Yesterday I talked about how to put together a basic Camping Supply Box– and what basic items you’ll generally need in it. But there are a few things I missed, that I’d like to go over with you today. Namely about what not to put into your box, how to keep it organized, and how to care for it even while you’re not camping.
While i haven’t had my own supply box until recently… If there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout the years I’ve been camping on my own as an adult? It’s that it’s important to properly organize and take care of your Supply Box- even if you’re not regularly camping.
My parents were great at this; after talking to my Dad, I found out that their supply box has pretty much remained unchanged over the years since they put it together- and all of it’s still in working order. My In-Laws, however… Not so much; they rarely pull theirs out let alone to check on it. As a result, many items are broken, rusted, or dirty still.
I have high hopes that my Husband and I will do better in this regard, but only time will really tell. Still, I have a plan- and some tips– for anyone else who wants to know what the hell to do with their box the other 300+ days they’re not camping.
What not to put in your box
This one should be common sense, in all honesty. But I’m going to say it anyways: Because Supply Boxes can go for long periods of time without use, you should generally forgo including any sort of perishable items in your box; items lick as Tea, Coffee, or other food stuffs should only be packed into it whenever you’re about to leave, and removed to their proper places in the household shortly after you get home.
That being said, you can’t forgo adding any perishable items. After all, not every item in a First Aid Kit will last forever. For this reason, you can’t just put together your supply box and only touch it whenever you need to go camping… You’ll need to go through your box every year, at least once a year– yes, even if you don’t plan on going camping.
Organizing your Box
Personally, I’ve found it pretty handy to keep three lists taped to the inside of the top lid of our box. The first is a complete permanent inventory of what’s actually in the box (and stays in the box year round); The second is a “Need” list for permanent items I need to put in the box or replace before we go camping. The last is a Camping Checklist for things that don’t stay in the box year round, but need to be added before we leave (like any perishables or other dry goods). I plan to cross check every item on the lists and mark anything specific that is perishable- that way I can always make sure to check those items especially.
Organizing your box makes it a lot easier to do the routine maintenance that a box really requires- and ensure that you’re not missing any items before you leave (or, at the very least, that you aren’t missing as many items). How you organize it, though, will largely be up to you.
Taking Care of your Box
As I said: You can’t just pack up your box, then leave it to sit year round. Even if you avoid putting perishable food items in it, other items can be considered ineffective or “perishable” after certain dates. Others need to be routinely checked for damage, rust, or other changes in their conditions.
For this reason, you should be checking your box at least once a year, every year, regardless of whether or not you go camping. In reality, though, I suggest performing multiple checks: One at the start of camping season, once before every planned camping trip, again after every trip, and then a final check at the end of the year before it goes back into storage until the next season.
When you open your box for these inspections, there’s a few things you need to do. The first is to check the seals on any fuel canisters you have packed- as well as checking their exteriors for any damage. Secondly, inspect any metal items like knives or Mess Kits for rusting. If you opted into using anything that’s Cast Iron, these should be pulled out and re-seasoned at least once a year (then re-season them and put them back in). Additionally, you’ll want to check any batteries- including those actually in any items) for corrosion or damage.
Finally, check any perishable items- like those in your First Aid Kit. If anything is expiring soon, take it out and put it in the appropriate household use areas to see if you can’t use it up before it expires. But if it’s already expired, throw it away. This is especially important where it concerns any First Aid or Hygiene items that stay in your box year round, since these items lose effectiveness and can cause adverse side effects when used past their expiration dates. Don’t forget to replace them at the earliest opportunity.
Likewise, check any spices or dry goods for things like mold or moisture in the containers- and check any cloth items for the same (as well as moth or mouse holes). If there’s any mold or moisture in the dry goods, just throw them away. If there’s mold or moisture on the cloth items then machine wash them in hot water at least twice with bleach, borax powder, vinegar, or a mold specific detergent (never use more than one). Make sure they’re completely dry before repacking them.
Storing your box
Always make sure to store your box in a temperate location. Preferably this should be inside your house where it’s temperature controlled. But regardless, always try to store it away from areas with high heat, humidity, or moisture levels. All of these can weaken or damage items, cause rust, or promote mold and mildew growth- none of which are good for your supply box on any level.
That’s it! It probably seems like a lot, but it really isn’t once you get your initial system set up. But if you stick with it, your box will last you quite a long time. Just ask my parents; they’ve camped with pretty much the same supplies since I was a baby (if not far longer)… Which really goes to show you the importance of taking care of your stuff- and just how much it can impact its longevity.