Reader Francesca LaManna, 22, Brooklyn, NY
» Problem “I don’t have a lot to spend on gear. How can I make my investment last?”
Expert Kristin Hostetter, BACKPACKER Gear Editor and author of The Complete Guide to Outdoor Gear Maintenance
» Solution “Store things properly and do easy fixes yourself; zipper blowouts and big rips are preventable.”
Prep for Storage
Avoid Mildew and grime damage.
» Tent Dry it thoroughly before storing. Clean annually with a mild detergent and rinse poles.
» Bag Air out after each use and hang, lay flat, or stuff loosely in a cotton sack to store. Wash in a front-loading machine every 30 uses, or when excessively dirty.
» Hydration system Rinse with hot water and air dry. Remove odd tastes by soaking overnight with water and denture-cleaning tablets. Store flat.
» Boots Clean outside with a stiff brush and rinse boot insole with McNett MiraZyme ($5; mcnett.com).
Make Preventive Repairs
Avert on-trail gear emergencies.
» Tears Fix small rips before they become big. Use an alcohol pad to clean fabric, and then seal it with a glob of McNett Seam Grip ($8).
» Bent/stuck zippers Don’t yank. Pull fabric (not the slider) to loosen snags. Clean zipper teeth with a stiff, dry brush and use needle-nose pliers to squeeze a bent slider into shape or reposition a tooth. Zip between squeezes to test performance.
» Waterproof finish Give an old jacket new life by refreshing its DWR finish when rain stops beading and rolling off its surface. Wash or spray on Nikwax TX Direct ($13; nikwax.com).