As winter moves away and buds appear on the trees, the thoughts of a number of people turn to camping season.
As spring slowly drifts in, it’s time to be ready to go camping again after a winter of cabin fever.
But before you can fill the car and the backpack and head out to enjoy the countryside, there are a number of tasks you need to do, just to be sure you’re ready and all your gear is in good shape.
It’s also a time for going to camping shops and taking a look at the new products to see what you need or want – and what you can afford.
Check Your Tent
The tent is probably your most important piece of equipment, whether it’s just a small, two-person pup affair or something like a palace with several rooms. What you need to do, well before you take to the hills (or at least to a campground) is to erect it and check it for holes, tears, or any other wear. Not only does it act as that check, it reminds you just how it should go up – it’s easy to forget details over the winter.
It’s best, too, if you can leave it out during the rain as a good way to check that the seams are still watertight and that it dries out easily – older campers will remember the canvas tents that took forever to dry and leaked if you touched the material. Are the poles in good shape, folding out easily? Do you have enough straight tent pegs? Where’s your mallet?
It’s also worth going to a camping store to look at new tents. These days it’s quite possible to pick up something light and spacious at very cheap prices (especially if you catch the after-Christmas sales). Some small tents actually just flip open, eliminating a lot of work. If you do buy a new tent, practice putting it up and taking it down a couple of times before you go camping.
Cleaning Sleeping Bags
Has the old sleeping bag passed its prime? Spring is a good time to look for a new, lightweight one. Or, if there are a few more seasons left in it, have it cleaned and ready for use.
But, for those getting a little older, it might be time to put away the sleeping mat and buying an air mattress. They can be a lot better on your back, although it’s worth investing in a good pump, possibly one that plugs into your car lighter, unless you have strong legs – and plenty of energy – for a foot pump.
Prepping your Boots and Clothes
Boots can last for years – and can jackets – but if you haven’t worn them during the winter, you need to get them ready for spring. Check the boot soles for wear, and give them a good clean (how you clean depending on whether they’re leather or not). You can waterproof them for the upcoming season, although mink oil isn’t recommended, since it can break down leather.
Similarly, waterproof your jacket, either with a spray (let it dry in an airy place, preferably outdoors) or by using a special wash. Remember, spring can be very rainy in Britain and you’ll certainly be glad you renewed that waterproofing.
Don’t Forget the Backpack
Last, but certainly not least, check your backpack. If you’ve had it for a few years, then almost certainly there will be lighter, roomier models on the market that will be more comfortable.
But if you’re not planning on replacing your pack, clean it out, check the stitching, especially on the shoulder straps, but also every seam – the last thing you need is to have it split open on the trail.
Of course, you need to inspect the rest of your gear, too (in some cases, you might have to find it first!), but with those basics in place you’ll be ready to enjoy a new year of camping fun.