Getting Ready for Camping

Camping season is just around the corner. Now is the time to pull out your camping gear to check and organize it. Don’t wait until you are packing for your summer trip to find out something is broken, missing or unusable. Outdoor sports shows are gearing up to help you with needed supplies.

Make sure your tent is ready for camping.
Getting your tent ready

Remember that rainy day last year? It was only a small hole in the tent, but it allowed water to drip on your sleeping bag, and you didn't notice it until you attempted to crawl into it? Now is the time to look for that leak, and others. Set up last year's tent with a sprinkler nearby. Turn it on or you can just spray it with the hose. Make sure that the water is falling down on it from above.

Check and reseal the seams with seam sealant purchased from sporting goods stores. If it still leaks, consider getting a new tent. Even a small leak can let in a lot of water.

Spraying the tent with water to check for leaks also works great to wash off any spills or mud from the tent so you are sure to have a nice clean tent while camping. It can also help to keep the smell of the tent from attracting unwanted animal visitors.

Wash and check your sleeping gear.
It is also a great idea to pull out all of the sleeping bags as well as any extra blankets or sleeping pads Wash those that are washing machine safe and set the others out to air out. Check the padding in the sleeping bag. Make sure it is sill thick and evenly distributed. If it is starting to clump or get matted down, it may be time to consider a new sleeping bag. When the insulation in sleeping bags begins to lose its uniformity, the bag also loses its ability to retain heat.

If you want to try to get your bag through one more camping season, you can try putting it in the dryer on tumble, with a couple of clean tennis balls. They will bounce around inside the dryer and possibly fluff up the sleeping bag. I have only had limited success with this method so I would highly recommend just getting a new sleeping bag. You will be amazed at the difference in temperature between a 10 year old sleeping bag and a new one. Be sure to check the temperature rating on the new sleeping bag to make sure it will be warm enough for where you like to camp.

Check the kitchen gear
Pull out all of the kitchen and eating gear. Run them through a heavy dishwasher cycle, maybe with a few drops of bleach, to make sure they all get clean. Place the eating utensils in a clear sealable plastic bag.

Count how many of each set of camping dishes you have. If you have a family of four be sure that everyone has at least one plate, bowl, cup, and a set of silverware. Make sure to pack at least one extra of each in case something breaks or ends up in the camp fire.

This is also a good time to go through and top off any condiments, paper towels, napkins and other things you may have in your kitchen camping kit. Prepare a list of last minute shopping items are needed. Tape it to the kitchen gear storage container.

Bring fun games camping.

We go camping in the great outdoors in Wisconsin to appreciate nature and the state’s beauty. That doesn’t mean that you can’t also take some fun games or other things to do while you are out camping. Make sure to pack some cards and other small board games you can play should the weather turn bad.

When considering a game and other activities to take camping, make sure to consider the impact they may have. I see many people set up a game of horse shoes around their camp. Now, I myself love the game of horse shoes but this is actually a pretty destructive game to the immediate area. It tears up the ground, digs big pits and holes and can leave quite a mark. It can also be very loud to your fellow campers. This is one game I would recommend leaving at home unless the campground you are going to has established horseshoe pits.

General Camp Chore Gear
Make a point to go through your general camping gear as well. We have a box set aside that has all of the miscellaneous things that we need when we are camping, such as extra batteries, lantern mantels, matches, soap, lighter fluid, extra flashlights, mosquito repellant, sun block, first aid kit, etc. Though not as exciting as some of the other things you should go through, these items are just as important to make ready for your trips as any other part.

Write out a list of additional supplies that need to be purchased. Tape it to the container.

Use this time during the off season to make sure everything that you enjoy to take camping is cleaned, repaired, refilled and ready. This will set you up for a nice easy season of worry free camping. You will be able to pack up and head out sooner and spend more time enjoying camping instead of taking care of these many tasks when you could have done it during the winter. We all want to take full advantage of the Wisconsin camping season!