Planning for the 2018 Season
Well now that the holidays are well and truly over and you’ve settled back into your routine with life, work and family it’s time to start planning your year of camping if you haven’t already done so. For all you that camp through the winter, I salute you and envy you. Now that I’m older this is something I now don’t do. Maybe it just an age thing but I feel the cold a lot more and don’t find it as enjoyable.
I love nothing better than looking at sites and dates and trying to plan my time away. Phone calls to friends and family to see if they want to do any joint camps and when. It really starts the passion burning again for the year ahead after sometimes a long winter, especially if I’ve not managed to camp during this time.
I can fritter away hours, maybe even days researching new places to go, sorting out dates and travel details, even setting out budgets so I can fit as many camping trips as possible in.
But! And this can be a big but. One thing I can be quite guilty of doing is leaving all my gear checks or replenishing of gear to nearer the time. This year I am determined not to do this as 1, I never set a budget for this before arranging camps. 2, if left to last minute it can often work out more expensive. 3, I tend to impulse buy and that is rarely good.
Now’s the time to sort through all your gear and make sure it is ready for use and up to scratch for the year ahead. Maybe you already know of a few items that are broke and need repaired or replaced, well now is the time to do it. Not only are you giving yourself plenty of time, often there are good sales on during the winter on most items that you may need.
Tent Repairs or New Tent – does your existing tent have any rips or frayed areas? Can these be repaired, even just for one more season if you love that particular tent? You can often find self-adhesive, colour match repair patches online if it’s a small tear or fray. Make sure all zips are working, if sicking a little this can be remedied by rubbing with a wax candle. Are your bedroom pods ok, are they clean and all toggles fixed? Toggles can be sewn or replaced if needed, you just need to be able to thread a needle and spend a little time on it. You can wash your pods, on a low temp if needed but please hang out or dry over an airer. DO NOT PUT IN TUMBLE DRYER! The attached flooring can shrink and melt making them unusable. Last but not least does the tent need re-waterproofed? It may not be the weather to do this just now but you can buy in waterproofing spray/liquid ready for when the time comes. Even do this on your first trip away if the weather allows.
If your tent needs replaced you should have plenty of time to start shopping around and deciding on what you want from your new tent. You may want to upsize, downsize, get one with a porch or the many other features that tents now give us. Try to take your time and get exactly what you want, remember it is an investment and you are going to have to live in it while away.
Broken tent poles – these can often repair/replace by yourself. If like me you duct tape any broken poles on site and then forget to replace once home CHECK THEM NOW! There is nothing worse than forgetting to replace a pole only to notice as you setting up again.
You can buy replacement poles online or even individual sections and repair them yourself. Be sure to measure the pole needing replaced properly, length and diameter. If you can’t find the length of pole you need go by diameter as you can always cut the pole to your desired length with a hack saw or multi tool. New shock cord should be purchased at the same time, if needed.
Check out Youtube for videos on pole repairs if you are unsure or have never done it before.
Sleeping Bags – how are your sleeping bags? Was you warm enough last year or would you like to upgrade this year. If upgrading now is a perfect time with the sales and many discounts on offer. Remember to take seasons into account as well as the material used and your use for it. If you camp while backpacking get one designed with this in mind, more lightweight and easy to carry. If you go away for long trips and take everything in the car, you could invest in a heavier poly cotton or flannel lined bag. REMEMBER – your sleeping bag is the next most important item to your tent when camping. A goods night sleep matters, there is no use freezing all night to be grumpy and sore the next day – it’s just not enjoyable.
Beds/Mats/SIM’s – some use beds others mats or SIM’s (self-inflating mattresses), some use a combination. Check these are all ok, if it’s a framed bed or inflatable check for any tears or rips. I’ve known people with framed beds to notice a small rip or fray in the material and not bother, only to fall through the bed during the night when they are moving about. If you use SIM’s check that they do still inflate and hold the air. It can be quite easy to get small punctures while in use or transit. These can be simply fixed most times with a small self-adhesive repair patch.
Kitchen items – check through your kitchen items, is everything there? Does anything need replaced or replenished? Remember to check you gas, do you need to get it refilled or buy in more? An extra clean of items after winter storage can also be good. Remember if you use a kitchen unit to check if the material used in it needs cleaned too. Small stains or grease marks are common since you are using it for cooking. A wash by hand is normally easiest, using some spot stain remover where needed. Leave to dry completely before packing away.
Any Other Furniture – check all other furniture for wear and tear and do any spot cleaning on marks. Wash down and dry all tables, chair legs etc.
Soft Furnishings – all soft furnishings, cushions, pillows, hanging storage etc. and either spot clean where needed and where you can put others through the washing machine.