February 17, 2017
You spent hours, maybe days or weeks, researching brands, reading reviews and even handling potential gear in a store. Finally, you laid out a fair bit of money to amass all that camping gear for all those epic trips. It seems a pity to spend so much and then not spend just a little (time and money) to take care of it.
Here are a few things you can do to extend the life of your camping gear from season to season:
Invest in a footprint. Many backpackers try to shed weight in their packs for long-haul hikes. Don’t skimp on protecting your shelter, especially if it is made of lighter, more delicate material. A tent footprint, also called a ground cover or ground cloth, will protect the actual floor of your tent from wear and tears from abrasion. In addition, it will provide an extra waterproof barrier should water drain underneath the tent. It allows you to pack up a fairly clean tent, as the footprint prevents dirt/mud from sticking to the bottom. It’s easier to brush or shake off a flat footprint than a whole tent. Important note: Even if you make your own footprint, be sure it does not extend out from under your tent. You don’t want to catch rain and funnel it under your tent.
Revitalize the waterproofing. The durable water repellency (DWR) breaks down and wears off over time. Sprinkle some water on your rainfly. If the water beads and rolls off, you’re good. If it soaks in, it’s time to revitalize. Set up the tent outside in the sun to dry. Reseal the seams on your tent and rainfly with a brush-on product such as Seam Seal. You can also recoat the floor, where dirt can wear down the DWR in a hurry. Finally, use a waterproofing spray such as Revivex to recoat the rainfly. Allow the tent to dry completely before packing it up again.
Invest in a bag liner. Think about it: You sweat; you put on insect repellent; you get dirty; you wear sunscreen. All that ends up in your sleeping bag night after night. Gross. Now you have to wash it. The more often you wash and dry a sleeping bag, the faster you break down the insulation inside. You may also create clumps, which lead to cool spots. It takes a lot of time and money to wash and dry a sleeping bag if you’re doing a thru-hike. Eliminate all that hassle by using a lightweight sleeping bag liner. Some liners are good for hot weather as they wick moisture off your skin. Other liners provide another layer of insulation to keep you warm. Either way, the liner is easier to pop out and launder.
Many waterproof/breathable boots, shoes and apparel/raingear utilize waterproof linings with a DWR finish on the outside. The lining needs no maintenance, but the DWR eventually wears off. It will prolong the life and breathability of the product if you reapply the DWR finish. If your boots are leather, it’s a good idea to clean them and keep the leather pliable with a leather conditioner. It will also help water bead off.
Always clean rain gear garments first, as dirt prevents a good waterproofing bond to the fabric. If the jacket has a soft, comfy cloth-type inner lining, use a spray-on waterproofing product to coat the outside. Wash-in waterproofing can prevent the lining from wicking as it should. If the jacket does not have a wicking lining, then use a wash-in waterproofing product.
By Rich Kenda