Outdoor activities like camping and hiking are very rewarding. They allow you to take a break from your daily routine, breathe in the fresh air, and stay in excellent shape.
Camping requires you to carry backpacks, boots, sleeping bags, tents, and other gear to have a wonderful experience. However, managing all of these can be really frustrating, especially if you want them to last for the next couple of years.
Storing your camping gear without cleaning and checking it for possible repairs will reduce its service life. Therefore, to make your investment worth it and durable, you should know the proper way of cleaning and storing your gear.
There are a lot of important things that you need to bring when you’re going camping. Because of that, packing can get a bit overwhelming. We listed all the camping items you’ll need for the great outdoors to help you make sure that you have everything that you need for your camping trip.
Cleaning and Storage
If you want your camping gear to last, you need to clean them before you store them. Take this time to inspect them and determine whether they need to be repaired or not.
With storing tents, one of the biggest concerns is mildew. To avoid this unpleasant fungus, you have to let your tent dry completely before storing it.
How to clean it:
- While still at the campgrounds, pick the tent up and shake it to remove any debris.
- Set up your tent in your backyard after your camping trip and let it dry completely.
- Brush off any sand and dirt on the fabric, poles, and stakes.
- To clean it thoroughly, set it up outside and wipe down the fabric using a mix of warm water and mild soap, not a detergent.
- Do not use a washing machine as it can damage the waterproof coating and the fabric.
- Check for small holes or rips.
- Clean the fabric using a non-abrasive cloth and rubbing alcohol.
- Allow it to dry.
- Repair the small holes and rips with tent-specific patches and adhesives or mesh repair patches.
How to store tents:
- Store your tent flat after it has been cleaned.
- Do not crumple and stuff it at the bottom of its storage bag or stuff sack.
- Take your time to lay out your tent, fold it along the seams, and pack it neatly.
- Store it in a dry, cool area, away from direct heat and sunlight.
Your sleeping bag may still look clean after your camping trip, but it has probably picked up some sweat and dirt.
How to clean:
- Check the label. If there is none, check with the manufacturer to make sure you use the right materials and washing technique.
- You can hand wash or use a front-loading washing machine, if recommended.
- Wash on a cold, gentle cycle and use specific detergents made for that type of fabric.
- Dry the sleeping bag in a front-loading dryer on low heat or tumble dry on a gentle setting.
- Throw in some tennis balls to avoid clumping.
- Always check the instructions to avoid damaging the sleeping bag.
- For small tears, use patches or duct tape for a quick repair.
- For bigger tears and holes, you can either stitch them up or use bigger patches.
How to store sleeping bags:
- If possible, store your sleeping bag at a high loft.
- Do not store it compressed into a tight bag for a long period.
- Compressed sleeping bags can degrade their loft and weaken the material treatment.
- After your camping trip, remove the sleeping bag from the pack and shake it to loosen it.
- You can also store it in its original mesh bag or storage sack.
Your rain gear only needs to be washed a few times to avoid ruining the expanded plastic membrane that creates a waterproof and breathable seal that prevents water from saturating while allowing vapor to escape.
How to clean:
- Check the label for proper instructions on how to wash and what materials to use.
- Spot clean to remove the debris.
- Hand-wash or machine-wash your rain gear based on the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Opt for a mild detergent or a tech wash.
- Spray with waterproof spray to revive it.
- If it loses its waterproofing abilities, wash the jacket.
- Check the seams and repair tears with seam sealants.
- For small tears, use a patch kit from the local gear shop or from the manufacturer.
- Revive it with a DWR treatment to make your old garment as good as new.
How to store rain gear:
- You can hang it up, but avoid crumpling it.
- Keep it out of direct heat or sunlight to prevent the lamination from cracking.
- Do not store your rain gear while it is still wet. Doing so will inspire mildew and other damaging molds or fungi.
Your hiking boots take a beating when you’re out camping and hiking which is why you need to pamper them after each camping trip to make them last longer.
How to clean them:
- Scrub off dirt and deep-seated debris using an old toothbrush and a mix of water and mild soap or leather cleaner.
- Spot clean any harsh stains.
- You can also apply a leather conditioner to moisturize the material.
- Do not put your boots in a washing machine.
- Apply a waterproofing agent if your boots are losing their waterproof abilities. Just follow the instructions on the package to do so.
- If the outsole is damaged and splitting, bring it to your local repair shop.
- You can also try to repair it yourself by applying an effective adhesive.
How to store hiking boots:
- Clean them thoroughly.
- If possible, remove the midsoles to allow ventilation.
- Store them on your shoe rack, and not inside the closet to prevent mildew buildup.
Just like the gear that you carry in your pack, you also need to properly maintain and store your backpacks to make them last longer.
How to clean it:
- Hand-wash your backpack for a thorough cleaning.
- In a tub of warm water and mild soap, scrub and turn it inside out to clean and scrub every pocket.
- Check the label to see if you can machine-wash it.
- Place the backpack in a pillowcase to protect the buckles and straps.
- Air-dry the backpack and do not use a dryer as it could weaken the synthetic materials and damage other features.
- Check if the damage is covered by the warranty, and if so, get it replaced.
- Torn fabric and mesh, failing buckles, and broken zippers are replaceable or you can easily fix them yourself.
- Manufacturers can send you replacements for zippers, buckles, or straps, or you can patch the tears on your own.
How to store your backpack:
- Make sure it is clean and fully dry.
- Store it somewhere cool and dry.
- Do not store it near a direct heat source or sunlight.
Portable Camping Stove
The most important thing that you need to remember when storing your camping stove is to disconnect it from its fuel source.
How to clean it:
- Remove the fuel.
- Wipe off any oils and crumbs from the case or exterior.
- Check the instruction manual for further ways to properly clean the rest of its parts.
- It is best not to repair your camping stove on your own.
- Bring it to a repair shop or have it replaced.
How to store a camping stove:
- Make sure it is properly clean.
- Make sure the fuel has been removed.
- Place it in its case if you have one.
- Store it away from direct heat and/or sunlight.
Tips for Storing Camping Gear
Properly storing your camping gear not only improves the longevity of your equipment, it also makes it easier for you to access them when you need to use them again.
1. Categorize by use
You need many pieces of equipment when camping, and those come in different sizes, shapes, and levels of flammability. Thus, the easiest way to organize them is to group them by their function.
2. Use crates or bins
Once they are neatly categorized, pack them in crates and bins and label each one so you know what it contains.
3. Store it on shelves
Once they are in their own labeled crates, line them on your spare shelves or rack in your basement or storage room. However, you may want to store these crates inside your home based on the temperature of the storage room
4. Roll your tent
It is best to roll your camping tent instead of folding it repeatedly as it may cause some damages or tears on the fabric and waterproof coating. Roll your clean tent into its stuff sack and store it somewhere where the sun won’t hit it.
5. Hang sleeping bags
Rolling a sleeping bag may seem to be the easiest way to store your sleeping bags, but stuffing it this way will damage its insulation. Thus, it is best to hang your clean sleeping bag in your closet, next to your clothes. If this is not possible, you can lie it flat under your bed.
Storing your camping equipment properly and making sure it is clean and well maintained will ensure its longevity. You must have your gear repaired and properly cleaned before storing it to prevent damages and make it last many seasons. You should also remember to check the instructions manual of every gear to know what you should and should not do, as well as follow the guide above to properly care for your camping gear.
Cleaning and properly storing your camping gear after a long trip may seem like a very annoying task but you need to do it if you want to make the most out of your investments. Follow our tips above to save yourself from stress and expensive mistakes.