If you are a hunter, well, the late fall is probably your prime-time. Small game, bear, and rifle season for deer dominate the calendar. While there are plenty of trails to bike or hike, it’s sort of bland in the woods and if you paddle or ski there’s not much to do. I like to take advantage of the down time and go through my gear to see what needs attention.
The first step I take in going through my goods is to sort out the stuff I’m going keep using through the winter and put that on one pile. Everything else is likely to be something that’s not going to see the light of day until April. Mostly summer clothing and kayaking equipment ends upon the “storage” pile, practically everything else I use is year-round gear. Regardless, both piles need a good checking-out.
Things like my headlamp live in my pack all year, so fresh batteries get put in for winter. My main hiking boots are also a year-round item, so they’ll get new laces if needed and a fresh coat of waterproofing. Anything I find that needs attention gets put to the top of the fix-it list because chances are, I’ll need those items sooner than later. The stuff in the other pile then gets its examination.
My inspection uncovered a pair of paddling shorts that needs its built-in belt fixed; a bilge pump that needs to be replaced; a pair of hiking shoes that need to be fixed; a pair of sandals that need to be re-soled; and a bivy sack that has seen better days. Triage all that. Some stuff I can fix, some stuff might have to be sent out; and other stuff probably needs to be replaced. Everything else that is OK can be packed up. The things that need attention should go in a repair box, but don’t neglect it. More than once I procrastinated on taking care of something that I didn’t need for a few months, a trip came up in the spring, and I ended up not having what I needed.
Everyone should have the following items on hand to take care of repairs in-house. Nylon thread and needles of various gauges; epoxy;some sort of super glue; duct tape; electrical tape; seam sealer; leather conditioner; nylon cord; spring-loaded cord stoppers; some mosquito mesh material; metal wire; and some basic hand tools including a knife. If you bike, add bike tools to the list but throw out the tire tube patch kit because everyone knows replacing a tube is easier and more effective than patching one.
It’s a very good idea to purchase the correct cleaning and conditioning products for technical clothing. There are cleansers especially formulated for down; waterproof-breathable materials; and leather.Always read the tags for proper hand or machine-washing directions. Similarly,you can recharge a rain jacket or waterproof boots with the proper conditioners.
A lot of things you can fix yourself, but some things are better left to professionals. I buy sport sandals that can be resoled and rewebbed. One pair I’ve had since 2002 and now they are due to go back to the manufacturer for a retrofit. It’ll cost me $70 or so but that’s better than$100 for new ones, plus, I get back my footbed that’s already broken in to my foot. Full zipper replacements, replacement staves in my internal frame backpack; and a resole of my leather boots are all things I’ve farmed out.
Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
It’s hard to get rid of stuff that’s served you well, but eventually gear goes the way of Old Yeller. Once any waterproof-breathable material begins to delaminate, kiss it goodbye. I’ve relegated a few pairs of hiking shoes to “lawn mowing shoes” but eventually they’ll end up on the junk heap. The aforementioned busted bike tubes; bent tent stakes; and camp gadgets that broke the first time you took them out of the box are best sent to the scrapyard. Look at the bright side. The holidays are around the corner and it’s the perfect time of year to ask your loved ones for new outdoor gear.