As local communities continue to update Covid-19 regulations, local destinations for outdoor recreation may be closed. Please visit official websites for the latest information.

Seasonal Repairs: Make Your Camping Gear Last Longer

A little maintenance goes a long way. 

By Trent Jonas

Seasonal Repairs: Make Your Camping Gear Last Longer

Maintaining your camping gear in the offseason, including proper storage, cleaning and repairs, will help make it last longer and save you money on future repairs or replacements. If you’re careful to do so every year, you’ll get the most out of your gear. Here are some seasonal repair tips to help keep your camping gear in the best possible shape for as long as possible. 

Backpack

Your backpack is likely the piece of camping gear that sees the most wear and tear throughout the season—especially if you’re a backpacker or ultralight camper. It probably gets tossed on the ground, rained on, spilled in, sweated on, zipped and unzipped, strapped and unstrapped more often than any other piece of gear you use. Start your off-season maintenance with a thorough cleaning. Begin by hand washing and scrubbing inside every pocket and compartment and along every strap with mild soap. If you choose to try and use a washing machine to clean your pack, stuff it in a pillowcase first. This will keep the straps from flailing around and gumming things up. Never machine dry your pack.

As for repairs, make sure all the zippers are in good working order. Then check the buckles and straps from breakage or wear. Your pack’s manufacturer will most likely be able to send you any replacement parts you need. Any holes or fabric tears should be sewn or patched. Tenacious Tape products from Gear Aid make for a quick and easy fix for smaller rips and tears.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by GEAR AID (@gearaid)

Sleep System

Your sleep system typically consists of a sleeping bag or quilt, a bag liner, a sleeping pad, and often, some kind of pillow. Start with your bag or quilt. Wash it in a front-loading machine in cold water and on a gentle cycle. Follow your manufacturer’s instructions with respect to drying. Make sure all the zippers are working as they should and there are no tears or wear in the fabric to which the zippers are attached. In the event a zipper repair is needed, and it’s beyond your skill level, reach out to the manufacturer or a local gear repair shop for help. Next, check the bag for any rips or tears in the fabric. Again, for minor damage, Tenacious Tape is an excellent solution. Major rips and tears will likely need to be sewn. Store your sleeping bag in a loose, mesh or cloth bag. Don’t keep it in a stuff sack or compression bag—especially if it’s down.

Bag liners and non-inflatable pillows simply need to be washed and dried according to their attached tags. Then check for rips or holes. A small tear in a bag liner is not a big deal, but pillow filling can make a mess. So, patch and repair these, as necessary.

Wipe down sleeping pages and inflatable pillows mild soap and water. Then check any inflatables—pillows and/or pads—for air leaks. This can be done by submerging the inflated pad or pillow in a tub and watching for bubbles. If you find a leak, patch it using the kit that came with your pad or a repair kit like that sold by Therma Rest. If the leak is along a seam, use a silicone seam adhesive to fix it. 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by GEAR AID (@gearaid)

Shelter

Regardless of the type of shelter you use while camping, whether it’s an ultralight tarp you erect with your hiking poles or an eight-person base camp tent, you rely on it to keep yourself out of the elements. This is why off-season maintenance of your shelter is crucial. Again, start with with a thorough cleaning. Shake out your shelter, as well as your fly, to remove any sand, small rocks, or other abrasive debris. If you use a footprint, there’s likely some caked on mud, dirt or dust on the fabric—shake off as much as you can. Rain flies and tent walls are also not immune to mud splatters and dirt tracked in on feet. Set up the tent and use a mild soap, diluted in plenty of water, to give your shelter system a through cleaning. 

Once it has dried, make sure all the zippers and buckles are in working order, then check all the fabric, mesh, straps, and seams for rips, wear, or holes. Replacement buckles and straps can typically be ordered from the manufacturer, and a product like Tenacious Tape is excellent for repairing tears or holes in the fabric—Gear Aid also makes patches for repairing tent mesh and a silicone sealer for repairing tent seams. For seasonal storage, fold your tent along the seams and pack it flat—don’t just jam it back into its stuff sack.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by GEAR AID (@gearaid)

As local communities continue to update Covid-19 regulations, local destinations for outdoor recreation may be closed. Please visit official websites for the latest information.

Subscribe for future Step Outside News!