As a chic city girl who loves to tent camp, I have made several glamping upgrades I won’t camp without. Comfort and style matter a lot to me, but to a point. My wallet isn’t bottomless.
Here’s a list of my fave upgrades over the years that have truly taken my camping to glamping without breaking the bank.
1. Instant Up Tent
I do not like the time or effort of setting up my campsite. I want to get my camping adventure going ASAP and relax. I also want a spacious tent that I can freely move around in, enter and exit easily, and stand up in.
I want my tent to feel like a luxury cabin more than a fabric cave I need to crawl into.
The solution: Instant up tent! Instant up tents are amazing and a true game changer for the budget glamper or car camper looking to up their tent game. Instant up tents will cut your set up time by 90% while increasing the overall luxury of your camping experience.
Instant up tents go up in under 2 minutes with two people (5 minutes if setting up solo), are super roomy, and there are no tent poles or fabric loops to deal with. Simply, remove the tent from the bag, unfold, and extend the poles. Done!
Instant up tents are often more affordable than both traditional dome tents, and traditional glamping tents which is great for every budget. You can get an instant up tent from around $170-$300 depending on the space and layout.
Instant Up Tent Retailers and Brands
2. Tent Lighting
Flashlights prevent you from using both your hands, and headlamps may be uncomfortable and awkward for others, not to mention, pricey. The solution: Eteck LED Lanterns.
A budget-friendly gem we found our first camping season was the Eteck LED Latern. These lanterns provide bright lighting, are lightweight, easy to use, and weather resistant.
These lanterns come with easy to use handles that are great for hanging on your tent or nearby branches and are light weight for easy carrying. They also have a steady base and bright lights for hands-free use.
Eteck makes these lanterns so user friendly that they come with batteries and you can get 4 for under $30 on Amazon.
We’ve been using the Eteck LED lanterns for over 4 years now. While we have expanded our lighting options over the years, these are a reliable budget-friendly staple we recommend to everyone.
3. Canvas Cot
I do not recommend an air mattress for glamping or comfort camping. Air mattresses are more hassle than benefit and are unable to hold their shape as the outdoor temps and moisture levels change throughout the night. They look nice in photos, but are a disaster in practice.
A quicker and more stable solution is to sleep on a cot; however, not all cots are equal. Canvas cots provide more stability, comfort, and are built to last longer than folding cots. The result, is more comfort and value for your money and a budget friendly glamping must-have.
Canvas cots give you an even sleeping surface and the material has some give to adjust to you while you sleep. You will have a better night’s sleep on a canvas cot than a folding cot. You won’t sleep well on an air mattress.
Canvas Cot Retailers and Brands
Our favorite canvas cot brand is Slumberjack. We have been using Slumberjack cots for years and love the comfort, stability, and design.
Slumberjack cots are a tad pricier, around $80-90 each, than Coleman and Ozark Trail cots which are in the $60 range, but the difference in stability, comfort, and longevity is noticeable from the first use and you will get years, if not a decade, of use out of your Slumberjack cot.
For campers wanting extra years of use from their cot, try the Slumberjack Tough Cot.
For campers looking for more sleeping space, go for a Slumberjack Big Cot.
4. Heavy-Duty Tarp for Tent Flooring
Heavy-duty tarps are perfect for budget glamping because you get a lot more comfort for the price. A heavy-duty tarp will cushion and comfort your bare feet while preserving your tent’s floor. It’s a win-win!
Heavy-duty tarps are under $20, are lightweight and easy to pack, and they are waterproof.
If you find yourself in a heavy rain that soaks through your tent’s base you and your gear will be protected by the heavy-duty tarp between your tent’s floor and you.
Heavy Duty Tarp Brands and Retailers
Do spring for the extra $3-5 to get a heavy-duty tarp and not a standard tarp. The added thickness is what adds comfort and protection for your feet. It is comfort you’re looking after all. Standard tarps don’t add any cushion.
No need to go anywhere fancy for this item. A heavy duty tarp from Walmart is what we use and love!
5. Ambiance String Lighting
Who says the campfire is the only ambiance lighting you get? String lights are a great low cost way to add some romance and fun to your glamping space. They also provide great atmosphere for those hot summer nights where a campfire is too much heat.
String Lighting Brands and Retailers
We love our waterproof string lights by Revel Gear and have used them on tents, trees, and even our balcony at home. They have 8 brightness levels and various blinking settings.
For a great indoor option, try the Big Agnes string lights. The Big Agnes MtnGLO Camp Tent Lights were my first love in string lights. They are light, easy to use, and come with a power source. They come with preinstalled, movable clips for easy set up.
I hang them over my bed in the tent and leave the switch next to my pillow for easy access.
6. Comfortable Bedding
Cozy sleeping is important no matter where I’m sleeping, and who says you need to use a sleeping bag when camping?
Solution: Bring your own bedding! What do you like sleeping in at home? Bring it! You can always wash your bedding after a camping trip.
Comfy Bedding Brand and Retailers
Cuddl Duds is my favorite camping brand. Cuddle Duds are designed to be comfortable and budget friendly. We have a Cuddl Duds twin sized flannel sheet set for year round camping use, and add a Cuddl Dud queen sized plush blanket for cooler nights.
If you’re low on car space for your comfy bedding and pillows, use a Granite Gear compression sack to save space.
Budget advice: Wait for off season clearances on bedding. Flannel sheet sets go on sale come spring and summer, and light bedding is on sale in the winter.
7. Upgrade Your Camping Chair
Chairs aren’t just chairs when you spend as much time in it as you will camping. From relaxing around the campfire, to reading that great book, you will find yourself sitting more than you may realize when camping. You may even find yourself napping in your camping chair!
That why an easy glamping upgrade to your camping trip is an upgraded chair!
When selecting a comfortable chair, think of the ways you’ll use it and look for one that won’t hurt your back with regular use. Simple upgrades can also include a side table, cup holders your drink will fit in, or a head rest.
Like most campers, we started with traditional folding chairs. It did not take long before we realized the chairs caused out hips to roll and shoulders to fall forward causing discomfort after regular camping. It didn’t help that our drinks didn’t fit in the cupholders either.
Camp Chair Brands and Retailers
After years of trying a variety of chairs, my favorite chair is the Cabela’s Directors Chair. The base provides stronger support for my hips and back, and the pockets and side table have an added practical element I’ve grown to adore.
Alan likes to slouch and nap in his chair. His favorite is the High Back Chair by Rawlings. Rawlings makes a standard high back chair and a variety of lines with your favorite sports team logo to help with your personalization.
Zero Gravity Chairs
Our first luxury chair upgrade was to zero gravity chairs. The ability to put our feet up after a good hike was so luxurious. However, Zero Gravity chairs do not pack or travel well and may become a challenge in a smaller vehicle.
If you have the packing space, explore the Cabella’s Zero-gravity chairs. They are strong, comfortable and have a great warranty. Cabella’s offers zero gravity chairs in a variety of fabric types and sizes to ensure you get the perfect one for you.