The Gear Doctor for September 2014

Most often, when people return from an exhausting camping trip, the last thing they want to do is clean all of the gear they took with them. Being out in the wilderness and lacking the effective cleaning supplies we are accustomed to seeing in the cupboard underneath our kitchen sinks, often only the “quick clean” of gear is done, and it tends to be left that way once we return home. But good enough doesn’t always cut it – think of the money you spent on your equipment and what it would cost to replace if not properly cared for. Check out our advice for how to best clean your gear and with what products to ensure it lasts as long as possible, continuing to assist you on adventurous camping trips for years to come.

Boots
The best way you can guarantee your boots will be kept in great shape is to make sure you take 10-20 minutes cleaning them up after each trip. First, remove the laces and insoles, if they are removable. Start with warm water and a small brush (a firm-brush toothbrush will do) that is able to reach into the cracks and crevices of the boots, and start brushing. If a small brush is just not cutting it, browse more specialized tools meant for boot cleaning. When the obvious dirt has been removed, rinse the brush and go over the boots again, but this time with warm water and a boot cleaner. If none is available, a mild dish soap will do. Stay away from laundry detergent or bar soap, as they can damage the boots through residue. Allow the boots to dry in room temperature. Many people use the quick-dry method of drying their boots next to a fire or in the hot sun, but this can cause the leather to become brittle and the adhesive parts of the boot to wear out. The best way to dry them quickly is to place them in front of a fan. If you don’t have a fan, REI suggests using newspapers that are shoved in each boot, which work to absorb excess moisture. Place boots upside down during drying, as this speeds up the process. Once the boots are dry, make sure to use a conditioner coating if they are looking cracked. Also, waterproof boots after each use. Many people want to remove the smell from their boots, so place each in a large, sealed bag and keep them in the freezer for 48 hours, which will kill the bacteria causing the stink. Store boots in a spot where the temperature remains constant, keeping them in perfect condition until your next adventure.

Cooking Supplies
Cleaning your camping cookware is a little less time consuming that caring for your footwear, but still just as important when it comes to preserving your gear. We all do the quick clean on cookware during camping trips, but spending time actually getting rid of the bacteria and grime when you get home is crucial. Fill each pot and pan with hot water and add several drops of soap – use biodegradable if you’re out on the trail doing the once-over clean. Make sure to use any kind of soap, even if it is biodegradable, at least 200 feet away from water sources. Scrub the inside of each several times using a rough sponge or pot scrubber. Rinse the pots with clean water and put them aside to dry. In the case of cooking supplies, the at-home deep clean is pretty obvious, but as for on-the-trail advice, place your cookware in separate pockets of your pack or wrap them in bags to avoid the blackened bottom of pots and pans from staining other equipment.

Tent
Making sure your tent lasts a long life starts the first time you set it up at a campsite. Ensure there are no objects below the tent such as rough plants, rocks, or roots, because this is the number one way tents are destroyed. This isn’t to say you just tear any vegetation to make room for your tent, but rather find a space that has even, clean ground that is already in existence. Making sure the bottom of your tent is also protected on the inside is another thing to think about. Consider purchasing a footprint, which is a barrier between your feet and the bottom of the tent that covers the entire surface of the floor. In addition, make sure the tent is taught when securing it with stakes to prevent any area becoming a catch basic for water or other debris, REI recommended. Make a habit of not wearing shoes inside the tent, and that should help to keep dirt and debris outside, but still make sure to sweep or shake it out several times when you’re done. Something else people don’t consider as often when setting up camp is that most tents are made of nylon, which is worn away by the sun. Try to set up the tent in a shaded area to prolong its life. When packing the tent away at home, the most imperative factor of whether or not it will last is if it’s dry or not. Set up the tent when you get back home and use a non-abrasive sponge, cold water, and a non-detergent soap to clean the inside and outside. Any cleaning products with a perfume smell will attract bugs. Once it is fully dry, pack away in a room temperature, dry location.

