Taking Care Of Your Hiking Gear

From drying socks using body heat to dealing with areas made by mildew, we’ll show you how to make sure your clothing protects you from the elements

Being in the elements needs protection from these elements. As anyone who hikes knows that an outdoor excursion is often characterized by sweat or wetness. While this is part of the excitement, when dirt, sweat, and dampness remain in the air, it can slash the life of outdoor gear and turn a cheap hobby into one that is very costly.

Consistent laundering of gear really helps prolong the life of a product,” says Corey Simpson of Patagonia, since high-tech fabrics “all perform better when they’re not clogged or covered with dirt and oils“.

It is a good idea to wash your hands during hikes.

If you have to wash your gear during a camping excursion, Simpson says to “find a creek, stream or river to rinse the garments“. While rinsing is fine, applying soap to a stream isn’t. If your campsite does not have dedicated laundry facilities the clothes must be hand washed in a bucket or tub using a bar of biodegradable soap and the grey water should be tipped out of the way away from running water.

Finally, hang the clothes on the line to dry. sunlight or the breeze.

What to do when it rains

Keeping gear dry is one of the most essential aspects of maintaining it, but it can be a challenge when you’re caught in the rain while halfway up a mountain on the trail for a long time.

The first step first is to wash off the excess water and then find somewhere dry to hang it. General manager of product at Kathmandu, Robert Fry, recommends inside “your tent’s vestibule” as the perfect drying space, “so there’s no chance it’ll drip and wet your dry gear, like your sleeping bag“.

Utilizing your body to heal your body

If your down jacket is submerged, Simpson suggests you “shake the jacket to get the moisture off … and get the down to loft up again“. Additionally, you can use the heat of your body to remove the moisture from the clothes. Wear the jacket over any layer of wicking you have after which you rub your hands over the jacket, causing friction and heat entering the jacket from the outside. After that, put your shell on over the jacket and move around so that your body heat gets into the jacket from inside as well.

This also works for drying your socks. If your socks and shoes are wet, Simpson suggests wringing out any excess moisture out of your socks and hanging them to dry. However, if they’re still damp after you take off, “put them in the inside pocket of a jacket to get your body heat to dry them out“.

Post-hike cleanup

If you are returning home after hiking, begin by shaking or rinsing any dirt or debris that may have accumulated on your gear, then wash the items in accordance with the care guidelines. Fry advises that waterproof products, as well as breathable fabrics, must be cleaned “using a cleaning agent made specifically for shell jackets on a cold, gentle cycle“.

Inspect and repair

If your equipment is getting older and beginning to show indications of wear and tear, Fry advises you to be aware of this as it could affect “your overall experience and safety when spending time ‘out there.”

Of course, sometimes the damage isn’t that severe which won’t hinder the gear’s performance. Simpson states, “If your favorite hiking shirt has a few holes in it, no worries, you can continue to use it and earn some more rips and tears.”

Fry suggests inspecting gear every time you go on a trip and, if you notice any major issues, such as broken zips – be sure you get it checked out by a specialist repair center. So you don’t have time to overlook problems before you embark on the next trip.