Just as setting up a campsite involves a certain strategic plan, breaking down a campsite is best done in a certain order. The most important thing to remember about breaking down a campsite is to leave the area just as it was when you got there. Here are some steps to follow in breaking down a campsite like a pro.
The first thing you need to consider is the weather. Breaking camp on a sunny day gives you a lot more liberty to pack your gear than a rainy day, when keeping your gear dry as you pack can become a challenge.
Generally, breaking camp happens after a meal. Clean up your dishes and your camp cooking equipment. In backcountry areas, there is often a dishwashing area separate from your site. You will want to wash your dishes here to keep animals from following food odors into the sleeping area. If you are in a backcountry setting using a bear bag, you have taken your bear bag down to prepare your meal. Now, pack up the refuse of the meal and stow it in a garbage bag that you carry in either the food bag or separately in your pack, boat or car.
Put Out fires
If you used a fire for your meal, extinguish the fire with water. Use enough water to drench the fire ring and turn the ashes into muddy ash slurry. This also goes for grills and barbecues.
Pack Up Furniture
If you have tables and chairs, pack these up and stow them in your car or boat. Generally, these are flatter items that other gear, which need to be unloaded first when setting up camp, can sit on top of. The furniture would come out after the tent and sleeping bags.
Pack Sleeping Gear
You may have noticed that your tent is still standing; this is because it may be the only shelter you have to pack if it is raining outside. Additionally, a tent or shelter, like a fly, is packed last because it is the first item to be unpacked when you make a new camp. Another way to think about breaking down a camp site is packing up with a mind to setting up the next camp quickly.
Breaking Down The Tent
Once all your gear is packed, now it is time to pack up your shelter. Packing the tent last gives it an opportunity to dry off from overnight dew or rain. Make sure you don’t fold up your tent when it is wet, because it can get moldy. The first step in breaking down the tent is to remove as much of tracked-in debris as you can. For family camping, bringing a tent whisk is a good accessory for this job. Always try to pack a clean, dry tent. Next, unclip the fly if it secures to the corners of the tent and remove the fly from the tent. Pull the stakes from the ground and put them into the stake bag. Remove the pole from the tent body and fold the poles up and put them in the tent pole bag.
Fold the tent into a rectangle that is close to the length of the tent storage bag. Lay the fly over the tent body. Set the poles and stakes at one end and roll the tent around them. Once all rolled up, put the tent into the storage bag and your tent is ready to carry to the next camping site or home. Again, if you are going home, make sure to air your tent out before you store it. Never store a slightly damp tent.
Leave No Trace
The last thing to do before leaving a campsite is to make sure you are leaving it as clean or even cleaner than how you found it. For established sites, walk the site in a grid pattern, cleaning up any garbage you find, even if it was not something from your camping trip. A little public service goes a long way.
Let us know of additional steps you take in breaking down a campsite within the comments below.