Spring Hiking Checklist
Get Your Gear Ready For The Trail!
The Spring season is here, which means it's time to dust off your warm weather hiking gear. Hiking trails are opening up from melting snow, and many of us are getting ready for weekends of trail time in the sun.
Through the winter you may have been keeping up on staying fit for hiking, but have you sat down and gone through your gear to make sure it's ready for the season? This is actually a really important part of making sure you're properly prepared for your day hikes, weekend backpacking trips, or even a longer distance thru hike you may have planned. So we've put together a short check list of things to do with your gear to make sure you're prepared for the Spring and Summer seasons!
CLEAN YOUR GEAR:
It's likely at the end of the fall season you dumped your gear into a storage bin after your last trip and it's sat there through the winter covered in dirt and mud and needs a good cleaning. Outdoor gear sometimes can be tricky to clean or we are hesitant to clean our gear because we are worried about ruining it. But in a lot of cases, some simple cleaning approaches will help refresh your gear that will help it perform better.
Here are some of the key items to clean and wash to have them ready for the season.
BACKPACK - Give your backpack a soak in a bathtub with a mild detergent and a really good rinse. Hang dry your pack, do not put into a dryer, as the heat from a dryer can damage technical fabrics and foam in hip belts/shoulder straps.
SLEEPING BAG/QUILT - After a full year of use with your sleeping bag, your body oils and dirt have embedded into the fabric and insulation which affects the loft of down and synthetic insulations. A good wash will revive the loft of your bag and allow it to perform like new. We suggest using NikWax products and a front loading washing machine or bathtub based on manufacturer recommendations to wash your sleeping bag/quilt.
OUTERWEAR - Similar to your sleeping bag, outerwear like your puffy jacket, rain jacket, mid layer, etc likely need a good wash. Washing your down/synthetic puffy will remove oils and dirt and revive the loft of your jacket. With your rain jacket, DWR finishes will wear out over time and become less effective. Refreshing your rain gear with a spray on or wash in DWR refresh will ensure that your rain gear is ready for the trail.
RESTOCK/REFRESH YOUR FIRST AID KIT:
It's important to take the time to go through your first aid kit to make sure everything is restocked and ready for the season. Throw away any trash from bandaid wrappers, balled up tape, etc and replace necessary items with new ones. Go through any medications in your kit and make sure they are not expired. An organized, clean and well stocked first aid kit will make a big difference in handling first aid needs when those situations happen while out hiking.
TREAT NECESSARY GEAR WITH BUG REPELLANT:
A common concern for early season hiking is the presence of ticks and chiggers. Treating your clothing with a permethrin spray, like what you can get from Sawyer Products will help ward off tick and chigger bites and other bugs.
PREP YOUR WATER FILTER:
The most common filter style on the trail is a hollow fiber filter. As these sit in storage through the winter the fibers will dry up and have minerals from the water attach to the fibers. You will want to follow the manufacturer recommendations for proper long term storage of your filter, and for how to properly refresh your filter for the season.
Typically this includes a really good back flush to remove sediment and such from the filter. Then soaking the filter in a warm distilled water/vinegar bath will help loosen up hard water build up and refresh the fibers inside. A good back flush to clean out the vinegar and your filter should be good to go.
SORT GEAR TO CHECK FOR DAMAGE AND MAKE REPAIRS:
Lastly, we suggest pulling out all your gear and laying it out to inspect each piece of gear for damage. Nothing is more frustrating than starting the first hike of the season to find out your trekking pole is broken, or your sleeping pad developed a leak, or you've got a rip in a jacket, or your backpack needs some attention. Take the time to go through each piece of gear, inspect it and repair as necessary. If a repair isn't an option, then look to replace the item with something new.
We hope this helps you get prepared for a new season of day hiking, weekend backpacking, and long distance hiking!