Easy Fixes for Outdoor Clothing

Like all specialized wear, outdoor clothing can be expensive. Instead of replacing faulty clothing, follow the below tips and tricks on repairing jackets and hiking boots to keep you on the trails.

Easy Fixes for Outdoor Clothing

My hiking boots rub

Break in your boots to ensure comfortable walking

Some leather hiking boots are stiff and may require breaking in before you can hike long distances in comfort.

  • Wear your new boots around the house while wearing your normal walking socks. Your feet swell in the afternoon, so this is the best time for it. Gradually increase the time spent wearing the boots.
  • If the boots rub against a particular part of your foot, use a plaster or blister patch to protect the skin until the boot molds to your foot.
  • Wear two pairs of socks — a liner sock under a thicker sock — to prevent blisters. The liner allows your foot to move inside the thicker sock, which also cushions it and prevents rubbing against the boot.

My waterproof jacket feels wet

Treat it to a wash and dry

Modern waterproof jackets are usually made from a breathable, waterproof fabric coated with a layer of a specialist chemical called a Durable Water Repellent (DWR). This creates a layer of microscopic "spines" on the surface of the fabric; water drops sit on top of these spines, meaning that they cannot reach the fabric. With wear, the DWR becomes dirty and the spines become flattened, meaning that rain can form sheets on the fabric. This makes the outer surface of the fabric cold, with the result that sweat condenses on the inside of the jacket, making it feel wet.

  • To revitalise the DWR, simply wash the jacket on a warm cycle in your machine. Use a specialist detergent (available at your local outdoors shop) added to the washer's detergent tray rather than regular soap powder. Never add bleach or fabric conditioner to the wash.
  • Allow the jacket to air dry. You may wish to reapply a new coating of DWR, which is available in spray form from outdoors shops. You needn't do this after every wash — one application every year should be enough to keep your jacket fully waterproof.

My zipper is stuck

Free it with an improvised lubricant

Zippers can become stuck when dirt or fabric gets trapped in their teeth. If you're out hiking or camping, try using any handy lubricant, such as bar soap, lip balm or candle wax, to ease the teeth. If the zipper is metal, run a pencil along the teeth on both sides once it is free — the graphite in the pencil "lead" will help the zip to run smoothly in future.

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