So, your bell tent and all the accompanying gear has been stuffed away since last year and you're about to head off on some new adventures with it, eh? Well hang on a mo' because as with any camping trip you need to prepare a little first.

If you're one of those people who puts their kit away immaculately after each trip then some of this info can be disregarded. If you're like the rest of us mortals, read on.

Find Your Stuff

Where did you leave it? Was it in the loft? The shed? No, you put it in the cupboard under the stairs, didn't you? Wait! Wasn't it under the bed?

Is It All There?

That bag you've got there, the one you've dragged out from the airing cupboard. That's right. You need to check the contents. Move outside for this bit because it pays to be thorough. You'll be so sorry later if you skip this part.
Start with your tent. Is it all there? Flysheet, groundsheet, poles and pegs. If you don't know how many poles and pegs you actually need then the easiest way to check you haven't lost anything important is to put up your tent. That's right, put it up, give yourself an erection right there and then, who cares what the neighbours think? Check the manual that came with your tent for more details. You'll soon know if you're missing a vital piece of your outfit (and you can order spares if necessary).

What State Is It In?

Now it's up in front of you memories of that last trip you took the family on come flooding back. That ice cream on the groundsheet that attracted bugs - it's still there. The mud fight with the campsite neighbours? What larks?! You may have some cleaning to do.
Is there mould? A good mould and mildew remover will suffice for now but it pays to get to this sooner rather than later[1].
Any holes or rips? You'll need to get those seen to with a needle and thread. Spare patches of canvas are available - just get in touch - and sewing is not as taxing as you may think, especially if you know someone who's a dab-hand at stitching and whatnot.
Don't forget the lube. A little silicon lubricant on the zips (if you have ZIG) will reap benefits later. Oh, and if you didn't re-proof your 'Pad last season, consider doing it now for the season ahead. Fabsil also protects from UV.

The Rest of the Kit?

Once you have your shelter sorted, pack it away properly and relax a little. It's time to move on to other essentials such as your stove, torches, lanterns, sleeping bags and such. Once you've located them, checked them over and given them a little TLC you can pack them away with your now-immaculate tent.

Congratulations! You've got the essentials ready. You're practically a camping superhero. Almost. You see, you've done your part and now it's time to delegate. You and your family will be dry, snug and warm thanks to your preparation efforts so feel free to hand out a few tasks. Food, entertainment supplies, clothing... hey, you can't do it all.

Just don't forget to book a campsite.

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