49 of the Best Dollar Store Camping Supplies

Last Updated on June 17, 2023

Dollar store camping supplies

My family does a lot of camping. Depending on how you camp, it can be inexpensive, especially if you tent camp like we do rather than camping in a trailer or RV. We can easily camp for several nights for the same cost as one night in hotel room. It allows us to travel and see a lot of the country. It promotes family time and time spent outdoors.

My husband and I have a stash of camping supplies: folding lawn chairs and self-inflating sleeping mats purchased from Aldi, a large instant tent, sleeping bags, a portable grill and a camp stove, and a cargo basket that attaches to the trailer hitch on the back of our SUV.

We also have purchased some camping supplies from dollar stores over the years. I’ve bought camping gear at my local dollar stores prior to hitting the road. Also, dollar stores have a reputation for popping up everywhere, including in rural and far-flung areas, so it’s common to find a dollar store or two near campgrounds and state parks. There are times when, for instance, we’re camping and Dollar General is the only store of any size within a half hour drive of our location.

Dollar stores have been valuable more than a few times when we forgot to pack something or needed ice, firewood, paper plates, or even more s’mores fixings. While camping last summer, I ran out to a dollar store to get some new socks because the ones I’d packed didn’t come up high enough at the heels to keep my shoes from rubbing uncomfortably during hikes. I found exactly what I needed at the dollar store.

The following is a list of some must-have camping supplies you can buy at Dollar General, Family Dollar, or sometimes even Dollar Tree.

Note: this is an opinion piece and not a comprehensive list, and my family tent camps, so you may have other dollar store products you prefer if you camp in a trailer or RV. Feel free to share your favorite dollar store camping gear in the comments. Just keep in mind our community guidelines

The Best Dollar Store Camping Supplies:

