Money saved is money in your pocket!
Camping, especially in great weather countries like South Africa, can be a wonderful natural experience. If you have given adequate thought to ensuring you have the right equipment with you, which need not always be bought new, the experience can save you money too.
For example, the second time you hitch your camping trailer to the back of the van, it is no longer new, right? So seeking out used camping gear can not only be fun, but it can also be a great cost-saver. There are many hobbyists who simply abandon new equipment as they discover camping is not to their liking after having tried it, which is where bargains can be found.
You do not need to buy second-hand items of personal use, such as sleeper bags or even sleeper stretchers, but a great deal of equipment can be acquired pre-owned, without causing any discomfort to your overall experience.
To start, most of your camping gear needs additional space for transportation. Whether you go for a set of sturdy roof racks for your car or a small trailer to tow, these can very easily be bought second-hand, saving you a great bunch of cash. Practical must-have items for camping, such as ground sheets for under your tent and fold-out shade canopies for the baking African sun, need also not be bought new as you can set up just as well with a used item.
There are fold-out chairs and a table, which are needed for dining while camping, which are also just fine used. Your cooking tools, such as a gas cooker with fittings, can also be bought on the used market. You can take personal cutlery and crockery from home, as well as your other basic cooking utensils, sleeping equipment, etc. A mini fridge is a great asset on hot camping trips to the bush, for example, and these are readily available on Gumtree. You can easily run a mini fridge off a power point at the campsite or from your car battery.
All your camping knowledge materials, like books on the area, where to hike, and what to look for, as well as birding or animal books, insect or tree books, or simply comfort novels can all be acquired at your local second-hand bookstore before departure.
Looking digitally, you might think of buying a used GPS to get you to your camping destination in the mountains. Perhaps you are interested in bird-watching, in which case you can also buy a pair of used binoculars and a birding book from your local bird-watching association. Better still, used photographic equipment, and especially cameras and lenses, can be found used, as photographers are constantly upgrading, leaving behind a litter of perfectly usable lenses.
You should be able to have a great camping trip, making use of previously owned equipment, without compromising on your own levels of comfort and overall enjoyment. With the money saved, you can probably cover the costs of at least your first camping trip. If you find camping is not for you, simply sell your used camping gear on Gumtree so you don’t take a great hit on the pocket – you might even make a profit.
Photo credit – Zach Dischner for Flickr