Care and storage of winter gear

The end of a long winter season is once again upon us, and even though the conditions weren't all that conducive to what might be called an excellent winter season, our gear did get periodic use and should be taken care of while hibernating. It's time to start thinking about how you should store your winter gear to reduce the risk of rust, mildew, mold, varmints, and other unseen casualties.

Throughout the winter gear gets wet then dry, wet then dry, and this process continues through the season. The more active your season, the more important it is to take care of the gear that took care of you. While I don't have all of the answers to extend the life of your gear, I can get you started in the habit of good gear care.

Gear

Snowshoes

Snowshoes

Look over the snowshoes for any possible damage and mark anything you find with a small piece of colorful electrical tape. The off season is the perfect time to send snowshoes out for repairs or to take on the task yourself.

The crampons can be sharpened using a flat file, but do not sharpen them to a point — they just need to be sharp enough to do the job. Use a medium coarseness steel wool to dust off any surface rust and put a very light coating of oil on them using a rag. Hang in a dry place, not in a plastic bag or even in the canvas bag that some come with. Bags will capture moisture and rust could form, or mold could start to grow on the webbing.

Crampons

Crampons

The same applies to snowshoes. Use steel wool to clean off any surface rust that shows up and put a very light coating of oil on them using a rag. Crampons can be sharpened using a flat file but again, do not sharpen them to a point. Sharp points could cause them to break, so just sharpen them enough to do the job you need them to do. Over filing can also break down the hardening of the metals, which also makes them prone to cracking. Store crampons in a dry place, and do not place them in a bag that does not breathe. Some crampons come with bags that are ventilated. Those are fine.

Microspikes

Treat them the same as your snowshoes and crampons. Microspikes don't tend to need sharpening, but they can be sharpened if you feel they have been rounded by Adirondack rock. Microspikes are stainless steel so they should not rust, but it is important to keep them clean. Salt from roadsides and trailheads can break down the rubber, so be sure to give them a good rinsing.

Cross-country Skis

Skis

As for your skis, remove any light surface rust on the metal by using a piece of steel wool. If you want your skis tuned for the season, I recommend bringing them to a reputable place to get them serviced. Do this at the end of the season.

Store skis in a dry location. A ski bag works well to protect them from getting banged up. To prevent rust on the metal edges, put a coating of wax on the metal edges to keep them from rusting. The wax will wear off during the first use of the next season.

Poles

There is a simple process for pole maintenance. If you have a one-piece pole, there really is no maintenance — just check for damage and replace as needed. If you have a two- or three-section pole, simply take them apart to dry and remove dirt between the sections.

Four-Season Tents

When you return from camping your tent will be wet, and in many cases it'll still be frozen in spots. You should set the tent up inside to let it dry, if you have the space. If space is limited you should at least hang it up. Use the curtain bar in your shower and flip it around so it all gets dry.

Store the tent in its stuff sack, but do not roll the tent. Tents have memory, so if it gets rolled the same way too much it can create a crease and then a weak point for water to invade during the next season. Packing the tent in no particular manner makes it tough to get the entire tent in the stuff sack, but with a bit of practice it can be done. In a couple of cases, especially with winter tents, I have had to purchase a larger stuff sack. Check for tears and damage before storing and get them repaired in the off season so they're ready.

Sleeping Bags

Contianers

Down sleeping bags and outerwear are the same as down outerwear and should be treated with care. Down should only be washed with a down wash that is free of heavy perfumes or harsh chemicals. Wash down in a front load washing machine to avoid water loading and abrupt movements. 

I reccommend using a dryer to dry down. Hanging wet down will make the down bunch up and that is bad. Dry down on a low setting and place a couple of tennis balls in with the piece. The tennis balls will work the down around while it drys and help it spread back out. If you use a shoe rather than a tennis ball, which is common practice since many people don't own tennis balls, be sure it is a non-marking shoe to avoid black marks in your dryer or on your gear.

Synthetic sleeping bags are much easier to clean. They should only be put in a front load washer. Synthetic fillers can also bunch up when washed and should be dried in the same manner as a down sleeping bag. 

Storage of all sleeping bags is important and should not be overlooked. All bags should be hung or stored flat if you have the room. I realize this is not an option for many people. You can also store your bags in a large storage sack or laundry bag. The important thing is to not store them compressed for a long period of time. Extended periods of compression can mat the fillers, and over time they lose some of their loft and warmth ratings. Also, rodents love sleeping bags so keep them in a bin or trunk if you can, especially if you are storing them in a basement or garage.

Backpacks

Backpacks

If you are storing one over the summer and breaking out that summer pack, just wipe it clean of heavy dirt and particles and call it good. Dirt adds character to a pack. They can be washed if you wish, but always follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Outerwear

Base layer: Wash in cold water, hang dry, and store for the season. Use a base wash or wool wash for best results.