  1. Coolers. Believe it or not, my family has been using two Dollar General coolers for at least a decade now. They work well and are the right size for our needs.
  2. Bread and sandwich-making supplies (peanut butter, jam, etc.). I inevitably run out of packed bread during longer camping trips and have to make a store run to buy more. Dollar store bread works as well as anything when you’re in the middle of nowhere.
  3. Snacks. If you need extra potato chips, cheese balls, knockoff Doritos, popcorn, trail mix, peanuts, fruit snacks, granola bars, beef jerky, candy, cookies, or other treats or lunch sides while camping, you can find plenty at dollar stores.
  4. Canned goods. From veggies to chili to baked beans, you’ll find them at dollar stores.
  5. S’mores fixings. When you run out of chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers, or if you forgot to pack them all together, you’ll find all the fixings at dollar stores.
  6. Other shelf-stable food. Dollar stores are mini grocery stores with everything from tea bags and coffee to instant oatmeal to Pop Tarts to pancake mix.
  7. Bottled water or gallon water jugs. We prefer to reduce the amount of plastic we throw away, so we usually bring a large refillable water jug along on camping trips and refill it with potable water from spigots at the campground, and generally the places where we camp have decent-tasting water. If you prefer to know what you’re getting taste-wise with your water, though, you can pick some up at dollar stores.
  8. Reusable water bottles. Fill these with water from your refillable jug. You can find a variety of styles at dollar stores.
  9. Paper plates, plastic silverware, plastic cups, paper towels, and other meal supplies. While I usually try to pack enough to last us the entire trip, sometimes on longer camping trips I run out of paper plates and have to make a dollar store run.
  10. Plastic sandwich bags, gallon Ziploc-style bags, and other food storage. These are great for storing snacks or even for storing leftover cooked food such as grilled hot dogs, which you can bag up and drop in your cooler or camper fridge.
  11. Aluminum foil. Essential for making foil-pack dinners or desserts in the campfire coals or on the grill.
  12. Aluminum cooking pans. Also essential for making certain camping meals over the fire or on the grill.
  13. Tablecloths and clamps. Sometimes wooden picnic tables are worn out or dirty and I like to put a clean tablecloth over them. Don’t forget to pick up some clamps so your tablecloth doesn’t blow away in the breeze.
  14. Cooking and grilling utensils (spatula, tongs, potholders). We forgot to pack potholders on one camping trip and were fortunate to find some at a nearby store so we could still cook our dinner over the fire and not burn our fingers.
  15. Can opener. If you’re eating any kind of canned food that doesn’t have a flip tab lid, you’ll need an inexpensive manual can opener.
  16. Kitchen towels. Useful if you’re washing dishes or cookware.
  17. Dish drainer. Useful for drying clean dishes and cookware. If you’re tent camping, a bucket also serves this purpose and can be more versatile (see suggestion below), but if you’re in a camper or trailer and have space, a dish drainer can be nice.
  18. Dish soap. Necessary for cleaning dishes and cookware. I try to keep dishwashing to a minimum while camping and use disposable as much as possible, which is the exact opposite of how I am at home where I avoid disposables as much as I can. When you’re outdoors with limited resources, disposable is a major time saver.
  19. Buckets (for washing dishes, clothing, storage, etc.). As mentioned above, a bucket can serve as a dish drainer. It also meets a lot of other needs.
  20. Matches or lighters. For lighting campfire kindling, citronella candles, or barbecue grills.
  21. Firewood. Not every dollar store sells firewood, but some of them do, especially if they’re near campgrounds.
  22. Toiletries. If you forget or run out of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, or any other necessities, it’s always nice to know you can find them all at dollar stores.
  23. First aid supplies (band-aids, pain relievers, Pepto, etc.). We have needed all of these things on various camping trips over the years, whether a kid wiped out on a bike and bloodied their knees or someone came down with a stomach bug. (Trust me, stomach bugs are never fun, but they’re especially unpleasant to ride out in a tent at a campground. Thankfully, the Dollar General down the road stocked the pink stuff.)
  24. Shower caddy. If you’re using the public shower house, it’s essential have a way to carry your stuff. You can usually find several caddy options at dollar stores. Think outside the box here, too, as silverware caddies or buckets can also work for toting toiletries around.
  25. Flip flops for campground shower houses. One of the number one rules of using public showers is to not go barefoot. A pair of flip flops is just what the occasion calls for, and they’re cheap and readily available at dollar stores.
  26. Hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, or baby wipes. These are almost required when you’re outside getting grubby all day. Disinfecting wipes and baby wipes can be useful for wiping down surfaces such as vinyl tablecloths, and baby wipes help to clean sticky hands when you’re roasting marshmallows.
  27. Trash bags. I always pack a few trash bags for throwing away disposable dinnerware after a large meal. There’s usually a spot on a tall wooden post where you can tie up a trash bag. When my kids were younger and wearing diapers and pullups, they went in here, too. Just remember to throw the trash bag in the campground Dumpster before you go to bed or anytime you’re getting ready to leave your campsite for a while, or you may get some wildlife visitors.
  28. Basic clothing. If you need extra underwear or socks, or if some of your clothing gets really dirty or otherwise trashed in the great outdoors, you can find basics at Dollar General and Family Dollar. We can’t always guarantee they’ll be good, but they’re there.
  29. Umbrellas. The weather isn’t always perfect when you go camping. We’ve dealt with torrential rain on some trips, and an umbrella is useful for dashing between the car, tent, camper, or bathhouse.
  30. Rain ponchos. For the hardcore people who need something more substantial than an umbrella. Ponchos are especially helpful if you’re trying to set up or pack up a camper trailer in bad weather.
  31. Flashlight batteries. So you can find your way around in the dark. If you’re lucky, you might even find flashlights themselves at dollar stores.
  32. Clotheslines and clothespins. I always string up a clothesline for drying wet towels and bathing suits. I don’t typically bring clothespins along, but they can be a nice addition to keep things from blowing off the line if it’s windy.
  33. Mesh laundry bags or hampers. These are great for storing dirty clothes, and they’re more compact than a plastic laundry bin. Or be like us and just store dirty clothing in a large trash bag.
  34. Dustpan and broom. Whether you’re camping in a trailer or a tent, the floor of your living space is going to get dirty as people track things in, even if you require people to take off their shoes. I keep a dustpan and small broom with our camping supplies just for this purpose.
  35. Door mat. A lot of people with campers or fifth wheels like to put out the welcome mat. They can also be nice when tent camping as a place to wipe feet or put shoes before entering the tent.
  36. Lawn chairs. You need a comfy place to sit around the campfire, and surprisingly, you can get some decent lawn chairs at Dollar General and Family Dollar.
  37. Rope. To use as a clothesline, to secure luggage, etc.
  38. Small tools. You can even find some basic tools and handy stuff at dollar stores, such as this multi-use knife.
  39. Sunglasses. Always a good accessory when outdoors.
  40. Sunscreen. Don’t skimp on the sun protection when you’re camping and outdoors for the larger part of the day. You can find deals at dollar stores.
  41. Beach towels. For taking to the pool or the shore.
  42. Towels and washcloths for showering.
  43. Bug spray. Totally a life-saver if you’re camping in mosquito territory.
  44. Sticky rollers (to check for ticks). Use these rollers — typically used to get lint or pet fur off clothing — to remove small ticks from your pants and clothing.
  45. Glow sticks. Camping means special toys and entertainment for the kids. Glow sticks are great fun after dark and also make kids more visible to vehicles.
  46. Sidewalk chalk. My kids have always loved making colorful chalk drawings on the paved roads and — depending on where you camp — paved parking pads at campgrounds.
  47. Bubbles. Another simple and inexpensive way to keep the kids busy. Find everything from small bottles to large refill jugs at dollar stores.
  48. Bug bottles. You always need a place to put interesting bugs and little critters for temporary observation when camping. Pick up a bug collector at a dollar store.
  49. Other small toys. Don’t forget things like small cars, sand buckets and shovels, Frisbees, balls, jump ropes, and more.

What kinds of camping supplies do you buy at dollar stores? Tell us in the comments below. 

About Rachael

Rachael is the Co-founder of Dollar Store Reviewer. A writer and editor, she also enjoys cooking, gardening, writing gothic romance, and collecting more house plants than she probably should. You can learn more about her at rachaelsjohnston.com.

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