Camping is about finding peace in the remote wilderness. It’s about the animalistic freedom of going without a shower for days on end. The taste of smoky campfire goodness that somehow makes an ordinary hot dog feel gourmet. And for the risk-tolerant, it’s the thrill of playing giardia roulette whenever your open mouth comes in contact with a natural body of water.
Unfortunately, this sacred commune with the great outdoors often begins with an anxiety-fueled scramble to pack as quickly as humanly possible so you can beat traffic on your way out of the city. It doesn’t get any better once you arrive to your campsite, either.
Poor packing makes for poor setup, further delaying your ability to become one with nature. It makes cooking a stressful and laborious event. And perhaps worst of all, it makes your return to reality a downright burden. I mean, all you want is a shower and a decent mattress at that point, right?
Coming home from four days without the internet to unpack bags that look like FEMA stood them up in the aftermath of a natural disaster creates a cycle that becomes harder and harder to break. That’s why we’ve assembled these camping hacks and storage tips for your outdoor gear.
The benefits of keeping your camping equipment clean are both tangible and olfactory. Dirty gear is prone to deterioration, and the funky stank of nature is the gift that keeps on giving if you allow it to marinate in storage between uses. It’s tempting to give the tent a lazy shake before rolling it up and stuffing it back in the bag until next time, but taking the time to properly clean your outdoor sleeping quarters will ensure you have a nice place to rest your head for many camping trips to come.
How to clean your tent:
How to store your tent:
Tent packing pro tip: When packing for a camping adventure, put your tent in last so it is easily accessible upon arriving to the campsite.
How to clean your sleeping bags:
Sleeping bag storage pro tip: Take your sleeping bag out of its stuff sack every once in a while to shake it out so the insulation remains in good working condition.
If you camp several times throughout the season, it makes sense to dedicate some space in your garage or storage unit as a one-stop shop for camping equipment. The best way to approach the setup of your very own camping corner is with shelving racks. This will make it easy to organize your gear for quick and easy access.
Clear stackable bins give you optimal visibility of what you’re working with. Ideally, you’ll group items by function to avoid rummaging through storage containers and wondering where the heck you put that one thingamajig.
If you’re really Type A, you can even print and laminate a camping checklist to live next to your storage rack along with a dry erase marker. This will ensure that you do not miss any critical items in the midst of your Friday afternoon packing frenzy.
Tips for storing camping kitchen equipment:
Food packing pro tips: Use two coolers so you can separate food from beverages and place cooling racks on top of the ice to prevent your food from being submerged in melted ice water.
Bomb breakfast idea: Pre-mix pancake batter and put it inside an old ketchup bottle so you can whip up an easy pancake breakfast with limited prep and cleanup.
A word on safety: Keep your flashlights, headlamps, batteries, sunscreen, bug repellent, and first-aid kit together in one dry, easy-to-access bin. Remove batteries between camping trips to avoid corrosion. Check the expiration dates for your sunscreen and bug spray before you leave to ensure they will be effective when you need them the most. Last but certainly not least, assess your first-aid kit regularly so that it is fully stocked and up to date.
Space is limited when it comes to packing for the seemingly limitless expanse of the great outdoors. When packing for your trip, stop to consider what you will actually need. Chances are high you don’t need nearly as many clothes as you think you do. So long as you have the essentials—ideally some layered, quick-dry performance gear—you’ll be fine. The only things you should pack extra of are socks and underwear (because nothing rains on your camping parade like wet socks and dirty underwear).
General packing tips for clothes:
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