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Spring Cleaning: Washing your Outdoor Gear

  |   Blog, Gear Care, Outdoor Gear Repair

March and April are the months of spring corn and spring breakers. Spring means more sunlight hours and sweaty ski days. Spring (hopefully) means big snows and more powder days. But Spring also means ski season is winding down, we are approaching the inevitable end of another snow season. It is the time of year when you fold up your ski bibs and shell in exchange for summer outdoor gear. 

Proper gear storage is one of the key elements to a long, healthy life for you outdoor gear.

Here at BMR one big problem we encounter with gear storage is outdoor recreationalists storing their off-season gear dirty. Many people fold up their snow jackets and pants that they’ve been dropping lines and sweating in all season long without giving those items a good wash first…

Don’t let that be you!! 

This Jacket was in need of a serious bath when it arrived at BMR. Dirt and grime had been collecting on the surface of the fabric. Since this jacket is yellow it is an excellent example to show you just how dirty your garments can get. (Yes, your jacket can still get dirty EVEN if its black). But after a good wash this jacket has the brand-new-garment glow. Not only will washing your gear keep you looking fresh, it also plays a role in helping your gear function to its fullest potential.

When dirt, sweat and oils build up on waterproof, breathable fabrics, such as Gore-Tex and eVent, the fabric breathability and water repellency deteriorates. Having good loft in your down products is what makes them warm, with normal usage sweat and dirt will build up on your sleeping bag or jacket and can flatten out the down. Then, not only is your down dirty but it also won’t perform as well in keeping you warm. Through the washing and drying of this jacket the loft of the down was restored, improving the quality of the jacket to keep you warm.

One of the biggest misconceptions in the outdoor community is that gear can’t be washed.

We get it, putting your gear in the washing machine can be intimidating. But as an essential part of gear maintenance it is time to debunk these misconceptions that are keeping your gear dirty.

False: Since your jacket is an outdoor technical fabric washing will do more harm than good.

True: Using the correct soaps, like the NikWax products we use at BMR, washing your jacket is one of the best things you can do for the longevity of the product.

False: The only outdoor gear you can wash is jackets.

True: You can actually wash ski pants, sleeping bags and tents. Come one come all!!

False: Since detergents are harmful to your gear it is best to just rinse it with water and hope the bad smells and dirt go away.

True: Only wash your gear with specialized products that have been formulated for outdoor gear. At BMR we use the NikWax Products, these soaps help maintain the loft of your down and protect outdoor fabrics like Gore-Tex.

At BMR we use NikWax products to keep your gear in tip-top shape.

Whether you are washing a down sleeping bag, or a pair of Gore-Tex bibs NikWax has products specially formulated for outdoor gear. The DWR TX. Direct is a product made for those Gore-Tex water repellent fabrics and using this product will help your Gore-Tex garments come back to life, beading water like it is new! The Down Direct Wash product is made to clean down while not causing damage to the loft-ability of the down, unlike other detergents which can deteriorate down over time.

We have seen our fair share of dirty gear here at BMR (yes, we do mean those 20 year old jackets that have never been washed). We have also seen well intending outdoor recreationalists who put their gear in the washing machine and things went haywire (big rips in down jackets and destroyed jacket collars). If you still feel uncomfortable putting your gear in the wash, don’t fret. Come by BMR at the let the experts handle it, we have industrial grade washing machines and professional practice in washing your gear.

Save yourself the uncomfortable moment next November (or maybe October..) when you open your ski bag to the waft coming from your sweaty gear you never washed.

It is time for some spring gear cleaning!

If you want to learn more about laundry and any other repairs we do at Boulder Mountain Repair check out our Gear Repair Course by Backpacker Magazine! For more information on the course, click here.