As camping season winds down, you may be wondering how to care for camping equipment during the off-season.
Many campers toss their gear in the garage and don’t give it a second thought until the following spring.
However, quality camping equipment is an investment and should be treated as such. Your outdoor gear will last a lot longer with proper storage, which is why I’m sharing my tips on how to care for camping gear over the winter.
These storage tips will help you get a few extra seasons in the great outdoors with your camping gear.
Camping Equipment Storage Tips for Winter
Before you start to prepare your camping gear for storage, you first need to decide where you will store it.
Ideally, you will have a cool, dry storage space. This may be the basement, garage, a long term storage unit, or even a spare bedroom closet. If there is a hanging rack, that is even better!
Clear plastic storage bins are also a great way to stay organized and care for camping equipment. The key is to keep moisture, mice and other pests out of your camping gear!
How to Store Your Tent Over the Winter
If you are a tent camper, then one of the biggest camping investments you will make is your tent. The best tents for camping can cost several hundred dollars, so you want to protect that investment for many seasons to come.
After your last camping trip of the season, make sure your tent is clean and dry. You can set it up in the back yard, spot clean any muddy or sappy bits with warm water, and then let it air dry. Mildew can ruin a tent quickly!
That stuff sack that came with your tent? Don’t use that for storage! Your tent should be stored loosely, either in a large bin, large stuff sack, or even on a hanging rod.
Sleeping Bag Storage Tips
Like your tent, your sleeping bag is an investment you should protect!
Many high-end sleeping bags come with two stuff sacks. A smaller one for travel and a larger one for storage.
You don’t want to smash your tent into the small stuff sack for a long period of time. It should have room to breathe and not develop creases in the fabric.
Whatever you do, do not use a compression bag to save space! That will facilitate the breakdown of the fabric and stuffing.
If you can, wash and dry your sleeping bag before hanging it on a hanger for the winter. (Check the manufacturer’s instructions as you may need to use a laundromat washing machine.) You’ll then have a fresh, like-new sleeping bag next spring.
Sleeping Pad Storage
Sleeping pads are not a camping necessity, but they sure make life more comfortable!
Whether you have a lightweight backpacking pad or a heavy-duty air mattress, the same storage rules apply.
A closed-cell pad is fairly easy to store as they are made to last a long time. It’s the self-inflating pads that require a bit more care.
It’s recommended to store these loosely with the air valve open. This will prevent any moisture inside from becoming mildew, and without tightly creasing your sleeping pad, you’re more likely to avoid leaks. (Although, it’s a good idea to test your pad for leaks before storing it!)
Storing Your Camp Kitchen Supplies
When it comes time to store your camp kitchen for the winter, having everything in dedicated plastic bins is super helpful!
After your last camping trip of the season, make sure you clean your camp kitchen supplies thoroughly, including cups, plates, pots, pans, stove and utensils.
If you have freeze-dried camping food left over you can store that for the winter as well. Just make sure it’s in a protected box away from critters.
I store my backpacking meals inside of my bear canister. If it keeps bears out, it’s sure to work on mice and packrats, too!
If you have propane cylinders leftover, it’s recommended to store them outside and away from any flames.
How to Store Camping Chairs
Camping chairs are one of the easiest things to store.
Most camp chairs already come in their own portable bag, so you can just keep them in the same bag for the winter. No special care is needed for these.
In fact, I’ve had the same folding chairs for 17 years now, and with no special care, they’re still fully functional!
Storing Those Camping Odds & Ends
Do you have a “junk drawer” equivalent for camping equipment? Maybe it includes first aid supplies, batteries, flashlights, bug spray, and sunscreen?
Before storing your gear for the winter, it’s a good idea to go through and clean it out.
Toss anything that is expired or damaged.
Make sure any liquids are well-sealed so they don’t leak.
Test your flashlights and remove batteries.
Check the contents of your first aid kit against a first aid checklist to ensure you have everything you need.
If you keep board games or card games specifically for camping, make sure you have all the pieces and toss out anything that’s missing parts.
This is a good time to make a shopping list and get a jump start on camping supplies for next season. (You can also save money on end-of-season sales for some of these items!)
How do you store your camping gear? Share your tips in the comments.
Better yet, join our Facebook group to share your camping storage and other tips!
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