February Fillers – Wash, Organize, Sharpen and Revive

The malaise which infects the American public during the month of February is so strong that sports magazines attempt to gin up their sales with photos of underfed models. But surely there are more productive ways to while away the hours of the lengthening days, to wit:

Revive your waterproof/breathables

Items incorporating GORE-TEX®, eVent®, and other waterproof/breathable laminates require a certain degree of maintenance in order to work as advertised.

  1. The item needs to be cleaned in order to free up the pores so that water vapor may more freely pass to the outside atmosphere. The exterior of boots may be cleaned with a brush and water and (optionally) with a specialized cleaning product. For machine-washable items, I recommend washing at the highest temperature advised by the label using either powdered detergent or a specialized cleaning product followed by an extra rinse cycle.
  2. Following the cleaning with the application of a Durable Water Repellant (DWR. I recommend applying DWR to boots—with special attention to the toe box and the sole seam—while they are still wet from cleaning and then allowing them to dry overnight. Follow this with a second application in the morning. For machine-washables, I recommend a dry-in DWR, applied liberally to the shoulders of tops and to the cuffs of all products. ReviveX® is my personal choice.
Gore-Tex boots

Properly applied DWR leads to beading.

Sharpen your crampons

If you have been putting your crampons to regular use since the first flakes they could probably do with a little TLC by this point in the season. I do not shoot for a razor-sharp point on either my in-step or snowshoe crampons. Rather, I use a hand file at the angle shown below to brighten up the points a bit.

steel file

Sharpening my old school instep crampons.

Touch up your traditionals

A few cracks in the varnish and scratches on the frame of your traditional snowshoes have surely developed over the winter if you have put them to any use worth calling such. Touch those spots up with a little spar varnish in a scaled down version of the big all over treatment.

spar varnish

A nick in the varnishing on my bear paws.

Wash you wool

What follows is how I wash my wool garments. Follow my lead at your own risk!

  1. I fill a basin with hot water.
  2. I add the tiniest squirt of Neutrogena® Anti-Residue Shampoo.
  3. I gently add my garments, being careful not to gyrate them.
  4. I allow my garments to soak for four or more hours.
  5. I carefully remove my garments into a colander, making sure to minimize stretching and gyration.
  6. I drain the basin and refill it with either hot or warm water with a dash of apple cider vinegar added.
  7. I allow my garments to soak for four or more hours.
  8. I repeat step 5.
  9. I repeat steps 6, 7, and 8.
  10. After dripping has slowed from within the colander, I ever so gently roll individual garments in cotton bath towels and leave them there for an hour plus while the towels absorb moisture from the garment.
  11. I carefully unroll the individual garments from the bath towels and lay them flat to dry.

Trawl for deals

Many brick-and-mortar and online retailers will be looking to reduce their stocks of winter goods at this point in the season and good deals can be had. Consignment shops are a nice bet, as well.

Organize your photos and videos

If you have amassed a virtual stack of digital photos and videos over the course of the winter now is a good time to clear them from your camera and go about tagging/keywording them with names of individuals and locations. Then back them up on a hard drive or in the cloud.

Fiddle with your fasteners

Alright, this one is admittedly for the verifiably OCD amongst us. (Who, me?!? 🙄 )

  1. Replace all of the buttons on a garment with the four-hole variety. Sew them on with dental floss.
  2. Replace your shoelaces. Learn how to tie a turquoise turtle.
  3. Augment or replace metal zipper pulls with paracord pulls.
  4. Clean the lint out of your hook-and-loop/Velcro.

Get a massage

If you have developed a tweak or two here and there over the course of the winter and you have the financial means, substitute a day getting a massage for a day out on the snow. You will not regret it!

Arrange a winter trek with an old friend

Not to be morose, but none of us is promised tomorrow (see #4). Why put it off?

Take care of pending shoulder season gear maintenance

Have a pair of boots with a Norwegian welt whose sole might or might not make it through one more season that you are considering sending to the local cobbler for a replacement? Interested in a permethrin treatment for your favorite pair of lightweight trousers before the deer ticks emerge? Now is the time!

Matthew Timothy Bradley

About the author


Matthew Timothy Bradley

Born and bred in Southern Appalachia; currently residing in lovely Southern New England. Follow @MateoTimateo and my blog The Human Family; circle +MatthewTimothyBradley.

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