Instant Upgrades

Revive waterproof jackets, salvage a wet map, get better backcountry sleep, and organize your gear. By Sarah Maurer





Sheri & Randy Propster

BACKPACKER’s Get Out More team


Can’t find my gear easily in my pack—and have a tough time fitting it all in

“Get more systematic: Start by placing your sleeping bag, pad, tent, and clothes in your pack’s base. Tame space-hogging items with sacks like Granite Gear’s Air Compressor series ($28-$36; 1.8 oz.-2.9 oz.; granitegearstore. com), and fill in gaps with your tent poles and fly. Arrange heavier items like food and your hydration system so that they rest between (or below) your shoulder blades. Carry sunscreen and lip balm in a hipbelt or side pocket so you or a hiking partner can reach them easily; use the lid pocket to stow first-aid supplies and a headlamp, and stash extra layers under it for easy access. Carry a few essentials—a snack, knife, map, compass, whistle—in a pants pocket so you have some essentials on your person in the unlucky event you’re separated from your pack.”






Kristin Hostetter

BACKPACKER's Gear Editor


Rain jacket wets out because DWR (durable water repellent) finish isn’t working

“You may be able to reinvigorate the finish of a jacket that’s less than a year old by ironing—use your iron’s medium/synthetic setting—or by tumble-drying it on medium heat. Older garments may need an annual DWR application: First, launder your jacket in a front-loading machine using a purpose-built detergent like Granger’s Performance Wash ($9; 10 oz.). Follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions and run an extra rinse cycle to remove soapy residue. Treat lined shells with a spray-on treatment like Nikwax TX.Direct Spray-On ($14; 10 oz.), focusing on high friction spots like the shoulders and the cuffs. For unlined shells, save time by using a wash-in product such as Granger’s One Step Wash and Waterproofer ($14; 10 oz.). Boots wetting out, too? Improve water resistance in all-leather uppers by treating with a two-in-one product like Aquaseal Leather Waterproofing and Conditioner ($8; 4 oz.). For models with synthetic or fabric/leather uppers, try Nikwax Fabric & Leather Proof Sponge-On ($9; 4.2 oz.).”





Jonathan Greenburg

D.D.S., snoring and sleep apnea specialist


Sleep apnea prevents a good night of backcountry sleep

“Heavy snoring and sleep apnea—a more severe disorder in which a person stops breathing briefly while he or she sleeps—are caused by your tongue relaxing and blocking your airway. Both can ruin a restful night for you and your tentmate. Try any or all of these strategies to improve sleep on your next trip:

» Sleep on your side. Place clothing or your pack behind you to discourage rolling onto your back, and use a pillow to reduce neck strain while side sleeping.

» Avoid alcohol and other depressants, which relax muscles and make tongue-lag worse.

» Sleep on an incline with your head uphill. Steeper angles will lessen gravity’s pull on your tongue, preventing airway blockage potential.

» Use breathing appliances.Breathe Right nasal strips ($13 for 30) and mouthguard-like “dental appliances” like Zyppah ($89) help keep your airway clear, which may reduce snoring and apnea. Practice with them at home before using them on the trail.”





Andrew Matranga



Saturated paper map is falling apart after a drenching rain

““If you’re traveling off-trail or through rugged terrain—anywhere navigation is critical—make salvaging your soaked map a priority, even if it means delaying your trip by a few hours. Move to a sheltered spot and unfold the paper before it starts drying to prevent it from sticking together—and so that runny dyes don’t bleed, which can happen even with waterproof maps. Blot excess water with toilet paper or a cotton bandana, and if areas are worn, use a pencil or ballpoint pen to lightly trace or re-sketch important landmarks, UTM gridlines, and your north-orienting arrow. After drying the map completely, fold it properly. To avoid future mishaps, always double seal your quad inside a pair of gallon-size zip-top bags or a waterproof holder like SealLine’s HP Map Cases ($27-$45; 3.4 oz.-6.4 oz.). Better yet, take along a durable waterproof topo, like one of BACKPACKER’s PRO Maps (starting at $20).”

READER TIP Improvise Gaiters

“Have socks that are in great shape—except for the holes through the bottom? Cut the feet off just below the ankles and use the upper sections as makeshift summer gaiters.” —Steve Schweitzer, Denver, CO