How to Care for Your Backpack
1. Pack hard-edged items, such as stoves or cookware, carefully so they don't poke your back or rub holes in packed gear.
2. Remove any food bags from your pack, and don't leave pieces of crumbled snacks inside. The odors and tasty tidbits draw hungry varmints.
3. Clean out your pack after every trip. Unzip all pockets and compartments to shake out crumbs, dirt, sand and hazardous waste like crusty trail socks. If the pack is really grungy, sponge it off with mild soap and water. Air dry out of the sun, since ultraviolet rays can damage the nylon fabric in a surprisingly short time.
4. Perform basic maintenance. Stitch up any rips with a heavy metal needle and upholstery thread. If nylon straps are frayed, melt the edges with a match.
5. Check for annoying squeaks on external frames; try silicone spray anyplace the bag touches the frame. Replace any worn clevis pins or split rings.
6. Carry a spare clevis pin and a couple of split rings if you've got an external frame pack. These little units love to disappear at the most inopportune moments, and unless you have a spare, you'll have to live with a floppy packbag or shoulder strap.
7. Inspect your pack for loose seams or deteriorating hardware at major stress points around the hipbelt, shoulder straps, and suspension stabilizers. A blown shoulder strap could mean big transport troubles deep in the woods. Repair worn zippers before they pop, otherwise you might end up with belongings strewn along miles of trail.
8. Store your pack in a cool, dry, airy place to keep it from collecting mildew, which can delaminate the fabric's waterproof coating.
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