Watershed Blog

How to Maintain Your River Gear Mid-Season

Everybody has paid the price one way or another for lack of maintenance when it comes to any valuable piece of equipment or item. Whether you forgot to change your brakes in time or forgot to air out your tent, we’ve all kicked ourselves for not taking better care of something at some point. 


We want to make sure that the rest of your river season has minimal hiccups, which is why we’ve compiled some tips and advice for keeping your paddle inventory fresh and clean. With all of the action and wear it gets, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and you may even learn a trick you hadn’t known before!

Ocoee Duffel. Photo Credit: HuntVault

Drybag Care


As with your boat, and virtually every other piece of gear you’re thrusting into the foamy unknown, fine sediment build up like sand will attempt to abrade the nooks and crannies of every seam. 


While our upgraded 2022 bags are made of an 840-denier colored Polyurethane coating, it never hurts to clean them off as best as possible to keep them in good condition. To clean the inside of the bag, we recommend filling it with warm water and adding a drop of Dawn dish soap. Seal it up and shake it good! Dump it out and repeat the process with fresh water, then leave it open to dry. You can apply the same solution to the exterior with a soft cloth or brush to clean off any sand. 


One of the most important maintenance tips we can offer for our drybags specifically is to regularly clean out the ZipDry closure system. The wellbeing of your gear is relying on our airtight technology to function properly. Dirt and grime build up over time can compromise the seal’s ability to properly shut and stay closed. An old toothbrush scrub will help get out any unwanted debris or build up. Once the muck has been flushed out, we recommend lubricating the ZipDry closure every couple of months using our 303 Protectant.When you store it, seal the closure so that the lubricant doesn’t dry out, making for less frequent cleaning and application. 


If you have any trouble sealing your ZipDry closure, check out our handy video that breaks it down: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cevh0VGw7e8

Raft Cleaning


Starting with rafts, sand is your arch nemesis. You’ll want to strip the boat down of all its hardware and accessories and get ready to give it the rinse of a lifetime. Splaying it out in the driveway or on the lawn, give it a thorough hosing, working the grime out of the corners below the tubes. 


Once it’s dry it’ll need a good wax and polish – we recommend using an inflatable boat cleaner to get rid of stains and any additional fine grit. Additionally, the NRS sell their own 303 Protectant which should be applied generously from bow to stern, focusing especially on areas that get a lot of wear. 

Kayak Cleaning


Thankfully, cleaning a kayak is a much more straightforward process. After every excursion, a freshwater rinse will clean off any build up or sand off of the exterior. Follow up by washing it down with a sponge and some soapy water, then letting it air dry. 


Once it’s dry, apply some good ol’ Paddle Sports Cleaner and Protectant

Tent Maintenance 


Two of the most notorious challenges tent owners run into are preventing mold and tears. Rips and tears are a little easier to prevent with some careful packing and avoiding any accidents. Mold, on the other hand, is much more common, and happens when you don’t let your tent and rain fly dry out after a trip. 


Keeping a damp, soggy tent rolled up in its stuff sack for prolonged periods of time is how mold thrives. Once you get home from an outing, spread out the tent, footprint and fly in the sun or a warm garage to let it breathe and dry naturally. 


For rips, it’s helpful to keep some Tenacious Tape or repair patches on hand for quick and easy field repair. 


The debris of a river outing, as you know, spares no surface or crevice. This can be dangerous for zippers across the board, but mainly tents. Regularly applying zipper wax will help ward off sand and dirt from mucking up the slider and causing breakage on the track, which most of the time also ends up ripping tent fabric. 


River season is far from over, and with summer around the corner, the time to plan is now. Take inventory, clean out the gear shed and pack up for all of your summer adventures. Just don’t forget your favorite Watershed Drybag to keep the essentials dry and protected, no matter how rough things get! Our Chattooga Duffel is a great pick for the long haul and fits easily below a boat or kayak deck.