Hiking & Camping Kit Maintenance Guide
If you’re an avid nature lover or someone who enjoys regular outdoor activities and seasonal sports, you’ll know the immense value of a quality, reliable kit. As one of the most popular and accessible outdoor activities, many of us have a hiking kit that we rely on for safe and enjoyable hikes throughout the year. And if you stay overnight on your hikes, some quality camping gear is essential too.
Whether you’ve assembled your kit all at once (the expensive way) or have slowly built up a quality kit over time (the recommended way), you’ll ultimately want your gear to stand the test of time. Inevitably, your hiking kit will see a lot of wear and tear, along with plenty of dirt and damp, but that doesn’t mean equipment needs to be tossed out and replaced year-on-year. With the right care, your much-loved hiking and camping kit can last for many years to come. To help you preserve your outdoor gear for as long as possible, we’ve pulled together this handy guide to help you save money and prevent waste.
How to wash a backpack
No hike is complete without a handy backpack to carry all the essentials. Whether you’re backpacking and hiking across Europe or simply heading out for a day hike with the kids, your backpack is likely to see plenty of dirt and moisture along the way. At the end of your trip, you’ll want to clean off the excess dirt and sweat. Fortunately, washing a backpack is perfectly possible, but there are a couple of important tips to keep in mind. Here’s how to wash a backpack:
- Avoid washing machines and tumble dryers - these can shrink, tear, and degrade the fabric, stitching and glue used to keep your backpack together.
- Where possible, avoid fully saturating the bag. If your backpack has a couple of big stains or internal spills, spot clean using a natural soap and soft brush.
- Don’t dry it near or on a heat source (such as a radiator) - opt for a cool, dry, airy space.
- Depending on the fabric (such as leather or a wax-coated bag), you may also need specific cleaning detergents and materials - always read the care instructions.
How to clean a flask
Like a reliable bag, water flasks get a lot of action on hikes. Having access to fresh drinking water is an absolute essential for any hiker, so owning a quality water flask that you can use time and time again is key. After you’ve finished your hike, you’ll want to clean your water flask before storing it away for its next use. Here’s how to clean a flask:
- Open the flask and/or separate all the individual pieces.
- Place them separately in a sink with hot water and a little washing-up liquid.
- Gently clean the inner chamber of the flask and around the opening.
- Rinse with warm or hot water until all soapy residue is removed.
- Keeping the pieces separate, allow to completely air dry before gently reassembling and storing in a cool, dry place.
- Never store your water flask if there is moisture inside or around the seal - always ensure it’s bone dry and leave the lid slightly loose when storing.
How to store a tent
As one of the more expensive parts of a camping or hiking kit, knowing how to take care of and store a tent after use is essential if you want it to last a long time. One of the biggest threats to the longevity of any tent is moisture (which it will likely see a lot of), so it’s key that you follow the right steps before storing it. Here’s how to store a tent:
- If your tent is still wet after you return home from a camping trip, immediately remove it from its bag, making sure to separate all the individual parts of the tent.
- Unfold the fabric chambers and allow them to fully air dry overnight (or until there is absolutely no moisture left in the fabric, ropes and mesh).
- Meanwhile, remove all the tent poles and ground pegs from their bags, laying them out on a towel or cloth to fully dry. This will prevent the degradation of the elastic cords in the poles as well as rust.
- Once all the separate parts of your tent are completely free of moisture, store it in a well-ventilated, dry area. Where possible, avoid damp cellars, garages and wardrobes prone to mould.
How to store a sleeping bag
Much like a tent, sleeping bags can easily be ruined by damp and mould if not stored properly. If you’ve got a leaky tent, had a spill, or your freshly washed sleeping bag is put away before it has fully dried, you’ll be faced with a smelly, mouldy sleeping bag when your next overnight hiking trip rolls around. Here’s how to store a sleeping bag:
- Always allow your sleeping bag to fully dry before placing it into any sort of storage.
- Do your best to remove any dirt or stains, particularly if food spills have occurred.
- Do not store your sleeping bag in airtight space bags or storage containers with no fresh flowing air - sleeping bags can develop an unpleasant smell if they are not well ventilated.
- Only store your sleeping bag in its carrier bag if it’s completely clean and bone dry.
Ultimately, our beloved hiking kits will consist of many items that need special care. In addition to those above, you'll also want to be mindful of how to clean walking boots, how to wash your weatherproof clothing and how to care for a store special equipment like helmets, rappelling gear and walking poles. As well as taking a mindful approach, we also recommend reading the specific care instructions for your hiking kit. Just a few simple steps can make a world of difference when it comes to caring for and maintaining our favourite outdoor gear. Happy hiking!