What do you do with all of your hunting gear when you get back from a long trip? Do you throw it all in the corner somewhere until you’re ready to deal with it or do you spend the time to properly clean and maintain every piece of gear you have?
Here’s a short checklist of things you should be doing to make sure your backpack hunting gear stays clean and free of mold and stanky smells.
Care of your Tent:
- Always remove your tent from it’s storage bag and let it air dry for several days before storage. Even the tiniest bit of moisture in your tent, when rolled up and compacted into a stuff sack can compound into a tent destroying mold problem. Don’t let it happen to you.
- Shake out all the dirt/leaves/sand whatever you may have trekked into your tent along your journey needs to come out. We generally each take a corner of the tent and just shake it all out the front door.
- Always go over the exterior stitching before/after any trip and be sure to seal with your tents recommended sealant. Water intrusion will usually occur at stitching points for guy lines, tent seams, etc… If they are not sealed properly.
- If your tent needs to be cleaned follow the manufacturers instructions. Many outer shell fabrics start to lose their efficiency as they get dirty and some need to be carefully cleaned to keep their performance.
- If your tent smells, or has any mildew odors, I have found a product called MiraZyme by McNett that is an enzyme based odor fighter/mildew killer. It works really well, and it’s cheap.
Care of your Sleeping Bag:
- Do not store your sleeping bag compressed in it’s stuff sack while in storage, especially with a down bag as it can effect the sleeping bags lofting capabilities. Most sleeping bags when purchased new, come with a stuff sack for your backpacking trips and a storage sack, to store the sleeping bag in at your home. Allowing your sleeping bag to “breath” will ensure you have a nice fresh smelling sleeping bag for every time.
- After every trip I like to unzip my sleeping bag completely and let it air dry outside on the clothesline for a day or two (bringing it in at night) This greatly helps remove any smells associated with sweat from your days hiking and farting in your sleeping bag (2 or 3 days of mountain house meals you’ll know what I am talking about!)
- If you want to wash your sleeping bag just make sure you do as the manufacturer recommends or risk damaging/destroying your investment.
Care Of Your Hunting Pack:
- If you are packing out an animal try to avoid getting your pack fabric soaked in blood. If you have game bags, pillow clothes, even garbage bags as a temporary solution to store your meat/cape do so. The stench from a blood stained pack can be overpowering if it’s left too long without cleaning.
- Warm water and a medium bristled brush will take care of most of the ordinary stains from everyday use. I do this in the bathtub and it works well.
Care Of Your Hunting Boots:
- Keep your boots clean. After every trip I come home, and wash my boots, that means taking out the laces, and scrubbing with a soft toothbrush all the loose dirt/buildup on the boots, this is especially important on the rubber rand of your boots, as well as in all the seams or anywhere dirt/sand can collect.
- Once your boots are clean you need to treat them with something to keep your leather waterproof and conditioned for use in the field. I recommend Obenhaufs Heavy Duty LP. It’s a natural product, smells good, doesn’t harm your leather and it works really well.
- If your rubber rand is peeling or separating on your boots you can use some McNett Seam Grip to seal them up so that intruding dirt/sand cannot make the problem worse and you won’t get any water seepage.
It takes me nearly a full day, to clean and maintain all of my gear after an extended backpacking trip, and it’s safe insurance that your expensive gear investments don’t wear out prematurely.