Gear Tip Tuesday - Washing Your Backpacking Pack

Hanging up your backpacking gear for the season? Although you don’t need (or want) to wash your pack too often, sometimes it needs a good scrubbing. Here are our tips on how to get a season (or two or three) worth of adventure cleaned from your pack before you store it away for winter.

What You’ll Need:

  • Vacuum
  • Sponge or Soft-Bristle Brush
  • Mild Soap - a Castile soap or wash made specifically for technical gear would work
  • Large sink or  bathtub


1. Clear It Of Dirt
  • Gently vacuum seams, crevices, and the inside of the bag to remove any loose crumbs or dirt
2. Scrub Straps & Hip Belt
  • If able, remove your hip belt and straps to wash those separately with a sponge or brush, lukewarm water, and some soap. Rinse well with water.
3. Wash Pack
  • Fills a large sink or bath tub with ~6 inches of lukewarm water and a bit of soap. Submerge pack, swish it around, and scrub any specific spots with a sponge or brush. Drain the tub.
4. Rinse It 
  • Fill the tub once more with ~6 inches of cool water and dunk/rinse your pack until you have removed all soap residue.
5. Hang to Dry
  • Don’t put your pack in a dryer. Hang it to air dry upside down, in a room with good airflow or outside on a sunny day.
6. Store it
  • If you live somewhere with really cold winters, consider storing it inside. If your winters tend to be fairly temperate, a shed or garage should be fine. If storing in a garage or shed, consider putting your pack in a large trash bag and hanging it off the ground or on a shelf.