Wecome To RVs and OHVs

This blog is all about RVs (recreational vehicles) and OHVs (Off Highway Vehicles), camping, and survival
and how they work together to provide wholesome family fun and great learning opportunities.
Many posts are intended to familiarize novice campers and RVers with RV systems and basic camping and survival
skills. But even experienced RVers and campers will enjoy the anecdotes and may even benefit from a new
perspective. Comments, questions, and suggestions are encouraged.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Camping Stores

 In a previous post we addressed "Camp Stores".  They are the little stores in a campground that usually offer some staples and camping supplies as opposed to camping stores, that focus on selling camping supplies and equipment.

Camping stores might be appropriately applied to any store that regularly sells camping supplies and equipment.  We usually think of places like Camping World, L.L. Bean, and REI. 
as camping stores.  Department stores such as Walmart, Kmart, Target, and Sears usually have large camping sections which qualifies them as camping stores. Sporting goods stores like Big 5, Dicks, and Sportsmans Warehouse are, of course, also good place to find camping supplies and equipment.  Many RV retailers have in house stores that sell mostly RV oriented supplies and accessories, but because camping and RVing are so closely aligned, you often find a variety of general camping supplies there too.  You may also find camping supplies at your local grocery store and large pharmacy chains like Rite Aid and Walgreens.  Some auto parts stores stock a limited amount of RV supplies too.

When I'm in the market for camping supplies and equipment, whether for tent camping or RVing, the first place I usually look is ebay.com.  That is, if I can afford to wait a few days for the items to be delivered.  For more immediate needs, I'll head to a local store like Big 5 or Walmart.  I've kept track of my ebay purchases over several years and have found that by judicious choice of purchase I've saved an average of over 50% over retail.  But whenever you use an Internet auction site, be sure you know what things will cost through regular local or online retail outlets so  you don't over bid.  Remember, to some extent, to win an auction on ebay you must be willing to pay more than anyone else in the world!  Don't let yourself get drawn into a bidding war over something you can get elsewhere.  I've seen bids for items on ebay climb way above the regular retail price at the local Walmart.  For example, I saw someone pay over $17 plus shipping for an outdoor 12-volt RV receptacle that sells every day at Walmart for under $10!

Thrift stores are not normally thought of as camping stores, but they can often be an excellent source of inexpensive equipment for camping.  People often donate camping equipment they no longer use to the charitable organizations that run thrift stores.  Often the equipment has only been slightly used because it seems we never get to go camping enough.  Sometimes it is even brand new! People tend to accumulate duplicate items over time or receive them as gifts.  You won't always find equipment like tents, lanterns, stoves, or sleeping bags, but when  you do you will probably be able to get them for a fraction of their original retail cost and very often they will be gently used and still in good condition.  Some thrift stores even recondition items for sale.  You can almost always count on finding plenty of kitchen items -- pots, pans, utensils, dinnerware etc.  They usually have a large selection of clothing from which you can build up your camp wardrobe.  Good winter jackets, like ski parkas, can be VERY expensive when new but you can often find excellent used ones at thrift stores that are more than suitable for camping at a tiny fraction of their original cost.  Thrift stores are also a good place to find good used jeans and other comfortable pants for camping.  You may even find some good hiking or snow boots!  (I like to keep a pair of snow boots in my RV.  I call them my "desert bedroom slippers".  They are really comfortable and keep my feet warm and comfortable around the campfire after a day of having my feet confined in stiff motorcycle riding boots.  Other good sources for used items include garage sales and local classified ads.  Be sure to check our your local version of craigslist.

My advice to you is to look for camping and RV supplies and accessories where ever  you go.  Even hardware stores and home centers sometimes have items you may find useful, even if they aren't specifically designed for camping.  I once picked up a 7' umbrella tent for $10 at a side walk sale at a home improvement store!   Our local home center recently had a special price promotion on telescoping walking sticks.   I've even found unique items at truck stops and travel centers during road trips.  While you might need to be careful about making unplanned expenditures while traveling, you will often discover that you will never have another opportunity to purchase certain unique items.  In general my suggestion is when in doubt, buy it!  I can't think of a single time I've regretted making such a purchase but there have been many times I've lost out by not buying something when I could.

A couple of tips for keeping cost down:  1) check to see if you already have some excess or duplicate items you can re-purpose for camping before you spend good money on new ones and 2) keep your eyes open for sales -- watch for clearance and manger special signs whenever you go shopping.  Look over the stuff in your kitchen, attic, basement, and garage to see what you might have stored that you can now use.  One other thought:  stock up on bargains when  you have a chance.  That applies mostly to durable goods and supplies.  Buying large quantities of perishable items only makes sense when you have an immediate need and will use them up before they go bad, such as for a large family or group outing -- or if you have a way to preserve them for future use, such as freezing them.  I had to pay $1.50 for two of the little spring type sleeping bag cord locks when I needed them NOW for a trip.  A few days later I bought about 50 of them in one bag on ebay for about what I spent at my local sporting goods store for two!  Next time I need them I'll be all set.

Some items you might find it useful to watch for and stock up on might include spare parts for stoves and lanterns (generators, mantles, pump repair kits etc), tent pegs, personal grooming items (such a camping mirrors, biodegradable soap, pocket first aid kits, etc), LED flashlights and batteries, fire starters, parts for back packs (those darned little clevis pins have a habit of getting lost on the trail!), sunglasses, and bandages and other durable medical supplies.  RVers or tent campers with a porta-potti will want to stock up on toilet/holding tank chemicals.  If you use a gasoline camp stove or lantern, a couple extra cans of camping fuel would be handy.  If your have propane stove or lantern, you can save money by buying multi-packs of propane canisters when they're on sale.

Shop 'til you drop!

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