With winter looming, we hope, it’s time to stow away those summer only bits of kit safely for the winter as well as catching up with those repair jobs ready for the spring. Here are some hints and tips to keep your kit at their best over the winter months.
1 – Sleeping Bags – You’ll probably be storing your summer bag away, or perhaps just don’t bother camping in the winter. If your bag’s down, you’ll need to store it in a particular way. Even though you get teensy little compression sacs with some brands, you can’t store the bag in these for the long term even if you do save on storage space. This compresses the down and generally reduces the effectiveness of the down over time as it loses it’s loft. The loft – basically how fluffy the down is, will affect how warm the bag is – as the more loft, the more air’s trapped and you’re better insulated.
Instead, you should pack it in a large loose bag, which some of the better manufacturers provide. If you don’t have one of these, then you can either store it in a spare rucsac or a duvet cover. Just make sure you don’t compress the down.
Keeping the bag clean also helps, so if you’re brave you can try and clean and proof your own down bag (at your own risk!!) or send it off to the professionals.
2 – Tents. Ensure that you properly dry your tents out after every use. You can’t be too careful with this step! Store them damp and you’ll have a musty tent that’s unpleasant to sleep in! Use this down time to proof the tent in the garden (if you get the right weather) and repair any damage ready for spring. Check your guy lines and count your pegs, even wax your zips if they don’t close freely. You won’t have time once that narrow window of opportunity appears for that early spring wild camp!
3 – Waterproofs. Get those lightweight summer ‘proofs proofed, dried and stored ready for action in the spring. Nikwax Techwash and some TX Direct proofer should do the trick. We’ve got a how to guide on proofing Paramo waterproofs posted already, other fabrics can be washed in a similar fashion. Just make sure you read the labels on the jacket and proofer!
4 – Boots. Get them dry, sort them laces out, make sure they’re proofed and waxed. We’ve already posted some in-depth articles on proofing fabric boots and proofing leather boots as well as how to give your boots the once over ready for winter.
5 – Storing the lot – Once everything’s up to scratch, you need to find somewhere suitable to store them. Forget shoving them in the attic or shed, and ensure you keep them somewhere dry and free of damp. I store all my unused kit in the wardrobe as I know they won’t get damp and even if it did become damp, I’d spot it quickly enough as I’m in there daily. If you store in the shed / garage then it may be dry to start with, but you probably won’t notice any damage until the spring.
I also keep kit in the office in stackable storage boxes – including tents, clothing and sleeping bags on occasion. You can add some large bags of silica gel in there if you’re at all worried.
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