How to care for your pack: Maintenance tips

Cleaning your pack is probably the last thing you’ll think about doing after a long trip, you’ll empty your pack and put it away and forget about it; but proper care will extend the life of your pack. Different treatments are required depending on the type of fabric; refer to your hang tag where possible. To ensure your pack stays in top condition here’s some basic tips on caring for your hiking pack.

Cleaning your pack

Where ever your adventure takes you, your pack is likely to get dirty. Your pack will absorb sweat, body oils, dirt and grime, which over time can break down the fabric. Your pack should always be cleaned before being stored for a prolonged time.

First give your pack a good shake – you’ll be amazed how much dirt is hiding in it.

Then a simple process of scrubbing the pack down using a soft bristled brush and a mild detergent/soap mixed with warm water and hosing or rinsing it off. To dry, simply hang your pack, out of direct sunlight.

For stubborn stains, let the pack soak in warm water with a mild detergent for a few hours, before scrubbing the stains.


Mould can occur if you store the pack when it is still wet.

To remove mould start by soaking your pack in warm water with a diluted solution of antiseptic or a specialised mould remover. Then, gently scrub the pack with a soft bristled brush, you may need to use a lot of elbow grease to remove the mould. Rinse the pack until it is clean. White vinegar may be added to the rinse water as it helps to prevent the return of mould. Hang the pack out to dry, out of direct sunlight.

Waterproofing your pack

Canvas and nylon packs can be quite water repellent; however, water may be still able to seep through seams or zippers in a heavy downpour.

Water repellent product: To improve the water proofness of the fabric you can apply a water repellent product.

Pack Cover: Pack covers are like a shower cap for your pack. They have an elastic hem that hugs the outside of the pack and keeps it dry.

Pack Liner: A pack liner is simply a large bag that acts as an internal shield/extra waterproof barrier to keep your gear dry

Dry Bags: Another alternative is to use a collection of dry bags. Dry bags are similar to a pack liner, a dry bag will keep your items dry and protected. These are available in a collection of sizes.


Once you’ve cleaned your pack, you should store your pack in a cool, dry place away from pests. Never keep it near concrete as the moisture and chemicals in concrete can damage the fabrics. It is better to keep your pack in a cardboard box with air holes in a well-ventilated place. If you live in a humid climate it is recommended to store your pack with silica or a similar product.

Take away tips to remember

  • After each trip be sure to clean out your pack thoroughly – remove all your gear, shake the dirt out, wipe and scrub away any stains
  • If it’s wet hang out to dry, out of direct sunlight
  • Loosen all the straps
  • Store your pack in a cool, dry location
  • Remember to wash your pack every now and then

Contributed by: Mountain Designs

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