By the time February rolls around, it really feels like that it's time to be camping again. Whatever your style – backpacker, tourer, family - camping optimism can be encouraged by giving all your gear a good going over. Those repair kits that came with tent and airbeds may now come into their own. Even better is upgrading, replacing damage or irresistible opportunities in new gear. In the meantime, dust off the bags and boxes, hang out that tent and air off the sleeping bags. Spring is just around the corner and all sites will be open.
Pull out your tent and go over it looking for holes, tears, mould, mildew, seam strains or any other signs of wear. Pitch it if you can as any dodgy seams and fabric can be treated more easily now rather than through the night on site later; otherwise, do the best you can in the house. Repair or replace pegs, guylines, poles, buckles and elastics as required. If you have struggled with the bag your tent came with, consider replacing it with a more user-friendly option. Air off sleeping bags for a couple of days and store them in their loose bags again. Take a close look at drawcords, zips and seams, repairing damage where you can. It might be time to wash the bags so follow the manufacturer’s advice.
Unpack your stove,check the burners to make sure they are undamaged and ensure all the fittings are tight. Tighten the jubilee clips on the gas hose and regulator and give everything another good clean for luck. If you have a petrol stove, give it a careful going over, testing all elements with a trial burn. It is a good idea to check how much fuel you have now rather than at the last minute before the first trip of the season. Pots and crockery will probably benefit from a good scrub as well as the stove storage bag.
One of the most often overlooked items that needs a regular overhaul is the first aid kit. Check the dates and condition of creams, salves, drops, tablets and so on, binning and replacing as appropriate.