Hopefully, by the end of a hunting season your backpack needs a good cleaning. It is important to remove dirt, debris, and blood from the pack to keep it functioning at its best. But don’t feel like you have to wait until the end of the season to clean your pack. It is best to clean your pack after each animal you pack out, as well as before your hunting season starts — especially if you’ve been training in your pack leading up to opening day.
Thankfully, the cleaning process is simple, quick, and doesn’t require any special tools. We do not recommend putting any part of the pack into a washing machine or using any harsh chemicals/cleaners. All you will need is a hose, a bathtub, and the scent-free detergent you wash your hunting clothes in.
Here is a step-by-step walkthrough of the exact process we use to clean our packs…
Shake It Out
Begin by opening up the main bag, the lid, and each pocket, and manually removing any dirt and debris. Turn the pack upside down and give it a good shake-out.
Separate the Pieces
Disassemble the main pack components so you can more thoroughly clean each one, and also remove any debris that was lodged in any of the crevices. Fully detach and remove the lid by unclipping the 4 buckles. Remove the bag, unbuckling the two buckles on each side, lifting the bag lip over the top of the frame panel, and then unthreading the webbing connecting the bag to the bottom of the frame.
From here you can optionally remove the shoulder harness from the frame by breaking the Velcro connection and unclipping the ladder-locks; make note of the harness position before doing removal, so that you can re-attach it in the same position. Another optional step would be to remove any hip belt pouches or other accessories attached to the pack or frame. It is usually not necessary to remove the hip belt itself, as it can be cleaned sufficiently while it is attached to the pack.
If you use Strap Keepers to manage extra webbing, we recommend removing all of them and allowing the webbing to be loose. Set Strap Keepers aside.
Spray It Down
Grab your garden hose with a pressure nozzle attached and give each component a good spray-down on all surface areas. This step will help blast away and major grime. If you have packed-out an animal, give extra attention to load shelf area — the front of the frame panel and the backside of the pack bag.
Time for a Warm Soak
Bring all of your pack components inside. Fill your bathtub up with hot water and the detergent that you use to wash your hunting clothes. We use and recommend Sport Suds, but any good scent-free, non-UV soap or detergent will do. Add each pack component to the bathtub, allowing them to soak for 2-3 hours. If possible, turn and agitate each component every hour.
Wash and Rinse
After everything has soaked for a bit, drain the tub. Give each component a quick-hand wash and rinse thoroughly.
Air It Out
Bring each piece outside, to either hang or lay-out. If possible, allow components to air-dry overnight, or for a full day.
Get It Together
Once all components are dry, it is time to re-assemble the pack. If removed, begin by attaching the frame harness and hip belt. With the frame fully assembled, attach the bag onto the frame. Finally, reconnect the lid.
Finally, install Strap Keepers to manage all loose webbing.
One Last Thing…
Your pack is now clean, but it isn’t meant to stay this way. It is ready for a new adventure — don’t be afraid to get it dirty again!