When the hunt is over, you’ll be tired and worn out. But it’s important to take the time to care for your hunting gear. High quality gear is a big investment. Taking great care of it will help it last longer and perform better.
If your hunting gear is going to continue to perform the way you expect it to, it’s going to require some attention at the end of each hunt. The mark of a fun hunt is a pile of gear that’s dirty, muddy and bloody. Don’t let it stay that way. The quicker you can get things cleaned, dried and put away, the better.
Here are a few things to pay attention to after the hunt:
How To Wash Technical Mountain Hunting Clothes
The most obvious first step is washing your hunting clothes. But before you throw them in the washing machine, take the time to read the care labels and use the right detergents. Use a mild detergent that is specifically designed for technical clothing. We recommend products from Nikwax as they are specifically made for outdoor gear. They’ll be safe to use on your high quality athletic fabrics.
Any of your water resistant or waterproof gear should be washed in a detergent that’s made for those types of fabrics. This includes your rain gear, softshells, or anything with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish. Nikwax makes a detergent called Tech Wash that’s perfect for these items.
Next, wash the rest of your gear according to the gear labels. If you have down or merino wool items, Nikwax also makes detergents designed specifically for those materials. When it’s clean, we always recommend hanging your hunting gear to dry rather than using a dryer. This will extend the life and performance of your clothing.
Revitalize Rain Gear and Water Resistant Items
After cleaning, it’s time to treat your waterproof and water-resistant items. The DWR on your rain gear and soft shells wears off after a lot of use. We think it’s a good idea to re-treat them at the end of each season. Some re-treatment products allow you to treat your items in the washing machine with a wash-in treatment. Spray-on treatments are also available. Whatever you choose, these solutions will renew the DWR finish on your outerwear which helps water to bead and roll off, just like when they were new.
Once your clothes have been washed and waterproofed as necessary, place them in an airtight container and store them in a location that’s dry and out of direct sunlight. Moisture and exposure to sun or direct heat will cause fabrics to break down prematurely. Additionally, an airtight container will prevent your clothes from absorbing other smells from around your home throughout the year.
Clean and Re-Waterproof Your Hunting Boots
Moving on from your clothes, it’s time to take care of your boots. These are critical pieces of equipment for any hunter and they also need some care. After a hunting trip, clean all the mud, dirt and debris from your boots. Then, depending on your boot material, find appropriate footwear cleaner and wash your boots. Cleaning solutions can be found at most sporting goods stores for leather and other common boot materials.
After cleaning your boots, you’ll want to apply a solution for re-waterproofing. Again, use one that is made specifically for your boot’s material. This is particularly important if you own full-grain leather boots. Applying a boot wax or conditioning treatment to the leather before you put them back in the closet can make a big difference. This will prevent the leather from cracking over time and keep it in good condition.
Clean and Inspect All Critical Hunting Gear
Your rifle, scope and other optics are a big investment, so make sure they get some love. Clean your rifle or bow after each hunt. Take a lens cloth and remove any dust or debris from your rifle scope, binoculars and spotting scope.
Finally, be sure and carefully clean any other gear including backpacks, sleeping pads or other equipment that may be dirty. Waiting too long to clean out your equipment can cause unnecessary corrosion. Don’t forget the small stuff, like wiping dirt from tent stakes. Even these little things will help your equipment last longer and perform better. If nothing else, working on your gear will give you something to do as you dream of the next hunt!
Written by Ryan McSparran
Ryan McSparran is an outdoor writer, a hunting and fly fishing guide, and very proud to be a part of the Kawdy Outfitters team.