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Get Your Gear Summer Ready with a Little 'Spring Cleaning'

No need to get bored or antsy in between camping trips. There’s so much you can do to prepare for the next outing, or better yet, for the next year’s worth of trips. While you dream about hiking through the woods or sitting around the campfire, you can do a little spring cleaning to make your next series of trips more comfortable and successful.
Take Inventory
Now’s the perfect time to take inventory of what you have. Dig out your camping gear and take a good look at everything. What are you missing? Roll out your tent and even set it up partially, maybe in your garage, family room, or basement, wherever you find room. Do you have all the poles, pins, and stakes you need? Are all the zippers working?
Try out your flashlights and lanterns. Too dim? Great time to replace the batteries. Are your folding chairs still in good condition? If not, keep an eye out for sales at sporting goods stores. Look through your first aid kit. Is it still well stocked? What is it missing? Add whatever you may be running low on – bandages, antibiotic ointment, medical tape. And your water bottles – do you have enough? Fill them up – do any leak? Time to replace those.
It’s no fun to start cooking on your camp stove only to run out of propane. Make sure you have enough full propane bottles to last you through several trips. Speaking of food, how’s your canned goods supply? If you have a pop-up or any type of RV, it’s a good idea to restock your cupboard with chili, corn, new potatoes, fruit, and other canned goods. And don’t forget the can opener!
Clean & Shiny
I don’t know about you, but my family and I have a hard time getting our pots and plates fully cleaned and rinsed while camping. We wash everything in a large plastic tub, then rinse each item with clean water poured from a one-gallon water jug. Depending on where we are, we don’t always have much hot water at hand, so after a while our food starts to taste a little soapy. At least once a year, we haul in all our camping cookware and tableware – bowls, cups, silverware, serving utensils, measuring cups, everything – and give it a good, thorough cleaning in our dishwasher.
Same with the linens. To protect the cushions and mattresses in our pop-up camper, we cover them with sheets and towels. We find that these protective covers don’t need to be washed after every single trip, but at least once a year we throw everything into the washing machine.
Something Old, Something New
As you evaluate the condition of your camping equipment, decide what to keep, toss, mend or replace. If your sleeping bag has a tiny hole, you can probably sew it up. But if it’s hopelessly frayed, giving you air conditioning when you don’t need it, then it’s time to buy a new one. Also check your kids’ sleeping bags. Your children may have grown a foot since the last family camping trip, making their junior-sized bags suddenly obsolete.
Is this the year to upgrade or add on? What might make your future camping trips more enjoyable or functional? You may want to purchase a screen room, great for keeping bugs and critters out during meals or for the kids to play in. Perhaps getting a bike rack will give your family the chance to ride bicycles at the next campground.
Take a little time now to clean, inventory, repair, and replace. Come next camping trip, you’ll be glad you did.
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