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October 2016 Issue
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5 backpack hacks

It’s one of the most important pieces of gear you’ll haul up the mountain, and should be treated with respect. Here are a few tips on how to care for your trustworthy pack.

Keep it clean
Did you sweat buckets on your last tramp? Or was it that bluebird day on the Abel Tasman that left your pack smelling like it was doused in a bathtub of dirty socks? Gear guru Ben Sinclair from Living Simply recommends you wash your pack as often as you sweat into it. Sweat begets breakdown, and your shoulder straps and back padding will gradually disintegrate before your very eyes if you leave your reeking pack in the corner after every sweaty outing.

Packs like baths
Don’t go near your washing machine: Sinclair says the best remedy for a dirty, smelly pack is a long, hot bath. He recommends using soap and a fine-tooth brush to scrub out the muddy bits and the straps. After it’s fully rinsed, line-dry your pack before storing it.

Store your pack in a dry place
Mould will wreck a pack quickly, so to avoid a major disappointment when you next haul it out, keep your pack in a dry environment.

Waterproof your pack
A DWR spray will do the trick, and will keep your pack from absorbing rain on your next wet-weather tramp. Spray it when it’s clean and dry for the best results.

Recognise when it’s time to bid your beloved pack adieu
“Canvas packs are almost indestructible,” Sinclair says. “But a synthetic pack, which has a polyurethane lining in it, has a life-span of between four and eight years. So if your pack is breaking down internally, you need to replace it. It’s not repairable.” Some parts of a pack can be replaced, such as buckles, but if your zips start going, he says it’s time to look into a new pack. “People come in and are quite sentimental about their packs,” Sinclair says, adding that it’s a good idea to bring in your old pack to help find something comparable to the one you’re letting go.