Save Money, Gear Up at Your Local Department Store

tarpIf you’ve been to your local outdoor retailer lately, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of the necessary camping gear found there tends to be a bit on the pricey side. Of course, with quality, durable, lightweight material, this is to be expected. However, not every piece of camping gear needs to be top-of-the-line to get the job done. Today, we’ll take a look at some department store counterparts to the expensive items you can find at outdoor retailers.

Headlamps are a huge help when it comes to moving around at night in the outdoors. Whether you’re completely making camp or just finding the bathroom, a good headlamp will be a blessing. Many models at outdoor retailers can be costly, though, which is why I’d head to a store like Target or Wal-Mart for a headlamp if I were you. There, you can 150-Lumen lamps in the $10-$15 range that are bright enough to light your way around camp while offering various settings. The ones I’ve found there feature six-hour run times on the highest setting, so be sure to bring extra batteries.

For car and campground camping, you’ll most likely want a cooler handy to keep foods fresh. A 45-quart cooler with wheels will keep food and beverages cold for a night out camping, and you can find a quality model at a department store for around $30. No, it may not have as many frills as one bought at a store like REI, but odds are you can find one with built-in cup holders and an easy-to-clean surface to make up for that.

Quick, hot meals are a must on a camping trip, but casual campers don’t need to spend the extra money on a serious backcountry stove. Such individuals will be better off with a butane stove from Coleman for around $20, which is compact, light, and has its own carrying case.

Many outdoorsmen can be picky when it comes to some of their gear items, especially multitools. Even at a department store, though, you can still find a quality, affordable multitool that has all the basics, such as a can opener, cork screw, reamer, screwdriver, slot screwdriver, key ring, toothpick, fish scaler, saw, scissors, cutting blade, and cap lifter.

When it comes to the outdoors, tarps can be as important as toilet paper. Forget to pack a tarp and you’ll quickly regret it if the rain begins to fall. You can find quality tarps for around $15 at any store, so save money by picking one up the next time you’re out grabbing groceries.

Obviously, there are several quality brands that can only be found at specific locations, but the items listed above can be found at nearly any department store for significantly less than their outdoor retailer counterparts. If you’re looking to save some money this season—and who isn’t?—keep today’s tips in mind the next time you need to grab some gear.