Upon returning home from a camping trip, it can be tempting to unload all your gear and leave it where it sits.
However, quality gear can cost a lot, so it’s important to care for it properly, which includes storage. For this reason, leaving your equipment in your backpack for more than a day isn’t suggested.
By leaving your equipment and gear packed up, you’re risking rust, mold, and damage to your belongings, as well as creating the perfect home for creepy crawlers and critters to hide.
Keep reading for our best tips and tricks for how to store camping gear to optimize space.
Preparing Your Camping Gear for Storage
You should always inspect your gear for damage upon coming home from a camping expedition.
Check for any damage on your tent poles, guy lines, zippers, and the rain fly. You should also check for any holes in the tent’s mesh, but be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for repair since different fabrics will need different kinds of repairs.
If any of your items are broken, determine if the item can be fixed and if you want to spend time repairing it. If not, make sure you recycle or dispose of it properly.
If you have discovered that you have any gear you don’t need anymore, sell it secondhand, gift it, or donate it.
You should always clean your gear before packing it up and putting it away for storage. Cleaning before storing removes any foul odors and bacteria and ensures that your equipment is ready to use when you pull it out next season.
To clean your tent and sleeping gear, shake out any excess dirt first. Then, remove caked-on mud using a soft-bristled brush and a damp sponge. A good scrub using just water should be adequate for most of your camping gear, but you can also use natural cleaners.
You should avoid any harsh chemicals or detergents like bleach and other all-purpose cleaners because they may damage your gear.
After cleaning all your gear, make sure you let it dry thoroughly. This step is especially important because storing your camping gear away while it’s still damp can foster mildew and possibly ruin your gear.
Make sure to wash your sleeping pad before storing it for the season. This removes body oils and grime, avoiding any buildup.
Make sure you let the pad thoroughly dry inside and out before storing it, or it may begin to develop mold and mildew.
How to Store Camping Gear
Before you begin the process of storing your camping gear, you should make a plan to make the best use of your available space. To do this, take note of what gear you have and which pieces take up the most space.
Next, you should consider where you plan to store your items. Create a dedicated storage space for your camping gear, making sure to compensate for damp environments or environments that are more exposed to the elements than others, like a basement.
Create a Dedicated Storage Space
The garage or basement are two of the most common places to store camping gear.
Make sure to place your gear in water-tight containers so that it’s well protected from the damp environment of the basement or garage.
If you don’t have any storage space left in your garage or basement, or if you live in a place without either, store your camping gear in the closet. You can optimize this space by utilizing hanging shoe racks that go over the door, installing extra shelving, or installing a pegboard.
The closest is generally a temperature-controlled environment, so if you’re using your closet to store your gear, that’s one less thing you’ll have to consider.
A storage shed is another common place to keep your camping gear stored for the off-season. To regulate the temperature and prevent any moisture-related damage to your gear, you could add insulation or damp-proofing to the shed.
Storage sheds are great for creating overhead space by building shelves, racks, and hangers, allowing you to optimize space to fit all your supplies and gear.
You will need to keep your gear in airtight and watertight containers if you plan to store it in a storage shed because these areas are susceptible to moisture and humidity.
Organize Small Gear and Accessories
Organizing your small gear and accessories can save you a headache next season when you’re ready to pull out your equipment and get out into nature again.
The best way to organize your gear is to identify what you use most often and make it the easiest to access. Organize your things by activity to help make packing and unpacking more efficient.
Take inventory of which gear is meant for each activity and assign a bin or dedicated space for each activity. For example, divide your camp cookware and kitchenware together, group sleeping systems together, and combine climbing equipment together.
You should also consider rotating your stored camping gear by season. So you’d make winter apparel and accessories like skiing gear easily accessible during the winter and supplies for backpacking more available during the summer.
Create a System of Labeled Bins
Creating a system of labeled bins is a great way of organizing all your camping gear for optimized storage. Clear storage bins are incredibly efficient because you can see through them easily for the contents.
Using labeled bins allows you to store small camping accessories, like flashlights, pocket knives, headlamps, bug spray, etc., categorized by type, activity, or how often you use the equipment.
Hang a Shoe Rack
A shoe rack or shoe organizer is handy for saving space to store your shoes and hiking boots. You can also tuck other small items into the pockets if you have extra space after you’ve put away all your footwear.
An over-the-door shoe organizer doesn’t take up a lot of space and allows you to save floor space for other items. If you prefer not to store your hiking boots on the shoe rack, store them on the ground, and place other items in the shoe organizer.
Optimize Overhead Space
Make sure to optimize every inch of your storage space by using overhead space wisely. Light items can easily be stored up high
Storing a Tent
When it comes to long-term camping gear storage, you should avoid storing your tent in the bag it came in. The compression puts stress on the stitches of the fabric. Instead, you should roll it up loosely and store it in a large pillowcase or other fabric-type bag.