The Gear Doctor for August 2014

Cleaning Your Gear the Right Way

After a few good uses, the faithful sleeping bag begins to get a little on the raunchy side and your trusty tent is showing signs of dirt, birds, and campfire smoke. Wash or don’t wash—-that is the question. Sure you can wash them.

The main thing to remember for washing a sleeping bag   is to use a NON-AGITATING machine. If you don’t have a front loader or newer non agitator type top loader, go to a Laundromat. Use the GENTLE cycle and a detergent with no perfumes or dyes. Make sure to use liquid and NOT powder. If the bag is synthetic, it will only take one dryer cycle. Don’t forget to use the LOW setting, as the bag could melt if on a higher setting. Down sleeping bags require a tad more care. You can opt for a down detergent or use Cheer Free liquid. The dryer will also be on LOW, but you’ll dry the down bag a lot longer, say 4 or 5 cycles. Throw three pairs of CLEAN balled up pairs of socks in the dryer along with the bag to beat the down feathers apart. Bag is dry when it comes out looking like the Michelin man! Camping clothing can be washed like regular clothing, but most are synthetic, so watch that dryer setting.

Tents (backpacking size, not family camping tents) can be washed on GENTLE and spun dry in the washer. They must be hung out on a line to dry; DO NOT place them in the dryer. The same goes for the rainfly. Good luck and Happy Laundry!!

The Gear Doctor

The Gear Doctor for July 2014

The old adage, “Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you” is an important truth to live by for campers, and one that is seldom more true than when it comes to your tent. At the end of a long day you’ll want your tent to be clean, comfortable and able to adequately protect you from the elements. Follow the suggestions below and you’ll have a tent that will take care of you and give you years of service.

When you get a new tent, always open it and set it up before you take it out in the wild. This allows you to practice setting up your tent and become familiar with the procedure before heading out into the wild.

Proper Storage – Let’s face it, unless you’re camping every weekend or hiking around the country, your tent will spend the majority of it’s life in storage. Proper storage will help extend the life of your tent.

1. Make sure it’s dry – nothing will start the downward trend of degradation in your tent like the mold and mildew caused by storing it when it’s not completely dry. If circumstances force you to break camp in the rain or when the tent is still damp, take it out and set it up to dry and air out as soon as you can.

2. Fold or roll it differently – folding your tent, or even rolling it, the same way every time you store it will cause creases to develop. Over time, those creases can and will result in damages to the material.

3. Store the poles and stakes in their own bags – every tent I’ve ever seen has a separate storage bag for the poles and stakes. Use them. Otherwise you could poke a hole or cause a rip in your tent.

At the Campsite – following a few simple guidelines will help prevent damage and extend the life of your tent.

1. Check your campsite before pitching your tent – make sure you’re not placing your tent on top of rocks, roots or uneven ground that can cause damage to your tent and an uncomfortable night for you, and that the nice, flat, smooth area you find is not the lowest point on the campsite. Otherwise you could be flooded out in a storm when all the water runs downhill into your tent.

2. Use a custom footprint – this helps protect the exterior floor of the tent as well helping to prevent water from gathering under the floor.

3. Keep it clean – Inside. Remove your footwear at the door to avoid tracking dirt and water inside the tent. The new PahaQue TentRugs add a layer of protection, comfort and warmth to your tent floor, and make cleaning out your tent super easy!

4. Keep it clean – Outside. There is almost no way to avoid getting dirt, stains, bird droppings, tree sap droppings and lots of other various things on the exterior of your tent. Always use clean water and a soft rag or sponge to clean up those stains or dirt as soon as possible.  Mild detergents are okay but be careful not to damage the tent fabric coatings.

5. Make repairs as soon as you see the problem – keep a tent repair kit on hand which contains at least a tube of seam-sealer, fabric repair tape,

Your tent is your shelter in bad weather and your protection from the elements in the great outdoors. With proper care, a quality tent can last many years and provide you with many days and nights of clean, warm, comfortable shelter

 

The Gear Doctor for May 2014

PahaQue Camping Checklist

There’s nothing worse than setting up camp and realizing you forgot some crucial items back at home. Use our camping checklist to make sure you have the necessary camping equipment to make your camping experience a good one.  Print this handy list to make sure your next outing is a good one!

