Getting in gear for spring

Warmer temperatures are just weeks away. Spring is almost here. It is time to pull the outdoor gear from storage and make sure that it is ready for this year’s adventures. Inspecting outdoor gear brings spring fever to a whole new level, but is so worth it.

Backpacks: Take time to wipe last year’s trail dust off of your backpack with a damp cloth, and let it dry completely. Empty your backpack and examine every seam, strap, and zipper.

Small problems can turn into larger problems if not addressed.

Carrying a forty-pound pack on one shoulder for five miles because of a shoulder strap failure can be miserable.

Tents: Set up your tent outdoors and let it air out by opening all windows and entrances. If the tent is freestanding, lift the tent over your head and shake out all twigs, pebbles and trash. Wipe down the tent inside and out with a damp cloth. Check the seams and zipper for problems and look for tears in the tent material. Inspect the tent poles for damage, including weakening tension cords.

Sleeping Bags: If you have kept your sleeping bag in its stuff-sack all winter, remove it and do not return it until the day before your next outing. Sleeping bags should never be stored for long periods in a stuff or compression sack because the fill fibers can be damaged, reducing their ability to insulate. Unzip your sleeping bag and check seams, zippers, and lining for any problems. Hang the sleeping bag on a hanger in your closet or place it loosely into a very large laundry bag.

Stoves: Take the stove outdoors and fire it up. Clean carbon deposits from your stove jets and check any seals for cracking. Cook up a new trail recipe or an old favorite. Develop confidence in your stove. No one likes to fight with a backpacking stove when they are hungry and it is getting dark outside.

Water Filters: Check the seals for cracks and replace them if necessary. Lubricate the seals with the silicon gel provided by the manufacturer. Replace carbon granules if necessary. Pump a bleach solution through your filter and let it dry completely.

If you find any damage to your outdoor gear, take the time and money to get it repaired now. If you don’t, you will regret it when you are in the middle of your outdoor adventure and your gear fails. Local companies like Out-N-Back can repair most gear for a nominal cost. Remember to follow manufacturer recommendations in any inspection and maintenance of your gear, especially where those items are covered by a warranty.

If you are good with your hands, visit Backpacker Magazine’s detailed online fix-it guide at

Bring it on spring. We’re ready.

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