When it comes to the ol’ family camping trip, it can usually fall into one of two categories…
A trip where you thrive…
…or a trip you survive.
You know the ones we’re talking about…the “it-rained-all-day, my-sleeping-bag-sucked, the-tent-ripped, and my-kids-were-miserable” type of camping trip.
We want you to get the most out of your family camping trips, no matter the weather or conditions. Rain and cold temperatures don’t have to put a damper on your camping trip. A little preparation can turn those times into some of the best. Preparing your camping gear is important, because nothing can ruin an otherwise-fun camping trip like gear failure or gear that under-performs.
5 TIPS FOR ENHANCING THE PERFORMANCE OF YOUR CAMPING GEAR
1 | WASH YOUR BASELAYERS BEFORE YOU WEAR THEM ON A CAMPING TRIP.
We all know how funky our clothes can smell after a couple days out in the sticks. Running a quick cycle of laundry for all your next-to-skin, synthetic layers before you go camping will prepare them to perform at their best, once you’re out in the wild; our choice for this is Nikwax BaseWash, as it enhances the wicking functionality of your synthetic baselayers, decreases the time it takes for them to dry when wet, and deodorizes them, extending the amount of time that they feel fresh and odor-free. Nikwax WoolWash is designed for garments like wool socks and merino wool layers.
Bonus tip: Always bring separate baselayers to sleep in…your body oils have been absorbed into your baselayers from wearing them all day, so putting on fresh, clean layers as you crawl into your sleeping bags will prevent your sleeping bags from also absorbing all those body oils, which hinder their insulation functionality.
2 | WASH YOUR SLEEPING BAGS BEFORE YOU TAKE THEM CAMPING.
Sleeping bags can be beacons of refuge that we need at the end of a long day hike or a long drive. However, they need just a little bit of care and love to become the havens of coziness and comfort that we want them to be. If your sleeping bag has a synthetic fill, you will want to run it through a cycle of Nikwax Tech Wash, and if your bag has down fill, you will want to run it through a cycle of Nikwax Down Wash Direct. You want to make sure that your sleeping bag has the most loft and insulation functionality that is possibly can, and that it also maintains its water resistance. Nothing is worse than a flat, cold, damp sleeping bag.
Bonus tip: After the trip is over, remember to always store your sleeping bags loosely, in a stuff sack, or stored loosely, somewhere dry and safe. Don’t store them in small, tight, compression bags, with the straps cranked down. Compression bags are great for packing bags into (or on) backpacks for hikes or backpacking trips, but long durations of extreme compression can cause bags to lose their insulation properties. Let those bags breathe. They will thank you by keeping your family warm for years.
3 | CLEAN YOUR TENT IN BETWEEN CAMPING TRIPS.
We recommend setting up your tent in your yard or a nearby grassy area, before you leave for your trip. In less than an hour, you can properly clean the tent with Nikwax SolarWash. Just a single use of SolarWash can increase the life of your tent by 50%. It not only cleans your tent, but it also protects it from harmful UV damage, from the sun’s rays. UV rays stiffen and weaken tent fabric fibers, causing premature breakdown, and oftentimes, ripping & tearing. It’s also very satisfying to lay out your camping pads and sleeping bags on a nice, clean, fresh tent floor, so don’t forget to give it a quick sweep or vacuum while you are letting the SolarWash suds soak in.
Bonus tip: Tents are best stored clean. Dirt, sand, and moisture can cause fabric breakdown or mildew, if left on the tent over time. Oftentimes, exhaustion kicks in, and most of us are looking to do as little work as possible once we arrive back home from a camping trip. But if you can rally and take 15-20 minutes, immediately when you get home, to set up the tent again in the yard, wash it quickly, and then pack it away clean, you will thank yourself endlessly, when it comes time for your next adventure.
4 | WATERPROOF YOUR TENT, ONCE OR TWICE A YEAR, AS NEEDED.
Waking up in the middle of the night, because the tent has soaked up a bunch of water, can be the most miserable experience. Some say that you haven’t ever truly been camping until you’ve experienced this “rite of passage.” But let’s be honest…we all would much rather stay dry and warm all night long. Enter Nikwax SolarProof. When you clean your tent with SolarWash and then waterproof it with SolarProof, you get a combo that makes a strong argument for the greatest “1-2 punch” in tent care. SolarProof is designed to add incredible water-repellency to your tent, causing water to bead up, roll off, and not absorb into the fabric. It also adds significant UV protection, like SolarWash. Just a single use of SolarProof can increase the life of your tent by 100%, and when used in conjunction with SolarWash, your tent’s lifespan can increase by a total of 150%…over DOUBLE its original lifespan.
Bonus tip: You can also use SolarWash & SolarProof on other things like cartop/roof-rack tents, hammocks, backpacks, awnings, umbrellas/sunbrellas, and more!
5 | CLEAN & WATERPROOF YOUR DOWN JACKETS AND RAIN JACKETS…AND BRING THEM.
If you check the weather forecast and it looks a little sketchy, be sure to bring those jackets along, in case of rain or chillier temperatures. You want to make sure you wash and waterproof your rain jackets and synthetic fill jackets, semi-regularly. Wash according to their garment care labels, but use Tech Wash instead of detergent; standard detergent will leave behind a water-and-dirt-attracting residue on those technical garments, decreasing breathability and performance. Tech Wash maintains breathability, cleans, removes odor, and strengthens water-repellency, increasing overall performance. You can also add water-repellency back onto jackets that are older or have lost their repelling functionality by doing a second laundry cycle (right after your Tech Wash cycle) with Nikwax TX.Direct. For down-filled jackets and vests, it’s a similar process: check the care labels for guidelines, and then use Down Wash Direct for cleaning and Nikwax Down Proof for waterproofing.
Bonus tip: Choose a few days a year to run a few specialty cycles for your technical gear. Most rain jackets and down jackets don’t need to be washed more than a handful of times per year, and only need to be re-waterproofed 1-3 times a year, depending on how much you use them. You can always clean along the way though, if things like beer spills, food stains, and tree sap happen.
FINAL THOUGHT: The moments you spend with your family out amongst the trees, rivers, and lakes, can be some of the most unforgettable times. Don’t let soggy tents, stinky clothes, damp jackets, and cold sleeping bags be the reason that they are unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.With a little bit of care and attention, your gear will perform at its best and allow you to focus on more important things…
…like perfecting the family S’more recipe and practicing your campfire-cooking techniques.
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