Gear care – make your beloved outdoor gear last longer
Those who love backpacking and camping, love their gear. And the more you get into it, the more expensive and nice your gear gets. If you are like me and poor, you want that expensive gear to last as long as possible. Gear care doesn’t have to be hard, nor does it have to be time consuming.
I’ve complied nine tips to help you take care of your gear so you can get the most bang for your buck. We all want our beloved gears to last a long time.
1. Air out your sleeping bag
Your sleeping bag is probably washing machine approved. And you should wash it every once in a while, or else that’s just gross. When I get back from a weekend on the lake or even a week-long adventure, I just lay it out on the bed and let it air out. I try to wash my sleeping bag only once a year – twice if it gets really funky.
2. Set up your tent when you get home
I know my neighbors think I’m a wannabe hobo, but when I get home from a trip I set up my tent in the front yard. I do this as part of my gear care for a few reasons. One is to thoroughly clean out the tent before I store it. Two is to let it dry out so it does not mildew when stored. And three is to check for any problems, like small tears, and take care of them before they become big problems.
After one trip I discovered sap on my tent. It was pretty sticky so I put paper towels over it so that it wouldn’t stick to another wall in the tent and cause problems. After a while the stickiness faded, and it is not a problem anymore.
3. Wash cookware
It’s important to wash your cookware with hot soapy water. If you cannot get your water hot enough at the campsite, the soap will not completely rinse off. It’s important to thoroughly wash your cookware and eating utensils because after a while that soap can build up and make you sick.
If you are like me, you don’t use soap in the backcountry. I’m lazy, don’t judge. It is even more important to sanitize your eating gear when you get home.
4. Store clean and dry
It is always important to store your gear clean. Storing it dirty can make it smell, or cause wear and tear on it. Gear care at home is extremely important. It may be put away, and you don’t think about it. But things like mildew can cause problems.
5. Don’t get frustrated in the field
One of my biggest mistakes in taking care of my gear is getting frustrated and tired and not properly handling my gear. We camped one summer in 100 degree weather. It was hot! When I was taking down the tent I couldn’t get the stake out so I jerked it with the tent’s stake loop and ripped the tent. Lesson learned. Instead of taking the time to get the stake out, I let my frustration get the best of me.
If you have a stake that simply won’t budge, try kicking it on two sides. That will loosen the dirt around it and make it easier to get out.
6. Clean you tent area
A little bit of preparations can save you from tearing you tent. It is important to clean the area where you are going to put your tent. Remove sticks, rocks, or other things that can puncture your tent (or give you a pain in the back).
I once set up my tent in a brier patch. I was very careful to clear the briers away from my tent, but didn’t think about my CamelBak. One of the stickers put a hole in my CamelBak bladder. But fortunately it was our last day of backpacking, and I was able to use the bottle I brought for water.
7. Don’t fold or roll
Rolling or folding your sleeping bag, tent, or items as such can cause creases. Over time creases can make the fabric wear and easier to rip or tear. It’s best to stuff them back into their stuff sacks. I love this rule because I am not good at folding or rolling and getting them to fit back in the sack.
8. Keep bug spray separate
When packing bug spray, place it in a Ziploc bag. Also when spraying it, move away from your tent or backpack. Bug spray can eat at the fabric.
9. Follow the instructions
To properly care for your gear it is important to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. The manufacturers know the best ways for proper gear care for that product.