How much does camping cost?
The range of camping equipment on offer these days has never been wider and most retailers will usually put together some very hot deals to attract customers to their showrooms and websites.
For just a few hundred pounds, a family of four should be able to get fully kitted out for a fortnight’s fun in the sun. After that, you only need to cover the pitch fees and factor in the costs of fuel to get you to your destination, together with food for the duration of your stay – although unless you choose to eat out every night, this shouldn’t be much more than what you’d spend at home.
We’ve based the guide prices below on typical costs for equipping a family of four for a two-week break in summer, but you may decide to invest a little more in your camping kit if you want to use it for spring and autumn breaks. And remember, the spend on equipment is a one-time only outlay... until you inevitably decide to upgrade!
You can buy a basic four-berth family tent for less than £100 but we’d suggest spending a little more than this (£300 - £500) to get something that will be better qulaity and ensure you are warm and dry. A six-berth model will provide extra living space and take the cost up again - you could spend between £400 and £800 depending on the features. Traditional poled tents tend to be far less expensive than inflatable models, although the cost of these is coming down. You can now buy a six berth inflatable for as little as £600.
Expect to pay: £300 - £800
Kids’ sleeping bags can cost as little as a tenner, with very basic adult bags costing only a little more, but again, it’s worth spending more for better quality bags which will be warmer and last longer. For spring and autumn use, it’s important to get bags that provide enough insulation – so expect to pay upwards of £40.
Expect to pay: £80 - £280 (family of four)
These are more comfortable than the lightweight mats favoured by backpackers, but cheaper than camp beds. Don’t forget to pick up an electric pump, too. An even better option is a self-inflating mat, which can be even more comfortable than an airbed.
Expect to pay: £50 - £100 (family of four)
A basic single burner stove is enough for boiling the kettle and heating up simple meals and they will cost as little as £10. If you fancy being more adventurous, look for a combined two-burner stove and grill with a wind guard. It’s also worth forking out for a folding kitchen unit on which to place it. Disposable, gas cylinders start at around £10; returnable cylinders cost more up front, but work out cheaper in the long run if you are getting through a lot of gas.
Expect to pay: £10 - £200
Most camping shops sell traditional whistling kettles and nests of cooking pots, which are ideal for camping. Plastic or melamine crockery is light, durable and kid-proof and don’t forget some serving utensils, a sharp knife and chopping board, tin opener and, of course, a corkscrew and bottle opener.
Expect to pay: £75 - £125 in total
FRIDGE OR COOLBOX
A basic coolbox is adequate for short weekend breaks, but a three-way fridge which can be run off gas, mains or 12-volt power is a better bet for longer stays – if only to keep perishables such as milk, butter and eggs fresh – not to mention chilling beer and wine!
Expect to pay: £15 - £100
TABLE AND CHAIRS
Invest in a decent lightweight table and folding chairs and you’ll get as much use out of them in the back garden as you will on site.
Expect to pay: £75 - £200
A simple battery powered lantern can cost as little as £10 but you could spend up to £25 for something will a little more oomph. Consider a couple of head torches too; these can be picked up for a tenner.
Expect to pay: £10-£45
TOTAL KIT: £610 - £1,850
These vary enormously from site to site and are also dependent upon the time of year. Some small farm sites may only ask a couple of pounds per night, while full facilities sites in peak season may charge upwards of £30 for a family of four.
Expect to pay: £140 - £560 for two weeks