Roads Rivers and Trails

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Tag Archives: Footwear

Post-Trip Cleanup: Caring for Your Gear

The return from a trip is usually just as chaotic as the frenzied packing. Inevitably, we get home late at night with commitments the following morning. Post-trip cleanup simply doesn’t happen the way we intend. But take a step back from the bedlam, slow down, and think about how you care for your gear when the trails have been trekked and the rivers run. After all, properly cleaning and storing our equipment will keep it in prime condition for our next adventure. If you’ve thrown out the care guide for your latest investment, here’s what I recommend for post-trip cleanup and long-term care.


  • Tents

Tents are often packed up still holding the morning dew and promptly forgotten about in our rush for hot showers at home. It’s important to set your tent up or hang it to dry completely once you return, which will prevent mildew. Shake it out well, or turn it inside out to remove the sand and dirt that you tracked in. Those particles can result in punctured or worn fabric if they’re not removed. Take care not to leave your tent in direct sunlight while it dries; those UV rays are as harsh on nylon as they are on our skin. After most trips, this routine will be enough.

Once a year, it doesn’t hurt to dive into some deeper maintenance. You can wash your tent with a mild soap or use Nikwax Tech Wash, and I find it best to wash by hand. Use a soft sponge to scrub any mud or stains off. This may also be a good time to seam seal your rain fly if it’s been a while, and while you’re at it treat the rain fly with TX Direct to re-waterproof it. Take a minute to check the poles— is the shock cord still intact, or is it time to revitalize the old? If your tent is more than a few years old, it may be due for solar proofing, as well. Finally, inspect your tent body and fly for pin-sized holes that need patched, and cover those with a combination of seam sealant and repair tape.


Tech Wash is a versatile essential for post-trip cleanup.

  • Backpacks and Stuff Sacks

Backpacks don’t need much care, but on the rare occasion they become salt-stained and hold onto a foul odor at trip’s end. Dunk your pack in a tub with a mild soap such as Dr. Bronner’s and agitate it. A brush may be needed to remove pesky stains. Make sure you let the pack dry completely before storing it, since hip belts and harnesses can harbor water well after the rest has dried.

Stuff sacks, compression sacks, and dry sacks can also be dunked in a mild soap solution. Again, air dry is best. These don’t need washed often but should be hung up to dry after every trip.

  • Sleeping Bags

When you have to hold your breath before you crawl into your sleeping bag, it’s time for laundry. Sleeping bags don’t need washed often, but a yearly cycle will extend the life and comfort of your bag. Sleeping bags are delicate, however, and improperly washing a bag can damage it. Care options differ for synthetic- and down- filled bags. Synthetic bags are easy to care for—toss it in the washer with a mild detergent and let it run.

For all the benefits of down, it requires a little extra care when laundry day comes. I recommend washing your down bag with a special detergent like Nikwax Down Wash to keep your bag in the best condition. Down bags will need washed in cool water on a gentle cycle, and you’ll need a front-loading machine without an agitator. The agitator on your machine can tear the lining between the baffles, meaning all the bag’s down will end up clumped in one spot. Take care when transferring a wet bag from the washer to dryer, and never hang a soaked down bag to dry. The weight of wet down can tear the lining between baffles as the bag hangs. Bags can be dried on low heat, which may take several cycles. Adding a few tennis balls to the dryer will break up the clumps of down and return your bag to maximum loft.


  • Sleeping Pads

When you get back from a trip, lay your sleeping pad out to dry. If it’s inflatable or self-inflating, leave the valve open so any moisture inside the pad can dry. With self-inflating pads, it’s best not to store the pad compressed. When the foam core is consistently compressed, it doesn’t inflate on its own next time it’s used. Rather than rolling it up, self-inflating pads can be left open and tucked in a closet.

Like most gear, sleeping pads should be washed with a mild soap every few months. Inflatable pads are especially important to clean, since packing them away with sediment can result in punctures. Strong detergents and cleaning products can wear down the airtight seal on inflatable pads, so take caution when cleaning.

  • Clothing

I shouldn’t have to say this, but yes, you should do laundry after a trip. That’s not where most people run into problems. Rather, improperly washing garments is more likely to result in damaged fabrics. Most outdoor clothing has care instructions that differ slightly from what you may be used to. Whether your clothes are synthetic, bamboo, wool, or hemp, they’ll do best washed in cool water on a gentle cycle. As for drying, most apparel will last longer and perform best if you let it air dry. Wool takes special care, since heat will quickly transform your base layer or sweater into a child’s size. Bamboo, hemp, wool, and all mid-layers and jackets should be hung to dry.

Caring for outdoor apparel takes extra effort; wool, bamboo, hemp, and synthetic fabrics are delicate.

  • Down Jackets

Over time, the fill in your down jacket will begin to clump together due to dirt, grime, and oil. When this happens, your jacket loses much of its insulating power and it’s time for a restorative wash. Like down sleeping bags, your garment should be washed with a specialized down treatment. Wash in a front-loading machine, or hand wash in a bathtub. Once again, adding tennis balls to the dryer will break up those clumps and return the fluff to your winter jacket.

  • Rain Gear

If your rain jacket starts to leak, it can often be given a second life just by cleaning it. As oils and particles clog the rain jacket’s pores, it becomes less breathable and prone to leaking. A simple clean can work wonders, but be sure to use a mild detergent such as Tech Wash that won’t degrade the waterproof membrane. Household detergents can sometimes ruin an expensive jacket. Rain jackets usually only need washed every few months, depending on their use. Once a year, it’s a good idea to treat your jacket with TX Direct wash-in waterproofing to restore the Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating.



