acquire whatever you can’t find at home. Here you will find low cost camping gear that can be as good as new and a fraction of the price. Happy trails.

Useful links:

Find camping essentials on your local site here.

Find sleeping bags on your local site here.

Find lawn chairs on your local site here.

Find sleeping bags on your local site here.



Holly is a mountain mama, who shucked off life in the urban jungle to live in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. She is obsessed with all things outdoors & active. In her free moments, you will find her hiking and geocaching with her children & border collie, renovating her home, camping and trying to whip up the next DIY project and healthy meal for her family.

One Response to “Camping on a dime”



I am interested in camping anything. Where can I find more information or camping gear. I find the city BORING /…!


Leave a Reply