Look after your kit and your kit will look after you

It is good practice keep your kit clean and well turned out.  This makes it easier for you to spot any tears or missing buttons and other damage.  A clean thing is a happy thing after all.

Picture this, A 90Km hike spread over 3 days.  It is cold, wet and windy.  This is not a problem as we have with us a Tarp for shelter, our boots and clothing to protect our body and a pot and pan for boiling water and cooking.

One thing that is common among seasoned, experienced outdoors people is that they tend to their equipment before they tend to their own needs.  After a long hard day a novice will likely throw his stuff into a heap giving it no further thought and start cooking their dinner.  After eating, they are too tired to wash up so just leave the pots and pans on by the fire and go to bed.  I expect that we have all done this at one point or another.

When they wake up in the morning, they are greeted with cold, damp and dirty clothing and slithering into that in the morning is surely not the best way to start the day.  Shivering, they are now confronted with 45 minutes chipping burnt soup from the pans before they can boil some water for a brew and make breakfast.  While performing this laborious task with cold hands and a dry mouth, they notice that there is a tear in their trousers (pants) and that their boots are wet.  As they are in the middle of nowhere and have another 30Km to cover today, they must leave soon and others in the party are already packing up after their breakfast.

Joe novice is already on the back foot, his boots are wet and there is not time to dry them, he has not eaten and there is a rip in his trousers that is only going to get worse as the day wears on.  He has about 30 minutes before the group must set off again.

If Joe novice had taken more care the night before, he would not be in this position, he would be sitting back on his packed up backpack finishing his coffee and admiring the morning mist clearing across the hills.

When you stop for the day, make camp first, get some shelter organised, get a fire going and then get your kit sorted out.

This means

  • Cleaning off most of the grime form your clothing
  • Checking your clothing for damage or wear
  • Setting your boots up for drying near the fire
  • Examine everything that you depend on for signs of damage or wear
  • Do you tools need sharpening?
  • Make repairs as necessary
  • Wash up any cooking tools that you have used
  • Purify enough water for tonight and tomorrow

It is always a lot easier to make repairs in the evenings when you have more time and there is no rush.

Only when this is done may you permit yourself to do the same for yourself, eat to refuel, drink, wash and finally to relax and sleep.

This policy extends to vehicles too when travelling in them, canoes must be checked and taken care of, horses the same, cars may need some simple checks at the end of each day such as oil and water levels.

The idea is to get into the habit of doing this so that it becomes second nature, part of your routine and to give you as much time for rest and recuperation as is possible after a long day.

Do not be the guy who looks like a sack of potatoes and is always late for everything because of his own disorganisation.

Succeeding at living outside depends very much upon forward planning and thinking ahead.  Nature rewards the organised.

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