The life of your camping equipment is often dependent upon proper maintenance. How you care for your equipment will determine whether it lasts a few short years or an entire lifetime. Minor annoyances such as small tears and moisture can cause huge problems down the road if not dealt with in a timely manner. Consider cleaning and maintenance part of your camping trip and you’ll surely enjoy your gear for years to come.
You can avoid rust, mold and mildew by keeping your gear dry. Before you put anything into storage, make sure it’s been completely aired out and cleaned if necessary. Tents and sleeping bags can collect dew and sweat that may not be evident. Make it standard procedure to do your maintenance before storing, your gear and you can prevent corrosion, mold, and the smell that goes along with it.
Start with a quick inspection. Stoves should be cleaned and dried after every trip. Be careful to remove any remaining food particles and fuel canisters, which should be store separately to prevent damage from leaks. Lanterns should also be kept clean and dry. Batteries should be removed from lanterns, flashlights and radios if you won’t be using them anytime soon to avoid corrosion.
Synthetic sleeping bags are usually easier to clean than those filled with down. They can be machine-washed, using about half the amount of detergent than you would for an ordinary load of laundry of the same size. Check for stains first and pre-treat as needed. Washing a down-filled sleeping bag can be a more complex process and the instructions vary by the manufacturer. Sometimes they will need to be hand-washed, and this should be considered when buying your sleeping bags. Whichever you choose, always read the cleaning instructions and be sure to rinse and dry thoroughly before storage.
Before putting away your tent, check for any tears in the canvas, seams, and screen. These should be repaired before storing to prevent them from becoming larger and unmanageable. If you find these when you’re at the campsite and do not have the proper tools for repair, make a note to fix these as soon as you get home. Remove any dirt, twigs, and dead bugs before folding. Ideally, you should bring along a small broom to sweep the floor. You can shake out the tent to remove any additional debris. Whenever you buy a new tent, make note of how it is folded. This should be your guide for folding every time you pack up. Sometimes, the poles, ropes, and stakes have their own bag and can be folded up inside of the tent. Find a cool, dry place to store your tent, away from moisture and humidity.