As spring approaches the days get warmer, evenings get lighter and we all look forward to longer days out in the hills. As you dig out your backpack and dust off your boots, it's the perfect time to look at your kit cupboard with fresh eyes. Clean it out and put a spring in your step knowing that you’re making greener choices throughout the lifecycle of your outdoor products.
If last year’s gear has lost its shine, renovate and refresh your kit and it will feel as good as new for a fraction of the cost of buying a replacement. An increasing number of brands are offering in-store or postal repair services to extend product life and keep them functional for longer. On jackets, jeans and even backpacks you can wear your repairs with pride, as patches and visible mending is very much on-trend! Big ticket items like sleeping bags and down jackets can be revived by washing at home using specialist products, or leave it to the professionals if you prefer. Walking boots and hiking shoes can be brought back to life by expert resoling services.
New purchases hold the promise of new routes to discover, new summits to climb, and new storms to weather. Sometimes though, it just doesn’t work out and gear ends up hanging out unloved in the cupboard. From an optimistic foray into winter climbing that left you cold in the end, to kit bought for a big trip that hasn’t been used since. Give your sad old unused items a fresh start and make a bit of cash by selling them on - sites like Depop, Vinted, and Ebay are a good place to start - then spend your pennies on something you really will use.
Don’t leave good gear languishing in the wardrobe. It’s easy to feel a sentimental attachment to specific pieces of kit, after all, they’ve kept you company on your adventures. With well-loved items it’s easier to say goodbye if you know that their story will continue with someone else. There are a number of schemes around the country that collect good quality items of outdoor gear for redistribution to local charities. Waterproofs, insulation, hats, gloves, and sleeping bags can be donated to protect rough sleepers from the elements, or to keep volunteers warm as they work to preserve green spaces.
One person’s trash is another one’s treasure, and while your gear might have reached the end of its intended use there may be life in it yet. The outdoor world is full of ingenious individuals that can turn your old stuff into new and beautiful creations, like chalk bags, plant holders, and dog collars. Have a clear-out and make room for new-to-you kit, or just enjoy decluttering and clearing your space.
If your gear really has had it and it’s time to say goodbye, recycle as much of it as possible. Several schemes exist to dispose of items that would commonly go to landfill, including down jackets and duvets, climbing gear, and ropes. There’s even a national scheme for recycling hard hats.
Buy Second Hand
Before heading to the shops to purchase a brand new product, check out Facebook groups like Outdoor Gear Exchange UK and Outdoor Kit Exchange. With as many as 200 items listed each day, there’s a good chance someone might be selling on just the piece you need. Advertisers are required to upload clear pictures and information about the condition of items for sale, so you can choose the right pre-loved item for you.
Shop Nearly New
While it’s good to consume less and consider pre-loved products, it won’t always be possible to find exactly what you’re looking for. There’s still a way to save money and stop virtually unused products going to landfill. From clothing to kayaks and backpacks to bikes, a number of brands now sell ex-display or samples, lightly used and repaired products that would previously have been discarded, giving that gear a second life.
If only new will do, exercise your purchasing power and make conscious decisions about the brands you support with your hard-earned cash. Aim to buy fewer items and make them last. Check out a company’s environmental credentials and invest wisely, considering brands that have committed to reducing packaging, offer repairs to extend a product’s life, use recycled materials, and produce items that are ultimately recyclable.
Now you’ve cleared out your kit cupboard, make sure you’re storing your treasured gear in the optimum conditions. A few minutes preparation when you pack your gear away can prolong its life by years. To avoid mould and fusty smells, make sure your storage area is cool and dry. Dry out tents after each outing to prevent mildew, and brush or clean off any mud or sand. Air and dry your sleeping bag before you pack it away, and to ensure down and synthetic fillings retain their loft and warmth, don’t leave them in a compression sack. Instead store them in a breathable bag, like an old cotton pillow case.
Show your kit some love by reproofing waterproof items every so often, and always follow the instructions on the care label. Go the extra mile to rinse and dry boots and trail shoes, away from direct sources of heat that can damage them. Look after your kit and your kit will look after you!
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