Long hikes through mountains, fields and some of Mother Nature’s best-kept secrets is one of the greatest perks of summertime. The long, warm days and plentiful sunshine has brought out these outdoor adventure seekers in droves — and along with them, their hiking gear.
Hiking Gear: The Components
Hiking clothing is generally made with a blend of nylon, polyester, spandex and wool, four of the most popular fabrics for outdoor activities thanks to their durability, insulation, light weight, ability to dry quickly and resistance to water. These fabrics are excellent at wicking away moisture, and they won’t retain nearly as much water as natural fibers would.
Most of these materials are synthetic as opposed to natural, such as cotton; cotton is a no-no on the trail, as it can absorb a ton of moisture, dries very slowly and can chafe the skin. Not every type of natural fabric is bad for hiking, however, as wool performs similar to synthetic fabrics. Wool is particularly popular in the wintertime, but it can also be used in fleece jackets that are perfect for cool summer night hikes.
These fabrics may succeed at wicking away moisture and keeping you cool, but they can still trap body odor, which can be particularly potent after a couple hours on a summer trail. But throwing everything in the washing machine on high heat with loads of detergent can ruin your gear — and it may not even get rid of the odor.
Hiking Gear: The Care
Immediately after your hike, remove all your gear and separate the items that should be washed immediately and those that can wait until the next trip, e.g. windbreakers and rain jackets. Base layers and undergarments should be washed immediately after you wear them, as letting them sit will only increase the chances of those odors sticking around.
Read the care instructions on your clothing carefully, as not all fabrics can withstand the same wash cycle. Nylon, polyester and spandex are all sensitive to high heats and can melt, shrink and otherwise deform when exposed to high temperatures. Wool is best washed by professionals.
After washing, let your hiking clothing air dry flat on a rack that allows the air to circulate completely around the fabric. Never stretch or wring these fabrics; you can also lay the clothing flat on a clean, absorbent towel and roll the towel tightly to remove some moisture form the clothing.
With all the effort that goes into making sure that your hiking gear is clean and odor-free without damaging your investments, you’ll miss out on more time enjoying nature. Dependable Cleaners offers free pickup and delivery, allowing you to drop your hiking gear in a bag and send it off for cleaning — and we’ll have it ready just in time for your next trip on the trail.