Kitchen

Food Preparation
[  ] Spatula
[  ] Cutting Knife
[  ] Large Serving Spoon
[  ] Tongs
[  ] Strainer
[  ] Can opener/bottle opener
[  ] Pots and frying pans with lids
[  ] Griddle
[  ] Potholders/oven mitts
[  ] Plastic Utensils (forks, spoons, knives)
[  ] Plates & bowls/paper plates & bowls
[  ] Mugs/paper cups
[  ] Mixing bowl
[  ] Measuring cups
[  ] Cutting board
[  ] Soup Ladle
[  ] Coffee Pot
[  ] Cooking oil/Pam spray
[  ] Cork Screw
[  ] Skewers/grill forks
[  ] Pie irons
[  ] Potato peeler

Cooking
[  ] Stove
[  ] Propane/Fuel
[  ] Matches/lighter
[  ] Charcoal/firewood/buddy burner
[  ] Dutch oven/tin can stove/box oven/etc
[  ] Campfire grill/BBQ grill
[  ] Folding table

Cleaning
[  ] Sponge/Scrubber
[  ] Dish Pan
[  ] Dish Soap
[  ] Dish Rags/Towels
[  ] Rubber Gloves

Storage/Miscellaneous
[  ] Large water jug & water bucket
[  ] Containers for food storage
[  ] Cooler(s)
[  ] Tablecloth/thumb tacks/clips
[  ] Heavy-duty aluminum foil
[  ] Ziplock bags
[  ] Plastic grocery bags
[  ] Paper towels
[  ] Napkins
[  ] Trash bags
[  ] Thermos

Food & Drink

Condiments
[  ] Catsup
[  ] Mustard
[  ] Mayo – Small jar or squeeze bottle
[  ] Relish

Breakfast
[  ] Pancake Mix – Krusteaze, 1/2 cup per person per day (need large skillet)
[  ] Frozen hashbrowns in the bag
[  ] Eggs – 1-2 per person per day, fresh or powdered
[  ] Syrup – About 2 oz per person per day
[  ] Malt-o-meal, or Cream of Wheat
[  ] Oatmeal – Instant single serving packs
[  ] Bacon – 2 slices per person per day
[  ] Ham
[  ] Cereal

Lunch/Dinner
[  ] Hot dogs & buns
[  ] Hamburger meat (pre seasoned and ready to cook)
[  ] Hamburger Buns
[  ] Vienna Sausages
[  ] Peanut Butter & Jelly
[  ] Deli meat slices (Turkey, Ham, Salami)
[  ] Noodles (Spaghetti, Angel Hair, Ramen, or shells)
[  ] Spaghetti Sauce (In jars or dehydrated)
[  ] Soup/Chili (mix or cans)
[  ] Tuna
[  ] Corn on Cob
[  ] Taco Stuff (Meat, seasoning package, olives, lettuce, tortillas, buns)
[  ] Lil Smokies
[  ] Steak
[  ] Chicken Breasts
[  ] Fixin’s for stew
[  ] Beans

Staples
[  ] Butter (1/2 stick per person per day)
[  ] Potatoes (1-2 per person per day — freeze dried if packing)
[  ] Bouillon cubes (Chicken & Vegetable)
[  ] Rice packages
[  ] Onions
[  ] Lemons
[  ] Mushrooms
[  ] Tomatoes
[  ] Bread (One or two loaves per day if camping with a small group)
[  ] Cheese (String, Cheddar, Swiss, American)

Snacks
[  ] Fruit – Small fruit cups or fresh fruit
[  ] Veggies – carrot/celery sticks daily
[  ] Nutri Grain Bars/Granola Bars
[  ] Chips/Dip/Salsa
[  ] Trail Mix
[  ] Nuts
[  ] Yogurt
[  ] Jiffy Pop or Regular Popcorn

