You work hard to keep your gear from getting damaged on trial, but are you storing your gear the right way? The last thing you want to do is ruin good gear by storing and washing it improperly. Luckily storing/washing gear is pretty simple, here is what you need to know about how to take care of your big three.
1. Make Sure Your Tent is Clean
2. Dry Your Tent
3. Store Your Tent
Make Sure Your Tent is Clean
It might be a little tedious, but cleaning your tent before you store it is important. Keeping your tent clean will extend your tent's life. Plus you get the added bonus of not having to pull out a stinky tent for your next adventure.
Dry Your Tent
Just like every other piece of gear, make sure you store your tent dry. Storing your tent wet will make it mildewy and smell.
To dry your tent lay it out in the sun until it is dry. You should not put Dyneema Composite Fabric® in the dryer (it will melt, because it is plastic).
Store Your Tent
Once your tent is clean and dry you can store it compressed in a stuff sack. If you want to take extra precautions you can store your tent loose in a bag that contains but does not compress it (although that is not necessary)
Gear made with Dyneema® Composite Fabric (former known as Cuben Fiber) should be hand-washed in a bucket or bathtub with laundry detergent and warm water.
Tents and Traps should be set up and air dried. Do Not put any Dyneema® Composite Fabric gear in a dryer as excessive heat may cause the material to shrink!
There really isn’t much to storing a backpack. Make sure your pack is dry, you can hang it or place it on a shelf. Just make sure to check it for rips, tears, and holes before storing it.
Come next season you don’t want to have to wait on repairs before being able to use your pack.
Gear made with Dyneema® Composite Fabric (former known as Cuben Fiber) should be hand-washed in a bucket or bathtub with laundry detergent and warm water. Backpacks should be line dried.
Do Not put any Dyneema® Composite Fabric gear in a dryer as excessive heat may cause the material to shrink!
1. Never store your sleeping bag compressed
2. Make sure your sleeping bag is dry before storing
Never store a sleeping bag compressed
Stuff sacks are great for packability and portability, not so much for longevity. What makes a sleeping bag work is its loft. When your sleeping bag is fluffy it helps trap body heat and keeps you warm. When you compress your sleeping bag you compress your insulator, making it less effective.
On trail when you’re pulling your bag out every night compression isn’t a big deal, but when you’re storing your bag in its stuff sack for months on end, you are doing real damage.
The best way to store your sleeping bag is in a large bag that contains it but doesn’t compress it, or hang your bag by the loop. Storing your bag uncompressed will help it keep its loft.
Make sure it is dry when storing
This one is pretty self-explanatory no one wants a smelly mildewy sleeping bag. You need to dry your bag after every trip to get rid of any moisture, like sweat, rain, or snow.
You can dry your sleeping bag a variety of ways. Unzip your bag and hang it for 24 hours or put it in the dryer for a few hours with tennis balls. Before you put your sleeping bag in the dryer, check with your manufacturer for their recommendations on time and temperature. Drying your bag will help keep it from getting too gross.
Hand Washing your Sleeping Bag
1. Fill your bathtub with warm water and half a cap of Grangers Downwash.
2. Keep the sleeping bag in the dry bag and remove it while it is underwater so that it doesn't fill up with air.
3. Swish the sleeping bag around for a few minutes.
4. Drain the tub, leaving the sleeping bag in the tub.
5. Rinse the sleeping bag with fresh water.
6. Squish the sleeping bag back into the dry bag and squeeze as much water out as possible.
7. For best results, lay the sleeping bag out in the sun to dry. If the sleeping bag has a darker shell material (for example black on the inside) face the black side up to absorb more heat from the sun. You will have to periodically pull apart any wet down clumps. It may take all day to completely dry a sleeping bag
Be careful of machine washing down sleeping bags. The twisting motion of a washing machine could potentially tear the shell or the internal baffles. If you do try a washing machine do so at your own risk using the delicate setting.
Some people use a clothes dryer with tennis balls to help break the down clumps apart but do so at your own risk. High heat can melt delicate shell materials. Even with a dryer, it can take a very long time to dry a sleeping bag. We recommend drying your down gear items in the sun, or line drying indoors if outside weather doesn't permit sun drying.
About the Author
Olivia Magee oversees Social Media at Zpacks and helps monitor trends within the industry. Her contributions to the hiking community includes her work with the American Conservation Experience where she performed trail maintenance in the Smoky's and across the Southeast.