This is the perfect time to get your backpacking gear ready for spring and summer. The gentle warmth of coming spring is turning snowy ground to muddy muck. Hiking in mud is no fun. Take the next couple of weeks to clean off the dirt, do the maintenance, and apply new waterproofing. All your backpacking gear (purchase through thepnw.co) needs tender loving care.
Start with your boots. Take out the laces and check them for wear, replace them if needed (laces are cheap). Use a soft brush to remove the dried mud and loose dirt especially where the sole meets the upper and under the boot tongue. Is it time to treat your feet to a new pair of insoles? Wipe out the inside with a soft damp cloth. Waterproof your boots with the proper agent. Mink oil keeps leather boots supple and keeps water from soaking in. Spray on waterproofing works well on man-made fabrics.
Keep the spray-on waterproofing handy for the outside of your backpack. Use that soft brush again to clean off any loose dirt first. Check the zippers, make sure they work smoothly. Vacuum loose debris out of the main compartment and pockets. Make sure all the straps are in place and the buckles lock firmly. This is a great time to decide which type of pack is right for you – http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/290099/choosing_the_right_backpack_internal.html.
Trek poles are like extra legs so they need attention. Here is where to find good information for maintaining and getting the most use out of them – http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/292786/trek_poles_essential_gear_for_backpacking.html.
Hydration is important when you are on the trail. Take the water bladder out of the freezer (You have been keeping in the freezer? Freezing it makes sure no nasty mildew grows in it.) and give it a good washing out. Check that the hose and mouthpiece are in good shape. There is a filter in the water pump. It is going to need replacing if the pump is getting harder to work or the filter is coated in black goo. Examine the pump handle for cracks. Days away from civilization is not when you want it to break off. The intake and filler hoses need to be checked for kinks or splits.
Take the camp stove apart and give it a good cleaning. Screw on a fuel canister and listen for gas escaping around the seal. Fire it up to ensure there is flame around the burner. How much fuel is left from last year? Give the camp pots and utensils a good scrubbing.
Set up the tent. You will know if any poles or tie-downs are missing and if any need replacing. Count the tent pegs. More zippers to check. Examine the seams for potential splits and reseal them if needed. Look for tears in the bug screen on the windows. Vacuum out any dirt on the floor.
At the end of the hike you will be ready to rest so make certain your sleeping bag and ground pad are ready. Sweat and dirt not only make your sleeping bag smell funky they also reduce its thermal efficiency. Follow the manufacturers washing instructions. Blow up your ground pad, stand it up in the shower and gently wash it with liquid soap. Not only will it get clean but you can check for leaks, watch for bubbles. Use the patch kit that came with it to repair any holes.
All your expensive gear will last longer with regular maintenance. When its time for that first warm weather backpacking trip you will not have to waste time getting ready. The boots will get you where you want to go, your pack will carry the necessities, the tent will shield you from the elements, trek poles will ease your burden, water and food will taste good, and your bed will smell fresh and keep you warm.