Wild camping on a budget: Affordable outdoor adventures

If you want to start exploring and enjoying wild camping but are concerned about how much it costs, read on. We will guide you through how to start wild camping, keep a budget and not break the bank.

You don’t need to spend a fortune on named brands, as plenty of lesser-known brands are just as good. How to keep transport costs and enjoy yourself without worrying about money.

Essential wild camping gear on a budget

You don’t have to break the bank for an affordable outdoor adventure. Regarding essential gear for wild camping, the primary key is not to rush out, buy everything, and spend a fortune. You can wild camp on a budget by planning, price comparison and buying second-hand gear.

  • Research and compare – Research is key when buying camping gear for wild camping. Check all brands, reviews and models. Ensuring that you get the best price. Set yourself a budget and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to spend more as you assume that the gear you need is better quality as it is more expensive. 
  • Budget-friendly alternatives – There are some excellent wild camping gear that is affordable. For instance, the OEX Lightweight and Compact Coyote III 3 Expedition or the OEX Lightweight Waterproof Jackal II 2-Person Tent. They are both ideal wild camping tents with waterproof levels of 5000HH and are lightweight. Eurohike and Hi-Gear brands are good quality but at reasonable prices. You don’t need to spend a fortune on a well-known branded sleeping bag if the rating is good and meets the temperature requirements.
  • Check second-hand gear – Second-hand stores, car boots, and the Facebook marketplace are ideal places to find a bargain. Second-hand stores are great for camping chairs, sleeping bags and small tents. Always be aware when buying second-hand gear. Ensure you see the tent pitched and check for splits, zips, or mould issues. Some things you can repair, such as zips, if they stick beeswax, will help. For more tips on buying second-hand gear, Read our article on what to look for and if it is worth buying or walking away.
  • Borrow from friends or family- Borrowing wild camping gear is another option if you are on a tight budget. Or you do not want to spend a fortune if it is not for you. You will be surprised how many people store camping gear in the garage or shed.
  • Price comparison – Always compare prices to find the cheapest. Many stores have an offer where if you find an item cheaper elsewhere, you can buy it at the same price. Plus, some retailers offer an additional discount of 10%-20%.
  • Cost-saving tips – If you are smart where you buy, you can earn points towards camping gear. I use Shoppix, Amazon Panel, Quidco and Honey. All of these offer me points which can be converted into vouchers or PayPal payments. The best part about these apps is you can earn points on your everyday shopping from food shopping, insurance, and fuel. Our article on 23 different money-saving tips will help you to find a bargain and not break the bank.

Budget-friendly destinations: Exploring the great outdoors 

Exploring the countryside and finding remote locations can be difficult. However, wild camping is an ideal low-cost camping experience. Outdoor adventures on a budget can create unique, unforgettable experiences. However, you must research for location and budget-friendly camping gear.

  • Free wild camping – Wild camping mainly explores the countryside and finding a place to camp remotely from the general public. If you live near Dartmoor National Park, Yorkshire, the Lake District, Scotland, Wales or Derbyshire, it is more accessible, and you will not have to travel long distances to wild camp. If you know the areas, places are easier to find. You can join Facebook groups and ask for the best locations, but nobody will give away their perfect spot, but they will give you an idea of an area to camp. I live in the heart of Cambridgeshire, the area is very flat, so I have to travel 2-3 hours to a wild camp in a scenic area. We have forest areas, but these a preservation land and have strictly no camping. Park rangers monitor the area and will ask you to leave.
  • Campsite wild camping – Many campsites offer a wild camping experience. However, it is not actually wild camping. I call this semi-wild camping as you use showers, toilets, running drinking water and no EHU. On average, these will cost £10 – £15 per night per person, although this does vary depending on location. There are several campsite websites that you can book, such as UK Camping and Pitchup. If you are unsure whether to camp on a campsite or in the wild, read our article, where we compare the pros and cons of both, including security and safety. This may help you to decide what is best for you, especially if you are new to wild camping.
  • Speak to local landowners – Another option is to speak to local farms. If they have some woodland on their land, they may allow you to pitch a tent for a night. They may charge you a small fee or allow you to pitch for free, providing you leave no trace and cause no damage. Ask friends or family if they know anybody you can speak to.
  • Awareness of local restrictions – Always check for local restrictions wherever you camp. You may think areas are free, especially in Scotland, but there are restrictions, and you may need to pay for a permit. This often can be about £6, which is a small price compared to the campsite cost.

Transportation and travel hacks on a budget

Transports costs can add up quickly, and you must be savvy to keep costs low. Research and plan ahead of your journey. Travel off-peak, find discounts for travel and always consider parking costs if you travel by car.

  • Budget-friendly transportation options – You only sometimes have to use your car for wild camping unless you live several hours away. If you live local to an ideal spot, use public bus transport. This will help keep costs low, and you will not have to worry about your car while exploring the countryside. If you travel by train, using Quidco to book via train line will earn you a commission on your tickets, which you can save to buy camping gear or future travel tickets. 
  • Car sharing – Car sharing and split fuel costs if you travel as a group. If you are wild camping as a group, car sharing can be a fun experience, and you all share the experience together. Always research where you will park as you may find there are overnight restrictions, or you can pay an additional parking fee of £15 – £25 per day.
  • Travel during off-peak time – To encourage people to travel during quieter periods, travelling off-peak is a great solution to keep costs down. You can save money during off-peak travel, but discounts are available, especially if you travel by train for group bookings. Travelling by car, plan your route in advance and avoid rush hour and hold-ups, which will increase your fuel usage.

