It’s that time of year! The snowy weather is likely long gone for most (or for those of you smarter than THIS gal, you live where you don’t have nine months of winter…) Now is the time that we start to plan our summers and for me, that means planning some stellar camping trips! Here are some considerations that you should be taking care of NOW — so that when you get those golden tickets (commonly known in the workplace as “leave slips” — you can throw the packs and gear and the Golden Retriever into the car with the kids and GO!
Have you even thought about your tent or your trekking poles in the last six months? Probably not. Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a super tropical climate or have been wandering the globe backpacking, your gear is likely like mine: being stored until warmer, more camper friendly weather arrives. However, now that spring has sprung, you need to get yourself in gear to be ready for the best season of all — camping season!! Here’s what to do NOW!
Find Your Gear
It doesn’t seem possible that you could lose things that are larger than your children or even half the size of your car. But, over the months you tend to pile and stack and store and forget. We’ve had to just about excavate our entire basement in search of the artifacts buried there that we once called our cherished camping gear. Things like favorite sleeping pads, camp stoves, Sig bottles, kayaking accessories, paddle floats, scuba fins, and even entire tents have been resurrected from the rubble. So make it a point to find it NOW so that you aren’t playing an unintended archaeologist later!
Inventory Your Gear
Once you’ve found your heap of gear, make a checklist of what you have, what you need to replace, and maybe even items you’ve had your eye on and are ready to splurge for. You’ll be surprised that you might have a pile of 15 Nalgenes and not a single pair of hiking boots or your topo maps that you “put in a safe place” for the next season. This is great to know NOW because you’ll have to get on the stick to replace things and shipping or logistics of a gear buying trip can be time consuming and costly,
especially if left to the last minute.
Rehab Your Gear
Some gear just needs a little spit polish to be back up to speed. NOW is the time to grease your gears on bikes and lube bearings on stroller wheels. Patch any holes in your neoprene and rubber gear bags and rafts, tubes and rubber boots. If you need to order parts, do it right away! Sending away for warranty work? So are hundreds of other campers right now, so get on it! Most of the time we just need to “air out” all of our stuff – nothing stinks more than a tent that smells musty and has mildew issues. You’ll be happy you spent a weekend exploring the holes and rehabilitation needs of your stuff before you’re trying to be innovative in insect eradication because there are holes in your mesh screens and defective zippers in your tent!
Need new stuff? Someone else might have what you need! Jump on Facebook, Craigslist, Ebay, and Freecycle! Get posting and perusing and try to find what you need without purchasing items in brand new condition. Camping gear is an exceptional thing — either people use the heck out of it or it’s nearly pristine because they thought they’d outfit Lewis and Clark’s expedition on a whim in REI. Garage sales are usually gold mines too and spring is the time for all that cleaning out action!
Attend a Swap
Gear swaps are like Comicon for outdoorsy types. You’ll never see so many folks wearing Chacos and wool tops in a single room again! This is a great place to get rid of your surplus and find some really great deals on what you figure you’ll need for the upcoming season of exploration. It’s also a fun social place to connect with other kindred spirits! Kids will love seeing all that camping gear and anticipating the summer to come!
Once you have all of your gear figured out, you can start to plan where it is you’ll be going! Since you never know, you might need something specialized for a trip — rafting the Colorado will require some items that you might not normally have. Different climates and conditions may require some more shopping, swapping, and prepping and you’ll want time to do so in advance. Have fun pouring over guides, websites, and Lonely Planet!
Put in for Your Time Off
This is perhaps the most fun of all. Give your boss that official declaration of time that is well-deserved in the bush and with your family! And cross your fingers that it is approved! Happy camping!