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Caring for Your Gear
Ask Baz

Caring for Your Gear

Here at Sea to Summit, we believe that gear should be reliable, functional and made to last. We use the best available materials and thoughtfully put them together so that they will serve you for years and years of adventure.

However, even the best-made gear will have a shorter lifespan if it isn’t properly taken care of. This blog post focuses on what on what you can do to keep your gear working as well as possible for as long as possible.

Keeping your gear clean

Dry Bags/Stuff Sacks:

  • Most dirt can be removed from dry sacks and stuff sacks by simply hosing them out.
  • If you have more persistent stains, wash the dry sacks/stuff sacks/compression sacks by hand in Wilderness Wash, rinse them thoroughly and air-dry them.
  • Washing removes fine-grain sand (which works like sandpaper between the fibers) and prevents oily stains from soaking through face fabrics and causing coatings to delaminate.
  • Do not put dry sacks with tape-sealed seams in a dryer: temperatures above 140°F / 60°C will cause the tape to delaminate. Bear in mind that the thermostats of laundromat dryers are notoriously vague and inexact. Air-drying takes away the risk.
  • Clean bags/sacks are less likely to attract rodents and other critters that will eat holes in them.

Liners:

Clean liners smell better. Simple, right? They also wick moisture better if you keep them free of body oils and dirt. We have a separate post about choosing and caring for the right liner here.

Towels:

Clean towels smell better, too. So will you when you use them.

  • Sea to Summit’s microfiber towels can be washed in a washing machine – but they should be washed separately for the first couple of washes to avoid color bleeding onto other items.
  • Avoid fabric softeners in the wash cycle – they will significantly reduce the absorbency of the towel.
  • Air dry before packing the towel away - there's no need to use an electric dryer. If you should dry your towel in a dryer, do not use dryer 'sheets' 

Aeros Pillows:

We've made them as compact and as comfortable as possible; keeping them clean is down to you. We felt this was worth a separate post - CLICK HERE to find out how to hand-wash each of the pillows in our lineup. 

Sleeping Bags:

If you use a liner, you won’t have to wash your sleeping bag very often. When you do wash it, there are some important guidelines you should adhere to which you can find HERE.

When your bag is clean, see ‘store it dry’ below.

What to do with ‘organic’ stains:

If your gear becomes stained with organic material (including food and body oils/sweat) it is worth neutralizing the odor with Grangers Odour Eliminator to prevent the gear from becoming attractive to small critters who may eat holes in it.

Know which tableware/cookware can be washed in a dishwasher:

Anodized finishes will be damaged by the caustic cleanser used in dishwashers (incorrectly referred to as dishwasher 'soap'). Do not wash the following items in a dishwasher - not even once: X-Pots, Alpha Pots, Sigma Pots, Alpha Cutlery, Alpha Light Cutlery.

Beyond keeping your gear clean, here are some tips for making it last longer: 

Keep it out of harm’s way:

Anything with a coating should be kept as far away from solvents as possible. Solvents? Yes, solvents. Just take a look at this list:

  • DEET from bug spray will destroy polyurethane coatings, seam tape, elasticized drawcords and some other hardware.
  • Gasoline/mineral oil will delaminate coatings and remove water-repellent finishes.
  • Alcohol (the kind found in spray sunscreen and in iodine water treatments) is also bad for coatings and seam tape.
  • Even solvent-based permanent markers can cause fabrics to delaminate. (It is best to write on the black hypalon strip of a dry sack with a white or silver marker.)
  • Bleach (which isn’t a solvent) will cause PU coatings to peel off and pliable fabrics to go crunchy.

Avoid excessive exposure to the sun:

The sun’s ultraviolet light weakens fabrics: the lighter the fabric, the more pronounced the effect. Keeping your gear out of the sunlight whenever possible will make it last longer. Give some thought to this when:

  • Stowing dry sacks on your kayak or raft
  • Pitching your Escapist Tarp.

Store it dry

If you put the gear away when it is wet or even slightly damp, it will develop mold and mildew. This not only makes for smelly equipment, it also weakens seams and fabrics.

  • If you have washed a sleeping bag, dry it until you are sure that there’s no more dampness deep inside the down (then store it in a dry place in an uncompressed state).
  • Sleeping mats and pillows should be stored unrolled with the valve(s) open. If you store a sleeping mat or pillow rolled tightly with the valve closed, any internal condensation may damage the laminate/bladder material.
  • 'Store in a dry place' should not include sealed containers (such as totes with lids) - the lack of air circulation means that any moisture in the air remains in contact with stored gear. This will negatively affect urethane-coated products in particular a process called hydrolysis.

Lubricate zippers

You don’t like sand in your teeth, and neither do the zippers on your gear. If you camp in desert/beach conditions, clean the teeth of your shelter/sleeping bag (a toothbrush is good for this), then spray them with pure (food grade) silicone spray, or use a zipper lubricant (sold at good outdoor stores).

Spare parts & repairs

Need a cord lock for your stuff sack? A patch for your pack cover? A spring clip for your Pocket Trowel? Some other item? Let us know via this blog – we keep an extensive stock of spare parts to keep your gear working. 

Don’t throw away that dry sack or pack cover just because that pesky rodent at your last campsite chewed a hole in it. With our tips about repairing tears and holes in coated fabrics, your gear can see you through many more trips.

Know the limitations of the materials

Certain fabrics have – for instance – a higher tear strength/abrasion resistance than others. Caring for your gear also involves being aware of the kinds of environment the product or material was designed for and using it appropriately. If you are unsure – Ask Baz.

10 thoughts on “Caring for Your Gear

  1. avatar Baz says:

    G’Day Steve – thanks for reaching out to us. Depending on what burned to cause the soot, it may have a fairly high oil/tar content as well as carbon. To draw out the oiliness from the fabric, sprinkle baking soda on the stain and leave it for 24 hours or so. Then wipe the stain down using a non-detergent soap (such as Wilderness Wash) in a much higher concentration than you would normally use for washing. Finally, rinse the mat fabric thoroughly. If the stains persist, email us at info@seatosummit.com and send us images of the stains – we’ll be happy to assist you further

    Cheers

    The Sea to Summit team

  2. avatar Steve says:

    Dear staff, I inadvertently got some soot stains inside my tent which have subsequently transferred to my ultralight insulated mat. What would the be best way to clean this stubborn stain so it doesn’t go on my spark 2 sleeping bag. Cheers

  3. avatar Baz says:

    G’Day Joseph. We keep stuff sacks for our pillows as a spare part. Please email info@seatosummit.com with images of the pillows and let us know the name and location of the retailer where the pillows were purchased and the date of purchase. Please include a copy of your receipt or order confirmation. We will be happy to assist you.

    Cheers

    The Sea to Summit team

  4. avatar Joseph Hensley says:

    I have two lime Aeros regular pillows that I have misplaced the sil-nylon stuff sacks for. Do you offer replacement stuff sacks for these? Thanks.

  5. avatar Baz says:

    G’Day Lauren

    Sorry to learn that your Comfort Light Mat has sustained some damage. The best way to repair a tear (particularly on a seam) is to use Gear Aid Seam Grip, which is a liquid urethane compound. It’s a little messy, but used correctly, it will create a permanent repair for both air mats and self-inflating mats.
    To clean your mat prior to repair, use isopropyl alcohol (often sold as ‘rubbing alcohol’). This will remove dirt and tape adhesive residue, but will evaporate completely.
    If you would like more details on repairing your mat, please write to us at info@seatosummit.com

    Cheers

    The Sea to Summit Team

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