How to Avoid the Most Common Pitfalls in Gear Care

You put a lot of cash into your gear right? Wel­come to the club where the ratio­nale is that it’s best not to set­tle for less when buy­ing some­thing that you’ll find your­self depend­ing on out­side. Think of all that time you put into mak­ing the money to buy that gear, be it flip­ping burg­ers and end­ing up with embar­rass­ing grease scars, or resist­ing bang­ing your head on the desk of a cubi­cle day in and out.  Then, think of all the time you (should) put into the con­sid­er­a­tion of buy­ing that beau­ti­ful gear: com­par­ing brands, con­sid­er­ing mate­ri­als and weight, etc… It would be a shame to waste all that, right? Here are some com­mon mis­takes peo­ple make in their gear care, and how you can extend the lives of your beau­ti­ful invest­ments.
Air it outAir it Out
The gear I have most in mind here is tents, but this can go for any­thing that gets even a lit­tle damp.  This is no jok­ing mat­ter either, even a bit of con­den­sa­tion that gets left and packed away can weaken and ruin the mate­r­ial of your tent, and cause some seri­ous health prob­lems.  This is some­thing you SLEEP in. Do you really want to be inhal­ing mold spores?  Only if you like the idea of fatigue, res­pi­ra­tory dys­func­tion, dizzi­ness, fever… and the list goes on.  Basi­cally, just set your tent up when you get home from a trip, empty out all debris, and keep it a dry, cool place.

Clean it Prop­erly
 Does your knife still have the rem­nants of that avo­cado you ate at camp two weeks ago in the crevices of the blade?  I under­stand if you enjoy the mem­ory of that per­fectly ripe fruit, but for the love of all that is good, clean your gear out prop­erly.  Rust and grime can really cut the life of your gear down dra­mat­i­cally.  Even gas camp­stoves will NOT work prop­erly or even safely if you don’t clean them out.  Think about bac­te­ria that can attach itself to tools you don’t clean prop­erly.  Being out­doors does not make you invin­ci­ble.
Re-waterproof itRe-Waterproofing
If you wash your hair once, does it stay clean, shiny, and oil free for­ever? Don’t answer that. The same con­cept applies to the water­proof­ing say, your hik­ing boots as well as water­proof and tech­ni­cal fab­rics. Unless you’re lit­er­ally wear­ing entirely nat­u­rally water imper­me­able mate­ri­als, they are going to need a lit­tle love every now and then. You don’t need to re-waterproof every time you need to shower, but…well, at least hope­fully you shower more fre­quently than that.

Laun­der it Cor­rectly
For most of my life, I was the per­son who didn’t care about how my clothes were washed, as long as they ended up smelling bet­ter than they did when they went in the laun­dry. I have been known to over­stuff the washer to the brim with whites, darks, and in-betweens so I could avoid doing more than one load. That was until I started buy­ing out­door clothes where wash-care can really make a huge dif­fer­ence. Take a minute to read the tags that adorn the col­lars of your threads—you might notice that some arti­cles need hand-washing. Some can­not, under any cir­cum­stances, get into the dryer. Some will be dam­aged if you use fab­ric soft­ener. You abuse your clothes so much out­doors, they deserve to be a lit­tle pam­pered while being cleaned.
Appropriate storageAppro­pri­ate Stor­age
If you need to keep it out of the sun, keep it in the shade! (I’ve heard of some seri­ously sun-damaged sleep­ing pads) If it needs to be kept dry, keep it in a dry place. Bet­ter yet, just keep it orga­nized sen­si­bly. If you’re going to spend that time air­ing it out, keep­ing it clean, and all the other afore­men­tioned tips, you wouldn’t want to ruin it all by stor­ing it where it will get eaten by crit­ters or melted by summer’s fierce heat.

Remem­ber It
How frus­trat­ing is it when you mis­place some­thing, or straight up lose it? Espe­cially when that thing can poten­tially save your life in the right sit­u­a­tion? My sug­ges­tion is to keep all of your out­door neces­si­ties in a place where you will remem­ber it. Even when you actu­ally are out­doors, sys­tems are key to keep­ing your gear in line. Do you always know where your head­lamp is? Your pock­etknife? Your sun­screen and wide brimmed adven­ture hat? Your gear is built to last, so if you keep tabs on it, it will take care of you for plenty of time to come.