Now that you’ve tended to the needs of your sleeping bag and tent, it’s time to turn your attention to the rest of your gear. Granted, it’s a drag to come back from a camping trip exhausted and have to immediately clean and sort through all your stuff, but well-maintained equipment will reward you with years and years of active duty. When you have a three-day weekend on the way, there’s no better feeling than having all your camping stuff in one place, clean and ready to go. Keep your stove, hiking pack and other gear on deck with these tips:
• First, make sure everything is off. Camp stove, flashlights, headlamps, GPS—anything you have with a shut-off switch should be shut off. You should also remove the fuel from your stove and batteries from electronics if your gear is going into long-term storage.
• Dry all your stuff completely, and if it doesn’t already have a protective case, store in a sealed plastic bag. Your camp stove won’t turn into a Gremlin if it gets wet, but the likelihood of corrosion or rust will be reduced if you can store it as dry as possible.
• Clean your camp stove and utensils thoroughly with warm water and soap. Make sure to get all food residue off the inside and outside of the stove, or you could have an ant party on your hands.
• Store your cooking stove fuel in a cool, dry location where it won’t be tormented by extreme heat or cold.
• Store a self-inflating sleeping pad loose, not rolled up. This will keep it well-aired and springy.
• Give your hiking pack a thorough cleaning when you have some downtime between outings. Use a vacuum on the inside of your pack, and then wipe down the outside with a damp cloth and mild soap or chemical-free detergent. Hose it off with cold water until no soap remains, and hang-dry your pack upside down in a shady or well-ventilated spot out of the sun.
• Don’t use a washing machine on your pack unless you’re faced with a global mildew crisis and have no other options. If you absolutely insist on using modern technology, wash on delicate in cold water with a chemical-free detergent. Don’t use a dryer—hang upside down to dry for a few days with a fan nearby.