From reproofing waterproofs to cleaning boots, here’s how to overhaul your outdoor gear so you’re ready when we can hit the hills again.
Let’s take a guess. You’re bored of lockdown version 3.0. Cabin fever is setting in and you’re longing for the freedom of the mountains. Local walks help a little – a temporary respite from the boredom – but what you really need is a project to get stuck into. Not a virtual hike or staircase challenge (they’re so 2020), but something practical and productive that’ll give you focus.
One solution? Go on a kit-organising spree. Re-proofing waterproofs, alphabetising OS maps and cleaning boots might not sound like the most fun in the world, but because it’s all done with the prospect of a more optimistic future in mind, it can prove surprisingly therapeutic. And, best of all, you’ll be 100% ready for your next adventure when Covid restrictions are finally lifted.
Outdoor kit to-do list: top 10 tasks
1. Wash and re-proof your waterproofs
If you’ve noticed your waterproofs aren’t shedding rain as effectively as they used to, then they need to be re-proofed. Start by washing your garments with a specialist outdoor product clean like Nikwax Tech Wash (don’t use normal detergent), and then re-apply their durable water repellency using the likes of Nikwax TX.Direct Wash-In.
2. Clean your walking footwear
It’s the chore every hillwalker hates, but it needs to be done – dirt can dry out leather, corrode fibres and ruin your shoes and boots’ performance. First wash off caked-on mud with water; next use a cleaning gel for a deep clean; and finally apply a re-proofing product.
3. Make do and mend
Don’t throw away gear due to minor imperfections. Instead get it mended – it’s far better for the environment. Get creative and carry out your own repairs. Or, if you don’t have the skills, brands such as Rab and Alpkit offer professional repair services for sleeping bags, jackets and more.
4. Have a clear-out
Perhaps your wardrobe or garage is over-flowing with piles of old gear. If so, it’s time for a spring clean. Flog surplus items on eBay or the Outdoor Gear Exchange UK page on Facebook, or donate to the Kit Collective (kitcollective.co.uk) – a project encouraging greater diversity in the outdoors.
5. Get stocked up
Avoid the need for last-minute, pre-expedition dashes to Go Outdoors by stocking up on your adventure consumables, such as gas canisters, camping meals and snacks. Why not fill a box with essentials, whether that’s Lucho Dillitos energy blocks, dehydrated meals or packs of Jelly Babies?
6. Find time for those chores that never get done
Unless you’re exceptionally diligent, you probably never get around to these chores – replacing your LifeStraw’s filter, re-charging your spare headtorch, refilling your first aid kit with plasters, or renewing your ViewRanger subscription. But, with lockdown here, there’s no excuse – get it done.
7. Organise your maps and books
Are your OS maps, scrambling guides and Wainwright books scattered higgledy-piggledy across the house? If so, it’s time to get them organised neatly on a bookshelf – you don’t have to alphabetise or categorise them, but imagine how orderly it’d look if you did.
8. Look after your down products
Down kit is expensive and needs to be looked after correctly. Here’s two quick things you can do: use Nikwax Down Wash Direct and Nikwax Down Proof to clean and re-proof your clothing; and store your down sleeping bag (and mat) out of their compression sacks to avoid ruining the loft.
9. Create a gear storage set-up
Clear out a wardrobe, install shelving in the shed or build a bespoke unit in the garage – and then fill it with your outdoor kit. Organise everything logically, by activity or season, and use peg boards, racks and rails for added neatness. Keep things you regularly use closer to hand for speedy packing.
10. Shell out on some new stuff
Carry out a gear audit and figure out what’s missing from your kit bag. Perhaps you really need a winter sleeping bag, or lightweight tent, or warm down jacket. Whatever it is, check out The Great Outdoors’ expert gear reviews for best buys and recommended products. Our gear of the year for 2020 is a good place to start.