Mountainsmith resident gear expert and Warranty Coordinator, Stephen shares his wisdom about taking care of your gear. After 12 years working the floor at REI, this guy knows a thing or two about gear upkeep.
I sometimes take a lunch and a book to the Clear Creek water park in downtown Golden, Colorado. Here I can relax and enjoy the atmosphere of kayakers, tubers, and an array of families on bikes, long boards, and on foot. There is a sign posted near on entrance that fittingly points out the Golden Rule which reminds everyone in the park to treat each other in the way they would like to be treated themselves. I am still new to the Warranty Coordinator role at Mountainsmith and I was thinking of ways to help others get the most life out of their gear. It dawned on me that outdoor enthusiasts can adopt a rule that can be applied to their packs, tents, and sleeping bags:
“One should treat their gear as one would like others to treat oneself.”
I started thinking about the different habits that I’ve held in the past that have compromised the integrity of gear. Here are some examples:
It’s only dirt.
There is a sense of pride that I have when can say that my pack has seen Fourteeners, Hawaiian sands, Italian streets, Washington’s coastal waters, and Utah’s red rock. The problem is that there are remnants of these places either on or inside of my pack. Over time this sand can be abrasive to the material of the inside and outside of the bag. The pine needles or pebbles can wear holes on the inside of my pack. And salt buildup from sea water can seize my zippers.
I then ask myself what if after these trips I decided not to bathe. What if I left accumulated sand in every cranny of my body after a swim in the ocean? Can you imagine the irritation? Imagine how my Day pack feels.
Cleaning all of your gear is simple. Whether it’s a tent, sleeping bag, or pack; the cleaning is the same. Cold water, non-detergent soap, hand wash, rinse well, and air dry. I recommend using a front loading washer for sleeping bags only (the agitator can damage your gear). Most detergents can clog the pores of breathable fabrics and are scented which can attract bugs and other critters. I recommend Gear Aid’s Revivex Synthetic Fabric Cleaner. It’s a great product to use on all for your performance fabrics while maintaining their integrity.
My car’s trunk is shaded, right?
A long hike or ride is so much better when you can strip off all of your gear and toss it all in your trunk. What if it stays there a day? Two days? How about a full week until your next ride? The heat build up inside of your car (trunk or back seat) can get unbearable. Your gear is likely made with a laminate. There is a laminate that is applied to the fabrics of your gear before it is made. This procedure adds a bit of water resistance but also keeps the integrity of your pack, keeping it stiff and durable. This laminate is usually invisible, that is until it is placed in a high heat environment. The poor guy’s skin starts bubbling and peeling off. Once the pack is de-laminated it can’t be re-applied. Oh, the inhumanity!
After we get off trail where do we want to go? A cool, dry, and shaded environment. That’s where your gear wants to go too. All of your equipment will last so much longer in this optimal condition.
It’s the outdoors, things get wet!
We’re not going to let rain spoil our weekends. We made plans and we’re going to stick to them. We put out tent up in the rain and we’re taking it down in the rain. By the time we’re home we’re sick of all the water. We dry off and recuperate from the near-death freezing deluge of H2O that we didn’t know we survived. Our tent, by the way won’t recover sitting on a garage shelf. You’ll know when spring rolls around and you pull the tent out and…ohh the smell…the stickiness. What happened? Well, we didn’t store our gear dry.
There is a debate whether your tent should be folded and rolled into it’s storage sack or stuffed (another conversation). There is no debate however on whether it should be stored dry. When you are home and the weather is pleasant. Build your tent without your rain-fly and set it out in the sun. Lay the rain-fly out in the sun also. Be sure to stake down sections. You don’t want to go outside and find your tent in your neighbor’s tree. Store your tent in that dry cool place and get ready for the next adventure.
If you’ve forgotten to store your tent dry and you’re experiencing the odor GearAid has your back again. Mirazyme will help break up the bacterium that causes the odor and back to working conditions. The stickiness is the application being broken up by water. It’s likely you’ll have to re-apply a coating to the floor with Gear Aid’s Tent Sure.
It’s my baby.
People care about their gear. I speak to people almost everyday who refer lovingly about their pack with different cute monikers. Whether it’s a broken buckle or zipper, people grow attached to a companion who carries everything so well. We want all relationships to thrive and grow. Inanimate or not.
– Stephen, Customer Service & Warranty Coordinator at Mountainsmith and 11 year veteran of REI.