With the fall rains setting in, it’s best not to take for granted that things like your rain jacket, and other seasonal gear you may not have used for a while, are still capable of serving their intended purpose. I once stuffed my aging Black Diamond winter tent into my pack for a weekend trip without giving it the proper inspection, only to discover in the middle of the worst cold weather downpour I’d experienced in years, that the tent seam seals no longer kept the water out. (After dumping a couple gallons out of the tent, I retreated to a nearby cabin.)

A couple of years ago, in a frenzy to round up my backcountry ski gear to answer the call of an unexpected early season powder dump, I realized my ancient, worn-torn ski bibs had been put away damp and had sprouted a mold garden over the summer. Those pants really weren’t fit for another season anyway, but had I made the time for a shoulder season gear evaluation, I wouldn’t have been caught with my pants down the night before a badly needed ski tour. I could go on about climbing skins that had a glue meltdown thanks to the summer heat in our closet, the inflatable kayak that got stowed with empty beer cans stashed behind the seat, the sleeping bag stuffed away with three-day ski socks, or that rain jacket that somehow turned into a sponge over the summer. Tis the season for a check in with your fall and winter gear, and maybe a little end-of-season TLC for your summer toys.

Here are a few things that are top on my fall gear check-up list:

  • Are my hiking boots still waterproof?
  • Any holes in my cold season hiking or skiing socks?
  • Did I leave anything nasty in my backcountry ski pack?
  • Does my winter tent need any patching or seam sealing?
  • How many new holes are there in my down jacket?
  • Does my rain jacket need to be treated?
  • What’s the status of my long underwear arsenal?
  • Do my early-season “rock” skis need tuning?

Have any other tips for getting the most life out of your gear or stories about gear you’ve held onto well beyond its intended life that you want to share? Email Derrick at editor@outtheremonthly.com. //