Spring has sprung, but before you ditch your skis and winter wetsuits completely, show them a little love so they'll be able to return the favor when you dig them out next winter. Here, a few quick tips for storing winter gear.
1. Hang up your down.
Any gear made with lofted insulation (sleeping bags, down or PrimaLoft jackets, etc.) needs to be unpacked and hung up rather than packed away in compression sacks. The longer you compress insulation, the more loft it loses, so un-stuff the fluff.
2. Tune up snowboards and skis.
Clean off mud-covered snow and ski boots, place them in a zippered bag, and store the bundle in a cool, dry place (mice and mold love boots, so make sure neither can get in). Give your skis an end-of-season tune up at a snow shop or at home, then coat them with a thick layer of wax and leave it there to keep everything rust-free and clean over the summer—just be sure to scrape it off come fall.
3. Rinse and dry your wetsuit.
If you live somewhere where you can get away with a spring suit or swimsuit come summer, rinse the inside and outside of your winter wetsuit thoroughly, paying special attention to zippers, which can get stuck otherwise. Hang inside out using a padded hanger (never use wire hangers!) to dry. Lay your suit flat or folded across the waist and store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
4. Stock up on storage.
Stackable, opaque plastic storage boxes with snap-on lids are a great place to stash boots, ice climbing tools, and other gear you won't be using during the summer, as they protect from both sunlight and moisture. Make sure everything is washed and completely dried before placing in the tubs, and use labels for easy access later.
5. Practice spring cleaning.
Now is a good time to clean out hydration bladders, water filters, backpacks, and boots (all of which you may have been neglecting as you ran for a warm shower after a frigid backpacking trip!). Soak filters, hoses, and bladders in warm water diluted with a little bit of bleach, and scrub closures and screw caps with a toothbrush. Hang upside down to drain. Wash boots and other gear with warm water, avoiding soap, and invest in a few waterproofing treatments, oils, and seals to help extend the life of your gear.
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