The Fix: Deodorize Your Gear

Does your pack smell like last summer's cheddar? Here's how to clean up.

Stuff Sacks | Tents and Backpacks | Boots and Apparel

A stuff sack that reeks of last year’s cheddar isn’t just a sign of sloppy packing, it’s a fragrant invitation to raccoons and other hungry wildlife. Rodents will chew through sacks, tents, and even packs in search of easy snacks. Keep the scavengers at bay by removing (not just masking) food, mildew, and sweat odors that build up in these rarely washed pieces of gear.

Stuff Sacks

STINK Food-storage bags absorb a smorgasbord of smells from leaky containers, sun-baked salami, and hastily stored leftovers.

CLEAN Eliminate food residue, bacteria, and mildew with McNett’s MiraZyme ($8; 8 oz., This cocktail of natural enzymes and microbes destroys odor-causing bacteria and produces only CO2 and water as byproducts. Fill a bathtub with lukewarm water and add 0.5 ounce of MiraZyme. Turn stuff sacks inside out and soak them for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove sacks from the water and let air dry in the shade without rinsing. MiraZyme’s ingredients leave no harmful residue, so bags are still food-safe.

Stuff Sacks | Tents and Backpacks | Boots and Apparel

Tents and Backpacks

STINK Crawl into an old tent and your nose will likely detect mildew–a musty-smelling fungal spore. Backpacks absorb odors from food spills and sweat.

CLEAN Use MiraZyme to kill these odors, but increase the dose to one ounce for backpacks and two ounces for typical two- and three-person shelters. Follow the same soaking instructions for stuff sacks (turn tents inside out) and open all zippers. To sanitize a small area of a tent, apply MiraZyme solution with a sponge and air dry.

Stuff Sacks | Tents and Backpacks | Boots and Apparel

Boots and Apparel

STINK After sweat dries, it leaves a salty residue that makes boot insoles and sandals seem like tasty treats to salt-craving rodents and even deer.

CLEAN Granger’s Odor Eliminator ($5; 2 oz., breaks down the offending bacteria. Spray the tops and bottoms of insoles evenly. Let dry before wearing. Use Oxiclean Laundry Stain Remover (available at supermarkets) for foul-smelling apparel.

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