Blog 10.07.2023

Post expedition kit care – what to do and why

Cleaning and maintaining your kit after a DofE expedition might not be at the forefront of your mind, but it’s an essential step to getting the most out of your kit, whether it’s group kit such as tents and rucksacks, or even walking boots or waterproof jackets.

By spending a bit of time cleaning and caring for your kit, you’ll achieve three key things:

  1. Saving money – by making your kit last longer, you’ll have to replace it less often.
  2. Reducing your environmental impact – well-maintained kit will keep going season after season and will result in less waste and landfill.
  3. Keeping your favourite kit – got a pair of extremely comfy boots or a reliable rucksack you just don’t want to part with? By looking after your kit, you can keep using your trusty items year after year, whether it’s for a DofE expedition or your own outdoor adventures.

There are a few different ways to clean and maintain your outdoor kit, and that’s why we’ve partnered with Nikwax, the DofE recommended expedition kit care partner, to help advise DofE groups on the best way to look after their kit with the right products.

We’ve worked with Nikwax for over ten years, and through our partnership, Nikwax take joy in supporting and helping young people discover, enjoy and respect the great outdoors! You can find out more about Nikwax and our partnership here.


What to do?

  1. Set up your tent to dry after getting back from your expedition so any moisture can air dry and prevent mould and odours.
  2. Brush off any debris and spot clean with a damp cloth. You can also use Nikwax Tent & Gear SolarWash to clean your tent – it’s the only cleaner designed to protect against UV damage, and it’s easy to apply by hand. Simply spray evenly to the outside of fabric and run in well with a damp cloth or sponge. Rinse with clean water using a cloth or sponge, and then leave to air dry.
  3. Reproof your tent with Nikwax Tent and Gear Solarproof to protect further against UV damage and enhance water repellency – win win! It’s great for rucksacks too, so spray all your group kit at the same time for efficiency!


UV light has a huge impact on the deterioration of tents – it destroys the water repellency and leads to a reduction in fabric tear strength, significantly shortening the lifespan of kit. Synthetic fabrics that your tents and rucksacks are made of, such as nylon or polyester, are vulnerable to sunlight and in two weeks of continuous exposure, can lose up to half their strength.

Walking Boots

What to do?

  1. Get any mud off by using a brush and rinsing them under a tap. Using a cleaner like Nikwax Footwear Cleaner Gel every so often gives them a deeper clean and will help restore water repellency in your boots.
  2. Reproofing your boots regularly (we suggest every few wears) will keep them performing at their best – no one wants wet feet after a long day hiking! Make sure you use the right type of proofer for the material of your boots – we recommend Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for LeatherFabric and Leather ProofNubuck and Suede Proof.
  3. Always leave your boots to dry out naturally – you can even pop some screwed up newspaper inside the boots to help dry them quicker, but don’t dry by a radiator as this could damage the boot.


Breathable waterproof footwear is most likely to get sweaty and wet inside when used in damp or wet conditions. If the outer fabric or leather absorbs water, the breathability of the footwear will be reduced. Moisture vapour will not be able to escape through the material, so your feet will feel clammy and wet – leading to blisters!

Waterproof Clothing

What to do?

  1. Don’t wash waterproofs with normal washing powders. They will damage your kit, and then it won’t be as effective. For best performance wash them with a specialist cleaner. We recommend Nikwax Tech Wash, which you can use by hand or pop in the washing machine. Use 150ml in medium/hard water* areas and 100ml in soft water areas for 1-2 items for both hand-washing and in the machine. If you plan to re-waterproof the washed item there is no need to dry it first.
  2. If you can see dark patches appearing on waterproof jackets or trousers, this is when you need to reproof your kit! Use a reliable proofer, such as Nikwax TX.Direct, which will increase water repellency and improve breathability.


Breathable waterproof garments are most likely to get sweaty and wet inside when used in damp or wet conditions. Did you know? If the outer fabric absorbs water, the garment can lose up to 70% of its breathability. By cleaning and reproofing your waterproof clothing, you’ll restore water repellency and revive breathability of your kit, which will keep you warmer, drier and extend the life of your kit.

For even more advice on how to look after your expedition kit and kit care, check out our other blogs and useful resources:

General kit care advice
Sustainable kit care
Waterproofing and kit care poster