As camping season is snuffed out like the bonfires at the end of a crisp night, campers look to store their gear until they see warmer temps come back around. While it's tempting to toss everything into a corner of the garage and forget about it until next season, proper winter storage is essential to ensure your camping equipment remains in top-notch condition. Follow the storing techniques below so you are ready to cross the next trip off your bucket list once spring returns.
Clean and Dry Thoroughly: Before you even think about storing your gear, your camping equipment must be completely clean and dry. Lingering dirt, moisture, or food particles can lead to mold and mildew, creating an unpleasant odor when you get back to camping next spring. Use lukewarm water, dish soap, and a sponge or washcloth to give your tent, sleeping bags, and cooking utensils a good clean. Be sure to let them air dry before packing them up.
Inspect for Damage: Winter storage is an opportune time to assess the condition of your gear. Check for any rips, loose seams, or broken zippers. Repair or replace damaged items before storing them to prevent further deterioration. Prioritizing repairs at the end of the season allows you to be ready for adventure when warmer weather rolls around.
Invest in the Right Containers: Durable, airtight containers protect your gear from dust, pests, and moisture during the off-season. Plastic bins with tight-fitting lids are excellent for storing smaller items like cookware, while large duffel bags or the original storage bags work well for tents and sleeping bags.
Elevate Your Gear: If possible, store your gear off the ground to avoid any potentially damp surfaces. Whether it’s a high shelf in your basement or hanging your camping gear from the rafters in your garage, this precaution helps protect against potential flooding or water damage.
Sleeping Bag & Tent Care: When it comes to sleeping bags, avoid compressing them for extended periods. Store them loosely in large cotton or mesh bags to avoid damaging any insulation. Throughout the winter, if your sleeping bag requires washing, use a gentle, non-detergent soap and follow care instructions meticulously. Tents can also be a sensitive piece of equipment. If space allows, consider pitching your tent indoors every few months to prevent prolonged compression of the fabric.
Properly Handle Cooking Gear: To avoid pests or rodents getting into your stored gear, clean all cooking utensils, stoves, and cookware thoroughly to eliminate any food residue. For your safety, ensure gas canisters are disconnected from stoves, and store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
Maintain Your Insulation: Similar to sleeping bags mentioned above, if you have insulated gear, such as down jackets or sleeping pads, store them uncompressed. Compressing these items for extended periods can lead to a loss of insulation. Hang or lay them flat in a cool, dry space.
Mind Your Batteries: Remove batteries from all electronic devices like flashlights to prevent corrosion and potential damage. Store batteries in a cool, dry place.
Label and Organize: A little organization goes a long way when it's time to retrieve your gear. Label your storage containers and keep an inventory list on your phone. This not only streamlines the process but also helps you identify any missing or damaged items.
No one wants to buy new camping gear year after year. By following these camping gear storage tips, you'll keep your items looking and smelling like new, so they can last for years to come. Winter might keep you out of the cold for now, but your camping gear will be patiently awaiting the call of the wild.