It’s a beautiful day, you decide to take a spontaneous camping trip.  After rounding up the kids, packing half the house in the back of the car and checking your favourite campsite has space you set off.

By the time you get to the campsite it’s getting a little dark.  Just as you start to pitch the tent, the good old Scottish weather starts pelting you with sideways rain (yes that does happen).  The rest of the family retreat to the car leaving you to battle on.  You’re soaked through with an almost up tent, then you discover you’re missing a pole, half the pegs and a guy rope.  Great!

You vow from then on to check your camping equipment before you use it.

This is your prod to do so. 

Below are my top 5 tips for getting ready for the camping season!

Book Early

Most of the popular campsites will get booked up quickly.  If you have your favourite or even want to try a new one you’ve heard lots about, get in there early to avoid disappointment.

Check the tent

Get your tent out and if possible put it up.  Not only will it let you see any rips or missing parts (I swear tent pegs run away!), it’ll help you remember how it goes together.

If you’ve got kids get them involved, make a plan so everyone has a job.  Even just laying out the tent pegs or unfolding the poles helps and keeps little one occupied!

Hopefully you put your tent away dry, if not you may well have some mould to clean off.  Start with some cold water and a firm brush, if that doesn’t work use a little non-detergent soap (i.e. not dishwashing liquid).  Allow to dry thoroughly before packing away or the mould will grow back!

Tentspares Ltd are a great place for replacement parts.

Love your sleeping bag

It’s kept you warm and comfy all last camping season, show it some thanks.  Unless you’ve been uber organised and cleaned it before storing, it’ll probably need some TLC.

  • Take it out of the stuff sack and check it over. Are the zippers working (be gentle they’ll snag if you’re too harsh), are the seams ok, do the draw cords work?
  • Is the insulation evenly distributed?  If not a wash and dry might help – follow the manufacturer’s instructions, never dry clean it or use fabric softener though.  When drying pop a few tennis balls in the dryer to break up any clumps of insulation.
  • Hang outside (not in direct sunlight) if possible by the toe loops to air. You should really do this after every camping trip.
  • Tips for using the stuff sack:
    • If you have a waterproof sleeping bag turn it inside out – the outer shell traps air making it almost impossible to stuff.
    • Partially zip up the bag and start with the feet.

Check out Decathlon - one of our fave places for outdoor gear.

Sort the bike rack

Chances are the bike rack has been at the back of the garage all winter.  It’ll need a little attention too.

  • Check for damage – are all pads, straps, hooks etc. present and working?
  • Clean the rack, paying special attention to the contact points on the rack and the car – it helps stop scratching the car and ensure a better fit.
  • Refresh your memory, have a trial run fitting the rack to the car and bikes to the rack.

 Your local bike shop can help. 

Check your gear

Nothing worse than finding out your boots have a hole in them by stepping in a puddle and getting wet feet!

  • Check your footwear – is it still waterproof, do the kids boots still fit?
  • Find the torches, do they need batteries?
  • Do you have waterproofs?  You never know what the Scottish weather will throw at you.
  • Use a gas stove? Does it work, do you have enough gas?
  • Do you have a knife? An essential bit of kit when camping.
Again Decathlon or your local camping shop (hint hint) can help you.

Hopefully these wee tips spur you on to get ready for camping this year.  Remember the most memorable days usually end with the dirtiest clothes!

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