Spring into camping: 12 checks every self-respecting camper should do before the season

By following our steps, you can ensure that your camping gear is ready for a successful and enjoyable spring camping season

Young casually clothed man setting up tent
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Welcome, fellow outdoor enthusiasts, to the ultimate pre-camping season checklist, where we embark on a journey of gear inspection and preparation that's more thrilling than roasting marshmallows over a crackling campfire.

As the frost thaws and the birds chirp their merry tunes, it's time to dust off those tents, polish those cookware sets, and ensure that your camping arsenal is primed and ready for action.

Join the experts at T3 as we navigate the wild terrain of tent stakes and waterproofing treatments, armed with nothing but our wits and a healthy dose of camping know-how.

This checklist can be used by both seasoned outdoor aficionados and novice campers taking their first steps into the wilderness to ensure that their camping experience is legendary.

So grab your gear, gather around the virtual campfire, and let's embark on this adventure together. After all, the great outdoors awaits – and with our trusty checklist in hand, there's no limit to the camping escapades that await us!

1. Inspect your tent

Set up your tent in your garden or a spacious indoor area to check for any damages, such as tears, holes, or broken zippers. Look for signs of mould or mildew, especially if it has been stored in a damp environment over the winter, such as garages and dark storerooms.

Clean the tent thoroughly using mild soap and water, and let it air dry completely (read more about how to dry your tent at home). Inspect the tent poles and stakes for any bends, cracks, or missing parts, and replace or repair them as needed.

If your shelter is beyond repair – it happens, sadly – head over to T3's best tents or best backpacking tent guides to get a better idea of what options are available right now.

Couple pitching a tent on a backpacking trip in the mountains

(Image credit: Getty Images)

2. Check sleeping gear

Take out your sleeping bags, sleeping pads, camping beds and pillows to inspect them for any tears, holes, or damage. Inflate sleeping pads to their full capacity and listen for any hissing sounds indicating leaks. Repair any leaks using a patch kit or replace damaged items. Air out sleeping bags by hanging them outside on a sunny day, and consider washing them according to the manufacturer's instructions.

3. Review cooking equipment

Clean your camping stove thoroughly, removing any grease, dirt, or residue from previous trips. Check the fuel canisters or cartridges to ensure they are not expired and have enough fuel for your upcoming trips. Inspect all camping cooking utensils, pots, pans, and dishes for any damage or rust, and replace any items that are worn out or no longer functional.

woman in fleece wearing a head torch

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. Test lighting

Gather all your camping lanterns, flashlights, and headlamps and test them to ensure they are working properly. Replace any dead batteries and pack extras to have on hand during your trips. Consider upgrading to rechargeable or solar-powered lighting options for eco-friendly camping.

5. Check backpacks and bags

Inspect your hiking backpacks, daypacks, and dry bags for tears, rips, or damage to the straps, zippers, or fabric. Clean them thoroughly with mild soap and water and let them air dry completely. Check all buckles, clips, and fasteners to ensure they are in good working condition and replace any worn-out parts.

6. Review safety equipment

Open your first aid kit and check the expiration dates on all medications, ointments, and supplies. Restock any expired or used items, and add any additional items you may need for the upcoming season. Inspect your emergency whistle, signal mirror, and fire starter for functionality, and replace them if necessary.

Klattermusen press image

(Image credit: Klattermusen)

7. Inspect clothing

Take out all your camping clothes, including waterproof jackets, walking trousers, shirts, and walking socks, and inspect them for any tears, stains, or damage. Wash them according to the manufacturer's instructions and let them air dry completely. Consider treating your outerwear with waterproofing spray to repel moisture during spring showers.

8. Check navigation tools

Gather your maps, compasses, hiking GPS units, and trail guides, and review them to ensure they are up-to-date and accurate. Replace any outdated maps or guidebooks, and update the software on your GPS device if needed. Practice using your navigation tools to refresh your skills before heading out on the trails.

9. Review personal items

Take inventory of your toiletries, towels, sunscreen, insect repellent, and other personal items. Check expiration dates on sunscreen and insect repellent, and restock as needed. Pack all personal items in waterproof containers or zip-top bags to keep them dry and organized during your trips.

A cheerful African American hiker is standing next to a mountain stream in the forest

(Image credit: Getty Images)

10. Clean and organise

Once you have inspected and prepared all your camping gear, take the time to clean and organise it for easy access. Create a checklist of essential items for each trip and pack them accordingly. When not in use, store your gear in waterproof bins or storage containers to protect it from moisture and pests.

11. Check tent accessories

Don't forget to inspect and clean any tent accessories, such as guy lines, stakes, and repair kits. Replace any damaged or missing items, and ensure you have everything you need for setting up and securing your tent during your trips.

12. Prepare campsite essentials

Consider stocking up on essential campsite items such as firewood, matches, and fire starters before your first trip. Check local regulations and fire bans to ensure you can safely build campfires during your outings. Additionally, pack a tarp or groundsheet to protect your tent from moisture and provide extra insulation underneath your sleeping area.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for T3.com and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.