One thing I learned over the years from backpacking is that when it comes to gear, keeping it clean means it will last longer. Just be sure to follow the instructions.
Unfortunately, I learned about following the directions the hard way. Because of my carelessness, I recently found myself hurriedly seam sealing my Sea-to-Summit backpack liner before heading up to the Pepperbox Wilderness for my first bushwhacking trip in almost two years. And I assure you, it was not fun.
Two years ago, after returning from a two-week jaunt across Isle Royale, I decided that I had to completely and thoroughly clean all my equipment. Super dry conditions on the island resulted in a lot of air born dirt, which coated every piece of my gear.
Upon returning home, I undertook a major effort to clean everything, not wanting to transplant any unwanted soil organisms into the Adirondacks on any subsequent trips. This required washing, soaking and scrubbing my gear in the bathtub for what seemed like days on end.
While cleaning my Sea-to-Summit backpack liner, I was distracted by something though I do not remember what. It could have been a TV show coming on, an unexpected phone call or a shiny bauble on the floor. Regardless, the backpack liner ended up soaking overnight.
When I removed the liner from the bathtub the next day, I was dismayed to find the taped seams were now only intermittently sealed. The tape still adhered to the liner in spots, but much of the adhesive was degraded by the detergent and flaking off the sil-net material. Very sad.
And so it remained throughout all last year. Since my knee injury kept me out of the woods for the majority of last year, there simply was no incentive to make any of the necessary repairs.
With the Birdathon trip into the Pepperbox Wilderness just around the corner, there was no option of putting it off any longer.
I bought McNett Gear Aid SilNet Silicone Seam Sealer earlier in the year from Amazon, so I was ready to perform the dirty dead. Sealing the vertical seam running lengthwise up the liner was easy enough, but the round bottom seam was a real hassle. I ended up getting the seam seal all over the liner, my hands and just about everything else within arm’s length of me, including the seam itself.
After sealing every conceivable seam over numerous days, I checked it for leaks and kept finding several. My procedure for this was quite simple. Fill the liner with air, twirl the opening a few times to keep the air in it and hug the inflated line, running the seams along my eye waiting to feel the air escaping. I performed this procedure numerous times, sealing each hole as I found them, including a couple way out in the hinterland far from any seam.
From now on, I will be sure to read all instructions before washing my equipment. That is, as long as I do not see any change on the floor.
Hey, what is that shiny object over there…..
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