Tips

Preparing Outdoor Gear For The Spring Season

I don’t know about you, but when I pack up my outdoor gear at the end of the fall season it’s, ehh, not the cleanest should we say. Maybe I’m lazy, but usually at that point it just doesn’t seem so important to me that everything is nice and clean. What’s important is that it’s put away and I’ve moved on to the next thing in life. Hopefully I’m not the only one that thinks this way, and either I’m not lazy or we’re all lazy. Whatever works.

The thing is, almost every year on the last few trips things are just muddy and wet. Naturally everything picks up a ton of dirt. Are you really going to hose and brush everything down? How are you going to get it dry without bringing all of that into your house when it’s cold and wet outside? Maybe someone else out there has a practical solution, but I just pack everything up and wait to deal with it when the sun and the warm weather are back.

Well, spring has certainly sprung, and with it has come the sunshine, warm weather, and drier conditions that allow me to once again bust out my dirty outdoor gear and get it clean for the upcoming season. Here are a few things I do to get myself ready:

Clean Off and Out The Boots

At the end of a busy outdoors season my super high quality pair of boots often look like they’re destined for the trash can. They’re covered in leaves and pine needles, caked on with layers of dirt and soaked through with muddy water from the many puddles I had the misfortune of stepping in. I know what’s underneath though, and that’s my good old trusty pair of boots. I just have to bring them back to life.

So, first things first I’ll smack the living crap out of the to knock off as much of the dried and crusty debris as I can. You might want to cover your face when you do this, because so much dust and dirt flies up in the air you’ll be wondering if there’s a sandstorm. Then I’ll take a firm brush and while the soles are still dry I’ll continue knocking debris out of the tread. Once that’s all said and done it’s time for the garden hose, and I’ll hose those suckers down until the water starts to run clean. Then I’ll hang them out in the sun until they’re as good as new.

Getting The Tent Ready

On any given year my tent has likely seen some serious action. The first thing I’ll do is find a dry patch of land and get it set up so that I can do a basic damage assessment. While the tent is relatively dry – albeit awful musty – I’ll remove any leftover goods (train tickets, napkins, receipts, etc.) and take the opportunity to vacuum out all of the debris that had accumulated over the year of use.

Once the tent is clean on a dry basis, it’s time to actually get the material back in top shape. Usually my neglect has led to some mold forming on the outer and potentially inner walls, and once again there’s usually mud everywhere. I usually find a pressure washer works best for getting rid of both of these, as a gentle stream of high-pressure water loaded with detergent seems to be quite effective. If you don’t have one already, I’d recommend reading through some electric power washer reviews. They are quite affordable and even more useful.

Once I’m done washing I’ll give the tent a chance to dry, then I’ll treat all of the outer surfaces with a good water repellent to keep the coating in good shape to hold up through the upcoming season.

Tending To The Rain Gear

No, not reign deer. Rain gear. You know, like my rain jacket and rain paints. Duh.

I treat my rain gear very similarly as I do to the tent, with the exception of the fact that it is not resilient enough to stand up to the high-pressure stream from a pressure washer. Instead, I’ll hang them all on hangers, empty and invert the pockets, and wipe away any debris. Many people will put their rain gear in the washing machine but I find that this seems to have a hugely negative impact on the fabrics, seriously reducing their usable life. Instead what I’ll do is hose them down and use a sponge to gently lift any dirt and grime that has built up on them. Then I’ll let them air dry in the sun thoroughly.

Again, once they are dry I’ll use waterproofing spray to preserve the resistant properties of the Gortex. This will help them stay in good shape for years to come. If necessary, I’ll mend any minor tears or split seams with a needle thread, and I’ll put extra sealant on any of those repairs because I know from experience that my craftsmanship is a bit lacking and they’re prone to leakage.

With all of that behind me, I’m ready for the next outdoor season. This year I’m going to try to do quite a bit more hiking, as I feel I was spending a lot of time on flat ground last year. It was great fun, but you have to change it up from time to time.

Finding A Place To Stay When You’re Abroad

The task of finding a place to stay when you’re traveling can be extremely daunting. Not only are you visiting somewhere that you’ve never been, but in many cases your native language won’t be the norm in your destination. Don’t let this turn you away! Here are some tips to make it easier on you.

Plan Ahead

Make every effort to get your ducks in a row well before your intended travel dates. Six months or more is preferable. This not only allows you to get the most affordable prices, but it also puts your mind at ease knowing that you have a plan in place and will not be left on the streets. Without a doubt, when making reservations choose the refundable option. Plans change – just take my word for it. You’ll end up kicking yourself when the day comes that your flight gets rescheduled, you get sick, or you simply have a change of heart while you’re on vacation.

