How to Care for Your Hiking Backpack

A hiking backpack is one of the most important pieces of gear you need for backpacking (it is called backpacking, after all). Of course, packs are also one of the most expensive pieces of backpacking gear. Your pack is worth every penny, though, and you should invest in a good hiking backpack.

Anytime you invest in gear, you want to make sure that you take good care of it. A well made hiking backpack will typically last a long time, but you can maximize its lifetime with a bit of extra care and attention. Here are a few tips make your hiking pack last longer.

Treat it right

Don’t just yank, toss, and drag your pack. Lift using loops and handles rather than zippers and straps. Pick your pack up instead of kicking or dragging it. Go through your pack with purpose and intention when accessing your food bars rather than tugging, pulling, and ripping at your pack like a starved wolverine.

Yes, most packs are built with super durable materials, and are intended to withstand grueling use and abuse in less than ideal conditions. While your pack might hold up after being dragged across bedrock and thrown over a cliff, you can make your hiking backpack last a lot longer if you treat it right.

Lighten up

Over filling a pack puts a lot of unnecessary strain on seams, zippers, and materials. Don’t put more weight in your pack than it can handle. If you don’t have enough room in your pack for everything you want to carry, view this as a time to eliminate unnecessary items from your pack.

Take cover

A pack cover protects your gear from moisture, and protects your pack from thorns, branches, and wear. You don’t have to strap on the pack cover any time you hit the trail, but it’s definitely a great way to keep your pack protected.

Stay cool

Store your pack in a cool dry place when not in use. In other words, don’t leave your hiking pack sitting on a sunny window sill.

Keep it clean

Your hiking backpack is going to get dirty. There’s no way around it. But caked in dirt is more than unsightly. Excessive dirt buildup can cause materials to wear down prematurely, and force you to replace your pack before you get all your mileage out of it.

Brush off your pack after every use. Wash with a mild detergent when you need to remove heavy soil. Always let your pack dry completely before storage.

Maintain

Inspect your pack before and after each use. Check zippers to make sure they’re free of grit. Brush your pack’s teeth from time to time if you want. Check pull loops, seams, and materials in high-wear areas.

Checking your pack regularly allows you to find spots that need a little repair or maintenance, and fix them before they render your pack useless.

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