Restore, Repair, Replace

For most of us the camping season has finally ended. This is a good time to get all our camping equipment properly stored for the long winter’s wait until next year.

All of our gear should be put away in clean condition. That means that sleeping bags may need to be washed, or at least thoroughly brushed and aired. (I’m assuming that your summer bags are washable, stuffed with some kind of man-made insulating fiber.) Unless you own an extra-large, extra-heavy washing machine, don’t try to launder your sleeping bags at home. Take them to a laundromat with heavy duty washers and driers. Before washing, check your bags for tears and be sure to repair those rips either by sewing them up on a machine or by sealing them with iron-on tape. Sleeping bags should be stored flat, if possible, or else loosely rolled. They should be exposed to air; don’t stuff them into non-breathing tight plastic bags.

Tents should also be stored in a clean condition. Unroll your tent for the last time and shake it thoroughly or sweep it out. You may need to scrub spots of mud off the floor, or off the bottom. This is a good time to repair the leaks that you may have noticed during the summer. If you didn’t note them in the field, hold the tent up to a strong light and look for points of light coming through, indicating tiny leaks. Repair the leaks with seam sealer (available at outdoor stores) or with iron-on tape. Tents too should not be stored in a tight roll; best of all is to hang the tent in open air in a basement or garage. Otherwise, roll it loosely on a shelf.
Clean your ice chests and put an open box of baking soda in each one.

RV campers need to clean their vehicles thoroughly and follow their manufacturer’s instructions for winter use or storage.

If you decide that your equipment won’t last one more summer, this is a good time to find bargains in camping equipment. Many stores have sales at the end of the season to clear their floors of summer goods. At this late date, the sales may be over, but you might find, by asking, that some stores still have a few last pieces in their storerooms that they are eager to get rid of at very reduced prices.

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