Spring has sprung! Birds are tweetin’, lambs are leapin’, and the grass is growing quicker than a recently quarantined hiker being let out of lockdown and high-tailing it to the nearest national Park.
Whilst my mum’s idea of a spring clean involves dusting cobwebs out of cornices and getting a little too intimate with the inside of the kitchen oven, the type of spring clean that gets my inner clean freak on is more of the outdoor persuasion.
Find below, my top five tasks for spring cleaning your adventure gear.
Begin With Boots
I’m a big advocate for regular boot maintenance, nothing ruins your time on the trail quicker than sore feet from worn out and neglected footwear.
However, before the sunny bliss of dry trails in the next few months, my boots get some extra special love. Laces and inners out (and replaced if needed), a good dry brush down, wash, and waterproof treatment has them smelling like daisies and ready to rock.
I use the Nikwax Fabric and Leather and Waterproofer.
Waterproof the Wet Stuff
My last hike of winter saw me in my wet weather gear for three days straight, and I started to notice it wetting through a little. Add some mud, sweat, and a little bit of cuff snot… (c’mon, we all do it, no one carries tissues on a wet trail, do they?!) and it was time for a revamp.
Pants, jacket, and gaiters, all cleaned with wash designed specifically for technical fabrics, a spray with some waterproofing, and then either a warm tumble dry or iron (depending on manufacturer’s instructions – very important to follow!)
My hope is I won’t be needing these guys much in the coming season, but when I do next pull them out, they’ll be just like new.
It’s Time to Get Down with Down
Something about washing down makes me nervous.
Maybe it’s the way it gets all sad and clumpy and gives you the impression it will never recover from the unsanctimonious drowning you’ve just subjected it to, before finally bursting into a fluffy cloud of goodness with one shake once it’s dried off and forgiven you. Anyway, it’s a job I tend to avoid and one that is much easier to face when I’m riding the spring clean wave.
Armed with down-specific detergent, those crazy little juggling balls, and a gently-gently approach to washing and tumble drying, it’s definitely worth the mental trauma for a fresh puffy sleeping bag.
Restock the First Aid Kit
I’m a firm believer in a well-stocked first aid kit. I’d like to think that most ouches and even some major injuries could be catered for with the items I carry.
Fortunately, for the most part the only things that tend to get used are the odd Band-Aid, a paracetamol or two, or a bit of anti-inflammatory gel on the days my knees decide to act like they belong to a little old lady.
I don’t always remember to replace one or two small items after every hike so now is the time to make sure it’s fully stocked like the miniature emergency ward I intend it to be. Don’t want to DIY, there are plenty of pre-packaged First Aid kits out there too.
The ‘box’ could also be the cupboard, the shed, under the bed, the boot of your car, wherever it is that you keep your gear.
For me, it’s a relatively large box, and it contains all my smaller bibs and bobs. Think kitchen utensils, dry sacks, gas canisters, head torches etc. And it’s a right mess. Before each hike I scratch through it like a determined tabby in a litter box, pulling out what I need, and at the end of the hike I open the lid, toss it all back in, and walk away.
So now’s the time to tidy the box, and in the process do some culling if need be. Often, I’ll find gear I have upgraded or changed, and the old version is sitting at the bottom of the box, unused. Welcome to Facebook Marketplace my little (or not so little, hence the reason I upgraded) friend. This is also the time to do any repairs on items which may be damaged, and therefore also not getting much airtime out of ‘the box’.
How Good Does That Feel!
So, there you have it. The only thing better than new gear, is freshly cleaned and organised gear.
For bonus points, set your tent up on the deck in the Spring sunshine and let the warm breeze gently usher the pong of wet winter socks out of the fly and far away. Warmer days are on the way, and you and your gear are ‘living your fresh life’, ready to take it all on!