Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Check, maintain gear following your hike

When returning from a day hike, you don’t want to leave your gear in the trunk or toss it in the garage. If you do, you’ll quickly find it deteriorating or even broken (and usually you won’t realize the latter until on the next trail). Instead, spend a few minutes looking over the gear and performing some basic maintenance if necessary.

Get your kids involved in maintaining the gear, too. If they’re preschoolers, they may seem to get in the way more than help, but they’ll develop some important values in taking care of equipment and valuables. Older kids may groan, considering it a chore, but if you’re positive rather than negative in your comments about their cleaning, and spend time talking with them during the work, they’ll quickly come around.

When maintaining gear, take the following steps:
g Check over gear to see if there are any cracks or tears; if so, either mend it or obtain replacement gear
g Empty canteens of water and packs of food bags and garbage
g Brush dust, grit and leaves off of gear
g If wet, set the gear out to dry; don’t place it over or near a fire, however, as this can cause cracking, especially of leather
g Replace used supplies, such as those in first-aid kits and extra re-sealable bags

Fortunately, gear won’t get too beat up on a day hike, as opposed to a multi-day backpacking trip. Given this, the work should go quick.

Read more about day hiking with children in my guidebook Hikes with Tykes.