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Gear Care and Maintenance

Types of Gear Care and Maintenance

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Repair Kits

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Patches and Tapes

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Seam Sealers

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Down Cleaners/Treatments

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Fabric Cleaners/Treatments

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Footwear Cleaners/Treatments

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Equipment Cleaners/Treatments

Top Picks

How we choose: The best gear care and maintenance highlighted here were selected based on 86 reviews of 54 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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Top Footwear Cleaner/Treatment

Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP

user rating: 5 of 5 (5 reviews)

Ok, this stuff is the deal.

Reasons to Buy

  • Effective
  • Protects
  • Extends boot life
  • Waterproofs

Reasons to Avoid

  • I didn't find it 30 years ago

This stuff was invented by a North Idaho forest fire fighter. That's where I was and what I was doing when I discovered this stuff back in 1996. In the five years I fought wildland fire I tromped through fire, ash, planted trees in spring rains, crossed creeks and slogged through knee-deep mud and as long as I wasn't actually working in the creek all day, my feet stayed pretty dry and gave me no blisters. Some guys used boots with WPB liners and cheap boot grease and my leather logger boots with LP stayed dry longer.  Today I use it on work and leather hiking boots.  I grew up in the Seattle area trying really hard to keep my feet dry with very little success.  I have used mink oil (terrible), pure lanolin (not bad), sno-seal, pure bees...

Read more: Obenauf's Heavy Duty LP reviews (5)

Top Patch/Tape

Gear Aid Tenacious Tape Fabric Repair Tape

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (5 reviews)

Stronger and more aesthetic solution than duck tape.

Reasons to Buy

  • Stronger and stickier than duck tape
  • Easy storage
  • Simple to use

Reasons to Avoid

  • Small chance that tape won't come off from backing
  • Not a lot of tape for the price you pay

This is the only gear repair tape I've used, but I'm pretty happy with the results. I got this tape with the intention of repairing this terrible tear that I created on interior fabric of my rain jacket. I cut out a generous amount and applied it directly to the tear. The great thing about this tape is that so far, none of the edges of the tape have frayed after application. I will probably buy more for future use. This tape is a much better solution that duck tape to fix holes and your gear will have a much longer lifespan. I also applied it to where the tape seams have started to break. It even worked on the back of my shoe where a hole started to form.

Read more: Gear Aid Tenacious Tape Fabric Repair Tape reviews (5)

Top Equipment Cleaner/Treatment

303 Aerospace Protectant

user rating: 5 of 5 (2 reviews)

The best protection available for rubber and plastic.

Reasons to Buy

  • Easy to apply
  • Repels dirt
  • Will do no harm
  • Not greasy once dry
  • Water based, environmentally friendly

Reasons to Avoid

  • Expensive in small quantities

Formula 303 Protectant was originally developed by NASA for use on the Space Shuttle. It looks like milk and has a very slight smell that reminds me of Elmer's glue. It can be quite expensive if you purchase it in the small spray bottles, but is quite reasonably priced by the gallon. It's advertised as sunscreen for your plastic, and I can attest to its effectiveness. Used regularly it will keep your plastic and rubber products free of sun damage and looking new. It will not repair or reverse existing damage, nor will it cause any damage.

Read more: 303 Aerospace Protectant reviews (2)

Silco RTV 4500 silicon

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

RTV (Room Temperature Vulcanizing) VOC (Volatile Organic Compound - compliant) silicone has so many uses that this is in fact as much a review as it is a tip for repairing outdoor equipment, and especially cooking hardware.

Reasons to Buy

  • Food-grade safe
  • Ultra resistant
  • Easy to use
  • Cheap
  • Long-lasting
  • Comes in clean and other colors

Reasons to Avoid

  • None that I can think of

Recently I (inadvertently) damaged my Sea To Summit 1.4L X-Pot while cooking breakfast during a camping trip. The X-Pot is a collapsible cooking pot that has a hard anodized aluminum base combined with food-grade, heat-resistant silicone walls that comes in various capacities and sizes. It’s nothing revolutionary but a pretty neat and practical piece of gear that has even won some design awards out there. It works to reduce bulk and weight while keeping efficacy and practicality for backpacking and camping.

Read more: Silco RTV 4500 silicon review (1)

Equipment Cleaner/Treatment

Scrubba Wash Bag

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

The easy way to wash your clothes without a washing machine.

Reasons to Buy

  • It works! The Scrubba washes well
  • Easy to use
  • Reasonable price
  • Light weight
  • Sturdy

Reasons to Avoid

  • None

The Scrubba Wash Bag is a rare thing, a real innovation, not just a variation on a well-worn idea. Basically, the Scrubba lets you wash your clothes without a washing machine or having to hand wash over a tub or in a stream. It gets better results than hand washing and with a lot less effort. While only the most obsessive washers are likely to take a Scrubba on a multi-day hike, it is great for base camp, hut, or vehicle based day hiking and for travelling generally. The Scrubba Wash Bag is like a sturdy version of the familiar roll-top dry bag but with some additions.

Read more: Scrubba Wash Bag review (1)

Top Seam Sealer

Gear Aid Seam Grip+SIL

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (2 reviews)

Specially formulated to be easily applied to silicone-coated nylon and poly fabrics to seal tarps, backpacks, tent floors, liquid silicone has many other uses for outdoor enthusiasts. I took some pictures while doing it, so I decided to turn this test into a mini-tutorial for seam-sealing a tarp.

Reasons to Buy

  • Easy to apply
  • Has many uses
  • Clear
  • Dries relatively fast
  • Comes ready with a brush
  • Inexpensive

Reasons to Avoid

  • Leaves a sticky film, but every similar sealing solutions does too.
  • Not really a con, it’s a simple product that just plain works.