Fleece: Wash before storage to get any bodily oils and contaminants off. This should be done according to the instructions on the garment. Many brands of fleece like to pill when washed with other materials, especially if the other materials have excessive buttons and buckles. Velcro is not a fleece's best friend and can do more damage to your jacket. Fleece is best washed in a separate load or with other like materials. Hang dry to reduce risk of shrinkage.

Waterproof/breathable: Wash before storage. Body salts and oils can break down the waterproofing over time. It is best to wash these pieces with a detergent designed for this type of clothing. Using regular detergent tends to not rinse off well enough, and over time it will clog the pores of the jacket making it less breathable. Wash with like garments and no more than four pieces at a time. For heavily soiled pieces, be sure to rinse off all excess dirt before putting them in your washing machine. 

Drying can be done on a low temperature if needed, but it's typically unnecessary because they tend to dry quickly. Drying on a low temperature has been known to reactivate some of the waterproofing that was manufactured into the material. 

Putting waterproofing back into a material can be done with a spray on or by washing the item in a waterproofing product. Use the spray for outerwear that is lined or insulated. Using wash-in waterproofing is perfect for shell jackets or pants. Using wash-in products for insulated pieces can cause the pores to get clogged and in turn lose much of their breathability.

Gaiters, hats, balaclavas, and gloves: Depending on the material, wash with similar items.

Down clothing: Follow the same instructions as above for down sleeping bags.

Boots

Boots

Typically with boots, you don't have to do anything for storage except keep them in a place where mice and other rodents can't make a home out of them. If you do wish to wash them, start by brushing off excess dirt as needed and then hand wash.

To dry your boots you need to be a bit more careful. Excessive heat is bad for glued seams and leather. Placing them on or near a heater will dry out the glues, which can cause a shoe to break down much faster. High heat also dries out leather, which can cause sewed seams to break down and the body to crack. It is best to remove the foot bed before you start to dry them to allow adequate air flow. Then you have the option to leave them alone in a dry, warm environment. If you are in a rush you can stuff them with newspaper to soak up the excess moisture. You can also purchase boot stacks that simply move warm, dry air into and around the inside of the boots. 

Still have questions? Stop into a local outfitter for details. While you're there be sure to see what kind of care products they have. Want to head out into the backcountry next year to experience an Adirondack winter excursion? See what a local guide service has to offer.


The Adirondacks Spring Into Action this week:

Top tips for 3 cool activities

Couch to ouch to 5k 

Chips to meat to dehydrated drinks

Paddling Q & A

Run through history

5 trails to reach your goal

2 wheels, countless routes

Summertime = Beachtime

One of my favorite summertime activities here in the Adirondacks is taking my kids and spending the day at the beach. We love to go to the public beach in Speculator. This is the...

Adirondack Weddings

As you may have guessed, the timeframe between Thanksgiving and Valentine's days is the most popular time to get engaged. Maybe you've just gotten engaged or are just thinking to...

Skis and Snacks

The air is super crisp, cold, and clean as I drop my skis down at the trailhead. A fluffy poof of snow jumps into the air where the skis land. I take a deep breath and look around....

Things To Do Indoors

We are right in the thick of winter here in the Adirondacks and let me tell you what, it has been COLD! There have been many consecutive nights of negative temperatures — some...

Skates, Skis or Snowshoes!

Wintertime gear includes so many innovative contraptions to strap onto your feet! And... maybe you JUST got those brand new ones and you are DYING to try them out! Well, come on up...

A Gift For Everyone

We all know people who are just impossible to shop for. Well, let me break down the perfect Adirondack gifts — by personality! The Adventure Seeker Do you know someone who's an...

Holiday Shopping Ugh

We all know that sometimes holiday shopping can be a real drag. Going to the same stores, shopping for the same people - who seem to have everything ... This year, why not mix it up...

Plan Out Your Adirondack Winter!

C'mon, everyone! Get ready for some winter fun!(And maybe cross a few gift purchases off your list!) When I woke up this morning, it was 4 degrees. There's also a nice 2-inch layer...

Getting Ready for Winter

We are just getting our first official snowfall, so now is the time to get prepared so you are not caught off guard! Snowmobile If you own your own snowmobiles, now is the time to...

Stories of the Adirondacks

A place this full of history needs people to tell its stories, which is why we are fortunate enough to have a rich supply of historians, songwriters, and storytellers.  INLET'S...

It’s Time To Think Snow!

OK, I know what you're thinking: No.Way. "I just got done trick or treating with the kids.""I'm still fighting with my spouse over that last Reeses Peanut Butter Cup.""I have 17...

Adirondack Oddities

Driving through the Adirondacks, no matter what time of year, is always beautiful. But if you've ever driven though our little towns, you have probably seen a few of our roadside...

Fall Events

We are just as sad as you that summer seems to be coming to an end far too quickly. However, just because summer is almost over, it doesn't mean the fun has to stop! There are tons...

My Favorite Restaurants

The Adirondacks are a great place for many things such as hiking, paddling, and camping. But one of the things done really well here is food! I haven't had the chance to eat at all...

