Off-Season Gear Maintenance, Part One
Kevin Wilkey | KUIU Marketing Development Director
THE OFF-SEASON IS SHORT
With a short offseason, the gear we trust our lives with doesn’t get much of a break. This is the time to clean, maintain, and properly store your hunting gear and equipment so it’s ready for your next adventure. Spring hunts, shed hunting season, preseason scouting, and fall hunts are right around the corner. And as the adage goes, take good care of your equipment and it will take care of you.
From packs to apparel, read on to get expert tips on cleaning, maintaining, and storing your hunting gear.
We know that when it comes to off-season gear maintenance, the list can almost be endless. That’s why we broke down our tried and true tips into a 2-part blog series. This article covers how to care for your KUIU gear. Part 2 will cover how to properly clean and store your rifle, ammo, archery gear and optics.
APPAREL - MATERIAL SPECIFIC CLEANING TECHNIQUES
DOWN: After every trip I put down garments in a dryer with tennis balls to loft, redistribute down, and dry out any residual moisture. It’s best to hang your down apparel in a dry place. For specific washing instructions, see the care label and use Grangers Down Wash, it’s the ticket for cleaning KUIU Super Down products. It’s designed to gently clean all natural and synthetic down-filled items without damaging or inhibiting their insulating or hydrophobic properties.
MERINO: It’s best to store your ULTRA Merino garments folded in a tote or drawer with cedar balls to eliminate moth damage. As always, wash your Merino garments on gentle, use Grangers Merino Wash and lay flat to dry.
SYNTHETIC: Garments made of Primeflex synthetic materials like our Guide Jacket, Attack Pants, Peloton base layers don’t require gentle loving care. Wash them with Grangers Clothing Wash + Repel and they’ll continue to take a beating.
RAIN GEAR: If my rain gear has become soiled, I’ll run it through a gentle wash cycle on warm. I’ll either hang dry, or dry on medium to low heat. Once dry, I apply a DWR (Durable Water Repellent). DWR keeps the face fabric from wetting out so the waterproof membrane will remain breathable. It also enhances how quickly your rain gear will dry out after a storm. DWR should be reapplied if water does not bead up and roll off the fabric. This Grangers Clothing Care Kit comes with everything you need to wash and retreat your waterproof hunting rain gear. When not in use, it’s best to hang your rain gear in a cool and dry place.
APPAREL - NEUTRALIZE ODOR & BACTERIA
Once all your gear is clean, take it to the next level and completely remove all scent and bacteria with a commercial grade Ozone deodorizer machine. I learned this tip from our friend, Allen Bolen with Bolen & Lewis Outfitting. He stores his hunting apparel and gear in a dedicated air-tight armoire or closet. With his gear hung up and the ozone unit inside the closet, he’ll run it for a cycle, 100% eliminating all scent and bacteria. Before he takes off on a hunt, he’ll run it for another cycle ensuring his gear is scent free before loading his pack.
This method also eliminates the need for an additional wash cycle after taking your clothes out of storage, improving the life span on your gear.
These are the same units that hotels use to clear out the smell in a room after it had been partied in too hard. And, auto retailers use them to eliminate tobacco smell in used cars. You can pick one up off Amazon for under $100.
BACKPACKS: Our packs are easy to care for, regardless, washing your pack often will reduce scent and noise. At the end of the season, I’ll empty my pack and dump out all the leaves, sticks, seeds, and dirt that have accumulated over the hunt. It’s usually looking filthy and bloodstained, so I’ll completely disassemble the pack and wash the suspension and bag in a washing machine on cold, gentle cycle, with a mild detergent like our Grangers Clothing Wash + Repel. I’ll hang dry the pack to avoid any unnecessary wear-and-tear.
Pre-treating any blood stains with hydrogen peroxide will help with a thorough cleaning. My game bags usually go in the wash with the pack after a successful hunt. It’s also a good idea to wrap all the hook and loop patches (also known as Velcro) with a rubber band to keep it from snagging on the shoulder strap’s spacer mesh.
GEAR BAGS: Our TAKU gear bags don’t ask for much. All mine get are a squirt with the garden hose and hang dry. Though, I will use the TAKU bag to store my equipment in.
SLEEPING BAG: After every trip, I put my sleeping bag in the dryer with tennis balls to loft, redistribute down, and dry out any residual moisture. I try to not wash my sleeping bag too often, only when it absolutely needs it. When I do, I follow the care instructions and use the Grangers Down Wash. It’s designed to gently clean all natural and synthetic down-filled items without damaging or inhibiting their insulating or hydrophobic properties. Store your bag hanging up. Do not store it in the stuff sack until you’re ready to hit the trail.
SLEEPING PAD AND AIR PILLOW : Every time you blow up your air mattress or air pillow, you’re adding moisture inside. Before storage, blow up the pad at home with a pump and let stand long enough for built up internal moisture to evaporate into air. This will keep mold from forming in your sleeping pad.
TENT: If your tent was put away wet, set it up to dry as soon as possible. For off season storage, remove tents from stuff sacks, dry, and store gently folded. This will improve lifespan of fabric. Plastic totes are a perfect place to store your tent when it’s not in use.
BOOTS: I typically get new boots every season, if it so happens I don’t wear a pair out, I’ll clean them thoroughly, replace laces, insoles, and reapply DWR (Durable Water Resistant). I reapply DWR often, this makes water bead up and roll off. If you’re hunting in wet weather and the DWR is compromised, your boots will typically remain waterproof, however, if the outside fabrics and leather are saturated, breathability is restricted.
GAITERS: Gaiters see a lot of action against rock, stone, and brush—normal wear-and-tear on gaiters is expected. Like my boots, I replace them as they wear out. While they’re serviceable, I’ll wash them with the hook and loop patches contacted together to prevent snagging on other gear in the wash. I’ll reapply DWR to keep them dry and breathable in wet conditions.
HYDRATION SYSTEM: I learned this tip from KUIU’s Shaun Ayers. After every outing, I’ll drain and rinse my hydration system and I’ll store it in my freezer. Since they’re difficult to get completely dry, especially inside the hose, this keeps mold and bacterial from growing.
Electronics like GPS, InReach, headlamp, radios, and Power Bank are simple to care for—store in a cool dry place and remove the batteries if possible. Failure to remove batteries from your electronics may cause corrosion and permanent damage.
Stay tuned for part 2 where I go over how to properly clean and store your rifle, ammo, archery gear, and optics.