Boo-hoo, your camping trip is over and it’s time to pack up, leave the campsite and start dreaming about your next camping trip!
Packing up is just as important as setting up. You need to make sure that your gear is clean, complete and is packed away safely for storage.
Here’s what to after your camping trip – at the campsite and once you’re home:
Pack Up Ahead of Time
© Beyond The Tent
If you’re leaving early the next morning, start packing the night before. This not only gives you enough time to pack (rushing only results in mistakes and forgotten things) but you’re also being mindful of your neighbors. Nobody wants to be woken up early with people packing and bustling about.
Packing your gear ahead of time causes the least disturbance to your neighbors and gives you more time to pack up efficiently.
Pack Down Your Tent Properly
Your camping gear, your tent included, can provide you years of good service if you take care of it every step of the way. When packing down your tent, follow these necessary steps to help extend the life of your tent:
- Clean it out – Once you’ve cleared the space of your sleeping gear and other items, it’s important to clean out the floor. Give it a good shake to get rid of dirt and other debris, then gently wipe the floor with a clean, damp cloth.
- Break down your poles right – Experts advise that it is ideal to start in the middle when breaking down the poles, as this will distribute the tension along the cord evenly. Do this with each half section until your pole is fully folded.
- Dry before packing – Even if you didn’t experience rain during your trip, your tent still accumulated condensation, which will damage the fabric when left, that’s why it’s important to make sure it’s completely dry before packing it up. Drape or hang your tent over a tree branch or a large boulder, just be careful not to poke the fabric! When your tent is completely dry, roll it up (instead of stuffing) it in the sack.
Leave No Trace
Every camper, new or experienced, should know about the Leave No Trace credo. It encourages campsite visitors to not only show respect towards nature, but to their neighbors and to the campsite facilities as well. Always leave a campground cleaner than you found it.
Having said this, it’s important dispose of your waste properly from the beginning of your trip but especially at the end. Follow your campsite’s waste disposal policy. Some campsites provide trash bins but if the bins become full, take the rest of your rubbish home with you. Not pleasant for the car ride home but just think about how you’d feel if you arrive at a campsite and the last campers left their trash for you to deal with.
Contrary to popular belief, never bury your trash – local wildlife will smell it dig it out. This will only encourage bad behaviour in local animals and the trash you buried will only come back to the surface.
Also make sure that your campfire is fully extinguished and free of debris before you leave.
Clean Your Tent At Home
It’s ideal to wash and your tent every after trip. Dirt, mud and grime left on a tent will do damage in the long run so take the time to clean it – this is an easy thing to do that will help prolong the life of your tent.
What you’ll need:
- Cold to lukewarm water
- Mild dishwashing soap, preferably fragrance-free
- Tent Cleaner
- Non-abrasive cloth or sponge
- Tub (or a bath tub if you have a larger unit)
Use a small amount of mild soap and the cloth to spot clean the areas of the tent that are visibly dirty. If it has mildew, mold or a foul odor, you can use an enzyme cleaner (just follow the directions to use on the bottle strictly).
For pine sap, wet wipes will do the job but be sure to rinse with water thoroughly afterwards. Don’t forget to wipe down your poles as well to remove dirt, dust, sand and salt. Lastly, use a brush to remove accumulated debris and residue from the zippers.
Fill the tub with water then add the tent cleaner (read the directions about how much to use and how long to soak the tent). Turn your tent inside out before immersing it and the rainfly into the tub of water and cleaner. Drain the tub and refill it with water. Immerse the tent and rainfly again. Do this 2 to 3 times to get all of the soap off.
When you’re done cleaning comes the most important part – drying! A tent stored wet can quickly mold, mildew and rot. Set it up or hang it in a shaded area until completely dry.
If the weather is wet, you can dry it inside in a cool, dry, non-carpeted area. Once completely dry, store your tent loosely in a cool, dry area like a gear closet or a garage.
Air Out Your Sleeping Bag
© Camping In The Forest
Whether you’re going to wash your sleeping bag or not, it’s important to air it out after each camping trip. This is to get rid of the funky smell when you open it from storage.
Shake your sleeping bag to get rid of debris or other loose items from the inside folds then lay it flat on a clean surface or hang it. Don’t air it out under direct sunlight to protect the fabric. Instead, look for semi-shaded area where there’s a breeze.
If your sleeping bag needs washing, follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions. If this isn’t available, most sleeping bags can be washed in a front-loading washing machine.
Place a couple of tennis balls and terry cloth towels inside the dryer with your sleeping bag. The tennis balls will help fluff up the fill and the terry cloth will minimize static electricity.
Check Your Gear and Equipment
What you want to do when you get home is to lay everything out and check all your camping gear for holes or damages before placing them into storage. This may seem a little hassle but it will save you a lot of trouble come your next camping trip.
You don’t want to arrive at your next campsite to find that your sleeping pad won’t inflate or that your boots have a loose sole!
Remove all batteries from camping electronics to prevent corrosion or leakage. Check if your equipment is complete and do any repairs if necessary. Scrub your cooking gear clean and dry them before storing in sealable baggies.
Don’t forget your stove (remove the fuel first)! Get rid of the soot, food drippings or crumbs that could attract bacteria and bugs!
Replenish Your Supplies
© Erie Insurance
Now is also a good time to stock up your supplies so that you’ll be good to go for your next trip. Stock up your first aid kit, your toiletries and even your cooking supplies – this will save you plenty of time when you’re planning and packing for your next camping adventure!
Store Your Camping Gear the Right Way
Storing your camping gear and equipment properly help extend their life as opposed to just throwing them in a bag and leaving them in the garage until your next trip.
- Categorize your gear by function – Since you have all your equipment laid out, group them together by their use. Categories could include sleeping gear, cooking gear, electronics, personal items etc. Once they’re grouped together, load them separately in plastic bins or any large containers you have. Don’t forget to label each box with the category!
- Roll your tent – Don’t fold your tent when storing it as repeated folds can do damage to the waterproof coating or tear the fabric. Roll it loosely instead then store in a cool, dry place away from windows where UV rays can hit it and inflict damage.
- Hang your sleeping bag – Did you know that a rolled-up sleeping bag that’s in storage for a long time can damage its insulation? So if you have space in your closet, hang your sleeping bag next to your clothes. If this is not an option, place your rolled out sleeping bag under your bed.
If you’ve got a lot of camping gear but not enough storage space at home, there’s a service called MakeSpace. They’ll pick up your gear at home, store them in their secure, temperature-controlled storage facility and deliver it back to you when you need it. You can check them out at https://makespace.com/.
Do these important things not only to prepare for your next camping trip, but to ensure that your gear is taken care of. Until your next outdoor adventure!
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