Inspired by Patagonia's recent Worn Wear Tour we thought we would put together some tips to help your wallet and the planet by making your kit last longer. This is the first of two articles on how to make the most of your outdoor gear.
Prevention is better than repairs
The first and most important point is to buy good quality equipment in the first place. On first inspection kit from companies such as Patagonia and Paramo, who make excellent quality, ethical items, can seem very expensive. However if that jacket or rucksack lasts for twenty years longer than the cheap one from Mountain Shop (not a real brand!) then it starts to look a lot better value. You can also be confident that the people who made your jacket were paid a fair wage and were over the age of sixteen.
Once you have done your research and
found the perfect clothing for you, then you need to make sure you
take very good care of it so you can still be using it when bright
orange goes out of fashion and then when it comes back in again.
Waterproof jackets and trousers
The key here is to keep them clean. It is important not to wash garments with your usual washing powder because it will severely compromise the waterproof qualities of the fabric. We use Nikwax products to wash and proof all of our waterproof clothing (both Paramo and barrier waterproofs such as Goretex). We wash garments using their Tech Wash when they look dirty or after approximately four weeks of regular wear. Every third wash we use Nikwax TX Direct Wash in to reproof the garments. Even if you are not wearing your garments as often as us it is still vital to wash and reproof them regularly. When was the last time you washed your waterproofs? If you cannot remember go and do it now.
It's all too easy to come in from a long day in the mountains and to fling your mud-encrusted, soggy boots into the utility room and forget about them until the next time you want to head out. We have to admit that we are also guilty of this at times but we have learned the that this is a quick way to ruin your boots. So here is what we recommend doing every time you use your boots:
Wash away any mud. We find a stiff brush can help with this.
Leave boots to dry in a warm place but NOT right next to the radiator because they will dry out too quickly which can also cause damage. It is extremely rare these days that we find the need to stuff our boots with newspaper. (If they are getting that wet inside it is probably time for a new pair.) We find they dry better when open to the air. The only exception to this is if we have been in water higher than our ankles (to cross a stream for example) and the inside is really wet – it can then be useful to put newspaper in for an hour or so but then change it or take it out.
Waterproof your boots – the product you use will depend on what your boots are made of. The precise brand of product is much less important than actually using it.
Rucksacks and tents
The most important thing to remember with rucksacks and tents is to make sure they are clean and dry before you put them away. Due to the vagaries of the British weather you will often have to take your tent down while it is still wet and arrive back home with a soggy rucksack. Whichever it is make sure you hang it up immediately somewhere it can dry so that you do not find it, mouldy and stinking, a few weeks later. Other than that just treat them with care (do not use your rucksack as a seat) and they will last for many years to come.
And of course always remember not to let chickens peck your groundsheet.
The next article in the series will help you know what to do when, despite all of your best efforts, your belongings have been damaged.