orange tent set up on a grassy surface in front of a lake on a sunny day, trees all around it

8 Ways to Get Ready for Camping Season

While there are some people for which camping season never ends, most camping enthusiasts save their outdoor travel for the warmer weather. Sound familiar? If so, today’s post is for you! February is now upon us and spring is just around the corner. Take advantage of this time to get ready for camping season with these tips…

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Planning, packing, and preparing for a camping trip can be a little overwhelming at the start of the season. Especially if you’re just digging out your gear for the first time in months, unsure of what exactly you will be dealing with.

Rather than waiting until the last minute and frantically scrambling to find everything you need, why not put the work in early?

If you’re patiently (or not so patiently) awaiting the arrival of warmer weather and sunshine, you’re not alone! Cabin fever starts to set in as the anticipation starts to build as you begin the countdown for your first camping trip of the year.

However, there are things that you can do today to get organized and prepared.

By starting your camping preparation early, you can avoid unnecessary hang-ups and complications. This includes ensuring all of your gear is functional, any repairs have been addressed and supplies are stocked up as needed.

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Imagine this… It’s the week before your first camping trip of the season:

  • You already know that all of your gear is together and prepared without having to dig anything out or look anything over.
  • There is no need to create a shopping list, as you already have a list of the supplies you will need prepared.
  • All your gear is organized together in a way that you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything important.
  • Your only concern is to put together and complete your grocery list, pick up snacks and drinks, and pack your clothing.

If you’re the type of person that is usually scrambling the night before to make sure that everything is ready to go, this may sound impossible.

Today, I’m going to share my go-to list to get ready for camping season. These are tasks that should be completed before each season (although you will have to add some items if you’re getting ready for winter camping). 

So, let’s break it down and get started!

A large travel trailer set up at a campsite with other trailers set up among the trees in the distance. The awning is out with a family including a man, woman, and 2 young children are underneath the awning preparing food.

Get Ready for Camping Season with These 8 Tasks:

#1 – Pull All Gear Out of Storage

If you are anything like my husband and I over the years, your camping gear isn’t all kept in one unified and convenient location. In order to store everything safely and securely, we have had to find storage space in a couple of different spaces at our home including the garage, and indoor storage closet and our back shed.

The problem? When things are spread out, it increases your risk of forgetting something important.

Instead, take the time to pull out all of your gear from each location, creating a central ‘staging area’ where you can inventory what you have on hand. This could be your garage or, in our case, the dining room (a small sacrifice for a successful season, if you ask me).

Organize your staging area according to the different needs and concerns for your trip. This will help you to identify if something is missing. For example, place all of your cooking gear together in one area, your bedding in another, etc.

When you have finished sorting, take a step back and take a look at what’s in front of you. Do you notice anything missing that you know you own? This is your opportunity to identify the items that you’ve missed and go in search, discovering where they may have been stored.

Here’s where the organization really comes into effect… Using Rubbermaid storage bins, large storage totes and/or duffel bags (whatever options work best with your travel plans), pack all of your gear in a designated spot so that it’s ready to go.

You’re likely not using your camp kitchen gear to prepare meals around the house, so why not get it all packed together in one place for easy travel? This includes your pots, pans, dishware, cutlery and more. If this is all packed away in one specific bin, it’s easy to grab it and go without worrying about leaving something behind!

If you do know that you will have to add something to a bin before your trip, create a list to track what’s missing and leave a space for it in the bin.

RELATED: ‘6 Alternatives to Showering While Camping

#2 – Inspect Gear for Repairs

Before packing your gear away for your first trip, look it over carefully for any necessary repairs. This includes firing up your camp stove or camping BBQ, inspecting your tent for rips or worn seams, and inflating your air mattress to check for leaks.

By identifying these issues early, you are giving yourself time to address it accordingly.

Many repairs can be made safely and effectively at home by purchasing the right supplies. There are several products on the market to repair tents by patching rips both in the fabric and the screens, waterproofing seams, and even repairing damaged tent poles.

