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 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.
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.
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.
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.