How To: Breathe Life Into Old Gear

// by: MWO

Investing in good gear and properly maintaining it will ensure that it performs for many years to come. After hard use, most equipment will require simple care in order to revitalize it. If you’ve got some old and well-used gear that you’re looking to breathe life back into, here are some straightforward tips to follow:

Hiking Boots:

Remember to clean your boots after each hike by either brushing or wiping the dirt off. Why? Particles of dirt, grit or sand grind deeper into a boot’s leather or fabric upper as you move and can wear away like sandpaper, reducing the life of the boot. In leather boots, mud will extract moisture as it dries, accelerating the aging of the boot.

  • When water no longer beads off a boot’s surface and instead absorbs into the exterior layer, it’s likely time to use a waterproofing treatment. The frequency of use depends on how hard you use your boots. In our wet climate, it’s not uncommon for rigorous hikers to apply waterproofing several times annually.
  • Boot treatments we recommend:
    • Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather $11.99
    • Nikwax Fabric and Leather Proof Spray $14.50
    • Moneysworth and Best Snowguard Wax $7.99

Waterproof Rain Apparel:

Many factors – dirt, body oils, abrasion and repeated laundering, will cause DWRs (durable water repellency) to diminish in performance.
  • If water sits on your garment’s exterior causing that section to darken, water is wetting the fabric by making way to the fibers. Your first step is to clean the rainwear with a detergent designed for waterproof fabrics. In most cases a simple wash will restore the DWR properties by removing dirt and oils. Next, put the garment in the dryer on low or medium heat for up to 15 minutes to finish the process.
    • eVent discourages the use of dryers and instead advocates hang drying.
  • Detergent we recommend:
    • Nixwax TechWash $12.50
  • If the previous steps aren’t enough to revitalize the fabric, applying a new DWR coating is your next step. This can be done via a wash-in or spray-on product.
    • Nixwax TX Direct Wash-In $17.99
    • Nixwax TX Direct Spray-On $19.99

Cleaning a Tent:

To spot clean a tent, gently scrub soiled areas using a non-abrasive sponge with cold water and a non-detergent soap (Nixwax TechWash). Rinse thoroughly and set up in a shady spot to air dry completely.
  • Avoid use of all household cleaners as their perfumed scent will attract bugs and other critters. The soaps will also clog the DWR coating.
  • Machine washing is not an option. It can stretch and snag the tent and in some cases even rip the seams. Over agitation can also wear out the waterproof coating. Machine dryers can melt or distort the materials and therefore should also be avoided.
  • Rainflys and footprints may need to be re-waterproofed if you notice they become saturated with moisture (see Waterproof Apparel). Both wash-in and spray-on products will work for this.
  • Extended exposure to UV light from the sun can also gradually breakdown the membrane of the tent. As an additional treatment we recommend:
    • Nixwax Tent and Gear Solarproof $23.99