This is also going to give you the opportunity to identify which items are beyond repair and therefore need to be replaced before your season kicks off.

If you are a trailer or RV camper, this includes addressing the working components of your trailer or RV.

Make sure that your fridge, stove, air conditioning unit, plumbing system, etc. in your trailer/RV are working properly without any hiccups. This likely requires you to bring your trailer/RV home a little earlier than your planned trip or to make plans to check these items at the storage location.

For trailers/RVs with slide-outs, check to make sure that these features are working. Inspect your awnings for any rips or tears and repair them if needed.

#3 – Clean Gear in Preparation for Your Trip

There are some items that are going to need to be cleaned after sitting during the offseason to make sure that everything is fresh and ready to go. This includes towels, washcloths, dishcloths, bedding, cookware, and dishware.

Take the time to clean everything thoroughly and pack it in a way that it will stay clean until you’re ready to go. Large Rubbermaid containers and vacuum seal storage bags are both great options.

The view from inside a blue and white tent, looking out to a grassy area with trees in the distance. A man and a woman wearing black, red and white plaid flannel shirts are sitting on a blanket in the grass, surrounded by camping gear, looking at one another.

#4 – Create A List of Necessary Supplies to Purchase

There are some supplies that need to be purchased year to year for your camping adventures. This includes items such as batteries, coffee filters, and (of course) food and snacks.

Some of these items can be purchased right away in preparation, while other items are going to have to wait until closer to your planned trip. To stay on top of all of these items, create a detailed checklist of gear. Keep it out somewhere where you can easily access it, checking items off only when they are purchased AND stored away with your gear ready to go.  

Don’t forget to look through your camp first aid kit and make a list of items that need to be restocked before the season kicks off. This isn’t something that you want to forget. Make sure that you’re fully prepared in the event of an emergency.

#5 – Meal Planning

Going along with the list of supplies to purchase, why not take some time to start meal planning for your upcoming trips. This far in advance, you’re likely not going to create a set in stone meal plan as you may be inspired to make changes in the coming months. This is a great time to start researching new meal inspiration and putting together a rough meal plan that you can continue to tweak and update as the trip draws near.

One of my favourite places to discover new camp-friendly recipes is on Pinterest. In fact, I have a board dedicated to camping recipes that I will continue to throughout the year.

Interested in a new recipe but not sure that you want to take a chance at whether or not you’ll enjoy it while on vacation? Planning in advance means that you have time to try that recipe out at home first. This is also a great way to discover if substitutions or chances are needed to fit your taste, as well as to determine what gear is needed so that you can ensure you’re fully prepared.

#6 – Research Potential Big Purchases

Are you looking at replacing or upgrading some of your larger, more expensive gear? If so, this is a great time to start doing your research!

High-quality gear isn’t cheap. However, you don’t want to buy the cheapest items on the market as you may run into issues as early as your first trip. Instead, you want to take the time to learn about the options available and find the best deal on gear that will stand the test of time.

One great way to land a good deal is to consider purchasing your camping gear second-hand. This includes not only the standard online sales sites (Kijiji, Craigslist, etc.) but also camping-specific sales sites and swaps.

For more information, check out my previous post ‘Camping on a Budget: Where to Find Second-Hand Camping Gear’.

If you would prefer to purchase your gear brand new, research and planning will help you to identify and take advantage of any sales to keep your cost down.

A small silver and yellow teardrop trailer set up  on a grassy surface in front of a bunch of trees with a yellow and white checkered awning. Underneath the awning sits 3 folding lawn chairs and a folding table as well as a bunch of camping gear scattered around.

#7 – Vehicle Tune-Up

There is nothing worse than getting halfway to your camping destination only to have your vehicle break down, blowing up your plans. While there is no way to guarantee that you won’t encounter any vehicle-related issues, proper maintenance greatly reduces your risk.

Make some time to take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic to do a full once over. Don’t leave this until the last minute either. Give yourself some time to address any repairs that may come up.

