This is a guest post by Josh Turner at CampingGearTV.com. If you would like to guest post on CampingBlogger, please see the Guest Posting page for information.
Wal-Mart is probably the market leader in affordable, family camping gear. Their selection exists within the confines of one small aisle, but they have everything you could need for a trip to your favorite campground. All the way from Disney themed sleeping bags (I prefer The Little Mermaid), to high-end Coleman portable stoves. Some of this stuff is pretty decent, and some of it…not so much.
Just as with anything, buying the absolute cheapest stuff usually isn’t the best idea. As we discussed in our series on Cheap Wal-Mart Camping Gear, a number of the cheapest products in Wal-Mart’s stock are indeed cheap in quality as well as price. Most items under the “Outdoor Products” brand are very low quality. They come with a price to match, but stay away from these.
Outside of this brand, you really can find some nice values at Wal-Mart. Their $25 Ozark Trail 2 Person Dome Tent is quite serviceable for such a ridiculously low price. With some aftermarket improvements such as waterproofing, it could be made even better. Granted, it will not compare with a $150 tent. But it’s $25, not $150. You might assume that this tent is a piece of junk, but do some research on the web and you’ll find tons of people that have gotten tremendous value out of this tent.
Ozark Trail also makes some nice sleeping bags that (for $10) really can’t be beat for affordable family camping. Rated at 40 degrees, we found that these sleeping bags got the job done. However, you might want to spend a little more money in the area of chairs. While very cost effective (about $10 as well), the plastic frames on the Ozark Trail camp chairs might not last more than a season or two. Especially with the abuse that youngin’s can sometimes impart on their equipment.
Aside from these cost effective brands, Wal-Mart is one of the few places that sells Coleman gear. One of the most tried and true brands in the camping world, I have yet to find a complaint about any of Coleman’s products. In fact, every one of their products I’ve ever used has been very solid. I know there are exceptions, such as the air mattresses mentioned here on CampingBlogger, but my experience has been 100% positive. Take my 25 year old camp stove, that still works perfectly after years and years of abuse. Enough said.
At the end of the day, you can always find good and bad products regardless of where you shop. Sure, Wal-Mart has some poor quality, low-end gear that should be avoided. But, they also have some great values. For one reason or another, many people just don’t like to shop at Wal-Mart. But for everybody else that is preparing for a family camping trip on a budget, Wal-Mart has some great finds that won’t break the bank.
Josh Turner produces and hosts the web show CampingGearTV.com, featuring camping and backpacking gear reviews. The show is also known for actionable advice on fending off bears using unorthodox and impractical methods. For more on their “Cheap Wal-Mart Gear” experiment, visit CampingGearTV.com.
I know this website gives quality depending posts and other data, is there any other web page which presents these kinds of data in quality?
I bought a 9×8 Sports dome tent at walwart. It has been a good one until 2 of the poles split out. Now I have a perfect tent that I can’t use gecause I can’t find replacement poles for it. Why would a company make a product and not make replacement parts for it? And why would a store continue to sell thier products?
Find your local Boy Scout troop and ask them for replacement poles that are at least as long as your original. poles that broke. Offer them a couple of bucks per pole. Then, take a look about how to trim the poles to exact length and why at http://www.outdoor-camping-guide.com/camping-tent-equipment.html You need to match the length or you can tear the seams apart-and if this sounds like the voice of experience, it is!
Thanks for your info. I would agree for some Walmart is one of the places to pick us some gear, especially for new family campers. Putting a kit together can be so cheap that theres not much love lost if camping doesnt work out for a newbie or it has a limited life span.
It is pretty cool they do the Coleman stuff and would recommend a coleman 2 burner stove to most families camping out.
Its all about what we can afford, how long were going, where and how often. If a person is new or goes summer family camping then cheap and walmart will suffice.
The only thing i dont like is the big stores taking over so much that the smaller businesses lose out but thats my gripe. Its convenient for shoppers and likely to be cheaper too which attracts most of us with all goods we buy.
Thats my two pennies
One point of clarification: Why THREE tents? One for my son, one for my daughter, and one for my wife and myself. WE were warned early on to take the ‘person #’ on the tent and divide by two to take into account the gear space needed for comfortable camping. So that is what we do. A four person tent will comfortably hold two plus gear.
The best WalMart for camping gear we have found is the new one located in Dahlonega GA-Full line of Coleman along with a huge variety of accessories/More than any other WM we have been in.
I haven’t looked at the one here in our town, but the big one in the next town over has a pretty good selection of camping gear. I think we have gotten chairs, propane, Coleman fuel and some other cooking stuff, there.
One point of clarification:
Why THREE tents? One for my son, one for my daughter, and one for my wife and myself. WE were warned early on to take the ‘person #’ on the tent and divide by two to take into account the gear space needed for comfortable camping. So that is what we do. A four person tent will comfortably hold two plus gear.
My son is in Boy Scouts, my daughter WAS in Girl Scouts, and my wife and I have been camping together since we were married (our honeymoon trip was a seven-week camping trip from the Smokey Mountains to Prince Edward Island). We have been buying Wal-Mart camping gear for a good part of our years and aside from a few duds, have had reasonably good results from their products, including three $29.00 four-person Ozark Trail dome tents (9X8) which, as the article said, did require waterproofing, but they are going on their fourth year of heavy use.
Mess kits, lanterns, first aid kits, compasses, etc. All basic and good.
Cheers to Wal-Mart for making camping family affordable!
See you on the trails!
You can’t argue with getting 4 years of use out that tent, Jim – that sounds like money well spent!