At the end of every season I commit to overhauling my gear. I take a weekend and pull out all of my camping and backpacking gear and spend sometime evaluating the condition of my gear.
I begin by organizing. I basically have two separate piles of gear: Car Camping and Backpacking. Some of the items may cross over, but I find a place for them as well. I organize next by category: Fuel, Lighting, Food, Sleep, Shelter, Navigation, etc.
Once the items have been organized into category, I begin to evaluate the condition of the gear. I check to make sure the headlamps and flashlights work. Is my knife is sharpened? Does my tent have any holes and is it still seam sealed? Does my sleeping pad need a patch? After I inspect each item, I clean the item, remove its battery (if it has one), and place the item into the storage container. I clean my stoves and knives. I clean out the bear vault and properly store any unused dehydrated food items. I clean my sleeping bag and hang it. I check the tent poles and grommets and seams to make sure that the tents are fully functional, then I clean them after any repairs are made.
I also ask myself these vital questions – Do I need this item? Have I used it in the past year? Is this item necessary for survival? A lot of times I find that I am holding onto something just because I’ve had an experience with it in the past. I also hold items with the intention of using it in the future. The mind comes in and says, “You’ll need that… Some day.” It’s the Some Day mentality that makes me question the need. If I can, I remove the item and either sell it, or give it to a friend. I love passing along older gear to people who are just getting into the spirit of outdoor adventuring. It serves two purposes, you help someone get outside, and you pass along some of your history.
Once all of the gear is checked, maintained and cleaned, I store them for the winter.
Proper care for your gear means a longer lasting item for you to use. Yes, gear is constantly changing every year, but that doesn’t mean we have to purchase every upgrade as soon as it comes out. Good quality gear should last years if it is well taken care of.