When you're out and about your pack holds all of the things that help you to survive. If you`re on a mountain, walking through the bush or travelling through Europe, a sturdy functional and well-maintained pack will see you through your adventure. When you get home you take it off, empty it and throw it in a cupboard somewhere. Next time you pull it out it might be smelly or mould covered and not capable of lasting the distance. To make sure your pack is ready and able to see you through your next trip there are some steps you can take to ensure its longevity.
Cleaning Your Pack
Whatever your adventure may be, it's inevitable that your pack will get dirty. Your pack will absorb sweat, body oils, dirt and grime which will over time break down the fabrics that keep it together. You should always clean your pack after prolonged use before you store it.
Cleaning your pack is less of a task than most people imagine. Regardless of what it is made of it is a simple process of scrubbing the pack down using a scrubbing brush with a mild detergent/soap mixed with warm water then hosing or rinsing it off. To dry, simply hang your pack, out of direct sunlight. Do not use any external heat source as it may damage the fabrics.
Mildew may occur if you have stored your pack wet. The best advice here is simply don`t let it happen! Make sure your pack is dry and clean before you store it. If the pack is canvas and you do in fact have a mould problem a number of specialised canvas mould removers are available for pre-wash treatment from Paddy Pallin stores or online. If the pack is of any other material the best bet is a mild solution of warm water and Revivex Synthetic Fabric Pro Cleaner combined with a lot of elbow grease.
It may be tempting to use a heavier detergent or bleach-based product DON'T! Heavy detergents or bleaches can do significant damage to the fabric.
Neither canvas nor nylon packs are totally waterproof. While the actual fabrics may be (and usually are) quite water-repellent, water is still able to seep through the seams or zippers in wet conditions. You can improve the waterproofness of the fabrics by applying dry water-repellent products which are available at Paddy Pallin. Due to the shape and construction complexity of most packs, sealing the seams of a rucksack, either in the factory or at home, is difficult and not always effective.
The good news is that there are several other relatively simple ways to improve the weatherproofing of your pack. These include the following:
- One way is to use a waterproof pack cover. Pack covers are like shower caps for your pack with an elastic hem that hugs the body of the pack leaving only the harness exposed. (So you can still carry it.) This system is great for travel packs as you don’t have to use a pack liner inside.
- For top-loading packs, another effective way is to use a waterproof pack liner. These are simply large bags made of lightweight highly waterproof fabric with tape-sealed seams or welded seams to keep them waterproof, and a roll-down top to prevent seeping. Pack liners are placed inside the pack to act as a lining.
- Another option, which works for both travel packs and rucksacks, is to use a collection of waterproof stuff sacks. Compression dry sacks are also useful for maximising the available space inside your pack. One advantage of this approach is that by using different coloured stuff sacks, you can easily organise and locate gear within your pack. Stuff sacks are also effective in keeping dust and sand out of your gear. Using this method in conjunction with a pack liner will greatly increase your chances of being dry and warm when you most need it during periods of activity.
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