Talk To People

This may seem obvious, but if you have friends or family that have been to the area, let them know that you’re going and see what they have to say. They may be able to recommend a particular hotel, or even tell you to stay away from one, which can be just as helpful. In the best of cases, you can even have friends that live in your destination. This can be enormously helpful for many reasons. They can show you around the town, point out places to visit and places to avoid, and generally act as a tour guide (heck, they might even give you a place to sleep for free!). Plus it’s nice to have a friend to enjoy your stay with.

Most relevant to this post however is that they may even offer to put you up in their guest bedroom, which can save you a fortune and get you off of the beaten tourist path. As you get older, this advantage gets better and better. On my recent trip to Spain I stayed in my friend’s beautiful guest bedroom for a few nights, and I slept on the most comfortable futon I’ve ever used. Just remember, if your friends were traveling to your home town, wouldn’t you be happy to put them up and show them around the city?

Pay Attention to Detail

The last piece of advice is to think of the little things. You’d be surprised what items a hotel may or may not include, especially when you are paying quite a bit of money. Here are a few things you should check to see if they are included:

  • Internet Access (WiFi)
  • Air conditioning
  • Breakfast
  • Refrigerator
  • Beach towels

Make sure you know what you are getting into. Maybe you can’t afford hotels that have all of these amenities, and maybe it’s not important to you if they do. The most important thing is that you don’t want to get surprised when you show up to your destination and be left without a key accommodation that you were depending on.

5 Essential Home Upgrades for the Frequent Traveler

Living life on the road (yes, this is indeed a nod to the classic book by Jack Kerouac) lends itself to a lifestyle with minimal belongings. However, there are some things that you absolutely need and others that you don’t necessarily need, but make your life much more convenient or comfortable. Here are a few of my favorite recent purchases:

Safe

This is truly a must. Having your home broken into and your valuables stolen will really hit you hard, especially if you lose a family heirloom. A safe can keep your valuables such as jewelry, cash, and expensive electronics from being stolen while you are away. Just make sure that you get a quality product, and that you properly mount it upon installation.

Firebox

Along similar lines, a firebox is a great place to store important documents and other heat-sensitive materials while you are away. God forbid anything happens, but even a safe wouldn’t save your birth certificate from perishing if a fire were to break out while you are out of the country. There are plenty of models to buy, just make sure you get something that is big enough for all of your sensitive belongings, has sufficient insulation, and is capable of locking. You wouldn’t want the firebox to tumble over and spill its contents in the worst case scenario.

Vacuum Robot

The next couple of items are definitely not required, but are certainly a luxury. 

Since I’m on the road so often, I don’t have a lot of time to spare. One way to free up some extra time is to outsource your daily tasks to others capable of doing the job. Luckily, these days you can buy robots that do some of your household chores for you. Notably, a vacuum robot has really been a huge time saver. While it doesn’t get all the nooks and crannies in the room, I’d say it gets 80-90% of the floor cleaning done, meaning my work in that particular area is cut down by to at most 20% of what I normally have to do to keep my home looking presentable. Popular brands include the iRobot, or my choice the Eufy Robovac.

Electric Fireplace

OK, I’ll be the first to admit that this one is a bit extreme. However, I’ve been so thrilled with my recent upgrade that I have to share. Growing up I always loved spending time by the fireplace reading with my parents to wind the day down. Obviously, it’s downright impractical to have a fireplace when you’re renting, but fortunately these days there are sleek and hip alternatives in electric fireplaces. While they aren’t quite the same as the real thing, they do have a number of benefits that you don’t come across with a real fireplace – namely there is no mess, the air doesn’t get heavy from the smoke, and you don’t need to buy wood. They are also arguably a lot safer than real fireplaces to boot. I find that they look really cool, and can make your home look very modern. If you’re in the market for an electric fireplace head on over to bestelectricfireplace.review, they have some helpful resources in making your next purchase. If you’re looking to impress your guests, this is one simple addition that can really up your wow factor

Web Security Camera

Nothing puts you at ease when you’re on the road more than knowing your life back home is secure. These days you can buy web cameras for seemingly pennies compared to prices of earlier years. Better yet, most come with apps that you can use to log in and check on your house from the comfort of your mobile phone. Just make sure to have the camera pointed at the most important parts of your home and you’ll be good to go. You don’t have to worry about logging in all the time either, as many web security cameras keep archives hour by hour, at least for some period of time. Make sure to get a wide angle lens for the most coverage for each camera purchased.

Well, there you have it. I’m about to head out on my trip to Spain, and I’m sure I’ll have some fun stuff along the way. Stay tuned and as always, thank you for reading!