How to pack your camping gear away for winter
Here's our four-step guide to storing your camping gear for winter.
1 DRY IT
Mould and mildew will make the tent smell bad and eventually it can make the fabric rot away, leaving it only fit for the bin. Here’s how to avoid mould:
- Try to take your tent down when it is as dry as possible. If it is wet at packing up time, shake off as much water as possible and wipe more off with a clean dry cloth or a towel.
- If the tent is damp and you have room in the car, drape it loose over the luggage in the boot rather than putting it in the bag
- When you get home unpack it and leave it out to dry as soon as possible. If the weather makes this difficult, even spreading it out in a garage or shed is better than leaving it in the bag while wet. Even waiting a few days can cause damage.
2 FIX IT
Once you’re home and the tent is dry you can think about any repairs.
Look out for and replace broken poles, damaged zips and worn guylines. Also check for tears in the groundsheet and flysheet. Some rips can be simply sewn back together, either by hand or with a sewing machine, then coated on both sides with seam sealant. For ragged tears and seams it makes sense to add a patch. Gluing as well as sewing the patch on will make the repair more durable, and again, you should apply a seam sealant.
Sewn-in groundsheets can easily be damaged by stones on your pitch. A tear or hole can be fixed with a patch but if there is a lot of damage then it’s impossible to fix. The problem then is if you have a sewn in groundsheet, your entire tent is rendered useless. The best way to avoid this is to use a groundsheet footprint from the start. This protects the groundsheet from any sharp objects on the pitch and is much easier to clean when you get home.
3 PROOF IT
You’ll know your tent needs waterproofing if the rain starts to darken the flysheet. Cleaning and reproofing materials from brands like Storm, Nikwax and Grangers Fabsil can be found at most camping shops. Thoroughly clean the tent fabric before applying the proofer. Large tents will have to be pitched and brush washed by hand but smaller tents should fit into washing machines.
There are two main types of proofer: water-based and solvent-based. Solvent products dry quicker – from just a few minutes for a fluoropolymer product such as Storm Brush-on Proofer to a couple of hours for a silicone product. Spray-on applications are convenient and easy to use – especially on smaller tents. Treatments vary in application to wet or dry fabric – you’ll find advice and instructions on the container and on the manufacturers’ websites.
4 STORE IT
- Make a check list and check your gear as you store it, looking out for anything that is missing, broken or damaged.
- Pack the tent loosely and store it somewhere dry and cool, like a loft, garage or shed, and out of direct sunlight.
- Storing gear high helps keep it away from rodents and insects but remember tents can be very heavy, so be very careful not to put it somewhere that it could fall on your head!
- Food smells attract rodents and they will cause irreparable damage to gear by chewing through it on the hunt for something tasty to eat. Make sure you air out or wash all gear that smells of food and sweep out any crumbs before packing.?
- Air out sleeping bags and store them loosely in a mesh bag rather than leaving them in stuff sacks
- Remove the batteries from any gadgets and store them separately. This will stop the batteries running out and will avoid the danger of corrosion damage.
- Unpack your stove, check the burners and give it a good clean
- Wipe down tent furniture like wardrobes, kitchens, tables and chairs and check for any damage.
- Clean out food storage containers thoroughly