As May unwinds its red carpet leading towards the short sleeves of summer, few aspects of the spring cleaning process are as satisfying as chucking all our winter gear in a dark corner and replacing the hiking shoes, kayaks, bikes, surfboards and other warm-weather gear where they can be easily and frequently taken out. However, after serving us well over the course of long, tired winter, our trusted winter gear deserves just a little bit of TLC so that it can be stored properly for the summer months and serve us well again come next winter.
- Wax up your board(s) and skis:For those of us who don’t race professionally on the World Cup, few pieces of gear take more abuse and require as little maintenance as a snowboard or a pair of skis. After a season of getting the flex beaten out of them day after day, all they ask from us is a thick slab of wax to keep the porous bases from drying out over the summer. It doesn’t matter what temp, brand, or color wax you got left – just slab it on thick and make sure also to cover the edges to keep them from oxidizing and rusting. You don’t need to scrap them down like normal, as you’re just providing a protective coating for the bases that you’ll scrape off next fall before your first day. Store your sticks in a cool, dry place like a basement or closet.
- Dry out your boots thoroughly before packing them away: The warm temps and slushy snow from your last day out means your boots are going to be as humid and foggy as Atlanta in July. At a bare minimum, pull the liners out of your shells and let them dry thoroughly before entombing them back in the shells for the next six months. Those with more fragrant foot odor are strongly advised to give these liners a wash, especially if the only storage space you have is the back of your closet. Stuffing a dryer sheet or Sneaker Balls in each boot will do wonders at killing leftover odors. Investing in a DryGuy boot dryer is also a great investment for turning an overnight boot drying mission into a one or two hour affair.
- Wash that waterproof outerwear: When we buy nice, expensive outerwear that feels like a bulletproof vest in rough early season weather, but come spring or next season, we find it not beading off water and snow like it once did. The waterproofing will usually wear out before the zippers, cuffs, Velcro, etc. will, but ponying up for the relatively pricey Nikwax Hardshell DuoPack to first wash and then re-waterproof will go a long ways towards ensuring your investment in serious outerwear lasts more than a season.
- Make all your repairs, and take your notes on what worked this season NOW: With anything that involves as much gear as winter sports do, your experience is augmented by the accumulation of knowledge about what settings and setups work best for you as an individual. This could be what layering works best for your Yaktrax-assisted snowy trail runs, or what binding and highback angles put you in the strongest position on your snowboard. With the precious time we get to enjoy outside as working adults, retaining this knowledge earned during a winter outdoors will mean you won’t need to start all over next season.
- Store appropriately: If you have a basement, get your gear somewhere a window won’t lay sun on them, and get a cheap rack to hang your outerwear up to hang loose. Boards and hardgoods can lay against a wall. Make sure boots and shoes are somewhere they can remain dry and breathe. Layers and gloves, once cleaned, can go into Tupperware bins (like the boots, with a dyer sheet or Sneaker Balls to kill any bad smells). Living in a small apartment? Use a skateboard rack and mount it high on a wall you and visitors won’t be staring out constantly all summer like a guest bedroom or entry hallway, and put up your hardgoods you won’t be reaching for until November.