Get your gear ready now for summer outdoor adventures.
As the rain recedes and the grass boosts up towards the sunshine, we're all doing a little spring cleaning. We're out on our lawnmowers and we're pulling out the shop vacs to clean the dried mud and debris we've tracked onto the floor mats of our vehicles.
The year-round rain-or-shine outdoorsman has a few more chores to do as we transition into a new season. I've compiled a checklist of a few things that will make getting outdoors this spring and summer more pleasurable with a little preparation.
1. Put your tents and sleeping bags in the washing machine
Think about the last camping trip you went on. Was it in the summertime? During a music festival? Chances are your gear is covered in dust and dirt, with a few dead bugs that got wrapped up in it.
On top of that, it probably smells like something sweaty you left in a compression bag for six months. If the last time you went camping was in the rain, you might have some funky mildew smells if you didn't dry your gear properly.
Wash these items on a cycle of cold water with a little extra detergent, and throw them in the dryer for 5-10 minutes, then throw in some dryer sheets and continue checking on them every 5-10 minutes to make sure they are completely dry. Don't run them too long or let them get too hot because you'll melt the synthetic fibers.
2. Sanitize your waders
Your waders are the barrier between your chonies and the outside world, and it's gotten muggy, sweaty and gnarly in there. If you've been on a winter fishing bender or crawling around the duck blind, you've built up some moisture on the inside and used the outside as a napkin for wiping your hands covered in bait and blood.
The inside will mildew if it doesn't get dried out and that krud on the outside will mold if you don't get rid of it. Get a stiff bristled brush and some lemon joy soap and go to town on those things. Turn them inside out, do the same routine and hang them out to dry. At night, turn off all the lights and put a flashlight inside them. If it looks like a planetarium, then you have some leaks to patch up.
3. Make use of storage containers
Once you've washed your camping gear and sanitized your waders, put them away in a bin that will keep them from being damaged while they're stored away. Having your outdoor items well-organized and stored in labeled containers will propagate spontaneity.
If you get the urge to go camping on a whim, everything will be in one container that you can throw in a vehicle and go on an adventure. Having all the necessary items in one space will relieve the stress of wondering if you forgot something, or finding out that you have forgotten something once it's too late to turn back. This not only makes packing for a trip convenient, but it could also come in handy during the instance of a zombie apocalypse... which brings me to number 4...
4. Make a mess kit/First Aid kit
Remember the boy scout motto: "Be prepared." Pack some dried foods, utensils, paper plates, a pot, pan and a jug of water. The bare necessities, with a few little luxuries, nothing perishable. Make sure everything is sealed up tight and try to avoid glass containers. Pack some gauze, medical tape antibiotic ointment and peroxide for wounds. If you're sensitive to allergies, bug bites, poison oak and ivy, have some medication on hand in case you're in the woods miles away from the nearest drug store. Don't forget a toothbrush and toothpaste. Sunblock is also a good preventative care item to have on hand.
That's right. Vehicles, mountain bikes, fishing reels and firearms all need lubricant. Change your oil before you plan on going on any long trips. Put some chain lubricant on your bicycle, especially if you've been using it during the rainy season. Take your reels apart and clean their innards with a toothbrush to remove any debris.
Spray them down with a hose to remove sand and salt buildup, then spray some lubricant into the spool and gears. Even waxing braided line can make it cast smoother and sit along the surface if you're float fishing. Make sure your guns are oiled inside and out. Shotguns used for duck hunting will especially need to be treated with care due to the damp conditions. You don't want to be firing a rusty gun when turkey season opens.
6. Wash your boat, wash your lines
A guide industry trade secret is using a little lemon joy to clean your boat. For whatever reason, fish seem to not mind the smell of it, and some would even argue that they like it.
As previously mentioned by professional guide Grant Rilette, make sure you clean your anchor lines and bow lines in your boat. "Wash everything in the boat, especially your lines (rope). Then wash everything again, especially the lines in your boat," he says.
Anchor lines, bow lines and slide cables that have been damp for months on end can grow algae and slime, which can create a dangerous lack of friction, or prevent them from catching in the cleats mounted to the boat.