Beverages
[  ] Tea Bags
[  ] Coffee
[  ] Milk
[  ] Juice
[  ] Water
[  ] Hot Chocolate
[  ] Drinks (soft drinks, Iced Tea, Lemonade, Kool-Aid)
[  ] Beer

Miscellaneous
[  ] Cooking Oil (About 1 oz per person per day)
[  ] Ice
[  ] Seasonings
[  ] Salt/Pepper
[  ] Sugar
[  ] Marshmallows, Graham Crackers & Hershey Bars (S’mores)
[  ] Parmesan cheese

Personal

[  ] First Aid Kit (see section below)
[  ] Sewing kit
[  ] Soap
[  ] Deodorant
[  ] Comb/Brush/Hair products
[  ] Razor
[  ] Tissues
[  ] Toilet paper
[  ] Toothbrush/Toothpaste
[  ] Wet wipes
[  ] Shower shoes/Flip Flops
[  ] Towels/Washcloth
[  ] Chapstick/Lip Balm
[  ] Insect Repellent
[  ] Sunglasses
[  ] Sunscreen
[  ] Feminine products
[  ] Shower bag or 5 gallon bucket
[  ] Camping shower/shower pump
[  ] Personal medications

Miscellaneous

Necessities
[  ] Flashlight/bulbs
[  ] Batteries
[  ] Clothes pins
[  ] Lantern with fuel/mantles
[  ] Lantern Pole/Hanger
[  ] Pocket Knife
[  ] Citronella candles
[  ] Rope/Clothes Line
[  ] Camp Chairs
[  ] Backpack/Fanny Pack
[  ] Duct Tape/Electrical Tape
[  ] Scissors
[  ] Watch
[  ] Cell Phone/Charger & 2-way radios/walkie talkies
[  ] Camera/Battery/Film/Video
[  ] Fire Extinguisher
[  ] Canteen/Water Bottle

Tools/Utilities
[  ] Small shovel
[  ] Compass
[  ] Whistle
[  ] Misc. tools
[  ] Work gloves
[  ] Bungi cords/straps

Informational Items
[  ] List of important phone numbers
[  ] Maps/directions
[  ] Reservations info./confirmation
[  ] Park map/guidebooks/trail maps
[  ] Money/ID/Credit Card/Quarters
[  ] Notepad/pen
[  ] Spare car/truck/boat/rv keys

Entertainment
[  ] Cards/Games/Toys
[  ] Books/Magazines
[  ] Musical instruments/song books
[  ] Bikes/Scooters/Helmets
[  ] Radio
[  ] Sports gear (baseball, football)
[  ] Fishing gear/license/bait

Miscellaneous
[  ] Torches
[  ] Binoculars
[  ] Water filters/purification/treatment
[  ] Travel alarm clock
[  ] Hammock
[  ] Umbrella
[  ] Collapsible drying rack
[  ] Life jackets
[  ] Toothpicks

Sleeping/Shelter

[  ] Blankets
[  ] Mallet/Hammer
[  ] Sleeping Mats/Air Mattress (air pump)
[  ] Repair kit for air mattress
[  ] Pillow
[  ] Poles/stakes
[  ] Rain Fly/Tent Topper
[  ] Sleeping bag
[  ] Tarp
[  ] Tent
[  ] Whisk Broom
[  ] Mat for tent entrance
[  ] Utility bags for storage
[  ] Shade Tarp (with poles/rope/stakes)

Fire

[  ] Axe
[  ] Bucket
[  ] Kindling
[  ] Matches
[  ] Newspaper
[  ] Shovel
[  ] Wood

Basic First Aid

Basics
[  ] Misc. Band Aides/bandages
[  ] Triangular bandages
[  ] Ace bandages
[  ] Roll bandages
[  ] Adhesive tape
[  ] Antiseptic wipes
[  ] Antibiotic cream
[  ] Sterile gauze pads
[  ] Cotton swabs
[  ] Heat/cold packs
[  ] Tweezers
[  ] Safety pins
[  ] Scissors
[  ] Burn ointment
[  ] Hydrogen Peroxide
[  ] First aid manual
[  ] Ipecac
[  ] Aspirin/Ibuprofen/Tylenol/Naproxin
[  ] Anti-acids (Tums, Rolaides)
[  ] Personal medications

