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Gear Guy


What's the Best Car-Camping Gear for $40 or Less?

How to build out your campsite without breaking the bank

You can camp in total comfort without breaking the bank. (Tandem )

How to build out your campsite without breaking the bank


Car-camping season is here. To help you dial in your kit, we came up with a list of our favorite affordable gear that should always go along for the ride. 

Lodge Logic Camp Dutch Oven 1 Quart ($35)

Click to enlarge. (Lodge)

If you’ve never cooked with a Dutch oven in a campfire, you’re missing out. These thick pots help you whip up oatmeal for breakfast, lasagna for dinner, and, best of all, cake for dessert.

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Ozark Trail Folding Chair ($7)

Click to enlarge. (Ozark Trail)

These are heavier than the fancy camp chairs you’ll see at an outdoor store, but who cares when you’re car camping? We always throw a bunch in the back of the truck because they make eating dinner or telling stories around the campfire much more comfortable. They’ll also stand up just fine to camp grime or ember holes.

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Coleman Bottle Top Stove ($40)

Click to enlarge. (Coleman)

This is the stove you use to make your coffee while the bacon cooks over the campfire. Same thing at night: you need just one burner to boil noodles while your special spaghetti sauce simmers over open coals.

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Coleman 28-Quart Cooler ($25)

Click to enlarge. (Coleman)

This cooler is the perfect size for a weekend’s worth of food but won’t take up too much room in your car. No, it isn’t big enough to also hold all your beer, but that’s fine. Just camp by a lake or river where you can stash your cans to keep them cold.

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Char-Broil Firebox Cook Grate ($10)

Click to enlarge. (Char-Broil)

Plop this over coals and you’re ready to grill steaks for dinner. It also makes a solid platform when you’re whipping up pancakes in a pan for breakfast. 

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Parachute Chord ($5 for 50 feet)

Click to enlarge. (Ultimate Survival Technologies)

You’ll always be glad to have a bunch of this in your car. It’s stronger that twine and can be used as a tent tie-down or clothesline.

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Tarp ($20)

Click to enlarge. (Harbor Freight Tools)

You’ll always be glad to have a tarp. Throw it under your tent as a footprint, use it to cover your picnic table when it starts to rain, or string it from the surrounding trees to create some shade. 

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Leatherman Rev ($35)

Click to enlarge. (Leatherman)

If you bring just one multitool, make it this one. With 14 different gadgets, it will do everything from fix your stove to open your beers.

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Filed To: Car Camping