Summer will soon be upon us (or so we would like to believe here in the Northeast). Once again, we will feel the urge to go deep into the outdoors to hike through forests, swim in mountain lakes, and go to sleep at night with a thin layer of nylon fabric between the civilization of our tent and the wilderness outside.
The whole situation sounds so idyllic — until we get home again and have to store our gear.
Cleaning camping equipment is often the last thing you want to do — it’s not exactly as fun as making S’mores — but failing to do so can render your equipment useless for the next adventure. It can also make your storage space pretty disgusting, too.
- Storage pro tip #1 — Even the hardest of hardcore campers are hitting the wild, what, maybe twice a month? That’s a lot of gear to keep in your home, especially if you are going camping once or twice a year. Get a self storage unit — even if it’s small, it will keep all of your gear safe, dry, and out of your way.
Here’s how to properly store your camping gear after (or before?) you get wild.
Camping equipment storage tips for weekend warriors
Tents: If weather permits, set up your tent up when you arrive home to ensure it is completely dry. If you put your tent in your storage unit while it’s still wet, be prepared to deal with mold, mildew and rot. Not cool.
Once the tent is dry, clean away any dirt or sand. Do the same for the tent stakes and poles. It may seem silly to rigorously clean equipment meant to be outside — believe me, I’ve asked — but doing so ensures you won’t track mud and dust inside your storage facility and ensures your next camping adventure a fresh and enjoyable beginning.
Sleeping bags: Shake sleeping bags to release loose items from the inside folds. Air out each bag after a camping trip by placing it on a hanger or laying it flat. Try to not hang the sleeping bag in direct sunlight, as UV rays can damage the nylon.
Machine-washing your sleeping bag is preferable — but only in a front-loading machine.
A good tip for drying your sleeping bag is to place terry-cloth towels and two tennis balls inside the dryer. The cloth minimizes static electricity and speeds up drying time, while the tennis balls fluff the fill. Sounds pleasant!
Once the sleeping bag is dry and repacked inside its sack, remember to stop by your storage facility to remove the bag and shake it out from time to time. Sitting inside a sack for long intervals can alter the insulation.
- Storage pro tip #2 — periodically moving, checking, and readjusting almost anything in self storage can be beneficial. Any item that rests in a single position without movement, air, or dust removal can be damaged over a period of months or years. “Store it and ignore it” is a bad philosophy in general.
Electronics: Always remove batteries from any flashlights, headlamps, GPS devices, or other electronic equipment before placing the items in storage. This ensures that you won’t have to deal with corrosion or leakage. Store all batteries in a sealed plastic bag that you keep close to the camping equipment so they are easily found when needed.
Cooking materials: Always scrub and clean pots, pans, utensils, and camp stoves before placing them into plastic resealable bags. A good cleaning upon returning home rids your gear of stray food drippings and crumbs that could attract insects and bacteria, while the plastic bags ensure no grime or dust infiltrates your cookery.
Stackable storage bins or duffle bags are excellent choices to place the items inside — and are easy to grab when you’re packing for your trip.
- Storage Pro Tip #3 — Some families keep a ready-to-go “camping box” in their storage unit. Everything needed for a trip is placed into a box, making it simple to plan a quick getaway.
Have any great camping stories? Feel free to share them with me on Twitter at @jennystorage.