Create a checklist of routine maintenance tasks that should be addressed prior to your first trip of the season. This includes:

  • Checking/topping up fluids
  • Oil change
  • Checking tire quality & air pressure
  • Rotate tires

By taking care of all of this in advance, you are giving yourself peace of mind for any travels that you have planned. That way, you can focus your attention on the adventure itself.

RELATED: ‘Camping on a Budget: Where to Find Second-Hand Camping Gear

#8 – Research and Book Your Trip(s)

There once was a time when you could just hop on the road and stop at whatever campground you came across along the way. However, interest in camping as a vacation opportunity has increased significantly with the current global situation. Plus, Ontario Parks recently stopped holding ‘non-reservable’ sites at their parks, meaning that parks are booking up to capacity in advance.

This means planning out your season well in advance so that you are prepared to reserve your sites when the reservation window opens. After all, before your get ready for camping season, you want to make sure that you have a season to get ready for!

We love staying at the provincial parks here in Ontario. That being said, Ontario Parks reservations open up 5 months prior to the start of your trip, at 7 AM EST. For example, I am posting this on February 5th and this morning I booked a trip starting on July 5th.

If you prefer staying at a private park, check their reservation guidelines in advance. Make sure that understand the reservation timeline and how cancellations/reservation changes are addressed in advance to plan accordingly.

One location that we love camping at outside of the Ontario Parks system is the Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve where you can make a new booking 11 months in advance. For this reason, many of the best sites are already booked for the coming camping season.

This is why it’s so important to research each location’s reservation system well in advance.

Unable to reserve the site that you had your heart on this season? Don’t let it destroy your plans! There are so many incredible campgrounds and sites available. Take this as an opportunity to discover somewhere new. You never know if you’ll love a specific campground until you give it a shot.

An orange tent set up on a grassy surface in front of a lake on a sunny day, trees all around it with text stating 8 ways to get ready for camping season.

What steps do you take to get ready for camping season? I’d love to hear all about your planning process in the comments!

42 thoughts on “8 Ways to Get Ready for Camping Season”

  1. I can’t wait for camping season! We didn’t go once last year. Couldn’t be bothered to make reservations haha but we would do a lake day and head to the lake really early and come home really late. This year, I’m going to book a few weekends! In BC, it’s so difficult to get sites!! Thanks for the reminder x Going to dig out the camping stuff soon

    1. It’s difficult to get sites here in Ontario too. Most of the Ontario camping groups on FB refer to it as the ‘camping lottery’, because you have close to the same chances of getting the sites that you want as you do at winning the lottery lol! That being said, if you’re open to different parks and sites, your chances are better. The site we booked this morning was actually our favourite site at one of our favourite parks, so it can happen 🙂

  2. So many great tips here Britt. Being organised makes camping preparation and packing so much easier and enjoyable! I’m really excited to get out into nature again soon.

  3. Some really useful tips here. It makes a lot of sense to do a lot of the preparation now, even if the actual trip isn’t for a while. Hopefully warmer weather is on the way soon! 🙂

    1. Our first trip isn’t until April this year, however, I like getting as much of the planning and preparation out of the way as I can in advance. It allows us to enjoy our trips when the time comes without worrying or stressing.

  4. Really useful tips for getting ready for camping season. I’m not much of a camper myself, but I do love getting out in nature. I like finding campsites where I can rent all the equipment since I don’t regularly go camping.

    1. That’s a great option for those who don’t go all that often. Quality camping gear is a big investment if you aren’t going to use it regularly!

    1. You could try easing into it with a ‘glamping’ trip. That way, he has the chance to get outdoors the way that he wants, but you’re not giving up all of your favourite luxuries and perks when staying in a hotel or other type of accommodation.

  5. This just reminds me that I haven’t been to camping since a couple of years now and now I stumbled across your post – is this a sign? Great tips Britt – preparing well in advance definitely makes camping much more easier and stress free.

