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Black Friday Camping 101

Posted September 23, 2014 by Dev Shapiro

Dev Shapiro, known as bigjimslade on the Forums, is a long-time Black Friday camping veteran. Most years Dev spends days camped out at a local Best Buy store with a group of friends. In this article, he gives his tips and suggestions for having a successful Black Friday camping experience. See the end of the article for ways you can have any of your Black Friday camping questions answered.

Introduction to Black Friday Camping

Black Friday camping is not like camping at a state park or KOA campground. You will usually be camping in the concrete jungle of a big box store or shopping mall parking lot. You will need to pack items for as many days as you will be out there. Please keep in mind this article is general set of guidelines and you will need to tailor this list for the area you live in, especially taking into account the weather forecast and well as the local city codes. For example, some cities do not allow tents or other shelter in retail areas and some health codes do not allow you to use a camp stove or BBQ. Learn what you can and can't bring before you leave the house.

Before You Camp

Before you drag all of your camping gear out of storage you should keep a few things in mind. When you know where you will want to camp you should contact the manager at the store or shopping mall that you will be camping at. See if there are any special restrictions and find out where you should start the line. In situations where you have a store in a shopping center, it is typically private property and the store rents the space. Some shopping centers and retail centers do not allow tents. Your store manager will know the rules, so just ask. After you get the OK from the store manager then I suggest you get your gear and set it up on your front lawn. Check to see if everything works and is in good shape for your upcoming adventure.


Shelter is highly recommended for many reasons. I would recommend a tent. This will help you keep out of the wind and store your equipment like coolers, chairs and food. A tent is easy to set up and break down. You will need the type of tent that requires no stakes. On these type of tents, the corners will have a key at the end and will fit into the tent poles. A good tent will shelter you from the cold and wind and will make the experience much more tolerable.


Seating is another important factor to consider when Black Friday camping. You will be sitting a lot and therefore you will need and appreciate a comfy camp chair. I would recommend a chair that is comfy, has a backand folds up easily when you are done with it.


You may be thinking: it's November and not July, so why do I need to have a cooler? You will need to have a cooler to keep drinks and food fresh. Even though it is not 100 degrees you need to keep hydrated. Leave the sodas and beer at home and bring a lot of water and non carbonated drinks. I would recommend two coolers. One for drinks and one for food.


Before I get into this subject please remember to put your safety first. Obey all local laws and never have any type of heating device or open flame inside tents.If you live in a cold weather area of the country, having a portable source of heat is a must. For many years I have been using a heater from Coleman. It is a catalytic heater that runs off of propane. I always make sure I have around 6 bottles of propane on hand for each heater for every 12 hours. In my camp I have a total of 4 heaters. For your body you will need hand warmers that you need to put on your gloves. Frostbite is nasty and not fun.

Food & Cooking

Most local laws and health codes do not allow you to cook in the open. That includes camp stoves and BBQs. The way my group handles food and meals is simple: we pack all of our snacks and light food items into a cooler and for dinner we plan ahead where someone in our group will pick up food. Before you camp you should know the area well so you'll know where the nearest food sources and restrooms are. If you did not do that or still need ideas use mobile apps like Yelp and Foursquare. Remember, most restaurants are closed or close early on Thanksgiving Day. Also if you are camping over several days make it fun and have a theme night. One night have Indian and another Asian and so on. While we are on the subject of food and drink, I suggest that you bring your own trash bags and find a way to dispose of your trash.


You can always layer up but can't strip down all the way. Since the weather and climate is different all over the country you should be smart when selecting your clothing and take in account on the number of days you will be outside. I have found long johns, a nice coat that breathes well and gloves work well. Keep in mind that you need to protect your ears, nose, fingers and toes from frostbite. You will also need a lot of hand warmers.

Personal Items & Staying Connected

You should limit the personal items you take when you camp for Black Friday. This way you wont have to worry about them during the rush of Black Friday and getting into the store. I bring my wallet, cell phone, my Black Friday ads, notebook, a book to read and a laptop. Staying connected is very important when you camp out. gets Black Friday news and updates hourly during the week of Black Friday. Stores have been known to release special and hidden sales. If you are going to be camping out for a day or less you don’t have to worry too much about staying charged. But if you are going to be out there for more than a day, I would suggest buying a power inverter. A power inverter will allow you to charge your laptops and cell phones with your vehicle’s battery. You can buy one at Radio Shack or online.

Conclusing & Camping Webcast

We hope you have found this article useful in your planning for Black Friday camping this year. Should you have any further questions, we invite you to post them on our Black Friday message boards. Also, stay tuned for our popular Black Friday webcasts. You can ask the author of this article questions live and get any answers you need. See the forums for full details on the upcoming webcasts once they are announced.