Extra
[  ] Bee Sting Kit
[  ] Snake Bite Kit
[  ] Eye Drops
[  ] Sinus medications
[  ] Poison Ivy cream/cleansers
[  ] Latex gloves
[  ] Sterile compresses
[  ] Antibacterial soap
[  ] Splinting materials
[  ] Thermometer
[  ] Coins for emergency phone calls
[  ] Antibiotic soap
[  ] Butterfly bandages
[  ] Razor blades
[  ] Twine
[  ] Plastic bags
[  ] Mole skin for blisters
[  ] Small bottle of water
[  ] Sunburn lotion
[  ] Road flares
[  ] Blanket
[  ] Other personal needs
[  ] Nail Clippers
[  ] Small Mirror

Camping with Children

[  ] Current photos of the children in case they get lost
[  ] Diapers
[  ] Swim Diapers
[  ] Wipes
[  ] Bottles/Sippy Cups
[  ] Playyards
[  ] Jogging strollers
[  ] Backpack carriers
[  ] MANY sets of clothing
[  ] Extra pair(s) of shoes
[  ] Formula
[  ] Jar foods
[  ] Gerber toddler foods
[  ] Hats
[  ] Toys,
[  ] Favorite blanket or stuffed toy (very important!)
[  ] Powdered milk (for children that have outgrown formula)
[  ] Snacks
[  ] Storybooks
[  ] Baby Hammock
[  ] Baby Swing
[  ] Kid-safe Bug spray
[  ] Sunblock
[  ] Portapotty with grocery bag liner (easy cleanup

 

The PahaQue Gear Doctor April 2014

Now that we’ve shared tips for tending to the needs of your sleeping bag and tent in previous newsletters, it’s time to turn your attention to the rest of your gear. Granted, it’s a drag to come back from a camping trip exhausted and have to immediately clean and sort through all your stuff, but well-maintained equipment will reward you with years and years of active duty. When you have a three-day weekend on the way, there’s no better feeling than having all your camping stuff in one place, clean and ready to go. Keep your stove, lanterns and other gear ready to go with these tips:

• First, make sure everything is off. Camp stove, flashlights, headlamps, GPS—anything you have with a shut-off switch should be shut off. You should also remove the fuel from your stove and batteries from electronics if your gear is going into long-term storage.

• Dry all your stuff completely, and if it doesn’t already have a protective case, store in a sealed plastic bag. Your camp stove won’t turn into a Gremlin if it gets wet, but the likelihood of corrosion or rust will be reduced if you can store it as dry as possible.

Cooking Stove
• Clean your camp stove and utensils thoroughly with warm water and soap. Make sure to get all food residue off the inside and outside of the stove, or you could have an ant party on your hands.

• Store your cooking stove fuel in a cool, dry location where it won’t be tormented by extreme heat or cold.

Sleeping Pad
• Store a self-inflating sleeping pad loose, not rolled up. This will keep it well-aired and springy.

Backpack
• Give your hiking pack a thorough cleaning when you have some downtime between outings. Use a vacuum on the inside of your pack, and then wipe down the outside with a damp cloth and mild soap or chemical-free detergent. Hose it off with cold water until no soap remains, and hang-dry your pack upside down in a shady or well-ventilated spot out of the sun.

• Don’t use a washing machine on your pack unless you’re faced with a global mildew crisis and have no other options. If you absolutely insist on using modern technology, wash on delicate in cold water with a chemical-free detergent. Don’t use a dryer—hang upside down to dry for a few days with a fan nearby.

Well maintained and properly stored gear will ensure years of reliable service.  From tents to hiking boots, taking the time now will make sure future trips are not plagued by gear problems.