The right gear care can keep your rain jacket working properly for endless adventures.

  • Boots, Shoes, and Sandals

Inevitably, the smelliest piece of gear is our shoes. While that smell can never be fully extinguished, cleaning your footwear can provide some temporary relief. The same lesson as before rings true for footwear: use a mild soap. A scrub brush is essential for really cleaning the soles. Wash your shoes in a sink until the water runs clear. Remove the insoles before you let them air dry to prevent mildew from forming. Once clean, your shoes may need re-waterproofed, depending on the material. Leather boots and shoes can be treated with mink oil or a Nikwax product, which not only restores the water-repellency, but also extends the life of the leather. If the sole is separating from your shoe, a quick dose of Shoe Goo will keep you on your feet.

When sandal sweat becomes unbearable, a thorough washing is in order. Use Nikwax sandal wash—equipped with a scrub brush—to remove the foul-smelling bacteria in your sandals. Don’t forget to wash and scrub the straps, too! And if your sandal of choice happens to be Bedrocks or Chacos, you can send them back to the maker for a new sole or straps when the time comes. Keep your favorite sandals on your feet and out of the landfill!



If you have questions on how to care for your favorite piece or aren’t sure what cleaning product is best, stop by RRT or give us a call (513-248-7787) to chat with an expert. Likewise, our repair services are available for any tasks you’re not up to, from seam-sealing a tent to patching a leaky sleeping pad.


by: Will Babb

Gear Review: Asolo TPS 520

The Long Term Test
Gear Review: Asolo TPS 520
Written by: Bryan Wolf

My Experience with the TPS is not a short story. This story started almost 7 years ago when I bought my first pair for my very first backpacking trip. If you can buy one thing that immediately makes you feel like a rugged outdoorsman, it’s boots. Heavy on the leather, Gore Tex, mud stomping, ass kicking boots. I think the Asolos gave me mountain swagger. I wasn’t even sure at the time what Gore Tex was, and it didn’t matter, since my buddy Joe was an eagle scout and he knew everything in the outdoor world! Joe picked out all of the gear for my first trip and I forked out the cash. The boots were not cheap then and they are not cheap now, but their value remains consistent.

That first backpacking trip took me on a 2,175 mile journey through the Appalachian Mountains. Not having worn the boots before, we decided to purchase two pairs before the trail, and at the half way point we swapped them out to avoid any trail malfunctions. So, after 6 months of damage each pair had seen about 1,100 miles of hard trail abuse. Like I said though, it’s a long story. The boots were not retired from there, they had only just begun. Through Red River Gorge, constant AT revisits, and Alaska back country, these same 2 pairs of TPS boots remain the same solid, rock kickers that they were 7 years ago. With no sole separation and only a slight gap in the front toe, the boots stay dry and warm still to this day. The tread wear is adding up, especially after 1500 plus miles each so they are due for a visit to Dave the Cobbler, but I would gladly pay a few bucks to revitalize them.

More or Less?
Are you old fashioned or ultra-light?

“TPS” stands for Triple Power Structure; that is the 3 shock absorbing dual density points on the boots midsole at the points of usual wear. If you notice the picture above, the TPS system follows the foot starting with the strike point on the outer heel, it then improves stability supporting the inner heel and ends with a third shock absorber in the front of the foot for pushing off. A “PU Dual Density” sole, is called dual density because it combines a tough outer compound with a softer and more shock absorbing inner compound. The outsole on the TPS is a durable Vibram sole.

The 520 model is the Gore Tex model, versus the 535 non Gore. Gore is a waterproof bootie easily seen on the inside of a boot. The leather has a high weather resistance already so it can be overkill in some models. The Gore can also add insulation but does not breathe quite as well as an eVent fabric or a non-waterproof model. It’s not like you’re pushing perspiration through that thick of leather anyway.

There is no way around it, these boots are heavy. The leather upper is thicker than the sole on some of my Vibram Five Fingers. The boots come in just short of 4 pounds, and a wise man once told me 1 lb on your foot is like 5 lbs on your back. So it is easy to see the perks of going with some Salomon trail runners and bouncing around all nimbly bimbly like a cat. After all, things have changed, carrying 50-60 big lbs on your back was the norm not long ago. Today, further and faster is more of the game and 20-30 pound packs are more the norm. It is not about right or wrong, just about picking your path.

If The Boot Fits…
Finding the right boot for the job

The TPS fit me, and it fit me quick despite its rigid body. I did a few days of urban trekking before the trail to “break them in” and that was it. When we got our second pair we took them straight to the trail with no break in period. Maybe my feet were just rock solid by that point, toughened by the trail? Not everyone will be as lucky, and not everyone will agree. Ask yourself if the boots fit you, and do they fit your trip?

It is easy to say that the TPS is the “BEST BOOT EVER” but that seems a bit generalized considering we all have different needs. What I can tell you is that I enjoy wearing them, they feel great and they make me feel invincible. Not rock, nor rain will stop me in those boots. While I watch other hikers cycle through 10 or 11 pairs of trail shoes, I always feel great knowing the dollar value of my boots far superseded theirs. So what’s right for you?

This is coming from a guy that wears minimalist to backpack, and often. You can however rest assured that when we pack up for Alaska again, or on most of my winter hikes where the remote conditions require dependability over bragging rights of being lightweight, the Asolo TPS 520 GTX will be my pick. Sometimes there is no room for error; deep into Lake Clark Wilderness is not the place to duct tape a boot together (I won’t name names). To get sized for your boots and get a full run down on other boot features stop by Roads Rivers and Trails in Milford, OH.