Are you getting ready for your first trip of the camping season? If you are newer to the world of outdoor travel, you may be surprised to know that there are several things that should be done before even leaving the campsite!
To help you get started, we are going to walk you through the process of preparing your gear for the season.
- Assembling and checking over your tent(s)
- Tent waterproofing
- Basic tent repairs
- Testing and cleaning your camp stove
- Charging gear or testing batteries
- Preparing for bugs
- Updating your first aid kit
- And more…
While this isn’t a fully comprehensive guide (we didn’t even touch on checking gear like hammocks, repairing sleeping bags, or assessing your tarp situation), it will give you the information needed for new campers to kick off their camp preparations.
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Get Ready for Camping Like a Pro
John: Grundy… for Thanksgiving, maybe?
Britt: Oh, and MacGregor
John: Oh, and MacGregor Point
Britt: Ya, so we have a lot of parks coming up, and we can’t wait to share all of them with you. Okay, so we’ll cut there…
John: Stay toasty!
Britt: We’ll cut there. I was waiting for you to say your line, but you didn’t do it, so…
John: I forgot my line.
Britt: You don’t get it this time.
John: Stay toasty!
Britt: You don’t get it this video.
John: That’s going in the bloopers!
Britt: Okay, so the long weekend is here, and for many of us in Ontario, that means camping season’s kicking off.
John: Happy May 2-4!
Britt: Now, we don’t go out to the parks on the long weekend. We prefer a bit more private camping, and you don’t tend to get that on a long weekend. So, we always skip this weekend and make it our chance to really go through our gear and make sure that everything is ready and prepared before our camping season kicks off next weekend.
John: Ya, we make sure we go through everything. Especially, like, going through your vehicle and whatnot. I spent this weekend cleaning out the vehicle. I think there was still some things from our last camping trip, from last October. But ya, it’s mainly going through your equipment and making sure that everything’s working properly.
Britt: For those of you who might be newer to camping, or maybe this is your first time moving into a second season. You’re taking everything out that has been stored over the off-season and getting it all ready to go. We decided to put together a video just walking through everything that you need to do to be prepared to go camping.
John: We started off with the tent, our stove, and our other stuff like our batteries, make sure our first aid kit’s up to snuff, our bug spray, everything else that goes along with that.
Britt: So, let’s get started!
Checking Your Tent (2:36)
John: If you’re able to do so, and you have the space, make sure you set up your tent at your property before your first trip because you want to make sure that you’re not having any issues like broken poles or tears in your tent.
We do know that we do have a tear in our tent, and we will show you how to repair that. And also, we’ll be waterproofing, that we do. We do that prior to every season.
Repairing a Tent (3:05)
John: All right, so as you can see, we do have a little tear here, and the way that we’re going to fix that is with Tenacious Tape. This stuff is amazing, we’ve used it before on previous tents, and even on this tent, I do believe. And basically, this stuff repairs tears in your tents, tarps, any kind of outdoor gear, pretty much, including sleeping bags and whatnot.
First thing you want to do is make sure that the area is cleaned off and dry before applying the tape. This has already been cleaned, but as you can see, it does not look clean. That’s just stain over the years.
Unroll yourself a little bit of tape. This might be a little excessive, but you know what, I’m being… I’d rather be safer than sorry.
All you do is just peel the paper off the plastic there, line it up, and then from the center, you want to… put a little tension on your tent and then from the center, just rub it in like that, towards the outside edges. Make sure those outside edges have a good seal to them. What we’ll be doing after is taking the same size of tent or so and applying it on the other side of the tent so it makes a tight seal.
Waterproofing a Tent (4:51)
Britt: As John already said, we also do a waterproofing spray before every season. This just helps to make your tent stay waterproof for longer because as they come out of the store, they may work really well, but after a couple seasons, that waterproofing, that barrier, can wear off, causing your tent to leak. And nobody wants to wake up in a wet tent.
The spray is very simple. You just pop the lid off, and it says that you’re supposed to try it first on an area. We do this all the time, so I’ve never really worried about it too much since the first time.
But you’re supposed to hold it approximately 8 to 12 inches away, and just in a sweeping motion, spray your waterproofing spray on.
Testing Your Camp Stove (5:47)
John: Okay, so we’re just going to go over stove maintenance for the beginning of the year. Now, this is a brand-new stove that just got gifted to us at Christmas time. So, we’re not going to be as extensive with it. But what you should do, regardless, with an older one. What you want to do is make sure that you’re starting off pretty much fresh, and I think this is the first time that I’ve ever opened this one up, so just bare with me for one second.
This is a Coleman propane stove. I will always go with Coleman.
What you want to make sure when you have an older barbeque, or stove I mean, is that you want to make sure that your burners are clean. They don’t need to be as clean as that, but make sure that it’s pretty clean.
