The planning of nearly each camping trip focuses on the where, when and what, with only a dab of thought to packing up at the end of the trip. Deep sighs and moans of realization that it's time to clean up and head home darken the usually great mood that arises from a great camping excursion. But if a few techniques are employed at trip's end, the leaving will be quick and with a better mood.
Where to Start?
If breaking camp in the morning, the first gear item to be attended to is the sleeping bag and pad. Once the bag is rolled and secured in its coil, gather anything else lying on the tent floor. Now it's time to clean and pack up the tent. Here are some steps to make an easier process:
- Pack up whatever is left on tent floor;
- Sweep out any dirt and debris so nothing will pierce a hole in the tent shell while folding;
- Shake the tent walls to shed any leaves, twigs or moisture clinging on;
- Collapse the tent support system, and if possible, turn the tent over to expose the bottom to the sun and breeze for a little while;
- Pack it into the bag.
Another trick to avoid packing a wet tent is to pitch the tent on a ground tarp at set up. Then, once home, the tarp (if still damp) can be hung to dry more easily than the tent would.
After Tent and Sleeping Bags Are Put Away...
Enjoy a breakfast, but keep it to a simple meal that requires no pots, pans or other cooking vessel that requires washing. This makes packing up the camp kitchen a task than can be handled the night before. Cereal bars and the remaining contents of milk or juice bottles in the cooler make the perfect, quick breakfast on the last morning. Empting the drink containers from the cooler lighten the load for the ride home as well.
Final Gear Load
Wrap up the gear loading by starting with the gear closest to the vehicle. This way, you won't be tripping over or maneuvering around obstacles with your arms full. Once all of the gear is packed into the ride, make a physical and visual sweep of the campsite. Even the smallest piece of trash needs to be picked up and placed into a trash bag.
Douse and stir any remaining coals in the fire ring. If you adjusted the placement of the picnic table on arrival, replace where you found it. Drop the trash bag off in the proper container at the campground office. On the way home, joyfully discuss the next camping trip without a negative attitude gained from a stressful departure.