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Storing Your Camping Gear For The Winter

Storing Your Camping Gear For The Winter
With only three days left in summer this year, it is a good time for us to review how to pack up gear for the winter, how to maintain it, and how to make sure it will be ready to go again next year.  So, what do we need to do in order to prepare camping gear for winter?  Keep reading to learn more.

Camping is usually a summer activity only.  While some hearty individuals will choose to go on camping through fall and winter, most people do not.  It's cold, far more dangerous, and requires more specialized equipment to stay warm and dry.  Now if you're RV camping, you can continue camping easily.  More traditional tent camping, however, is more than most people want to deal with.

Cramer Imaging's photograph of camping gear stored on shelves for the winter
Shelves are great places to store gear for quick and easy access of the floor.
Now if you've been camping a lot in the summer, you have well used camp gear.  Here's what we do when closing down our camping for the winter.

The first thing you need to do is to check the weather.  You want to schedule your winter storage preparation when it will be temperate and dry.  Some of your preparation will need to be done outdoors for best results.

You should spread out your gear and take full inventory of what you have and its condition too.  Fall and early winter are often good times to take stock of your camping gear and purchase more.  Though gear up for purchase is often limited, many stores are clearancing their camping season stock and you can often get a good deal on new and replacement equipment.

Pitch your tent.  Make sure it is in good repair.  Clean it inside out and let it dry.  If it needs repair, repair it yourself if you can or get it repaired.  If your tent is beyond repair, you may need to replace it.

Check out your stoves.  Make sure they are in good repair.  If you are using propane, make sure to store it somewhere other than inside your house, preferably in a garage or shed.  If you are using white gas, you should remove it from your stove and store it with your white gas.

Cramer Imaging's professional quality product photograph of a Coleman 8D Classic Twin U-Tube Lantern in Pocatello, Bannock, Idaho
Remove the batteries from any electrical devices you have.  This will prevent them from rupturing inside your device.  Simple electrical devices like electric lanterns don't seem quite as prone to this as high end electronic devices, most of which have a continual light draw even when "off."  Simple devices like lanterns and flashlights also also less likely to be totally destroyed if water or battery acid gets into their innards.

For gas lanterns, do much the same as you do with your stoves.  Remove the gas, store it safely.  Inspect the mantles, and make sure they're still good.  Get some replacements ready if needed.  You needn't replace them now if you don't want to as they're not difficult to replace when setting up your gear for next summer.  Simply add mantles to a list you will keep track of for the cold season so you remember to get them when the time comes.

Cramer Imaging's photograph of a sleeping bag stuffed in its sack with a blue blanket on top
Soft goods, like this sleeping bag are best kept off the ground in long term storage.
This would be a good time to wash your sleeping bag.  It would also be a good time to inspect it and see if it needs to be repaired.  Again, repair it or get it repaired as you can.

Restock any non-perishable camping consumables you have.  You COULD do this before you start up camping again, but it's probably cheaper to do so now.  You might even be able to take note of the the things you'll need and keep an eye out for sales in the future.  After all, there's no reason to spend money you don't have to.

Once you have everything cleaned and repaired and reasonably restocked, pack it up however you're going to store it.  I would recommend a cool, dry place where it won't get wet and mildew.  A basement is better than an outbuilding because, though small vermin and insects may decide to make a home in your gear in the basement, but it's far more likely to happen in an area where you don't live.  We put all of our gear on shelves in the basement.

Your camping gear should now be ready to store.  Of course, this doesn't mean that you can just grab it and go next year.  You'll have to go and do much of this again next spring to make sure it's ready to go.  You'll miss something or forget something.  So stay tuned for our article next spring about getting ready for camping season.

Have any more tips for winter storage of camping gear which we missed?  Do you have any horror stories of failing to adequately winterize your camping equipment and had it ruined?  We would love to hear.  Share them in the comments below.