With a little care and maintenance, most camping gear will last you a lifetime. Just because it may be damaged doesn't mean it has to be replaced. There are professional repair services or do-it-yourself repair kits that can put new life back into your outdoor gear. Each new camping season, or even before each trip, run through a few checks to see if your gear is ready:
- Cook stoves: clean the burners and make sure they are unclogged, and make sure all the fittings are tight. The best advice for cook stoves is to clean them thoroughly before you put them into storage. Also check to see if you need to replenish your fuel.
- Coolers: check for mold, mildew, or rancid smells. As with cook stoves, be sure to clean them thoroughly before you put them into storage. A little chlorine bleach and mild detergent should clean them up sufficiently.
- First aid kit: discard any outdated medicines and check for any items that may need to be replenished.
- Lanterns: check the mantels for need of replacement, and (where applicable) make sure the relief valve on the pump is not clogged. Also check your fuel supplies.
- Sleeping bags: open them up and shake them out, check for any smells (a sign of possible mold or mildew), check zippers for smooth operation, check the drawstring around the hood, and look for any holes, rips, or tears.
- Sleeping pads: check inflatable pads for any leaks. You can usually find a repair kit at most sporting goods stores.
- Stuff sacks: wash in mild soap and dry completely.
- Tents: before using them each season, set them up, check all the zippers, apply seam-seal, look for any rips or tears in the walls or floor, check for any bent poles. Make sure you have all your stakes and guy-lines too.
- Other gear: get out your camping checklist and review the status of other items that you regularly use when camping.
If you discover any items in need of repair, you now have the option, depending on your skills and the extent of the damage, to either fix it yourself or to entrust the repairs to a professional repair service. For a list of Web sites offering gear repair kits or services, check out the variety of resources for
Outdoor Gear Repair