Caring for Your Outdoor Gear Part 2: Boots, Bags and Pots

Last month we welcomed spring by taking a look at ways to restore your key camping paraphernalia should it emerge from its winter storage looking not quite its best. Our two-part series started with tips on how to revive and re-waterproof a mould-ridden tent and, as promised, this time around we are going to move our focus on to other very important bits of camping kit: your boots, your sleeping bag and your cooking gear.

Hiking Boots

How to clean your camping gearWhen you’re living the outdoors life, you’re either in your hiking boots, or in your sleeping bag. So it stands to reason that both will need to be in tip top shape. When it comes to your boots, the best thing you can do is spend a bit of time giving them a good going over before you put them away at the end of an outing or trip.

Start by taking out the laces and any removable insoles. Get yourself a small, firm brush, perhaps an old toothbrush, and get brushing with some warm water. Once the bulk of the dirt is gone, go again for a deeper clean, this time adding a mild washing up liquid to some clean warm water. Avoid washing liquid or regular hand soap as you’ll find they leave a residue.

Once you’re done you’ll need to make sure the boots are thoroughly dried before storing them away. Avoid putting them in the sun or next to a fire as this can negatively affect the adhesive parts and may also render the leather brittle. You’re actually better off using air, so if you have a fan, stick the boots in front of that. Otherwise, fill the boots with newspaper to absorb the moisture.

Once dry, apply a waterproof coating and then you’re ready to store away somewhere with a consistent temperature.

If after use your boots are giving off a bit of a pong, you’ll want to target the bacteria that are causing it. The best way to do this is to seal each boot in a freezer bag and stick them in the freezer for a couple of days. That will kill the bacteria and remove the odour.

Sleeping Bag

Woman in sleeping bag on the mountainAlways wash your sleeping bag before you stash it away for next time. Most bags are machine washable, so bung it in with some mild washing liquid and choose a delicate cycle. Don’t add any fabric softener or stain removers as these don’t tend to agree with sleeping bag fabric.

You can dry most sleeping bags in a tumble dryer, just be sure to keep the temperature low otherwise you’ll risk melting the synthetic. You’ll also want to avoid the insulation from clumping, so throw in a couple of clean tennis balls and that should do the trick. Otherwise if you don’t use a tumble dryer, simply hang the bag out to dry, but don’t put it in direct sunlight, especially if it’s a particularly hot day.

Never store a sleeping bag that’s not completely dry.

Cooking Gear

Kettle on fire in the forest during hike or trekking in nature. The concept of camp foodIt’s easy to give your cooking stuff a quick going over when you’re out in the field: it’ll do for now! It’s OK day to day, but when you’re at the end of a trip and stashing your gear away, you really should take some time to eliminate any caked-on yuckiness and of course bacteria.

A deep clean of your cooking pots and utensils should start by filling or immersing them in hot water with some washing up liquid, preferably the biodegradable sort and definitely so if you’re doing this outdoors. Once everything’s had a good soak, start scrubbing with a rough sponge. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and leave to dry naturally before storing away.

To avoid any blackened bottoms discolouring other items, wrap each pot in a separate bag.

Time Spent Wisely

It’s all too easy when you return home from a camping or road trip to just throw all your gear in the cupboard, shed or garage. The trouble is, next time you go to haul it all out, you’re going to wish you’d taken the time to give it a good clean and prepare it for your next trip. So take that time – trust us – you’ll seriously appreciate it, especially if it means you won’t have to buy a new tent or sleeping bag because your old ones ended up covered in mould.