Adirondack Saddle Tours

It was a beautiful day in July when my friend Stephanie and I hopped in the car and headed north. Our end goal was Inlet, or more specifically, Adirondack Saddle Tours. I was going...

Adirondack Fourth of July

One of my favorite times of the year is coming up — and it's coming up fast! I don't know about you, but when I think about summer, I think about camping, s'mores, fireworks, and...

Golfing in the Adirondacks

The following was written by Christy Wilt, the director of tourism and economic development for Hamilton County. Christy has lived in the Adirondacks for over 20 years and has been...

Black Fly Challenge... Accepted!

 Editor's note: The annual Black Fly Challenge will be held on Saturday, June 10, 2017. Not sure what the challenge is or why you would want to take it? Check out this fun blog...

Things to Do Along the Way

Memorial Day is right around the corner, and you know what that means... It's time for the Great Adirondack Garage Sale! With sales from Speculator to Inlet to Indian Lake to Long...

Chasing Waterfalls

When I was younger, my mom and I would always go on different hikes throughout the summer. It had been a while since we had had this opportunity - you know how life is... I've...

Down on one knee in the 'dacks

What is romance? When some people think of romance, they immediately imagine the classics: candlelit dinner, fancy restaurant, picnic in the park... For romantic gifts, they revert...

Cross-Country Skiing in the Adirondacks

So far this year, we have had a fantastic winter. There is certainly no shortage of snow! Storm after storm has dumped plenty of the fluffy white stuff on us.  The fantastic thing...

Valentine's Day Tradition

While this will be mine and my husband's first Valentine's Day as a married couple, it is hardly our first rodeo. This will be our 11th Valentine's Day together. Our first being on...

Ice Skating In The Adirondacks

With temperatures regularly lingering below freezing, don't forget to pack your ice skates for your next Adirondack adventure! While most people come here to go skiing or...

Winter Events

This year, I made a resolution to stay home more.  Well, that went out the window fast! There are just way too many great events going on to sit at home and miss out. There is a...

Fall Festivals

A notable temperature shift has been happening over the last couple of weeks, making many people realize summer is coming to an end! While we may be packing away the beach chairs...

Swimming Holes in the Adirondacks

Take a Swim There are some really great places around the region to take a dip, from public beaches to hidden swimming holes, and they are all worth checking out! Public Beaches...

Bar Hopping

Here in the Adirondacks we know how to enjoy life. We're always up for camping, paddling, fishing, hiking, and more. But we also enjoy relaxing, and what better way to do that than...

Gluten Free on the trail!

Trying to eat gluten free is one of the hardest things I have ever tried to do - I love wheat and wheat products. While being a celiac is not something we have to deal with, Corenne...

Prepping for the 90-Miler

  The Adirondack Canoe Classic (a.k.a The 90-Miler) Adirondack Canoe Classic, Day Two Start - Photo by Alexandra Roalsvig, provided by The Town of Long Lake. The weekend after...

Summer Events

Ready for a Summer Vacation? Its time to pack up the RV and hit the road! Summer is just around the corner and the Adirondacks is the place to be. Whether you prefer to immerse...

Care and storage of winter gear

The end of a long winter season is once again upon us, and even though the conditions weren't all that conducive to what might be called an excellent winter season, our gear did get...

Historical Landmarks

The celebration of Hamilton County's Bicentennial is happening this year, and we have been doing a little delving into our history! While 1816 marks the inception of the county, ...

A memorable wedding getaway in Inlet

Inlet is the perfect place for an Adirondack wedding getaway. My boyfriend Andy and I were invited to a wedding in Inlet last summer, and we decided to make a full weekend escape...

Get ready for camping, Part 2: Sleeping bags and pads

Picking a sleeping bag is not all that difficult once you get a grasp on your personal comfort level. There are numerous companies out there making sleeping bags, and some are...

Birding in March: A Transitional Time

In the Adirondacks, March and October are transitional months, with October representing life falling into a slumber, and March a reawakening. The stillness of winter settles in...

Birders Flock to the Central Adirondacks!

 Winter Birds in the Central Adirondacks The winter birds of Long Lake, Newcomb, and Minerva have been a magnet for visiting birders this season. In addition to our year-round...

Get ready for camping season, Part 1: Tents

Every company that has anything to do with the outdoor retail industry is making a tent and placing it on the market. With different price points, features, colors, weight, and...

Adirondack Ice Bowl

The  Annual Adirondack Ice Bowl Pond Hockey Tournament, which has been happening since 2009, will once again be held on 4th Lake in Inlet. Participants and spectators alike look...

2015-2016 Winter Events

As the cold sets in you may want to bundle up and wait the winter out - but then you would miss out on so many great events going on in the heart of the Adirondacks! From ice...

Avoid the Madness and Shop Local!

Crowded Malls? No thanks! Black Friday shopping is a phenomenon that has taken over the country. People are camping out for days waiting for the hottest, newest merchandise at the...

October events in the southern Adirondacks

October has always been my favorite time of the year. The cool crisp air, the new colorful landscape, and Halloween! There is still so much going on in the Adirondacks! Try Your...