  6. Great tips. Personally, I usually check, clean, dry and repair my camping gear before packing it in the fall. It gives me peace of mind that I won’t have to do it when it”s time to go camping again. On the other hand, I am terrible with meal planning. Our go to meals are basic sandwiches and sausages or hot dogs cooked over the fire. I definitely need to expand my menu 🙂

    1. We dry/clean all our gear before packing it away in the fall as well, however, there are some items that even if they are cleaned will pick up that ‘storage’ odour. So, we re-clean those items again in the late winter/early spring as we’re getting ready. As for repairs, it depends on what is needed. If it’s something that requires supplies to repair, I start to price that out. When I repair (before/after storage) depends on when I can get the supplies at the best price 🙂

  7. your post when right up my valley! I have incredible camping fever and can’t wait to enjoy it again (it’s too cold here to actually be outside, let alone outdoors). I have to admit I have tons of tabs open with various camp sides open. Your list might make my fever a little more productive

    1. I am definitely feeling the camping fever right now. I’m open to winter camping but it’s not something that my husband gets excited about haha! Our first trip is planned for April, so I just have to hold out that long lol

  8. This is a super useful and comprehensive list. It will make camping holidays so much less stressful if all the details are sorted out beforehand. A wonderful post worth bookmarking for anyone looking to go camping this year.

  9. Steven Morrissette

    You sound like an avid camper. I can’t wait for camping season your article just reminded me of how much fun I have when I go camping.

    1. I absolutely LOVE camping. We have 5 trips booked already, 2 of which are a week or longer. Still looking forward to booking at least a couple more as the reservation window opens.

  10. These are some great tips. Camping gear is expensive and looking for the second hand is a great idea, because it will not just save money but sustainable as well.

    Thanks for sharing it.

  11. Camping definitely is fun for many but what’s more important are the preparations to ensure it’s a worthwhile experience. It’s been more than a year that I have gone for any trips and feel excited to get back as the situation now here in India looks more or less well controlled. Thanks for the motivation.

    1. We’re counting down to our camping trips this year. Luckily, there are a large number of beautiful campgrounds here in our province. This allowed us to enjoy them last year despite the COVID restrictions because we didn’t have to travel out of Ontario. I’m looking forward to doing so again this year.

  12. Organization when it comes to camping gear is sooooooo important! There is nothing worse than forgetting something or having something break along the way. I’ve had this happen, and it isn’t fun, especially when it is something big and totally my own fault for not testing my gear and keeping myself organized. Thanks for the reminders! These are all great tips to help any camping trip go smoothly.

    1. Yes, I’ve learned the importance of testing gear the hard way too! It really can add a lot of unnecessary stress to an otherwise comfortable and relaxing trip.

  13. I’m chomping at the bit for camping season to get here! I love being organized with my camping and backpacking gear because we’re spur of the moment trip takers. I’ll book mark these and see if there’s anything I’m missing from my own list!

    1. We’re getting pretty excited too! We plan out some trips (we need to book if we want to get the waterfront sites that we love at our provincial parks) but we also end up taking some random spur of the moment trips too. You’re right, being prepared and organized makes all the difference with those spur of the moment trips!

  14. Fantastic post packed full of info. My family and I love camping, in fact we just got back from a camping trip. I think there is a lot of great information here especially for someone who may not camp that often.

  15. Great tips. I’ve always been a little reluctant to go camping because I was somewhat anxious of needed supplies. I will definitely use this post if I decide to take the leap and go camping.

    1. I am SO excited to get out camping once again – just over a month now until our first trip of the season!

    1. It’s such a fun way to get out and enjoy nature. Maybe they would feel better easing into the idea of camping with a ‘glamping’ trip?

  16. I haven’t been camping since I was a preteen I don’t think. Living in the UK, you don’t have to plan for stuff like bears or wolves, just rain and mud. Your right ways to prepare seems like great advice

    1. Around here (Ontario, Canada), bears are a common concern when it comes to camping. Not that you see a lot of them but there is only one small portion of the province where you can say for sure that you won’t see one.

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