Wild camping – Budget meal planning and preparation

Planning in advance will save you money. Planning ahead to ensure you have everything you need. Check your food cupboards and freezer, as you may find quick and easy food for your trip.

  • Cost-saving meal ideas for wild camping – When it comes to meal ideas for wild camping, simplicity is the key. Meals that require minimal ingredients can be prepared by a mini stove or campfire. Ideally, always use a mini stove to avoid the hazards of fire spreading. Meals prepared in advance that you only have to heat, packet meals sandwiches if you don’t want to cook. However, I recommend always taking food you can heat, as it can be cold in the evening, and you must keep your energy levels up. Take high-energy snacks like nuts, dried fruits that you can eat along the route.
  • Essential ingredients – Always have a mixture of spices to add flavour to your meals. You will find your food cupboard at home, including cooking oil, salt and pepper.
  • Planning meals – Each week, I will always add a few items to my weekly food shop, especially if I see food that is on offer. I bulk cook and freeze food ready for future outdoor adventures. This way, if the weather is good, I can grab my frozen food and go without worrying about prepping the night before.

Connecting with others

Connecting with local outdoor communities can enhance your wild camping experience and provide valuable resources and knowledge. Engaging with fellow hikers and campers allows you to tap into a wealth of experience and build connections with like-minded individuals.

  • Joining camping and hiking groups – Research your local areas for hiking and camping groups. Another option is Facebook groups. However, you must be cautious and avoid meeting up with one individual from Facebook. Go with an organised larger group. Local hiking groups are another option. Although they are solely for hiking, some people may be willing to try wild camping while exploring the countryside. Plus, building up your stamina is advisable if you have yet to wild camp, as it can be heavy going.
  • Seek advice – Don’t be shy to ask questions; learning from others is ideal. You can get lots of advice from Facebook groups. These groups have experience with camping gear and skills that will help you save costs and not waste money on non-essentials. 
  • Equipment sharing – Joining groups will help to share costs as you can share gear, such as cooking gear. It also helps to reduce costs and enjoy your experience with other outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Organised groups – Many groups organise wild camping excursions. However, if you have family members who love wild camping, join them. There are many benefits, not only for learning from them but for safety and planning reasons. Sharing the responsibility allows you to enjoy your wild camping experience and create fun memories. Find out more of the benefits of solo vs group wild camping. Read our article on solo vs group wild camping for the benefits of both.

Related questions

Wild camping wardrobe: Essential clothing for outdoor adventures

Always prioritise comfort, weather appropriateness and functionality. Always check the weather forecast before leaving, and be prepared. However, there are some essential items of clothing you should ways cons

  • Base layers – Base layers are ideal; they are snug to the body and can help to regulate your body’s temperatures. They are moisture-wicker material, which is breathable allowing sweat to evaporate. So you will not feel hot and sweaty. Understand the environment you are in and wear them underneath your clothing. 
  • Wear layers – It is important to have layers of clothing to remove them depending on the temperature. They need to be warm, lightweight and waterproof. For colder nights wearing thermal clothing will help to keep you warm. Avoid cotton clothing as it retains moisture.
  • Waterproof rainwear – Always invest in a good waterproof jacket and trousers to protect yourself against rain and wind. It must be breathable so sweat can escape and you do not feel wet inside your jacket.
  • Sturdy hiking boots and socks – Good waterproof walking boots that support your ankles and grip well. Make sure you wear them before your trip to avoid blisters. Always test your walking boots on in-store with the socks you will wear, as this will affect the comfort of your boots. Buy thermal socks that will allow moisture to escape to avoid hot, sweaty feet. 
  • Headwear and gloves – Always have a suitable hat and gloves. Although during the summer, it can be tempting to assume you will not need them. Weather can change quickly; you must keep your head and hands warm. I don’t always take a thermal hat during the summer, but I always take lightweight, thinner ones. At night I have the option to use them if the temperatures drop.

How to choose a safe location when wild camping

When you first think about wild camping, it can be daunting. Mainly because you are still determining where to wild camp and how to find the different locations to visit.

You can take several steps to plan your trip, covering safety, location and awareness.

  • Location – Select an area where you would like to wild camp. Research the area for ideal spots for wild camping. Check to see if there are designated wild camping areas and if you need a permit to camp. Ensure you are aware of all the local regulations to avoid trespassing. Research online, join forums and Facebook groups.
  • Hazards – As you research, check for hazards such as cliffs, uneven terrain, and flood areas. Consider weather conditions as if you are high in the mountains or cliff tops. It can be hazardous in high winds. I have camped at the top of a cliff, I ensured that I remained safe from the edge, but just at 40mph winds, it was a long night with no additional shelter.
  • Privacy – The reason why we wild camp is for privacy. You want to avoid drawing attention to yourself. Don’t pitch your tent near hiking paths or public pathways.
  • Consider wildlife – Research the area for wildlife as you want to maintain their habitat. Make sure food is stored safely, including rubbish. Not only do you want to keep the area clean to avoid encouraging wildlife, but you need to keep it tidy. Keep in mind, leave no trace.


I'm a single parent who loves pitching a tent and exploring the countryside at any opportunity. I am working with a glamping pod company and helping them to set up a family campsite in East Riding Yorkshire.

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