We are almost into September. Soon the kids will be back in school and it soon will be time to start winterizing our summer toys. There might be time for one last hoorah in the motorhome, out on the boat, or riding off road toys, but before long it will be time to tuck them away until next season. All of our summer recreational equipment should be properly prepared for winter storage. Failure to do so may result in serious damage over the winter or, at the very least, make getting it ready to use again next season more difficult. For more information on winterizing, check out this post.
Motorhomes and campers need to have their water systems winterized. That means draining all the holding tanks and either blowing all the water out of the system or filling the plumbing with RV antifreeze to keep the pipes from freezing -- if you live where you get freezing weather. Folks who live in the sunbelt don't have to worry about freeze protection. Check out this post or more detailed motorhome winterization .
Anything with a gasoline engine will need to have the fuel system treated to prevent deteriorating fuel from clogging up the works. For small engines, like motorcycles and outboard motors, you can turn off the fuel and run all the gas out of the system to reduce the problems old fuel causes in carburetors and injection systems. Then treat the remaining fuel in the tank with a fuel stabilizer or drain the tanks. For motorhomes and boats with inboard motors add the fuel treatment, then run the engines for 10 or 15 minutes so the treated fuel fills the system.
How you deal with your boat depends on whether you plan to leave it in the water or haul it out for the winter. Trailerable boats and other smaller boats are usually hauled out and either tarped or shrink-wrapped to protect the against winter weather. Of course water systems on boats require the same winterizaton in freezing climates as campers. For more detailed suggestions for winterizing your boat, click here.
Camping equipment should be inspected and cleaned and repaired as necessary before putting it into storage. Fabric items such as sleeping bags, blankets, and tents, are particularly susceptible to damage from mold and mildew if they get put away damp. You will also want to protect them against pests such as moths using moth balls or dryer cloths. Sleeping bags should NOT be tightly rolled for long term storage as it will crush the filling and destroy the lift that provides the warmth and comfort. Kitchen items, such as pots and pans, dishes, and utensils should be clean and dry before storage and should be packed to protect them against breakage or other impact damage. Fuel should be drained from stoves and lanterns. Perishable provisions should be removed and all remaining cooking stuff should be stored in tightly closed plastic tubs.
Camping clothing should be laundered and properly stored in closets or in moisture-proof plastic bins. Before putting it away inspect each item for any damage that needs to be repaired or might relegate the item to be recycled. Here again items need to be protected against moths using moth balls or dryer cloths.
There is at least one other task on the end of season list. This last one is a little more fun. It is checking out the End of Season Sales where ever you like to shop for camping supplies. Retailers often offer great savings on seasonal summer merchandise to make room for winter items.
Of course, this isn't the end of the season for everyone! Some people continue to enjoy their motorhomes and boats and even camping year round, although it typically requires some special preparation to accommodate more harsh weather. If you are one of those folks, instead of putting everything away until next spring you will want to make the necessary preparations to protect your resources against winter weather and make it ready for winter use.
Winter is sometimes a chance to take a break and review last year's fun activities. Now is a good time to complete documenting your summer trips, review your want lists, and begin making plans for next year. It is often an excellent time or make needed repairs, perform annual maintenance, or make updates or additions to your equipment.
There doesn't have to be anything off about the off season!