Our Customer Service and Repair Technicians are a big chunk of the crew here in Steamboat. Although these guys and gals are the friendliest, most helpful and talented people in their field, we hope you’ll never have to interact with them. That’s only because we want your gear to be bulletproof and last through the seasons, but we know that is not always possible. Things beyond our control, and yours happen every day out there on the trail, in the dirt and even at home where you’d think your gear would be safe, right?
Our Customer Service (CS) team and Repair Technicians (RT) share a little insight into the way they personally care for their gear, the issues they hear about in the Customer Service Department and see most frequently at the Warranty & Repair Warehouse. But first, a quick glimpse inside our Warranty & Repair Warehouse:
CS: Insulated jackets go on a hook in the mud room to dry out after each use. Each jacket gets washed with either Nikwax or Grangers depending on the type of jacket – synthetic or down fill insulation. I try to limit washing the gear until it REALLY needs it and avoid over-washing to improve the lifespan of the jacket. I’m pretty good about patching rips and tears in my gear at home, and using NoSo patches on apparel as needed.
RT: After every trip, all gear is pulled out and spot washed by hand with a wet towel, paying close attention to zipper coils and sliders, removing salt, dirt and grime. Tents and sleeping bags are turned inside out and shaken free of debris then hung to dry and air out, pads are also laid out to air dry. If gear is a pretty stinky or needs a little more than drying, some time hanging in the sun can help defunk gear.
When all my gear is dry, I put some items in large storage bags (roomy enough to breath and not be compressed) and store those larger bags in my climate-controlled gear room, on shelves or hung on hooks. If regular upkeep is done the big cleanings are not needed. Check out these step-by-step instructions and videos if it’s about time to wash your tent, or wash your bag.
What is the biggest issue you hear about and see coming in, and how can it be avoided in the future?
CS: We hear a lot of feedback from customers who are having trouble with the zippers on their gear, primarily tents. Zippers are the only moving part of your tent, so they need some periodic maintenance to keep them running smoothly – think of it like an oil change for your car.
The best way to make sure the zippers stay up and running is to keep them clean and lubricated. Go slow, use two hands, don’t let the coil bend while you’re running it, and try to keep any material away from getting stuck in the slider. If you have to force the slider to run, it’s time to clean them out. Check out this Zipper Maintenance and Repairs video for more information. All of this is preventative maintenance, but if the zippers start to split on you, we offer very reasonable repairs.
RT: We see all kinds of repairs come into the shop but there are a few that happen more often than others. UV damage is something that cannot be repaired, the best action is preventative measures like using something like Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarProof regularly. Find more information on solar protection and waterproofing your tent here.
Something a little more general that could help prevent a lot of odd repairs, is to take the time to pick a good place to pitch your tent and pitch it correctly using all guy lines. With good placement (taking in mind trees, winds and exposures and floor coverings) and a good pitch (good stake placement, using guy lines and Velcro behind guy lines, proper tension on pitch) a lot of damages can be avoided. Of course breaking down camp carefully as well.
By taking the time to do things in order, you can avoid part or your tent blowing away, getting damaged or lost, and of course, a final sweep of your camp to ensure you did not leave anything behind like a Copper Spur cross over pole will help preserve your tent and your sanity. Check out our Tent Tips for more info and quick videos on The Perfect Pitch, set-up, take down and more.
The last one is a weird one – we see a lot of doggy doors in tents. Just be mindful when camping with your pets and pay attention to their needs and signals throughout the trip.