Adventure How To: The Basics of Outdoor Gear Maintenance

Please raise your hand if you’ve ever wondered how to keep all your outdoor gear clean and in top condition? You’re in the right place because I am about to share my top tips for Outdoor Gear Maintenance!

When you store your hiking boots for the winter only to pull them out in the spring, you’re hit with the remnants of that last muddy fall hike, and you feel guilty for not giving them the cleaning they deserve. It’s daunting enough to maintain your regular laundry – never mind technical layers, back packs, boots and sleeping bags!

Well, here’s good news: outdoor gear maintenance doesn’t have to be that daunting. With the right types of cleaners and waterproofing products at your disposal, you can easily keep your outdoor gear clean and ready for adventure!

And let’s not forget how much you have spent on all this gear too. With a little regular washing and maintenance, you will ensure you get the bang for your buck!

In this post, I will share with you my top tips for outdoor gear maintenance including my favourite cleaners and other products, the regular maintenance I do on my gear and offer my tips for storing it all. When we’re done you’ll know the basics of how to maintain and store your gear. Ready? Let’s dive in.

Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below, for which commissions are paid, but these are all products I highly recommend. I won’t put anything on this page that I haven’t verified and/or personally used.

Outdoor Gear Maintenance Tip #1: Use the Proper Cleaners

Outdoor gear cannot be treated the same as your regular laundry. This is because of the materials used (inside and out), the treatments on those materials (ex. waterproofing), and sometimes they just don’t fit in the washing machine!

My lineup of cleaners is from Nikwax because it works and is available locally at Ski World and Sportcheck.

Outdoor Gear Maintenance

Nikwax Cleaners

My top 3 Cleaners I keep on Hand are;

  1. Tech Wash – for waterproof, breathable technical layers (ex. rain gear made of Gore Tex, eVent
    etc.). It cleans very well but also revitalizes the fabrics breathability and maintains the water repellency.
  2. Base Wash – this gets the SINK out of base layers and gym clothing as well as revitalizes the wicking properties of these types of clothes.
  3. Down Wash – down filled gear (jackets, sleeping bags, booties etc.) requires this special cleaner so the feathers don’t stick together (which reduces the items warmth).

Outdoor Gear Maintenance Tip #2 : Use Quality Products to Enhance your Gears Life

Once you have washed your gear, there are many other products out there worth considering to enhance the items breathability, waterproofness, warmth, exposure to UV, and on and on.

For me, I like to keep it simple.

  • I re-waterproof my hiking boots and rain gear twice a year; in the spring and in the fall.
  • I solar proof my tent fly each spring.

And that’s it. Again I am a dedicated Nikwax user so my additional products on hand are;

  1. Tent & Gear SolarProof – this adds water repellence while increasing the fabrics strength and protecting it from UV which causes fabrics deterioration. Great for my tent fly!
  2. TX Direct Wash in Waterproofing – this totally re-waterproofs my rain gear!
  3. Waterproofing Wax for Leather and Nubuck & Suede Proof – these are my 2 go to boot water proofing products for my hiking boots and winter boots.
Outdoor Gear Maintenance

Waterproofing Wax for Leather and Nubuck & Suede Proof

Outdoor Gear Maintenance

Nikwax Solar Proof Spray

Outdoor Gear Maintenance

Nikwax Waterproofing for Raingear





 Outdoor Gear Maintenance Tip #3: Regular Maintenance and Care is the Key!

  • Inspect gear before and after using it to check for any damage. If you notice a piece of gear is not preforming as it should, find out why and fix it immediately. The longer you wait the bigger the problem gets and this could end up costing you more hard earned dollars if repair or replacement is required.
  • Wash it regularly. Annual or bi-annual washing and waterproofing is usually enough but sometimes more is needed. Don’t let mud and dirt sit on your fabrics as the grains can damage the fibres over time.
  • Let everything DRY thoroughly after it has been wet! This sounds like a no brainer, but we’ve all done it. Came home from a hard hike, tried and cold only to leave everything in a wet pile on the floor – SO BAD! Hang everything up as you take it off and allow for lots of air flow. If items are left wet or even damp for long periods of time, they can develop mildew and the waterproof layers/seam taping can begin to peel.

Outdoor Gear Maintenance Tip #4: Storing Gear

My top two storage solutions for gear are hooks and rubber maid bins!

Outdoor Gear Maintenance

Hang Packs

Outdoor Gear Maintenance

Rubbermaid bins store smaller items.

Outdoor Gear Maintenance

Hang Sleeping Bags

Items I keep in Rubber Maids;

  • Stuff Sacks
  • Stove
  • Pair Kits
  • Camp Kitchen Items
  • Tarps and rope
  • Travel towels
  • First Aid Kit Items

Now, when you’re ready, you can begin to stock up on cleaners and other products as needed and start developing good gear maintenance habits. And you know what the best part is? Your gear will preform better, look better longer, and you will save time and money by not having to replace gear as frequently.

Have some gear maintenance tips to share? Have question about something you read here? Leave a comment below!

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