Get Gear in shape for the Camping Season
Okay, so maybe I did work the children
a bit too hard cleaning the camper.
But now we’re ready for a season of adventure!
Ahh…the fresh air of springtime.  The flowers are popping.  The birds are yakking.  The temperatures are warming.  And the sun—glorious sun—is happy.  *Sometimes!* 
Early spring is a good time to lug all that camping gear out of the attic, basement, or garage to make it adventure ready for the camping season.  Here are a few tips we use.
Sleeping bags and tents can become musty or damp-smelling stored all winter long.  Open sleeping bags flat and flip them over the clothesline on a less humid, sunny day.  Set up tents in the backyard to air.  
If a sleeping bag must be washed, check the manufacture tag first.  Then unzip the bag to wash.  Most sleeping bags can be washed in large washing machines.  Front loaders or the high efficiency top loaders work best.  We’ve found air drying the bags on a clothesline is the best way to dry them.
            Tents, on the other hand, need to be scrubbed if the canvas is soiled. 
·       Set the tent up and stake it down to keep it taut.  This allows for air flow.  
·       Use low phosphate detergent to protect the waterproofing.  Nikwax seems to be a good cleaner for waterproofed fabric.  Follow the directions and mix it with water. 
·       Wash inside the tent and then outside.
·       Hose down the tent and let it bake in the sun on a dry day.
Lightweight nylon pup tents work best this way as well so you don’t lose the water proofing of the material and you can work on particular stains.  Kristin Hostetter, gear expert at, offers 6 steps to cleaning tents
            On our Jayco Eagle pop-up trailer, the inside bed and window curtains slide off to wash, but the canvas is easier to just scrub lightly while the trailer is up and open using a weak detergent mixture.  
At one time, we had a bit of mold on the canvas because we had closed the trailer in the rain, and then our passenger van broke down.  We needed to leave both trailer and van at the mechanics, for about three days.  We rented a car to get home as we were only about four hours away after travelling across the county.  We used a weak bleach mixture to be able to kill the mold and clean the canvas. 
Open tents or trailers to air dry thoroughly as soon as possible after any rain closures to prevent mold buildup.
Wipe out any cupboards with a mild cleaner in trailers or campers and clean coolers, food storage containers, or drinking/water cavities with a disinfectant.
            Next, check out the equipment. 
·       Test the propane grills or barbeques. 
·       Check hoses and connectors for clogs or bug nests. 
·       Run water or air through them when possible. 
·       Look for cracks or holes. 
·       Use a proper repair kit found at a camping store or online if the damage is small or replace the hose when necessary.  
Depending upon make and model of tents or other camping equipment, a quick search online showed me that parts are available for purchase. 
Oh, and don’t forget to check the port-a-potty, if you have one.  Make sure any seals are firm and air tight.  Wipe it down with a disinfectant before use this season.
And remember to allow the children to help whenever possible.  Camping with kids is a family affair. 
Now you should be all ready for your next great camping adventure.  Please offer any tips you may have to maintain your camping gear.  Thanks! 

24 thoughts on “Get Gear in shape for the Camping Season”

  1. I loved it when the tent needed to be aired out. My parents would set it up in the back yard and I'd have a "clubhouse" for a day. When my kids were little, I got one of those easy pop up tents so they could "camp" whenever they wanted.

  2. Oh my gosh, I think all kids like playing "house" in a tent set up in the safety of their own backyard. My kids loved to "live" in the trailer when we set it up to clean and air it out. Thanks so much, Elizabeth, for visiting my Camping with Kids blog and leaving a note. It is truly appreciated.

  3. I love camping and this is a good reminder to get out my camping materials and get them ready, so that I don't have to do it in a rush when I all of a sudden have plans to camp. 🙂

  4. Thank you, Sherry. I try to help fellow campers through my Camping with Kids blog. Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a note. It's greatly appreciated. Always a pleasure seeing you here at Camping with Kids.

  5. Awesome post! With the warm weather we've been having, we're definitely taking down the camping stuff from the attic this weekend or next. Most stuff I keep in containers, but the tarps definitely need cleaning. My son sleeps in his sleeping bag all year round, so no need to bring out his! 🙂

  6. Hi, Victoria! Thanks for visiting my blog! Gosh, I haven't gone camping in forever! Not since an unbelievably challenging two field trips on a fossil dig with our Denver Museum of Nature and Science. What a wonderful way to spend time with your children and to teach them lifelong skills. Happy weekend to you!

    Kudos to you for persisting in getting your degree while raising five kids! My mother did the same thing. I was her first child, and I interrupted her quest to get her degree. Four more kids and seventeen years later, she graduated with her B.A. when I was a freshet.

  7. Hello and welcome to my Camping with Kids blog! So cool that you went on not one, but two fossil digs with the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I'm sure they were challenging. I'd love to hear about them.
    Camping with our five children has been the best decision we've made. We are away from all distractions and, as you can read here, we've become close and have adventures of a lifetime just being a family.
    Thank you for your good wishes about my attending college with five kids in tow. Good for your mother for finally completing her degree as well. I started fresh in college after all five children were in school. This adventure is what my memoir is all about. Thank you again for visiting my Camping with Kids blog. I hope you enjoy our many adventures.

  8. You are so right, Denise, that hotel rooms can be more comfy than camping in tents or trailers. However, nothing beats the sounds of nature coming in through the tent or trailer or the fresh air. Thanks so much for visiting my Camping with Kids blog, Denise. Your comments are greatly appreciated.

  9. We've only started taking out our gear this weekend. Something only needed to be cleaned, but something needs to be renewed. Like our old night vision goggles that are not working properly any more. As we think safety is the most important thing during camping now we're considering buying new ones, ATN NVG7-2, at this site:

  10. Hello and welcome to Camping with Kids, Peter. Yes, some camping equipment may need to be replaced or, as you say, updated. Night vision goggles would be an interesting piece of equipment for my five children. Never had a pair of those. We'll need to consider this. Thanks again, Peter, for visiting Camping with Kids. All the best!

  11. There’s a difference between “needing” a 4 season tent and “wanting” a four season tent. I’ve slept down to 15* in a three season tent the breathability qualities that made it a good tent in the Summer, made it a poor tent in the Winter, but it was better than being snowed on. I found draping a cheap tarp over the tent made it much warmer than the tent alone.

    I Stay warmer sleeping in layers, than naked in a sleeping bag. Taking clothes off is not going to warm me up, unless I’m sharing it with my GF, and she’s a furnace! (in the sack)

    As others have stated, its cheaper to replace a footprint, than a tent, but I used Tyvek ground sheets. Works fine.

  12. Hello and welcome to Camping with Kids, Fred. And thank you for sharing this insight on tents and tarps. I definitely agree with the sleeping in layers part. The Tyvek ground sheets are a great idea, too. Again, thanks for visiting Camping with Kids. All the best to you!


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