3 Steps To Properly Care For Technical Gear

In Gear, How To, News by Lisa Garmat

Every year we spend more money than we’d like to admit on gear. Knowing how to properly care for the expensive stuff that cares for us is important to understand. Here’s a quick rundown on three categories: down, technical shells, and base layers.


The wisdom of the down ages is to stay away from washing, period. The thought is that washing down prematurely shortens the life of your down gear by negatively affecting its loft. However, with much of the new down apparel & gear, you can wash carefully, actually prolonging the life of your gear.

  • Close all zippers, button all buttons, and Velcro all closures.
  • Wash in a front loading washing machine. Top loaders can snag and tear your gear.
  • Use cold water on a gentle cycle using a gentle or down-specific detergent.
  • Dry on a low, or no-heat setting and throw in a few tennis balls to restore loft.
  • Don’t use bleach or fabric softener and never iron down.

Technical Shells

Most technical shells are coated in a Durable Water Repellent (DWR). Over time, this layer deteriorates due to dirt, sweat, oils, and more, resulting in a garment that needs to be washed more than people expect to keep you warm and dry.

  • Close all zippers and loosen the tension on draw cords.
  • Wash in a front loading washing machine on normal setting.
  • Use the normal setting with a liquid soap (not detergent), such as Nikwax Tech Wash.
  • If water no longer beads up on the outside of the cloth, put in a dryer for 20 minutes (the heat will reactivate the water repelling chemicals).
  • You can use a wash in or spray of DWR to reapply a layer and maintain that protective water repellent coating.

Base Layers

Obviously, base layers should be washed frequently as they are the closest to your body and pick up oils, odors, and dirt. Many types of base layer materials, such as merino wool, can be worn several times between washings, so we’ve provided separate guidelines based on two categories: wool blends and synthetic blends (such as nylon, polyester, and spandex).

  • Machine wash on cold using the normal setting (wool blends).
  • Avoid drying base layers (even if the label says you can) and instead hang dry or dry flat to prevent shrinkage (wool blends).
  • Machine wash in warm water using the permanent press setting (synthetic blends).
  • Dry on low heat or hang dry. If tumble drying, do not over dry and remove quickly once dry to prevent wrinkles (synthetic blends).

Wear, Rinse, Repeat 🙂