Don’t store camping gear over the winter — repurpose it all year long!

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Victory! © by OctopusHat, used under Creative Commons license.

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, summer is winding down. You may be getting ready for the depressing ritual of packing up the patio furniture, summer clothes, and camping gear for the winter. If only there was a way to elongate the season of outdoor fun! Or at least have less stuff to put away.

Before you pack up your camping gear, take a look at this list of gear you can use all year round. Maybe some of it can be used in ways you hadn’t thought of — and can bring little reminders of summer every time you use them.


Black Diamond Storm HeadlampYou probably already have a flash light in a ready-to-go spot for when the power goes out. Why is a headlamp any different? If you’ve used one while camping, you already know how sweet it is to go hands free while still illuminating the dark. How many times do lights go out because of a blown fuse? And how many times have you had to wrangle your flashlight in your armpit or hold it in your mouth in order to see the fuse box? The headlamp to the rescue. Instead of packing it up for camping next year, tuck it in with your emergency flashlight and use them in tandem.

Headlamps are also useful for illuminating the dark corners of the basement or storage area when you’re searching for something — as well as walking the dog. I don’t even know why these are sold almost exclusively in camp stores — they should be sold in everyday life stores.

Air mattress

Therm-a-Rest BaseCamp Sleeping PadIf you camp, you probably have an air mattress — whether it’s one you blow up with a pump or a self-inflating jobbie. These are great for camping; they bring luxury to the outdoors. You wouldn’t go camping without it… so how come your impromptu house guests gotta sleep on the floor? Is there a stigma against using camping gear as hometime sleepy-gear? If there is, fight it — your guest will be much more impressed about you whipping out a Thermarest at 3AM for them to crash on than you drunkenly motioning to the floor.

Self-inflating mattresses are best stored with the valve open in the extended position — not rolled up. The product lasts longer this way. You can store it under your bed or behind a sofa — perfect for whipping out at a moment’s notice.

Sleeping bags

You can also store your air mattress inside your sleeping bags, which benefit from being stored open rather than scrunched up, too. Stash it all behind the couch or under the bed and voila: world’s easiest set-up for a sleepover.

Waterproof bags/bins

If you use waterproof bags while you camp, consider using them to store items during the off-season, too. Oftentimes the off-season for camping means the on-season for flooding: heavy rain, snow, thaws, etc. If you have keepsake documents, magazine collections, or photos you don’t look at very often, you might as well put your waterproof bag to work by using them for storage through the winter. Seal them up, and they’ll be more likely to survive a flood. Just be sure that there are no sharp objects or corners on whatever you’re storing, and find a replacement method when you are using the bags for camping.

Camp chairs

These are way more comfortable than most folding “extra” chairs people pull out of dusty closets when company arrives. Why buy camp chairs and folding chairs? Camp chairs come in many different colours, AND they have cup holders. Win.

Camp soap

Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash Soap - 8 fl. oz.You use special biodegradable camp soap when you camp to wash dishes, clothes, your hair, your self — “anything that’s washable,” according to the label. When I used it a few weeks ago to wash dishes at our camp site, I suddenly thought, “Why the hell aren’t I using this year-round?!” There’s no reason not to use biodegradable camp soap to wash your dishes, or hand wash your clothes, or your hair, or body. And a little bit goes a ridiculously long way. I have had the same bottle of camp suds since 2001. No joke.

Camp gear as decoration

Bending Branches Expedition Plus Canoe PaddleWhy put your canoe paddles in the garage when they’d look awesome hanging above your TV? Paddles, life jackets, your bike, even your bright red kayak can be suspended from a wall or ceiling for camping-themed decoration that doubles as storage. This works with your winter gear, too. Depending on how you do it, this look could be anything from rustic log cabin to edgy extreme sport to colourful craziness.

There’s so much camping gear to think of — but these are my ideas. Anyone found a good off-season home use for a tent?

Comments on Don’t store camping gear over the winter — repurpose it all year long!

  1. Headlamps are a good component for any emergency kit. On the other hand, camping chairs might be great for lounging around the living room, but not so good for pulling up to a dinner table. Sometimes the extra folding chairs work a little better.

  2. YES to this article! Our camping mattresses are way more comfortable than our couch when we need a spare bed. Now if only my house would accommodate my hammock inside…

    Backpacks, camp quick-dry towels, etc. are also handy for traveling even when you’re not in the great outdoors.

    • I’m glad you like it!! And great point about using camp gear for traveling. Camelbacks are great for using as daypacks when you’re touring around, too.

  3. I LOVE my headlamp. I use it around the house and keep one in my car’s emergency kit. Super handy when you’re reattaching your muffler with a coat hanger at a truck stop at midnight.
    One time I used my tent as a “guest room” when I lived at a tiny house with no extra space. I had chill friends that just camped in the backyard instead of trying to sober up long enough to drive home. 🙂

  4. These are awesome ideas, but I have just one caution on repurposing your camping stuff: Make sure you remember where you have repurposed your stuff. When it comes back around to camping time, it would suck to have to scrounge around the house for your head lamp.

  5. Like Annabelvita, I also use my red headlamp for reading sometimes.

    I use the white side when I’m doing detailed embroidery! It doesn’t crimp my fabric the way my clip-on embroidery light does, and it’s brighter.

  6. We use a headlamp on the dog, we put it around his neck when he goes out to go potty at night. We have a big backyard and it makes it so much easier to keep an eye on him in the back 40. They are also nice to check on the baby at night too. Hands free to cuddle.

  7. I take my tent to the beach! Back when we had a newborn it was perfect! It helped with the privacy for breastfeeding, and naps, and keeping the wind off of her. When you take a tent to the beach, you find that you can be out there all day long, because you have your own little motel room with you! : )

  8. We have four headlamps of varying age and awesomeness, and we use them all over, from going through the crawl space, to seeing what little spots we missed while painting white trim white. Of course, they are necessary for those “late night” camping excursions indoors, with the lights off, so that you can see to cook your marshmallows over the oven range.

  9. When the house is packed full at Christmas and Thanksgiving, we put the kids in a tent in the living room. They have fun with it, and it frees the spare beds for grown-ups.

  10. I keep my mess kit and stacking silverware at my desk to wash and re-use all year.
    And as an apartment dweller I love all the mini size camping stuff including nesting pots, collapsible serving ware, and stacking salt and pepper shakers for regular use.
    Keep the propane stove accessible for Thanksgiving and power outages in winter storms.

  11. I use my headlamp year-round. I just strap it onto my bicycle helmet and BOOM! Light. It’s great, especially because my bike paths go through the woods and aren’t really well lit.

    I’ve also camped out in a tent in a friend’s living room when I was visiting from out-of-town. A nice secluded guest area in a small one-bedroom apartment.

  12. i used a tent with a mattress inside for 6 months in a studio apartment while waiting to get my real bed out of storage. we also had astroturf carpet to make it all an outdoors theme. it was a little silly, but actually it was a great way to break up the space in a studio apartment so it felt like a real retreat when we climbed in at night!

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