How to clean hiking gear cabinet

When I decided to clean out my gear cabinet this spring, I discovered a secret. One big one – not all medical professionals and health agencies tell us: hiking isn’t miracle cure. It’s a potentially lethal gateway drug.

Here’s how it goes. First, you think it might be a good idea to walk a mountain or two. You get a backpack. Then maybe some boots or trekking poles. Soon, you start to think that you might want to go farther (backpacking) or faster (running down the trail) – or on two wheels, in a boat, on roller skates, or maybe even while fishing. Before you know it, you have to buy an avalanche beacon, a shovel, and a probe just to open your gear cabinet door. Catastrophic slippage: Possible. Burial chance upon opening: 100 percent. As I said. fatal.

After six years as a professional gear reviewer at Van-dwelling and more than a decade working as a multisport operator, I’ve maxed out my gear wardrobe in years. I’ve tried a “one in, one out” policy. I tried reading about minimalism. I even tried to quit a sport or two just to keep things simple. But the heap kept growing. I had to buy a storage unit to contain the excess.

Then, one day this spring, I spent 30 minutes hanging on the ground, between a bike rack and a tower of camping food containers while digging for one of my three camp stoves. That’s when the realization shocked me. As well as by a stack of skates.

“Is it stupid to live in a car but pay rent for our equipment?” I asked my partner when I got myself off the skis.

He said, “Yes.”

So, with a new design, we set aside an afternoon. We will take everything from the unit. We’ll rate our equipment coldly, piece by piece. We will completely eliminate everything that is not necessary.

“Is this jacket still suitable for you?”


“Do you still want your high school cross country uniform?”


“How about that broken bike rack?”


We were on a roll. For the first few minutes, we were throwing things left and right, laughing as our endorphins spiked that came with glimpses of our imaginative freedom.

Then things became difficult.

“Maybe I’ll fix this tent eventually, right?” I said, I raised a deformed fly.“If we ever had guests, we’d need all those camp chairs.”

“Result! We can still eat these NutriGrain bars! I thought the label said 2012 but it actually says 2015!”

After a few hours of hard work, we put everything back into the storage unit and stood for a moment and stared at it. My partner seemed very proud of our handiwork, but I was upset; Nothing seems different.

It turns out that gear isn’t just stuff. Each piece is filled with memories and the promise of future adventures, and it’s more difficult to let go of than I could have imagined. It took us three more attempts – each more painful than the previous one – to finally shrink the heap. But today, I’m proud to say that we no longer pay rent for a bunch of things we don’t need. Instead, the surplus went to people who could actually use it. And we are able to get what we need and hit the road without spending hours sifting through dangerous piles.

This is what we learned.

(Image: Aleutie/iStock/Getty Images Plus via Getty Images)

How to clean a gear cabinet (actually)

Ban the whole day. Choose a weekend with nice weather, and make sure there is no conflict between you and your partner, children or other accomplices hoarding gear.

Locate new homes for your equipment. Locate your local outdoor merchandise store, or make a list of nonprofits and other groups that accept used equipment.

Make a list. Get rid of everything in a tarp. Then, before you start picking things up, take a look at your pile as separately as possible. Make a list of all the things you didn’t use last year — and have no specific plans to use them next year. These things have to go.

Apply the corridor philosophy. As hikers say, “We carry our fears on our backs.” Translation: We are the things Really The need tends to be less than we are We may fear need to. Three water filters in case one of them breaks? keep your favourites; Get rid of the rest.

Stop wishing. Maintaining those decade-old skis because you sadly hope to get back on the slopes is like keeping your high school jeans on in the hope that they will fit you in one day. Let it go, and accept your life as it is now.

Realize that you pay rent for everything you own. This extra tent occupies only a few square feet of your apartment. Well, how much is the rent for that apartment? Paying $10 a month for a square foot under that tent? Don’t fall for the “sunken cost” fallacy – just because you paid for something doesn’t mean you’re still paying for it.

Give away gifts. We have an additional emotional attachment to the things our loved ones gave us, or the things that accompanied us on important journeys. Know that no one wants their gift to cause you anxiety or inconvenience. Plus, you can throw something away without showing your gratitude or memories.

Marie Kondo Channel. At the end of the day, any item you keep is one you spend mental energy looking at, thinking about, or moving around your home. If this thing really makes your life better (i.e. “happy”), keep it. If you are on the fence? It is better to let it go.

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