We're entering prime family camping season and its time to start getting ready to get outdoors. There are a few steps you need to take before you're first camping trip of the year to ensure that you have a trip that isn't marked by problems with your gear.
First, take the time to set up your tent in your yard at home or somewhere close by. You will need to inspect for damage, i.e. ripped seams or frayed edges, check all the zippers as well, the last thing you would want to happen is get all the way to your destination only to realize your tent isn't up to the challenge. A few things to remember about your tent:
The tent you select must be appropriate for the group you plan on bringing. Chances are if you are in a family the group camping could range due to every ones activities and schedules lining up. Being crammed into a small tent is no fun, but spending all your time setting up a circus tent for two people is no walk in the park either. Remember to plan on some extra room to spread out gear, food & dirty shoes. A good rule of thumb is to buy a tent that is made for one person more than you plan to sleep. Some tents designed for extended stays even have the ability to store shoes outside the tent, hang lights or even battery powered fans, as well as store hiking or fishing gear. Once you decide your old tent will accommodate your group and be up to the challenge you must address the all to familiar menace in camping, RAIN!
You'll need some seam sealer and waterproofing spray for tents, and take the time to apply it to your seams and the bottom portions of your tent, both inside and out.
Waterproofing breaks down in sunlight and with time, so making sure you do this every year will keep you dry in case of that spring thunderstorm. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and no-one enjoys trying to sleep when wet.
Next replace all the batteries in your flashlights and/or lanterns, if they haven't been used in a while they can still die down. Its not a bad idea to always have extra batteries in case yours die or someone else is unprepared. If you have a gas lantern make sure to check your mantles, these can become brittle and break leaving you in the dark. Another good idea is to always have a spare pair, just make sure to get the right size for your model lantern. A small investment know can ensure that you aren't left in the dark.
Another Item to check is your propane/gas lanterns and stoves you need to make sure they all fire up and don't leak while at your home. Its hard to replace a seal or pump when your in the woods, and odds are you won't have the replacement parts.
If you have a leak just ask the experts in our camping department for the part that you need, like this Coleman kit pictured below. Fuel left in a lantern during storage can cause the rubber parts of your pumps to deteriorate. Fuel leaks in the great outdoors are not only a nuisance but can be a dangerous fire hazard.
Make sure to check your first aid kit to get it full of the items you need such as band aids, neosporene, moleskin, and ace bandages.
And its not a bad idea to get a new first aid kit each year, just in case it wasn't stored properly. This is one item that is better to have and not need than to need and not have.
If your sleeping bags have been stuffed in closets hang them up or lay them out and let them air out to spread the insulation around so it isn't bunched up. Also check to make sure the sleeping bag you are taking is rated to the proper temperatures. Its hard to get a good nights rest if you are too cold or too hot!
Its always good to make sure you have some sort of sleeping pad, either an inflatable mattress or a foam pad, you don't want to try to sleep on the hard ground all night without one. If you have an inflatable version make sure to test it out, its not fun to go to sleep and wake up on the ground with no padding.
If smores are your thing, and you're looking to have a campfire, but you're not an expert at fire making pick up a fire-starter, these are great to get fires started, even with wet or moist wood. Coghlan's has this pack that will light even if your fire stick gets wet.
Preparation is always key, like the boy scouts motto, Be Prepared; that way you can be a happy camper!
For more helpful tips and advice please stop by your Bass Pro Shops camping department and ask the experts!
Stay tuned for more blogs on Camping!
Receiving Manager / Camping Enthusiast