How to store your camping gear for winter

How to store your camping gear for winter
Camping’s great fun, isn’t it? Whether you’re a survivalist-basic camper who builds fires from scratch and knows every type of knot ever invented, or a bit of a ‘cheater’ who opts for the electric hook-up to power an electric blanket and a kettle, it’s all good. 

It’s an adventure, it’s cosy at night and offers the freedom you just don’t get in a hotel. Of course, seven zips and a field between you and the site toilet block can be a bit of a nuisance, but it’s all part of the experience..! 

It’s also relatively affordable on a per-night basis, but the initial outlay and expense of replacing or upgrading equipment over time can be pretty hefty. 

There’s the:
  • tent, 
  • sleeping bags (for different seasons), 
  • sleeping mats/airbeds/camping beds, 
  • stove and gas, 
  • storage cupboards, 
  • chairs, 
  • lamps, 
  • table, 
  • pans, 
  • kettle, and 
  • any other paraphernalia you might opt for if you have electricity.
New campers usually start with the basics and build up extras as they gain experience of what they find they’ve needed but not taken on previous trips.

So … What do you do with all that stuff at the end of the camping season? How do you avoid having to replace things in spring because they’ve rotted or been bitten to bits by pests?

Storage for camping gear

There are three basic options that most people use as storage for camping gear:
  1. Under the bed
  2. In the garage
  3. In the loft
There are, sadly, downsides to all of these. 

1. Storing camping gear under the bed:
Storing camping gear under the bed might work for things like your sleeping bags (especially if they’re vacuum packed for extra space), but unless your bed is raised five feet above the floor you’re unlikely to be able to fit everything else under there. Maybe if you have an Ottoman-based bed and don’t store anything else under there you’d be able to fit most things in. 

During the colder months, though, tiny little creatures tend to want to find somewhere nice and warm to stay for a while, and there’s always the worry that by storing your camping gear under your bed, you’re basically making a lovely warm blanket fort for mice. Oh, and a delicious smorgasbord for moths.

2. Storing camping gear in the garage:
This will undoubtedly have more room than under your bed, so you could keep everything together and easily accessible. Hooray! But … unless your garage is protected against the elements, and is protected from pests by traps and poisons etc, you might need to replace or repair a few bits when you dig it out again. 

Damp in garages is notoriously difficult to avoid, and they’re seldom insulated. They’re also even more vulnerable to flying, crawling and scampering pests than indoors. 
3. Storing camping gear in the loft:
Have you been in your loft recently? How scary was it, on a scale of 1 to 10? 

Maybe you’re one of those amazing people who have fixed ladders or stairs leading to a fully insulated and boarded-out loft, with good lighting and no terrifying dark corners. 

If so - go for it! This is a great place to store your camping gear over winter! It’s out of your way, it’ll be dry and warm and you can access it easily again in spring because bringing a tent and camping stove etc down a fixed staircase won’t kill you. There’s still the problem of creating a mouse fort or moth buffet, though…

In any other case, if you have a ‘normal’ (‘terrifying’, ‘inaccessible’) loft with a ladder that wobbles and creaks when you climb it and a hatch barely wider than your shoulders, it might not be the best option if you ever want to get your camping gear back down again.

Storage for camping gear for experts

If you want storage for your camping gear that is:
  • Clean
  • Dry
  • Secure
  • Pest-controlled
  • Accessible
  • Organised
… you could consider renting a self storage unit. At Safestore, we offer self storage units in a range of sizes, and a 10 sq ft unit would be suitable for a typical amount of standard camping gear. It costs a few pounds a week, and our units are protected against the elements and pests, accessible every day of the year (24 hours a day in many stores) and monitored by CCTV and fire alarms.

Organising camping gear

Wherever you decide to store your camping gear, it’s essential that it’s properly organised.

It’s absolutely essential that before you put anything into storage, it must be clean and dry. Any dirt can trap moisture, and any moisture can lead to your beautiful camping equipment getting mouldy. 

Ideally, find a day when you don’t think it will rain. Pitch your tent in the garden and give it a vacuum clean to make sure any creepy crawlies are removed. Then, give the exterior a wipe and, if necessary, spray it with sealant to make sure it retains its waterproofing for next year. When it’s all clean, take it all down, hang it up and let it dry in the breeze before taking it down and folding it up for storage.

As for your other equipment, check your poles and lines for wear and tear, and give your pegs a soak in the sink before letting them dry so they don’t go rusty in storage. Pop your sleeping bags in the washing machine and let them dry properly before putting them in vacuum-packed bags for easier storage. Some people are happy to hang sleeping bags up in their wardrobe, and if you have space for that then feel free to do so!

Think about next year when you come to gather your equipment for your next trip - make sure when organising camping gear that you can pack it all in your car easily. Avoid hard boxes with lids - they stack well, but they won’t transfer to fit into your car very easily.

  • Opt for plastic zipped and/or vacuum sealed bags for your sleeping bags, mats/mattresses and tent, 
  • Put your poles, pegs and mallets in a bag together (this can be any sort of bag),
  • Group your furniture (chairs, table, storage cupboard),
  • Bag up your stove, pots, pans, crockery and cutlery.
Gas canisters and any liquids and batteries must be removed from your camping equipment before you store them. Store these items separately, perhaps in your garage or under-sink units. Keep gas canisters out of direct sunlight!
Once everything’s clean and organised, camping gear can be stored safely for several months. It wouldn’t be cheap to replace, so make sure that if you keep your camping gear at home your insurance will cover it on a new-for-old basis. 

A bit of prep work now will make it very easy to get back into camping next spring - you’ll be a very happy camper!


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