Not all camping stuff is expensive, but if you do invest in high quality tents and other equipment, then you have to take care of it well every time you use it if you really want it to last. In the first place, it is always nice to have your gear neatly organized and ready when you are ready to leave home. It makes set up at you camp site much faster and more efficient.
However, sometimes when the camping trip is over and it’s time to pack up and go home, it not quite as much fun to take everything down and pack it away neatly again. You can be tired and just ready to go. That’s why you need to know how to pack up and when to get started.
On the morning of your last day, go ahead and start gathering up the small stuff that you know you won’t be needing. If you have any last minute swimming, fishing, or boating to get in, that will be that much less stuff you need to deal with when you get back.
If you are not going to break camp first thing in the morning and head out, just remember you want to get started before it gets dark, so give yourself at least an hour or two before sunset.
1. Start with all of the small stuff first like your campfire grill, cooking supplies, dishes, food, and things like that. If it’s dirty wash it. Any perishable food you can’t take home and put it back in your fridge, toss it in the trash.
2. Remove the propane tanks from anything that uses fuel like lanterns or your camp stove. If they have liquid fuel in them, make sure none of it is leaking out anywhere and pack it carefully. If you are going to store flammable stuff in your trunk, you might want to remove liquid fuel if you can. Put your lights, lanterns, flashlight or anything your don’t want broken in a wooden box or plastic storage bin.
3. Gather up any clothes you have brought along, as well as towels, bed sheets, and pillows and get those stowed away. If you have wet stuff, put it in a plastic bag and seal it. Just don’t forget to take the wet things out and launder them when you get home because they will mildew.
4. Now you can de-flate any air mattresses you might have brought along. You want to remove all of the air now and roll them back up neatly and put them into their bags. Make sure there are no sticks, pebbles, or other objects on them than can cause a puncture. Be sure and put the pump with the mattress so it will be together the next time you use it. If you brought cots, fold those up. Shake out your sleeping bags to make sure you don’t take home any unwanted critters like spiders. Roll the bags up neatly and tie them.
5. If you have any inflatable swim toys or rafts, dry them off well and de-flate those. Roll them up neatly and put them in a plastic storage bin and they will be puncture free the next time you use them.
6. If you have folding chairs, now is the time get those up. You might want to place any loose items on a table if you have one, so leave the table until last.
7. Once you have your tents all cleared out, even a screen tent if you have one up, then you want to get out any debris on the tent floors. Sand, pebbles, or trash, it all needs to be swept up and got out. Use a paper towel or rag to sweep it with if you didn’t have the foresight to bring along a tent brush or broom. Go around the outside of your tent and get off any bugs or spiders and if your tent is wet anywhere, dry it off now, including the poles, especially if they are metal.
8. If you have multiple tents, take them down one at a time so you don’t get any poles, rods, or tarps mixed up. Once the tent is down, spread it out flat on clear ground and fold it neatly to go back in the bag. Never just roll it all up in a ball because you will be sorry when you go to use it the next time. Put other accessories that go with each tent in its proper bag. Stakes can be sharp if they are metal, so you might want a separate bag for those.
9. When it comes to how to pack it pack in your trunk or trailer, well good luck with getting it all back in!Sometimes things don’t repack the 2nd time like they did the first time. Take your time and stow it away as compactly as possible and everything should fit. You brought it with you from home, so it probably has to go back with you!
10. Remember, wherever you set up your camp, whether it’s in a campground or in primitive spot, you always want to leave it like you found it. If it’s your responsibility to take off the trash, then do so. Make sure your campfire it totally extinguished with dirt or water before you head out.
Make sure you have the correct storage containers that match what you are storing, ensuring that they will still be in good shape for your next trip.