2 Ways To Make Your Gear Last Longer

How to take really good care of your gear

Every week I find myself playing and doing the things I enjoy most outside. I consider myself incredibly lucky to live in a place that makes playing outside easy, I have a body capable of the stressors I put on it with biking, climbing, camping and everything else, and I have the gear to do them!

However, I’ve run into a problem.

Gear is expensive. To get the stuff that will really allow you to do everything you want, you have to dish out that dinero for the good stuff. The last thing you want is to buy a pair of $200 climbing shoes that only last 6 months. Now that might be ok if you are climbing every single day for long days and you really get milage out of them, but sometimes you don’t even use them that much and they get ruined.

It’s no fun having to go find more cash for more gear to replace what should have been perfectly good for a while.

There are a couple options, and 2 examples I want to share with you about how I’ve made a small gear investments last decades.

When I turned 11 I joined the 11 year old scout group in my community. They frequently went on campouts, maybe 1 a month in the summer and 1x a quarter in the winter months. It was a great time and I loved camping and being out with other friends in the wild.

My dad took me to REI to get some gear and helped me pick out some good things that would last. He helped a bit with the cost of the gear but only a bit, he had me work and save up money to buy most all of it. We had a long conversation about spending a bit more money to get something higher quality that would really last a long time.

I picked out a thermarest air mattress that packed down really small and cost a little over $100, and a really nice 0 degree sleeping bag that was an REI brand and that cost in the $250 range I think. As an 11-year old that was a lot to dish out on some gear, but alas I went for it.

I’m now 24 as I write this and just last night I put that exact same pad and sleeping bag away. According to my math, 24–11 = 13. I’ve had the exact same sleeping bag and pad for 13 years now. I’ve used those on every campout I’ve been on for all those years and they are still in fantastic condition. Only minor repairs have been necessary but they are amazing.

Let’s say I did about 1 campout a month from 11 years old to 18, that’s 12 campouts per year for 7 years which puts my number at 84, plus all the scout camps I did that were week long, I did about 6 of those which were 5 days each so that brings my total to 114. Then in the last 3 years I’ve really upped how much time I have to spend outside and spend an average of 25 nights a year sleeping under the stars, 25*3 = 75.

So add that all together, and my rough math would give me about 189 nights I’ve used that gear. Not too bad. Probably a little on the low side but we’ll go with it.

So from my initial investment of $350 I’ve had close to 200 nights of fun with friends and family and staying warm, which would bring my cost of camping to about $1.75 per night. Pretty solid. Plus this isn’t counting all the future use I’ll get out of them as I continue to use them over the coming years.

It’s not always the case that you get so much milage out of gear, but often can be if you take care of it correctly.

Suggestion #1

ALWAYS store your down sleeping bag in a large stuff sack. Fluff it up, make sure it’s not stored compressed. I just pull my sleeping bag out of my tiny compression stuff sack and put it into the large bag and put that under my bed and store it in a cool dark place. It continues to be an amazing sleeping bag.

Suggestion #2

Unroll your sleeping pad and store it not compressed. Again basically the same thing as number 1 but if you want to keep your inflatable sleeping pad going strong, store it unrolled and in a cool dark place.

Every piece of gear is similar. The extreme temperatures makes it harder to last. So store it in a place it has room to breathe, clean it properly and take good care of it. Then it will last forever, or almost.

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