Spring cleaning season is upon us, and that means it’s time to brush the dust of the tent, clean your sleeping bag, and perform countless smell tests. Does it smell? Yes/No? If so, wash it! Get geared up for the summer season with these four DIY gear maintenance tips for the outdoors.
Score More Mileage: Re-Epoxy Your Boots
If there’s one over-arching rule in the outdoors, it’s to treat your feet. When you find the perfect pair of hiking boots, you want them to last. Often times, the stitching and toe cap are the first to wear. Keep your boots running by touching up toe caps and lose stitching with boot epoxy. You can snag the required goo from any work boot store, or online. First, sand down the area you’d like to fix up. This creates a textured surface for the epoxy to bond to. Next, apply the epoxy per the manufacturer’s directions. Approximately one hour after setting, rub the epoxy with your finger to create a matte finish. Viola, your boots are ready to rock as many miles as you are!
Keep Out the Rain with a Waterproofing Re-Up
Nothing is worse than finding out your rain jacket has lost its mojo in the middle of a rainstorm. Re-apply a waterproof finish to your tent and rain jacket every five years. Use a product like Nikwax to get the job done. Usually, the process involves starting with a clean surface and spritzing on a solution to add to waterproofing. It’s quick and easy. If you use your tent or rain jacket frequently, then consider doing this every two to three years. Aggressive use would daily wear or tackling a big thru-hike.
Don’t Get Caught in a Bind, Flush that Filter
Backcountry water filters take a little TLC to keep working properly. After any journey, you’ll want to backwash your filter per manufacturer specifications. This keeps the filter working properly. However, once a season you’ll want to flush the filter out with a bleach solution. Bleach kills bacteria on the dirty side of your filter, removes particulate buildup that can cause a clog, and makes everything sterile. Prior to doing this, double check that your specific water filter will allow for a beaching. If so, then you will want to cook up a very mild bleach solution. Combine about one cap (approximately a teaspoon) of fragrance-free bleach per quart of water. Next, you’ll want to backwash that entire quart of bleach solution through the filter. Then backwash again with regular water until you cannot smell bleach on the filter. Note, you may have to change rooms for the sniff test, bleach smell tends to linger. Let the filter dry completely. If you still notice a bleach smell after drying, flush the filter out with potable tap water until the smell disappears.
Unclog the Pores of Your Sleeping BagDid you know that your sleeping bag breathes? It can suffocate itself, and by default, you, if it’s too dirty. Oily buildup from dirt, grime and natural body oils deteriorate your bag’s ability to breathe over time. Get your bag’s lungs back in shape with a quick spot clean. Take a non-detergent-based soap and a toothbrush to gently clean the shell. Focus on areas where your oils gather, such as around the hood and neck areas. If you have a down bag, you can try to isolate the nylon shell from the down in order to keep the fill dry. If your bag gets excessively grimy, dirty, or is losing loft, consider a full wash of your bag. Be sure to follow cleaning instructions for your bag. Remember never:
- Dry clean your bag
- Put your sleeping bag in a top-loading washer with an agitator
- Use strong detergents
- Use fabric softeners or bleach products
- Store your sleeping bag in a compression sack, this decreases the loft, and thus warmth, of your bag over time.