Across the country, people everywhere are cleaning out drawers and organizing closets to pass the time. But, should you find yourself at home with extra time on your hands, now’s the perfect opportunity to prep for your next camping trip. Once it’s safe to travel again, camping will be the perfect way to get out and enjoy yourself, while still practicing moderate social distancing. In the spirit of preparedness, here’s what you can do right now to get ready for a camping or backpacking trip in the near future.
Wash Your Sleeping Bag
Just like any other bedding, sleeping bags can get grimy over time. That’s why it’s best to wash your sleeping bag at least once a year. For an insulated down bag, the multi-step washing process requires a front-loading washing machine, special laundry detergent, and a couple of tennis balls. (REI has a helpful video if you’ve never done it before.) If you don’t have a front loader, fear not. You can wash your sleeping bag the old-fashioned way — in the tub with a little bit of elbow grease.
Sleep in Your Tent
This might sound silly, but some of the best nights I’ve had in my tent have been in my own back yard. If you’ve never camped at home before, now is the perfect time to spice things up during quarantine. If you don’t have outdoor space, set up your tent in your basement or living room. Not only is it fun and easy, but it’s also quite convenient to camp within 30 feet of your own bathroom. Plus, if the tent is new, it will help you become acquainted with the space--and how to set it up--before your big camping trip.
Build a Camping Box
If you don’t already have one, creating your very own camping box is a great way to spend your downtime. A camping box is just a storage bin that holds all of your camping supplies in one, organized space, and mine is filled with dishware, serving spoons, and cookware, in addition to garbage bags, matches, paper towels, bug spray, and a set of cards. Over the years, I’ve added items as needed, such as extra salt and pepper shakers, an ax for chopping wood, and an old cribbage board. Every year, I re-organize my box and take stock of my items, so that I’m ready-to-go when the camping season starts.
Find a Good Pair Of Trekking Poles
If you love to go backpacking, it might be wise to invest in a good pair of trekking poles. After recovering from an ankle injury a couple of years ago, I bought my first pair of poles for a backpacking trip in Maine’s Baxter State Park. Unfortunately, the weather was not in my favor and our party was forced to hike out miles in the pouring rain on a slippery trail. If it hadn’t been for my Trail Buddy Trekking Poles, I might never have made it. Regardless of your age or ability, these make for happy hiking, so you may as well do yourself a favor and buy them now, and get a good feel for them while walking around your backyard or local park.
Clean Out Your Camp Stove
All stoves need maintenance, especially when you take them on the road. Whether you work with a light backpacking stove or a portable grill for car camping, now is a great time to make sure everything is in ship shape. Backpacking stoves are small and sometimes finicky, so here’s a detailed how-to guide. Depending on the type, camping stoves can be cleaned with a variety of household products, from mild soap to vinegar. Once the cleaning is finished, don’t forget to cook a meal on the stove to make sure everything is in working order.
Take Stock of Your Gear
Camping and backpacking can involve a lot of gear, and now’s a great time to take stock of what you have. Try on your hiking boots to see if they can last another season. Sew up holes in your outdoor clothes, darn your hiking socks, and double-check the batteries in your headlamp. Make sure you have gas for your stove and that your water filter works. Stock up on backcountry food, like Good To-Go Meals, or scour the internet for campfire recipes. If you find there’s anything that you’re missing, now’s the time to order it.
Plan Your Next Adventure
For the good of everyone, most travel has come to a halt right now, but that won’t be the case forever. So take this opportunity to pick up a map and plot out your next dream camping trip. Make a list of national parks you want to visit, trails you hope to conquer, and mountains you’d like to climb. Research state parks near you that allow overnight camping or backpacking and start planning now. When the time comes, you’ll be ready and the world will be waiting.