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Technical outerwear, gloves, and bivy sacks are gear investments that will last for years with proper care. Over time, sweat, dirt, oils, and daily wear and tear affect your gear’s technical performance, and items are often discarded from a belief that they can no longer hold up against the elements. Regular maintenance not only extends the lifetime of your favorite product but also elevates its performance by revitalizing the functional features of the materials and weatherproofing treatments applied at the factory during manufacturing. Our preferred partner Nikwax offers a full assortment of aftercare products that are specifically designed to safely clean and revitalize your favorite gear and outerwear.
Dirt is abrasive, and it will increase the rate at which your gear breaks down. Regular maintenance of your gear removes the contaminants that break down the fabric of your favorite product.
A long-lasting product is a sustainable product. Up to 85% of discarded textiles end up in landfills, where they begin a decomposition process that could last hundreds of years. Routine gear maintenance keeps items out of landfills lessens negative impacts on the environment.
Your gear and outerwear are investments. The longer they last, the less often they need to be replaced, allowing you to save up for your next adventure!
Absolutely not! The rumors you may have heard from your ski partner about decreased outerwear performance after washing likely come from two different camps:
In the case of down insulation, many hesitate to saturate their item because water compacts down, and compacted down is a terrible insulator. However, since the down in your item naturally compacts over time, proper cleaning is the first step to revitalizing and de-compacting it. The second step is properly drying and teasing apart the down clumps by hand. This is a slightly tenuous process, but one that will reward you with like-new item performance.
Durable Water Repellent (DWR) primarily works by giving fabric a rough surface at the molecular level, making it hydrophobic: instead of soaking through, water beads up and runs off. Basically, it makes fabrics too spiky for water to seep in due to the high surface tension of water. Since DWR technology depends on the fabric's surface maintaining a particular shape to repel water, its effectiveness is reduced by dirt, grime, or grease on your apparel. Additionally, any time the fabric moves, stretches, or rubs against itself, grit on its surface will slowly abrade the DWR.
The general rule is the more you use, the more you wash. You do not have to wash your outerwear after every use, and you don't need to re-waterproof your gear every time you clean. Regular cleaning allows you to wash your item multiple times before it requires re-waterproofing because cleaning revitalizes the item's DWR. We recommend washing your gear when it shows signs of wetting out and re-waterproofing when cleaning alone does not revitalize the DWR (i.e., water no longer beads on the fabric surface).
Make sure you clean with the right product. Conventional laundry detergents leave a water-attractive (hydrophilic) residue that masks DWR, causing fabrics to absorb water and "wet out." We recommend Nikwax products to revitalize DWR, breathability, and insulation effectiveness. Beware of products that claim to clean and waterproof simultaneously. They are generally ineffective cleaners and may seal in dirt.
As mentioned above, regular cleaning allows you to clean your gear multiple times before re-waterproofing. When cleaning alone does not revitalize your gear's DWR (e.g., water does not bead on the fabric surface), it's time to re-waterproof using an appropriate waterproofer.
how to care for: Hard Shells & Soft Shells
how to care for: synthetic insulation
how to care for: Gloves & gear
how to care for: Down
Hard shell outerwear is usually constructed with 2-3 layers of fabric laminated together to create a waterproof, breathable barrier against wind, snow, rain, and moisture. Soft shell outerwear is softer and stretchier than its hardshell counterpart, offering a fantastic range of motion and comfort. To maintain the performance and breathability of either type of shell, an outerwear-specific detergent and DWR waterproofer are required. Our preferred aftercare product provider, Nikwax, makes outerwear-specific detergent for both hard and soft shells. To properly clean and revitalize your item, follow the instructions on the garment care label, outerwear detergent, and waterproofer. For best results, we recommend Nikwax Tech Wash, Nikwax TX.Direct (hard shells), and Nikwax Softshell Proof (soft shells).
Down is one of nature's best insulators, offering a superior warmth-to-weight ratio and excellent packability. Washing down gear removes surface stains and revitalizes the down by reversing the compaction after extended wear. We mention it below, but we will repeat it here: only use a front-loading washing machine or a top-loading machine that does not have an agitator. The agitator in a top-loading machine will damage the baffles on your down item.
Gear that uses synthetic insulation requires less attention than its down-filled counterparts and can be cleaned similarly to hard and softshell outerwear. We recommend following the same guidelines for cleaning synthetic outerwear as those listed above for hard and soft shell gear.
Gloves are subject to the most abrasion and grime of all outerwear, and the damage UV rays can do to tents and shelters are often overlooked. The same amount of care allotted to your outerwear should be used on your gloves, tent rain fly, and bivy sacks. We recommend Nikwax Tech Wash (gloves) and Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarWash (tents, bivy sacks).