Proper Gear Care & Cleaning

Odds are you've probably spent a lot of money assembling your camping equipment arsenal. The proper care, maintenance, and storage of your gear will greatly extend the life of your equipment.


Here are some tips for properly caring for your gear:


Find a convenient, easy to access, dry, bug and rodent free place to store your gear.

This could be shelving or cabinets devoted solely to your camping equipment or a dedicated closet in your home or apartment. Avoid damp basements or crawl spaces and places in direct sun light. Dampness can cause mold or mildew and sun light can break down technical fabrics and cause fading.

Organize your gear by category.

When you put your gear away organize it by category. We suggest that they be divided into cooking, sleeping, shelters, lighting, repair supplies and miscellaneous other items, storage/organization sacks and hydration. We suggest using large storage boxes for each category and labeling them with the contents. This makes finding specific items quick and easy!

Store sleeping bags and pads loosely or hanging if possible.

This is important to ensure that bags will retain their loft. Self-inflating pads should be stored inflated and with open valves. This keeps moisture out of the foam and helps the pad inflate faster when you get to camp.

Remove batteries from headlamps and flashlights.

Before your lighting and other electronic items are stored remove the batteries to avoid corrosion.


Clean and dry your gear before you store it away.

Dirt will clog mechanical items like stoves and water filters, hold germs on cooking items and may damage fabrics. Wet storage can lead to mildew and ruin much of your equipment.

Water filter care.

Each model of Water Filter will have its own instructions for cleaning and care prior to long term storage. In each instance, flushing the filter and treating areas that retain unfiltered water, will insure that no bad bacteria or germs hang around to make you ill when you use it for your next adventure.

Stoves and lantern care.

Devices that use fuel, such as liquid or bottled gas stoves and lanterns, can have their burners, generators or jets clog from regular use. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning before storing these appliances away and they will work properly when you take them out for the next trip or outing. Also, it is important to properly dispose of all empty canisters.

Tents and tarp care.

Do not put tents or tarps away wet! Set up your tent after you get home and make sure it is completely dry. Check all poles and fabric for areas that may need cleaning or repair. Count your good stakes and replace any that are badly bent or missing. If your tent is dirty use non-abrasive materials and warm water for most cleaning jobs.

First aid kit care.

Did you use anything in your first aid kit? If you did, either replace it now or make a note and put it with the kit so you do it before your next trip. Check for anything in the kit with an expiration-date and either replace it or make a note to do so.

Packs and stuff sack care.​

Clean out and dry packs after a trip. Check that all the cord locks, buckles and zippers work properly. Inspect them all and repair or replace any parts that no longer operate correctly. Clean stuff sacks of any food or dirt residue.


Cleaning Synthetics

Regular washing and occasional maintenance can add years of life to your outdoor gear. Clean your equipment when it is dirty and before you put it away for the season. Always follow care labels. Do not dry clean or use bleach. Close all zippers and wash with a mild, residue-less soap in cool water on a gentle cycle. Sleeping bags should be washed in a large front-loading machine. Tumble dry at a low temperature or hang dry for 24 hours. Laundering synthetic bags too much may lead to a loss of some loft. For cleaning outerwear or synthetic sleeping bags, we carry a variety of options, like Charlie's Soap and Nikwax™ Tech Wash.

Cleaning Down

Periodic cleaning of down sleeping bags and jackets is essential to maintaining maximum loft and ensuring the long life of the product. You can wash your bag at home using a Down Wash, or have it professionally cleaned by a service that specializes in cleaning down. It is NOT recommended that you try dry cleaning down items, it may decrease an item’s loft and damage the down. For cleaning your bag or jacket at home, we carry Nikwax™ Down Wash.

Tent Mildew Removal

To avoid mildew and for best tent care, make sure to never leave your tent wet, especially inside of a stuff sack. After returning from a trip, make sure to set up your tent and air dry it out before storage.

To further avoid mildew, do not use any detergents on your tent, as it may remove the coating from the fabric. For your technical fabrics, we carry Charlie's Soap, which is extremely gentle and leaves zero residues, and other technical wash brands such as Nikwax™.

The following procedure eliminates odors, but will not clean any stains: 
Mix 1 cup SALT and 1 cup of CONCENTRATED LEMON JUICE in 1 gallon HOT WATER. Wash with this solution. Let it dry. Remember to store your tent clean and dry in a dry place.


Revitalizing Waterproof Gear

After properly cleaning your waterproof gear it may be necessary to apply a waterproof coating to it. There are two ways to do this. You can either get a wash in style water proofer like Nikwax’s TX direct wash-in and follow directions accordingly, or if you prefer you can do a spray on version for those hard to wash items, we recommend Nikwax’s TX direct spray on. After applying the waterproof coating be sure to dry items thoroughly per product instructions.

Always check to see if your item is synthetic or down BEFORE cleaning