Anyone who knows me knows that I am a city slicker through and through. You know, the type of girl whose idea of a holiday includes 5-star resorts, massages, and pillow-topped dream-beds. I am not good at staying at 3-star motels; that is a rough experience for me. I am even less good at camping....you know, outdoors.
So imagine, to my own surprise, my excitement at being invited along on a camping trip with some friends and family. As a couple, Hubbs & I have never camped. We have never been invited to camp, either, and I attribute this to the fact that we are not the "camping type;" everyone we know is aware that our most recent "holidays" have all involved trips to Vancouver, or Victoria, or other urban destinations. The invitation was surprising, and yet intriguing simply from the novelty of our never having camped together. The fact that we would be doing so with seasoned campers that we adore made the offer all the more attractive and appealing.
So, in my excitement, I began to shop around for some nice camping gear (this is how I respond to being excited - I shop). Figuring that since we're not very good at roughing it, we should do so with the most state-of-the-art equipment possible; this would make the experience all the more enjoyable (or at the very least, less unpleasant from a "roughing it" standpoint). I had my self-inflating queen-sized air mattress, Columbia 6-man tent, ground sheet, lantern, and Coleman deluxe sleeping bags all picked out and ready to buy when I showed the gear list to Hubbs, complete with prices.
He was not down with it at all. His rationale was that for a first-time camping trip, we needed to do it on the cheap in case we hated it and decided never to camp again. Investing $500+ on gear for *one* camping trip was not his idea of a worthwhile expenditure, so he strongly suggested that if we wanted to go, we had to do it within a budget. He gave me the figure. I almost cried. The budget he proposed for *everything* (excluding alcohol) wasn't even enough to cover the cost of the tent and the sleeping bags! I thought the trip was not going to happen.
Swallowing my champagne-and-caviar tastes, I decided to try to work with Hubbs' numbers. I was not pleased to do so, but I figured that since camping is supposed to be about roughing it, that I would make a whole-hearted attempt to be rugged. I hit up the Wal-Mart site in search of cheap gear. Lo and behold, I found it! The Wal-Mart 6-piece Adult Camping Combo, which comes with a 10' x 6.5' tent, 2 mild-weather sleeping bags, a cooler bag, and a tent light, for the whopping cost of $89.77. Don't ask me if this thing will really keep us warm or repel water; I have no idea. Good news is that it is made by North Pole, who makes the Columbia line of outdoor gear. Bad news is that I should probably still seam-seal it with some good material *just in case.*
Next came our air mattress, also from Wal-Mart. We decided to go with a double-sized matt instead of a queen-sized one since our tent was so small. Cost? $19.77.
Then came the arm chairs; $14.99/chair from Zellers. Nothing fancy, but a full-back model with a wide enough seat for my butt and a cup holder for my yummy drinks.
We're still in the process of gathering the rest of our materials (ground sheet, tarp, etc.) but at least I am within budget so far. That said, this is already going to be a "rough" experience since I've had to sacrifice my highly-acclaimed, well-reviewed tried and true pro gear. I'll keep you updated on the saga of my camping trip as the cheap and economical details unfold.
BTW - any recommendations on great gear? If this trip is successful, Hubbs has promised that we can slowly start to accumulate more luxurious and high-end equipment, and I do anticipate a successful trip. ;)