Essential Tips to Maximize the Life of your Camping Equipment
If you spend more than a couple weekends a year camping, hiking or enjoying wilderness, then you've probably invested a bit of time and hard-earned money to research, compare and get the best equipment out there. The quality of your gear is not only important in terms of comfort, but it's also potentially life-saving. It doesn't take much extra time to go through the extra steps to ensure your outdoor gear lasts for years or even decades. With some patience, the right tools and a little know-how, you'll be able to keep your gear working perfectly.
Air out your tent and other impermeable fabrics before storage
Sleeping in a moldy tent is not a great way to spend a camping trip. It's not just that it smells bad; it's also unhealthy - you're breathing in those mold spores all night long. Beyond being unappealing, a moldy tent is also a tent that won't last long. Prevent all this by simply drying out your tent and any other impermeable fabrics such as the rain fly or footprint thoroughly before rolling them up for storage. When you get home from an adventure, set up your tent and brush away any dirt, mud and grime.
Re-weatherproof your rain gear
After a few washes, your waterproof clothing and covers might not be so water-resistant anymore. Depending on the quality of the Durable Water Repellant (DWR) used on your fabrics, this could start happening in as few as 10 washes or perhaps as many as 100. But at some point, it's going to become obvious that you need to give your fabrics another boost. Regular laundry detergent leaves behind a residue that can reduce the effectiveness of the DWR.
The key thing is that you pay attention to when your fabrics need to be treated so that you aren't stuck on your next trip with a rain coat that is soaked through.
If the water sits on the fabric and that section begins to darken slightly, water is making its way to the fibers and wetting the fabric.
Clean, condition and waterproof your leather hiking boots
The care of your boots is essential as these are one of the most critical components of your outdoor equipment. Keeping your feet dry, blister-free and protected is key to a happy outting. After each hike, especially those that were particularly muddy or wet, take the time to clean, air-dry, condition and if needed, rewaterproof your leather hiking boots.
Restore the "loft" in your down vest, sleeping bag and other items
After awhile, products made with down lose their "loft" or the ability to trap air between plumules to provide its famous insulating capabilities. To maintain the insulating power of down and keep your down products fluffy, proper washing techniques and products are needed especially when it comes to sleeping bags.
Wash outdoor clothing according to the labels
Any technical fabrics used in clothing or gear should receive the care intended for it. While it's tempting to just toss in your dirty hiking clothes and wash it just like you would any of your other clothes, doing so could mean wearing down the material, shortening the life of the DWR protection, or flat out ruining the garment. Make your expensive outdoor clothes last longer by following the instructions for washing and drying.
Thoroughly clean cook stoves, utensils and other equipment before storing
It's not just fabrics, wearables and tents that need care. So too does the rest of your equipment, especially equipment that is prone to getting dirt, grease and grime all over it. Proper cleaning not only keeps your equipment in good working order but also cuts down the gross factor of old food or oils that gather dust and bacteria.
Remove batteries from electronics before storing
It's so disappointing to open a camping box after a long time of storage to find that batteries have leaked or corroded the contacts and the lantern, headlamp, GPS device or other gadget no longer works. Things look fine until you get out into the wilderness and find the device won't turn on because the batteries are drained.
Store items in sealed weatherproof containers
One final tip to make sure your equipment lasts is to store it in a dry, bug-free place. Another smart idea is to invest in a few canvas bags of various sizes. You can store similar items together in a single bag, then nest the bags in your larger storage box. At the start of your next trip, you'll have an easy time pulling out your clean, restored gear and can quickly double-check your packing list and hit the road!