As camping season comes to an end thoughts turn to other forms of outdoor adventure. For some skiing and snow shoeing may fill that void. For others spending time at indoor climbing gym will help keep them in shape for next year. If sleeping in a snow cave or a four-season tent isn't your idea of a good time, you're probably going to put your gear into storage until next year. Here are ten tips to make sure that when spring returns, you won't have any nasty surprises.
Don't store your gear in the shed, attic or garage. As the temperature drops outdoor critters are looking for a warm place to stay, and the pockets of your backpack as well as your rolled up tent are just the perfect place. If you have no other choice than be sure to leave all of the zippers on your pack open. Hungry squirrels, chipmunks, and field mice can nibble through nylon seeking out that one raisin sitting at the bottom of your pack. Check on your gear periodically during the winter to make sure that some animal hasn't turned it into their home.
Clean and inspect the dirty equipment. If you've been thinking about washing your sleeping bag or getting that tree sap off of your pack now is the best time to do it. This is also a good time to give your boots a thorough cleaning and inspection. Set up your tent one last time and gently brush out the dirt that has accumulated in it over the summer. While cleaning your tent inspect it for pulls, frays, tears, or potential leaks. Consider going over the seams with a good sealant.
Store your sleeping bag under your bed. If you won't be using your sleeping bag for an extended period of time it is best to store it unrolled. Under your bed is an ideal location. If you have pets or children that like to crawl under there consider putting it on a heavy hanger in a closet. Avoid storing it in closet that has air freshener in it. The odor can penetrate the fibers of your bag and turn it into an insect and wildlife magnet.
Store your sleeping pad under the bed. Unless you have a folding Z-Rest pad it too should be stored unrolled under the bed. If you have an inflatable pad like a Thermarest, it should be stored deflated. If you can't store it under your bed consider putting it on a heavy hanger. Hold it in place with old wooden clothespins with some padding to protect your pad from being pinched. Rotate it once a month.
Clean your cookware. That little bit of crustiness in the corner of your favorite pot can slowly grow into an intelligent life form over the next few months. Give your cookware another really good cleaning and let it sit out to dry for a few days before packing it up. If you store your stove with your cookware this is a good time to inspect and clean it.
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