How to Store Camping Gear

Jon Fesmire | August 13, 2018 @ 8:03 AM

Camping allows you to take a break from city life and trek along forest paths, cook around a campfire and clearly see all the stars at night. It also requires camping equipment, which must be stored properly after use.

If you’re not camping in your own RV, you likely have a tent, sleeping bags, cooking gear, and so on. Here’s how to store those items in a storage unit:


Put some detergent-free soap in a clean bucket and add cold water. With a gentle sponge, scrub the dirt off various parts of the tent. Avoid perfumed soaps, which can attract pests both in storage and in the wild. Make sure the tent is completely dry before folding or rolling it up. Store the tent in a large plastic container or cotton bag, avoiding compressing it.

Sleeping Bags

Machine wash your sleeping bags only if the manufacturer’s instructions say it is okay to do so (if you no longer have the care instructions, you can usually find them online). Depending on how it’s filled, get a cleaner meant for down or synthetic filling. Put one sleeping bag in the washer with some of the proper cleaning solution and run the washing machine on gentle cycle, either warm or cold, depending on what the manufacturer’s instructions say. To get rid of extra soap, run it through an extra rinse cycle. Remove the bag carefully and squeeze most of the water.

Dry a synthetic bag in a commercial dryer for an hour or so, and a down bag for several hours, on low heat. To keep a down sleeping bag fluffy, throw two tennis balls in the dryer with it. It may take more than one cycle to get each bag dry, and it’s important to make sure they’re completely dry before storage.

While your sleeping bag probably came with a sack to stuff it in, use this sack only when you’re going on a camping trip and coming back, not for long-term storage. It can damage the fluff and the shape of the sleeping bag.

Put each bag in a large mesh or cotton sack for storage, and place them on top of bins in your storage unit.

Heavy Equipment

Gear like flashlights and anything else that needs batteries should be cleaned and correctly stored. Remove the batteries and put them in a plastic bag. Clean the exterior of this type of equipment with a gentle soap, water, and non-abrasive sponge. Get the dirt off and dry the equipment well with a towel.

Store these items in a plastic bin and include the bag of batteries in the bin with them.

Pots and Pans

Wash your pots, pans, and other cooking gear and utensils completely as you would those you use at home: in the sink with dishwashing soap or in the dishwasher with appropriate detergent. Let them dry thoroughly, and put them in a plastic bin for storage.

Your Storage Unit

After all this work, you’ll want to store your equipment in the right sort of environment. What’s the use of making sure everything is well-dried if it then grows mold during the summer, or suffers in the cold, dry winter air? Climate controlled storage solves these potential problems. It keeps the temperature and humidity within safe levels for all your belongings.

You can also store your equipment at home, of course. If you do, you’ll get more life out of your equipment if you keep it in a cool closet, rather than in the garage or attic.

Perhaps you’ll need to store your camping gear in the off-season for camping near you, or perhaps you’ll need to store it for longer. Either way, you’ll increase its longevity if you follow the above instructions. Enjoy your next camping trip!

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