How to take care of your hiking, backpacking or camping gear the right way

how to care for your camping gear

If you are a regular camper or backpacker, you treasure your camping gear and hold it dear. You take pride in not only selecting the best quality gear but also go to great length to ensure that they are pitch perfect all the time. Taking proper care of your gear will get you more service from them for years to come.

In this exhaustive guide, we will look at the different ways you can care for your camping and backpacking gear to ensure that it remains fully functional.

Taking care of your camping gear

Every camping equipment that you use serve a specific purpose, hence each gets roughed up in its own way. No two tools are the same and no two tools will have the same cleaning routine. Each piece of equipment should be given its own personal attention when it comes to taking care of it. So how do we do that? Keep reading.


tent camping

Tent care should start right from the point you are ready to pitch it. Sharp objects like rocks, wood stumps, thorny bushes, etc. are the primary reasons to cause damage to your tent. Always ensure that you pitch your tent on a clear ground and the tent ropes are not close to any object against which it can rub. You should put a good tarpaulin underneath your tent so that the edges do not rub against the ground. Always pitch your tent in a shade if possible as prolonged exposure to the sun also damage your tent.

If there are any wear and tear in the tent, then use the tent repair kit that comes up with the tent. If the tent does not have a repair kit, please consider getting one of the following repair kits, depending upon the construction material of the tent:

If there is any damage to the tent poles, you can opt for replacement poles or one of the following repair kits, based on suitability:

Once you are back from your camping trip, ensure that there is no loose soil or rocks in the tent. Your tent should not be wet or holding water in any corner as this can give rise to mold and mildew which can start rotting. If required, setup your tent in the back yard and wash it with cold water and detergent.

Wash off any excess soap and let it dry completely in the shade before you can pack it at room temperature. Ensure all metal corners are dry to prevent rust. Coat it with some machine oil to prevent corrosion.

You may also need to waterproof your tent surface. The best way to determine the areas to waterproof is to employ the same technique as finding a puncture in a tire tube. Put your tent in a tub of water and move it from one side to another. If you see areas with bubbles appearing on the surface, you have found the areas which need to be waterproofed again. You can consider the following sprays for waterproofing your tent,


If you are backpacking or hiking, then your backpack is probably the most important gear that needs care, besides your tent. Your backpack is widely exposed to the weather and rigors of your outdoor activity and hence need proper care. Make sure you empty your backpack and clean it thoroughly after each trip.

If the backpack is not very dirty, you can just dry clean it using a vacuum cleaner. Make sure you vacuum each major pocket. For smaller pockets use a cloth brush. A toothbrush makes an excellent tool to clean up the zippers. Once cleaned, dry the bag in shade.

If you need to wash the backpack, always use a recommended washing soap, such as Nixwax Tech Wash. Refer to this illustrated guide on wikiHow for instructions on how to wash a backpack using hand or in a machine.

Sleeping bags

To keep your sleeping bags warm and cozy, always ensure that they are dry. Dry your bag inside out in shade. Never dry them directly in the sun as prolonged exposure to the rays of the sun can damage them.

If you need to wash a sleeping bag, use warm water and a mild detergent to soak it and then rub it off clean. Scrub the head area as it will have more grime. Wash off any excess soap and hang dry in shade. You can machine wash it as well. When storing away your sleeping bag, don’t roll it tightly, instead lay it down flat if possible so that it can breathe. If you do not have space, let it hang in an oversized pillow bag.

If there is any wear or tear in the sleeping bag, you can use fabric repair tape such as the Gear Aid Tenacious Tape for Fabric Repair

Shovels and other tools


Use warm water to wash off any dirt or sand from the shovel’s blade. Let it dry completely. Apply a coat of black paint if any area is scratched and let it dry. If your shovel has serrated teeth or an axe edge, sharpen it with an industrial file. Apply some machine oil to prevent rusting and store it away.

Follow the same procedure for any other metal tools that you might be carrying.

Water filters, bottles and hydration packs

Best portable water filter - LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
Wash all water bottles and hydration packs with warm water and some baking soda. Wash the outside with a liquid detergent but do not use a scrubber as it will scratch the surface. Let it dry completely. Store it without the cap to prevent odor build up. If you wish, you can use a bottle cleaning kit or even cleaning tablets. These items would ensure that the bottles are thoroughly cleaned and there is no mildew build up in the bottle.

Clean water filters as per the instructions on them. This may include removing the filter component and cleaning them. Follow the instructions carefully to ensure proper cleaning of your water filter.

Battery operated gadgets

Revtronic F30B Ultra Powerful Flashlight
Remove batteries from all your electronic gadgets like flashlights, GPS or radios when storing them away for a long time. Batteries tend to leak when kept for a long time and they can corrode or rust, damaging the gadget. Remove batteries and store in a plastic bag.

Cooking gear

Take care of your cooking utensils, just like your daily cookware. Clean all your cooking utensils with water and detergent to remove any food particles, grease, and dirt. If some of the pots and pans are non-stick, don’t use steel wool or an abrasive pad on them to prevent scratching and damaging the non-stick surface. Your cooking stove needs more attention than the cookware. Ensure that the stove is emptied – all fuel drained, properly cleaned and any fuel jets are unclogged.

Storing the cookware is as important as washing them. Let them dry completely before storing them away. Don’t store the utensils with their lids closed to prevent odor build-up. You should store all the trail-cookware wrapped in plastic bags or your backpack, separated from each other. Store the stove in the storage sack or a plastic bag.

Clothing and footwear

For standard clothing – shirts, trousers, shorts, socks, cloth-gaiters etc., simply run a machine cycle, with a gentle soap, or detergent. For woolen items, use a detergent specifically marked for woolen clothes, such as Perwoll for Wool & Delicates and Nikwax Wool Wash. In case of any special gear such as soft jackets and down-layers, use a down cleaner such as one by Nikwax or Gear-Aid. Hard-shell jackets can just be cleaned with hand and left to dry completely in your closet.

Take good care of your footwear. Do not just dump your hiking or backpacking boots in the washing machine, as it can damage the shoes. Use plain cloth to rub the mud off and then wash them gently with hand using a soap or gel. After the wash, apply specific treatment based on the shoe material – leather, suede or textile. Leather shoes require the maximum post-cleanup care to ensure that the leather stays soft and hydrophobic. You can use any standard oil-based leather footwear care kit.

Final thoughts

Your investment in your camping gear can last long only with proper caring for your equipments. With more experience, it will become second nature to ensure that you take good care of your camping gear. In this post we looked at some of the ways to care for your gear. We hope you found this useful and will help you care for your camping gear. Happy camping!

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