Summer Storage: What to do with your jacket, pants and puffy in the off season

Winter is winding down, leaving a slew of winter gear to contend with in your closet, basement or car trunk. And while it may be easier to just shove your puffy and beacon into the depths of your closet and call it a winter, there are a few easy and quick steps to improve your gear’s longevity and ensure it’s as ready as you are once the flakes start flying again. Here’s how to treat your apparel with the respect it deserves.

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Like new. [Photo] Courtesy of Heidi Allen.

WHY CLEAN YOUR STUFF

“It’s so important to clean your apparel at the end of the season because the body can leave ‘fun crud’ on a product, especially around the neck,” says Nikwax Marketing Director Heidi Allen. “That’s actually bacteria breaking down the material. It can eat the glue and laminate on a jacket.” And it can destroy waterproofing and breathability. So for shells made with Gore-Tex, Neoshell, eVent or other proprietary membranes, the first step to preservation is keeping the products clean. Washing is two-fold; it revitalizes Durable Water Repellent (DWR) and removes dirt and oils that clog membranes membranes.

HOW TO DO IT

Ironically enough, a good wash is the first step to return waterproofing properties. This removes any oils, dirt and chemicals that have built up over the season. Make sure all the zippers and pockets are closed, and chose a liquid, free-rising soap that doesn’t have perfumes, bleach, softeners or conditioners, which adhere to the fabric and decrease the DWR treatment. Wash in a warm rinse cycle, and it’s not a bad idea to rinse the shells twice to ensure any buildup is removed. Then, tumble dry on a warm, low setting for about 40 minutes to further help reactivate the DWR treatment.

And for those puffies (and sleeping bags), the same first step applies: give them a much-needed wash. “Use a down-specific wash and low heat to remove oils and dirt that can cause down to clump and lose loft over time,” says Carl Johnson, a Big Agnes representative. “Throw it in the dryer with a couple tennis balls to revive the loft of the down.” Once the down material is completely dry, hang your products in storage outside of a stuff sack; compression can damage down fibers over time. Store everything in a cool, dry place.

WHAT TO USE

To wash your hardshell jackets and pants effectively, consider some of these products: Nikwax Wash, Granger’s Performance Wash and Atsko Sport-Wash. And for puffies, try a down wash from Granger’s or Nikwax. If your coat and pants are still not as water-resistant as you’d like after washing, reapply a water-repellant treatment, like Nikwax TX.Direct Wash-In, which can be added to a laundry load, or Atsko Water Guard Extreme, which can be directly applied.

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