Whether it’s gear, food or gas to get where you’re going, camping can be quite pricey. We don’t think it has to be that way, though. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of ways to camp on a budget.

1. Go in off-season

Sure, camping in the colder months might not sound like fun, but it can be a blast. You typically have campgrounds all to yourself and they are usually free or very discounted. Remember, there isn’t such a thing as bad weather, only bad gear.

2. Camp for free

Campgrounds can often be pricey, especially, as we noted above, in prime season. Get around this by camping in your backyard or with dispersed camping. You’ll just want to follow Leave No Trace principles, packing out all of your garbage and digging holes for when you need to go to the bathroom.

3. Dehydrate your own meals

Pre-made meals add up quickly--especially if you’re buying camping meals from your local outfitter. You can save yourself some money by dehydrating your own food. Of course, you’ll have to spend money upfront on a dehydrator, but it will be worth it in the long run. Plus, you can often get healthier meals when you make them yourself.

4. Make your own snacks

The same goes for snacks. While candy bars and crisps can be delicious, you can make your own snacks for a fraction of the cost. We suggest GORP--Good Old Raisins and Peanuts--they’re high nutrient and low weight. If you must have pre-made snacks, buy them in bulk so you can save on the cost.

5. Make your own lantern

Put your headlamp around a water bottle or jug of water and it will make lovely ambient lighting. Plus, it will save you the cost, space and weight of buying a camping lantern.

6. Borrow or rent gear

It can be tempting to buy all of your gear at once, but you won’t know what you really need or want in the beginning. Borrow or rent a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and pack before your first trip. That way you’ll begin to understand what you must have and what you can save money on.

7. Don’t drive alone

Driving to your camping spot alone is the least cost-effective way to do it. Try and take public transportation or grab a ride with a friend. We’ve been known to even bike to local camping spots to save gas money and wear and tear on our cars.

8. Make your own gear

You’d be surprised by what you can make with your own two hands. Before you spend money on a fancy stove or camping shower, search the Internet for ways to make them yourself. We promise, it’s not only possible, but fun too!

9. Know what to spend money on

Again, before you go camping for the first time, go with friends and borrow or rent some gear. Get a sense of what you need to spend a little extra on to have a good time. Then do research. Usually tents, sleeping bags, backpacks and shoes are the most important pieces of gear for camping and backpacking trips. For your most important pieces of gear, you’ll save money in the long run by spending a little more in the short term. Simply put, they’ll typically last a lot longer.