Storing Your Pack
The best place to store your hiking pack and other backpacks is hanging on the wall, where it saves space.
To take it a step further, store small gear and accessories, as well as smaller packs, inside your backpack before hanging it. This ensures some pieces of your gear are always ready for an excursion.
Storing Sleeping Gear
When it comes to storing your camping gear, you should always make sure to store sleeping gear properly. This gear can be costly, so you want to make sure you’re storing it in the best way to prolong its life.
Sleeping bags should be stored in a large breathable cotton or mesh sack. If you leave your sleeping bag in its original packaging, the months of compression may damage its insulation, resulting in a loss of plushness and resilience.
The synthetic and down materials typically used to insulate sleeping bags should be hung vertically rather than stuffed into any container or sack.
If you don’t have a place to hang your sleeping bag, lay it out somewhere. This is better than compressing the insulation. Store your sleeping bag in a cool, dry place.
As with sleeping bags, your sleeping pad should not be compressed in any way while in storage, or the insulation may be damaged.
Storing your sleeping bag uncompressed elongates its life. Open and closed-cell foam sleeping pads will last much longer if you store them uncompressed.
Store your sleeping pad in a cool, dry place.
Storing Cooking Equipment
The most difficult part of storing camping gear is often figuring out how to safely store your cooking and kitchen equipment, especially hydration gear and your camping stove.
Wash your camp kitchen gear until it’s spotless. Sterilize your water containers, tubes, and any other hydration equipment using warm soapy water.
Afterward, be sure to leave them to drain completely to avoid any mold growth. It’s also suggested to store hydration equipment in the refrigerator to further discourage mold growth.
Storing camping gear, especially your camping stove, safely is of the utmost importance.
Camping stove fuel shouldn’t be stored in an environment that is too hot or too cold. The fuel shouldn’t be stored in temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
When storing your camping stove, you should take out the gas canister and store it away from any source of flames or sparks.
Avoid storing this camping gear anywhere it may have direct contact with sunlight or near electrical outlets.
Other Cooking Equipment/Kitchen Utensils
Keep your spices, matches, lighters, and any other small items you use for cooking in their own small bin. Your utensils (spoons, forks, knives, etc.) should also be in their own small storage bin. Store pots and pans together, hanging what you can to save space.
Store your cooking equipment and kitchen utensils in a large plastic bin or a zippered bag made of tough fabric that the utensils can’t easily damage.
What Shouldn’t Be Stored
Now that we’ve discussed how to store your camping gear, let’s talk about what to avoid when storing camping gear.
You shouldn’t store any items that need batteries with the batteries inside them. Remove batteries from all devices and store them separately to avoid battery acid leakage.
You’ll also want to avoid storing your camping gear in damp or musty environments that may induce the breakdown of the equipment. If you don’t have any option other than storing your gear in an environment such as this, make sure to invest in waterproof containers to avoid any damage from moisture.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where should I store my camping gear?
The rule of thumb is to store your camping gear away from direct sunlight in a cool, dry environment. If you don’t have such a space available, create one! Invest in weather-proof containers that are capable of protecting your camping gear from the elements if you don’t have the option of temperature-controlled storage.
Can I wash my sleeping gear in the washing machine?
Most sleeping bags can be washed in a washing machine without an agitator. Don’t wash your sleeping bag in a washing machine that has an agitator, or it could rip the seams and destroy the sleeping bag.
Sleeping pads shouldn’t be washed in a washing machine, or the material could sustain damage from the agitator. Your sleeping pad could also sustain damage from mold growth since sleeping pads take a while to dry if they get soaked in the washing machine.
Can I put my sleeping gear in the dryer?
Most sleeping bags can safely be placed in the dryer in the lowest heat setting. You’ll want to keep an eye on it to prevent overheating that may cause damage to the bag. You can throw some tennis balls in the dryer toward the end of the cycle to help break up the insulation and fluff the bag.
Sleeping pads shouldn’t be placed in the dryer because the heat may damage the foam.
Wrapping up How to Store Camping Gear for Organized Storage
No matter where you’re storing your camping gear for next season, we hope these tips and tricks have helped you create an efficient system for quick, easy, and organized storage.For more useful information about camping gear, check out our guide on finding cheap camping gear without compromising quality.
- About the Author
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Brittany Tedford is a post-apocalyptic fiction author, an aspiring English teacher, and a writer for Apple Pie Media.
She currently lives in a small town in Northern Mississippi with her two children Anna and Eli, and her two cats Salem and Leo.
With a bachelor’s in Creative Writing and English and a master’s in the same discipline, Brittany is passionate about learning how to live off the land for camping trips, which is why she loves writing for Beyond The Tent. From the best camping gear to camping survival tips and tricks, to finding the perfect campground, there is so much information to share with others!
Brittany can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org