I came across an article on this subject from the Ontario Parks Insider enewsletter. It’s a quick overview of the main tasks to think about when you’re squirreling your gear away for the off-season, or just to give your gear a good clean after some hard use.
Although camping and outdoor pursuits don’t need to end when the weather gets colder and the snow starts to fall, even all-season campers invariably pack up our gear for a length of time. Either the bug season isn’t that appealing to you one year, or your winter is a little too cold for your summer bag or tent, or you’ve got the in-laws visiting for a month, and need the room. I’m not particularly good at following this advice, but I’m making an effort to get better with every year. I have too much gear, and only use a small portion of it every time I go camping, so better organization and proper storage will make everything easier to find, and last longer.
In addition to the storage tips in the article, I’ll stress the importance of proper maintenance and storage of your tools — Knives and hatchets need to be sharpened and oiled, rope needs to be washed (yes, I wash my rope. Little bits of sand will work like the strongest abrasive over time, and wear down rope), sleeping pads repaired, water bottles emptied and dishes and utensils washed well, dried and stored. Much of what should be done after each trip is absolutely necessary before a long storage period. Perhaps the most important thing to worry about is moisture, especially if you’re storing your gear in a shed, garage, or attic.
Remember the mantra of cool, dry, and out of sun and heat; for most things, that advice can’t be beat.
If you’re so inclined, sign up for the Ontario Parks Insider enewsletter. It’s a great enewsletter with tidbits of information — nothing too in-depth, but just enough detail about trail and river life to be a good, constant inspiration. They don’t inundate you with tons of emails, either. I’m not affiliated with them at all, just a subscriber. I don’t read them all, but it’s nice to be reminded of the greener side of life, especially when you’re sitting at your desk, checking emails.