There are orifices that are coming through here, through the bottom, and usually, what happens during the fall and winter months and early spring months is that little critters like spiders will get in there and block everything. What you want to do is make sure that you pull everything out. Blow everything out if you get some compressed area, that’s probably the best route to go, you don’t want to be using any kind of liquids.
Basically, all you do is… Now my old one, the gas connection was actually on the back, not on the front. Of course, using Coleman all-purpose propane. And we’re going to start, very slowly because if there is a blockage, there might be a boom. Ah, there we go, we’ve got to turn it a little bit more.
Ideally, what you want is to have a blue flame.
Other than that, you just want to make sure everything is clear, clean, and ready to go for your first trip so you don’t have any issues at the campsite where you actually have to… If there is an issue, you don’t want to be going to the hardware store to fix your stove or, heaven forbid, buy a new stove because it wasn’t properly maintained at the beginning of the season.
Organizing Your Miscellaneous Gear (8:57)
Britt: Okay, and finally, when you’re getting ready for camp, there’s always those small items that get overlooked. But they’re very important, each in their own little way. So, I have a few things here that we’re going to quickly go over.
Now first, in terms of power. If you camp at an electrical site, obviously, this isn’t an issue. But we camp non-electrical, so we always have to consider whether our devices are powered up or charged ahead of time. This could include anything from a little Bluetooth speaker, this one’s actually a Bluetooth speaker and a lantern. We love it. It’s Woods.
Or we use a rechargeable lighter. Now, we always bring some extra matches or a flint lighter just in case, but we like that this can just be recharged and reused versus having to purchase the ones that have the fuel in them.
When you have flashlights and lanterns like this, make sure that they have batteries in them, because you probably, or should have, taken the batteries out over the off-season so that they don’t leak or cause problems. Like this one right now, isn’t going to do us much good. There’s no batteries in it. So, it’s here on the table so that I remember to do that.
When it comes to additional power, things like charging our phones, we use a Jackery system. This is something that we’ve recently kinda added to our gear list. We have this and we also have the corresponding solar panel, which can be used to charge this, and we absolutely love it. I highly recommend it for anyone who does car camp but with a tent, or maybe they’re to expand into that non-electrical world. There are a lot more non-electrical sites available generally than electrical sites, so it opens up a lot more sites available to you when you’re booking.
Another important thing to think about is bugs. Now, I know earlier, when we were filming the portion about the stove, you saw a mosquito flying around in front of the camera a couple times, and that’s just the nature of this time of year. Mosquitos, blackflies, you name it, they’re out.
If you are using a bug spray, one of two things. Number one, make sure you actually have some in it when you pack it. There’s no point in packing an empty can. That’s not going to do any good on your trip. Two, pay attention to whether or not your bug spray has DEET because DEET is not safe for pets. This one here has 30% DEET. We can’t use it on the pets. We can’t put it on and have it wet around the pets. It would be dangerous to them, so that’s something to take note of.
Another item that we always bring is our Thermacell. Now, when you’re packing your Thermacell, make sure that you have plenty of the little refill pads for the top here, as well as the fuel portion for the bottom. Otherwise, it’s not going to do you any good. We’ve had very good luck with the Thermacell in terms of dealing with mosquitoes in particular.
Finally, and I would argue that it is the most important thing to check over before you go camping, is your first aid kit. Everybody should have some sort of first aid kit that is with them. If you’re car camping, you don’t have to worry quite as much about the aspect about where you’re going to keep it because it can stay in your vehicle. But if you’re backpacking, it needs to be something small enough that it can fit into a pack for when you’re hiking.
So, this is our car camping first aid kit, and before every season, we go through, we make sure that we have all the supplies that we need in it, everything is in order. Anything that needs to be replenished, restocked, or updated because maybe it’s getting a little old, because sometimes these supplies do get old if they sit around a lot and you don’t get injured or hurt. And that way, if there is an emergency, we’re always prepared.
And, of course, make sure you wash your dishes, wash your bedding, and double-check that you have everything you are going to need to enjoy your vacation.
Britt: There we have it, everything that you need to do to get ready for your first camping trip of the season.
John: And if you have any tips for us, or if we forgot anything or anything like that, that you wanted us to talk about, let us know.
Britt: Make sure you hit subscribe so that you don’t miss any of our videos. We are going to some incredible parks this year in Season 2. We’ve got Awenda, Lake Superior…
Britt: Chutes, Mississagi, Restoule, Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve, for anyone who hasn’t been there yet.
John: Ya, and I think we’re going back to Grundy… for Thanksgiving, maybe?
Britt: Oh, and MacGregor
John: Oh, and MacGregor Point
Britt: Ya, so we have a lot of parks coming up, and we can’t wait to share all of them with you.