Our Budget Camping Gear Review

Hello all!  This is our review of the budget camping gear that we used on our Epic Road Trip in September…I know, so late! This is for car camping so we had a ton of leeway in what we chose.  So what follows is the review of our Coleman Tent, Coleman Sleeping bag, and Coleman Air Mattress, with why we chose our items. When I started out, I didn’t really know if it was feasible to car camp across the country! The answer is YES!


At first, I was going to borrow a tent, but then I was concerned that maybe Chico would dislike it and do something to ruin it and I was nervous about replacing an expensive tent, pretty unfounded really. I was surprised at how inexpensive tents could be, once you stopped caring about weight!  Last time I bought a tent it was 15 years ago, for backpacking, and $300 or so.


I asked around, and Coleman, was the favorite budget minded gear among my friends.  I wasn’t willing to go no name big box tent. I made my purchases off of Amazon, because I had Amazon Prime, and if anything went wrong I could get something sent to me on the road within 2 days, and still have 30 days to return the defect item.

Coleman Sundome 2 Person Tent $45

This tent was the favorite among my friends. Many had more than one because it only runs around $45, so they would keep one in each vehicle, a couple at each cabin or house, etc. Heads up 2 person is more like 1 1/2 people, but perfect for me and my dog. 2 skinny people could fit.


Besides the price and reputation, I also chose this tent because it was reported to have quick set up time and take down time, something that I would need since many of my camping stops where just overnight, and I sometimes had to set up in the dark.  And this tent lives up to that, I can set up or take down this tent in less than 5 minutes by myself.  PRO TIP : I got rid of the bag and used a pillow case to store the tent and items in, as I also got the Coleman Tent Tool Kit, and that was well worth the $9, the spikes in it, were easier to use than the ones that come with the tent, and I also didn’t own a hammer or mallet.


When the tent first arrived, due to our special kind of luck, it did have a manufacturer defect, the whole zipper fell off.  I talked to my friends, and they all said NO WAY, I’ve used my tents for years!  It has to be a defect!  And for sure it was.  We had our replacement tent in just a day, and this tent stood up to 17 nights of camping, 6 nights in the rain,  no leakage and I didn’t even use a footprint. The fly stayed on in windy conditions, and it also stood up to some mid 30 degree weather, but that was mostly my sleeping bag doing the work.


None of my shock poles broke. Read the instructions and follow them, and they should hold up for you as well. We didn’t have any problems with bugs, even when we used the Electric Cord Flap.  Condensation wasn’t too bad either.  The zippers not only held up, but they had loops on them that I could put a carabiner through for an extra step of safety if someone tried to open from the outside while we were sleeping inside. There are also handy pocket tents that I put emergency flashlight and horn in, as well has a loop from the ceiling that I hung my $7 budget headlamp from with a carabiner.


Standard KOA camping pad

At 14 paid nights of camping ( 3 were spent in my parents backyard overlooking a canal), we saved close to $1200 off of motels, since many of our stops the prices were around $75 to $120 a room even in the off season, and, many also wanted dog fees. So the $45 tent paid for itself with one trip. Really it would’ve paid for itself with one weekend.


The only thing that I would change about this tent is rather minor….I would like a full screen door, the window in the door is too high up to see out of without kneeling up, especially for my dog.  There were a few days where we had to hang out in our tent because of rain or extreme bugs while waiting for activities to begin, like when it was raining at my Parents house and also very buggy) it would’ve been nice to look out over the canal/lake/scenery while reading and relaxing. The “stargazer” window ceiling, really does nothing for me when it is raining, and as a person who is camping alone, in mostly populated spots, I feel a loss of privacy with it.


Coleman Green Valley Sleeping bag $30 


Ok, not having to worry about weight, the biggest reason I chose this bag was for it’s flannel liner!  I love this bag! I liked the color too. It is also a 30 degree to 50 degree bag, so as long as I wore base layers, it would work on the cold nights in the 30’s.  The zippers are awesome, they never got stuck, and it was nice to not have a mummy bag, Chico at 25 pounds fit comfortably in the bag with me.  It also has a pocket near the top for your phone, which I know may sound silly, but when I didn’t use it I kept losing my phone in the tiny tent!  We did end up using the bag on a couple mid 30 nights and it kept me warm even though I didn’t have the best base layers on.  On hot nights I just unzipped it. I also live in a breezy old Victorian and have been using this on my bed, since the heater is only in one room, as with most California Apartments. I have washed this 3 times, and it is holding up great!



Coleman Quick Bed Air Mattress

At first, I brought along a big box no name air mattress that I happened to already own..Guess what?  The closing valve had TWO parts and they didn’t attach to the mattress, so I forgot one part.

We ran out to Target and got an inexpensive twin sized Coleman Mattress.  I already had the air pump, and it took just a couple minutes to blow the Coleman up and to deflate it. Since we were car camping size or weight didn’t matter, and I was quite comfortable every night 🙂  The stretch where we stayed in one place for 3 nights, we did have to top it off once, as expected  On cold nights, we put a blanket over it first and then our sleeping bag, and we stayed warm.  The air inside the mattresses can get cold, and make you colder.  The valves are attached to the mattress, yay!  We didn’t bother trying to use the “Quick Roll System” as we just folded it up and put it in the trunk. It seems pretty durable.

We did use a Coleman Two Burner Stove, but actually, all I did with it was boil water.  I can’t really review it, we will try one of those Etekcity ultralight single burners next time.

Happy Trails!


2 thoughts on “Our Budget Camping Gear Review

  1. Pingback: This year’s Epic Trip-New items for camping with a dog and what I’ve changed from last year’s trip | Hiking with Chico the Boston Terrier

  2. Pingback: Camping & Hiking at Uvas Canyon County Park in Morgan Hill | Hiking with Chico the Boston Terrier

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