The tube came with the Hummingbird Pelican (shown in the images of this review) to be applied to the tarp‘s ridgeline seam. It comes unsealed from the manufacturer, which is not an uncommon practice among specialist makers. Dutch and others also sells some of their stuff with seam sealing as an extra, or optional.   Prior to trying Seam Grip Sil, I‘d seal my gear with a mix of silicone and some spirit, to turn it finer so as to be brushed onto the fabric. Recently, I had to do just that to one of my backyard camping tarps that started showing tiny pinholes on the ridgeline seams.  I’ve used other Gear Aid products before, such as the Tenacious Tape and some of their gear cleaners, and have always been satisfied with the performance...

Read more: Gear Aid Seam Grip+SIL reviews (2)

Top Fabric Cleaner/Treatment

Nikwax TX.Direct Wash-In

user rating: 3.5 of 5 (5 reviews)

BEST IN CLASS! What would you give to restore your most technical (typically expensive), breathable waterproof/repellent gear back to its original functional state? What you give to add durable water resistant (DWR) finish capability to a favorite synthetic fabric item, that did not have it in the first place?  What if this just costed $1 to 4 per item, and can be done at home ... without the need for a Flux Capacitor or Hot Tub Time Machine? Would it make you happy if there were no persistent chemicals added into the environment, that you are trying to see, while using this gear? Consider giving Wash-In a try. Worked GREAT for me, so far, on a variety of gear.

Reasons to Buy

  • Works astonishingly well ... in one easy treatment
  • Action and durability similar to original DWR (durable water resistant) finishes
  • Does not stain or build up ( if follow directions)
  • Water based, easy to apply and clean up without fumes
  • Environmentally friendly, biodegradable, does not persist!
  • Great directions ... important to follow them

Reasons to Avoid

  • Must read the label and follow directions to be optimally effective*
  • Must trust the directions: *prewash with right detergent, make sure all detergent traces removal before treatment
  • Can't stop leaking from abraded, exhausted or torn fabrics or seam tape (so don't expect it)
  • Not free: not included with original techwear purchases ... it should be, at least a coupon!
  • Odd how the label says use 10 oz to treat. My 10 oz bottle should just say use the WHOLE bottle.
  • Number of items treated per bottle stated as 3. I get more when using smaller items.

Over the last few years, I'm becoming more and more impressed with the products and vision of Nikwax. I've learned with every new one I try, that they must have invested extensive R&D and testing to create their (I'm finding to be) highly effective products. Nikwax does not just put words on a label. They assist me in proving those words out, on my gear, under my home conditions.If you think this is high praise, test Wash-In and see the results for yourself.   Out here a working rain shell jacket or pants might just help save my life.

Read more: Nikwax TX.Direct Wash-In reviews (5)

Footwear Cleaner/Treatment

Gear Aid Aquaseal+SR Shoe Repair Adhesive

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

This is an easy-to-use shoe glue for repairs such as detached soles. It dries overnight and holds securely even after severe abuse.

Reasons to Buy

  • Dries overnight
  • Holds securely

Reasons to Avoid

  • Needs to be taped while glue dries

About a month ago, I did a review of the Brooks PureGrit 3 trail running shoes. In that review, I pointed out that the sole had begun to separate near the toe on both shoes. Immediately after writing that review, I used some Freesole to re-attach the sole with fantastic results.   EASE OF USE:   Overall, Freesole is pretty easy to use. You just smear a little bit on the sole and tape, tie, or otherwise press the shoe together. After sitting overnight, your shoe should hold together firmly.

Read more: Gear Aid Aquaseal+SR Shoe Repair Adhesive review (1)

Equipment Cleaner/Treatment

Guppyfriend Washing Bag

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

The Guppyfriend helps prevent your fleece gear from spewing micro fibers into the water supply. The concept is pretty simple—a bag with pores too fine to allow micro fibers out, but water gets in during a normal wash cycle to clean your fleece. Cleaning micro fibers out of the bag is a bit of a chore. I have used this a number of times, and it seems durable.

Reasons to Buy

  • Great for the environment
  • Garments get clean
  • Durable
  • Good size for cleaning larger garments

Reasons to Avoid

  • Cleaning micro fibers out is annoying
  • Best to remove sticks and brambles first

March 2022 update: I continue to use this bag to launder fleece. It's effective for washing two medium weight or one thicker/heavier fleece. I washed a fleece top (baselayer-weight) and bottom in it today. I run extra rinse to ensure detergent gets fully removed, and I have been running each fleece 12 minutes in a dryer to damp dry them, then hang them to fully dry.  To clean the bag, I wait until it dries, turn it inside out, and either shake the lint/residue off or dustbust it. I have used it at least 20 times since the original review, and the bag is in great shape.  xxxxx original review: I read a few articles recently about how detrimental nylon and polyester micro fibers are to fish and other organisms that live in the water, and about...

Read more: Guppyfriend Washing Bag review (1)

More Gear Care and Maintenance

Trailspace reviewers have shared 86 reviews of 54 different gear care and maintenance. Narrow your search and view more specific gear care/maintenance product recommendations in these categories:

Repair Kits

Patches and Tapes

Seam Sealers

Down Cleaners/Treatments

Fabric Cleaners/Treatments

Footwear Cleaners/Treatments

Equipment Cleaners/Treatments

All Hiking and Camping Gear

Other Types of Hiking and Camping Gear

Find more hiking and camping gear reviewed in these related categories:


Tents and Shelters

Sleeping Bags and Pads

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