Your camping trip was a great success and you had a ton of fun. When you’re back home, it’s easy to just chuck all of your camping gear aside, take a much-needed break, and decide to deal with it later.Proper care of your camping gear, however, helps it last much longer and can help you save money in the long run. Taking just a few minutes to get everything cleaned and ready to be stored helps it stay in good shape and ensures it’s ready to go the next time you’re ready for camping. Through years of experience and making critical mistakes, we’ve put together this after camping checklist for proper care of your camping gear!
Clean and Dry Your Tent
Your tent is likely the most important part of your camping supplies. Damages to your tent, especially mold and related issues, can make your next camping experience miserable. Make sure you clean your tent carefully and repair any damage to the tent right away. Then, let your tent completely air dry to avoid moisture-related problems like mold the next time you go camping. Properly cleaning, repairing, and drying your tent will help it last much longer. And with the construction of high-quality tents getting better and better, a good, well-maintained tent could last you a lifetime.
Of course, it’s entirely dependent upon your individual use but’s a good idea to rinse and dry out your tent after every trip. You may think this is overkill, but it’s important for a few reasons:
- Properly cleaning your tent removes any bacteria, critters, or parasites that might have latched on during your camping stay. Especially if you camp/backpack in multiple regions around the world, this is just responsible, proactive, leave-no-trace responsibility.
- Properly drying your tent will ensure all the moisture is removed, leaving no risk of mold, mildew, or stale smells when you unpack it for your next trip.
- The #1 killer of a tent’s longevity is abrasion from sand/dirt granules when it’s packed up. Be sure to sweep and rinse off your tent whenever possible to avoid unnecessary degradation to your tent material.
Thoroughly Clean Clothes and Shoes.
Your camping clothes and shoes should be carefully cleaned to remove anything that might have gotten on them during your camping trip.
If your clothes or shoes have waterproofing on them, make sure you test it after they’ve been cleaned and dried. Test the waterproofing by sprinkling a little bit of water onto the piece. If the water rolls right off, they should be good to go and are ready to be stored. If the water soaks into the item, you’ll want to go ahead and reapply the waterproofing. Make sure you follow directions carefully to ensure it’s done properly and will work on your next camping trip.
Waterproofing Products We Love – From Moosejaw.com!
Thoroughly Clean Other Equipment…
Depending on the material, even a tiny bit of moisture could damage the gear and you’ll then need to replace it before your next camping trip. No fun. So focus on doing it right, so you won’t have to worry about it the next time you head out.
…Like your Cookware
Always ensure you remove all traces of food from your cooking gear and dry everything thoroughly before storing.
…AND Your Backpack
Your backpack is your workhorse. It’s always being picked up & set down in the dirt and leaned up against sappy trees. It absorbs your nasty sweat (and stench) and carries bags of trash and (if you’re following leave-no-trace ethics) feces out from the trail. Yet it is, I believe the most oft neglect piece of gear when it comes to cleaning after trips. Luckily, there are two good ways to maintain the cleanliness of your pack:
- General Maintenance: Be sure to empty ALL the pockets. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found moldy, dried up oranges or some piece of trash I forgot to unload. You could use a vacuum with a hose to get all the sediment out of the nooks and crannies. Go ahead and just spot clean those nastier parts or sap residue with mild soap and water and let dry completely before storage.
- Deep Clean: I’ve always used the bathtub and castile soap to soak the pack. Remove all the removable parts like straps, belts, and lids. Wash these in the same tub, just separately from your pack. Be sure to wash the inside and out and rinse thoroughly until soap residue is nowhere to be found.
…AND Your Sleeping Bag
Sleeping bags are way too expensive and way too crucial to neglect. Even though you may always wear clothes in your sleeping bag, your grime and dirt from the trail are bound to get into the insulation of your backpack. After a weekend trip, your sleeping bag may not need a thorough cleaning. Depending on your usage, it’s certainly wise practice to wash your sleeping bags at least once a season.
- General Maintenance: Go outside, turn it inside out, and shake it out to get the dirt out.
- Washing: Your best bet is going to be to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing. You can really mess up a sleeping bag if you do not wash and dry it using the right soap and methods. And there are recommendations for care based upon what material – down or synthetic – the insulation is made out of.
Gear Cleaner We Love – From Moosejaw.com!
Store Your Camping Gear Properly
Once everything is clean and dry, you’ll need to make sure it’s stored properly. Whether you’re going again in a couple of weeks or you’re done until next summer, proper storage can help protect all of your camping gear. Make sure you choose weather resistant containers and store all equipment where it has the smallest risk of any damage before your next trip.
And speaking of your next trip; using large storage tubs, that organize your gear into sensical bins, will not only protect your gear but will also make packing for your next trip a cinch.
We have a lot of gear, but we have ours broken up into seven tubs:
- Tents, Tarps, Sacks, Cords, Hammocks, Towels, Liners
- Camp Kitchen: Stoves, Cookware, Service ware, spices/oils
- Sleeping Bags and Pads
- Paddling Gear: PFDs, Dry bags/boxes, rope, ratchet straps, canoe seats
- Fishing Gear and Camp Tools: reels, flies, tackle, tackle bags, hatchets, knives, saws, sharpeners, lighters, emergency/first aid kits.
- Fuel: Propane, white gas, isobutane – it’s good to keep these separate and apart from the rest of your gear.
No matter how ready you are to relax when you get home, take the time to properly clean and store all of your camping equipment. It might not take as long as you thought and you’ll be able to ensure you’re prepared for the next time you want to go camping. Plus, it’s going to help you keep all of your gear in great shape so you can save money by not having to replace a lot of gear every time you want to camp.