Select Page

While you are cozy in your waterproof jacket, sitting next to a campfire, your books are having a rather difficult time. Books have plenty of enemies. Dirt, cold, heat, and humidity are only some of them.

So, if you don’t want to put their condition in jeopardy, it is a must to learn how to protect your books when camping.

Books can get damaged on camping trips very easily if you are not being careful enough. Since they are humidity and temperature-sensitive, it is important to create a dry and moist-free environment where you can keep them while you are outdoor.

Our guide is here to tell you all about this, so make sure to keep reading for more information.

What Is a Book-Friendly Environment?

Although the demand for ebooks is on the rise, there is no replacing the feel of paper books in your hands. The human experience people get from flipping pages, smelling paper, and holding a book alone is irreplaceable.

However, paper books have one major downside – if you don’t handle them with care, they can deteriorate very quickly.

There are certain conditions and elements in our environment that are responsible for book deterioration. So, those who want to keep their books in pristine condition need to create a perfect environment for their book collection, no matter whether they camp in Europe or America.

Stacked books in a book-friendly environment

A book-friendly environment ideally has:

  • Relative air humidity between 30% and 50%
  • Temperature between 60-70° F (15.6-21.1°C)
  • Minimal light exposure, and
  • Good air circulation

Why do some books get damaged on camping and backpacking trips?

The important thing about preserving printed books is that paper likes a stable environment. Any change in humidity and temperature levels can leave a mark on your books if you don’t protect them while spending time outdoors.

So, the conclusion here is that camping conditions are everything but book-friendly. Four major factors are responsible for this:

  • Moisture
  • Pests
  • Temperature swings
  • Direct Sunlight

By finding a way to control these factors, you will manage to protect your books when camping.

Moisture and Books

Moisture is one of the biggest enemies paper books have. It is a bit surprising how quickly your books can get damaged when camping in high humidity areas.

Moisture alone can cause severe damage. Book pages can quickly wrinkle and become brittle. The ink can spill and spread onto other pages. Even leather book covers can easily get ruined because they are vulnerable to mold spores.

Keep in mind that your book doesn’t need to get wet to suffer moisture damage. So, even if you are not camping on a rainy day, you will still need to think about protecting your books from high humidity.

Pests and Books

You are not the only one who can devour books quickly – pests can do it, too.

Insects and rodents can cause enormous damage to paper books no matter where you keep them. They can feast on your books and ruin them completely. And, the biggest problem is – it is impossible to find a camping spot that’s pests-free.

Most pests are attracted by excess moisture or food leftovers. This is why it is important to keep your campsite clean every time, and not just when you have a packed book in your backpack.

Follow the golden camping rule – leave no trace behind and you won’t have to deal with pests.

Temperature Swings and Books

Severe day-night temperature swings combined with high humidity can have a significant and lasting effect on paper books. The more rapid these changes are, the bigger consequences your books could face.

Fluctuations in temperature can weaken the binding of books, especially if they are older. Paper and bindings can swell, contract, and ruin the entire structure of the book.

In hot temperatures, paper can become yellow, brown, and crunchy. High temperatures can also encourage and increase insect activity and mold growth.

Direct Sunlight and Books

The best way to store books is to keep them in a dark place, or, at least away from direct sunlight. Light leads to bleaching, fading, and finally, the deterioration of books.

When exposed to direct sunlight, leather bindings age faster and can get “red rot” (a degradation process found in leather).

Although it is impossible to keep a book away from sunlight when you are camping, you can minimize the duration of exposure. Instead of keeping your books outside during the entire day, take them out of your backpack only when you want to read.

The Best Ways to Protect Your Books When Camping

As you can see, there are elements that can ruin your books’ condition. But, the good news is, it is possible to protect them even when you are outside, camping with your loved ones. The following steps will help with preserving your books when camping and/or backpacking.

Separate Books From Other Camping Equipment

Unless you are going on a glamping trip, there is no way you will manage to avoid dirt while you are outside. Your shoes, clothes, and other equipment will be full of dust and mud, no matter the camping season.

Because of this, it is important to separate books from the rest of your camping gear. You should keep them in a compartment that is reserved only for your books. Make sure this compartment is clean and dry each time you put your books back in it.

Provide Your Books With Extra Protection

Even though you will be keeping your books in a separate bag compartment, you will still want to protect them. This is an especially important step for those who plan to camp on rainy or snowy days.

To protect your books from the elements and high humidity, you will want to place each book in a ziplock bag. This is a pretty great and affordable solution anyone can use. However, this isn’t the best one.

If you can afford to spend a bit more on your camping gear, look for dry bags, map cases, or floating dry boxes. People who are into sailing or canoeing use them to keep their important paper documents dry while they are on a boat or underwater. They can be used for camping, too.

You will spend more on them, but you will also get something that will last.

Use Dehumidifiers to Protect Your Books When Camping

Using DIY dehumidifiers is a simple way to keep your books free of moisture. The good thing about them is that they are cheap and, in most cases, you already have them somewhere in your home.

Since dehumidifiers you can absorb moisture quickly, you will want to add them to the compartment in which you keep your books. Simply add a couple of bags of silica gel or make your very own dehumidifiers.

You can use baking soda, tobacco, rock salt, silica-based cat litter, or other substances that contain mineral zeolite to make them.

Make a couple of small canisters out of coffee or tea filters and fill them with some of the ingredients from above. Place your homemade dehumidifiers in a ziplock and in the compartment where you keep your books and you are good to go.

Gather the Right Camping Tools for Fighting Pests

Because pests can ruin your books completely, your job will be to do your best to keep them out of your campsite and tent. With the right camping equipment, you will manage to do this.

To keep pests away, you should set up a mosquito net around your campsite. The larger net you find, the better.

Make sure you have a bug spray in your backpack, but go for the non-greasy kind in case you need to spray your book pages with it. Don’t worry, a non-greasy kind won’t stain them.

Here’s another tip for keeping pests away. If you want to protect your books when camping, you shouldn’t eat or drink while reading. Not only can food residue and crumbs damage the paper, but they can also attract pests.

Should you just switch to eBook Readers when Camping to Avoid the Hassle?

Kindle and other eBook readers became quite popular over the past few years. Although nothing can beat the feel of holding a real book, eBook readers have their advantages.

Woman reading about how to protect your books when camping

So, it is perfectly normal to ask whether it is better to just bring a Kindle on your next camping trip instead of putting your paper books at risk. If you are not sure what to do, weigh the pros and cons of taking eBook readers on a camping trip.

The pros:

  • They are lightweight;
  • They can’t get broken spine and bent corners;
  • You can store many books;
  • Reading at night is easier.

The cons:

  • They can break if not handled with extra care;
  • They can slow down in cold temperatures;
  • Can run out of battery on longer camping trips.

Both eBook readers and paper books require careful handling. Whichever you choose from these two, it is important to do your best to protect them while you are out there, camping. The steps from above will help you do it.

So yes, camping isn’t the most book-friendly environment but you can make it safer for your books.