A The padded jacket is an important investment when it comes to trekking. It forms an important layer to keep you warm on any Himalayan hike, especially winter or high altitude hikes where temperatures drop to -5 ° and below.
Among the warm layers you’ll invest in for a hike – like fleece jackets, wool sweaters, and thermals – padded jackets are usually the most expensive. Unless, of course, you buy a down jacket.
Padded jackets cost between 1,500 and 3,000 rupees, depending on the brand. It is therefore a good practice to take good care of it so that it lasts for a long time.
Here are some things you can do to keep your padded jacket in good condition.
1. Do not wear a padded jacket when trekking
I’ve seen a lot of trekkers wearing their padded jackets while trekking. That is a big mistake.
For one, this increases the chances of your jacket being torn or scratched by sharp objects along the way, such as thorns or branches. As padded jackets are sensitive on the outside, they are prone to damage.
I suggest you wear your fleece jacket during the hike. You can wear your padded jacket after you reach your campsite. This way your jacket will last a long time.
Do not wear padded jackets during a hike, not even in winter. You can wear warm layers and fleece jackets instead. Image by Vishwas Krishnamurthy
2. Avoid using your padded jacket in heavy rain
Padded jackets are sold to us as waterproof. Depending on the water resistance measurement, they last between a few minutes and a few hours in the rain. The average padded jacket (~ 3,000mm) only lasts an hour or two in mild rain. An 8,000 mm jacket would last much longer, however.
However, most padded jackets are only splash-proof. They must not be used in heavy rain.
So avoid depending on your padded jacket in heavy rain. Just use it as a buffer time to pull your rain gear out of your backpack. If it’s just a harmless mild drizzle, you can wear your padded jacket. But avoid getting completely wet.
Most padded jackets are only splash-proof and can withstand mild rain for around 1-2 hours. So avoid getting them completely wet
3. Do not chemically clean your padded jacket
Although most padded jackets come with instructions on how to dry clean them, I recommend you not to do so. Most dry cleaners are not equipped to properly handle your mountaineering equipment. They can do more harm than good. It’s a risky choice.
After your hike, you can hand or machine wash your padded jacket instead.
It is enough if you wash your jacket once a year. Don’t wash it too often.
4. Do not wring out your padded jacket when washing your hands
While hand washing your padded jacket, do not wring it out. This will damage the acrylic or synthetic fiber inside.
Instead, soak your padded jacket in cleaning water, gently brush off the dirt with your hand, and then rinse it off in a bucket of water. Hang it under sunlight and let it dry.
5. Follow this procedure to machine wash
I advise you to only machine wash if you have a front loading washer. The center agitator found in top loading washing machines can damage the acrylic fiber filling and cause it to build up in small corners of the mantle.
First, close all the zippers and buttons and turn your jacket over. Add two or three tennis balls to the machine along with the jacket. These balls prevent the acrylic fiber filling from balling up. This maintains the loft of your filling.
Use a gentle cycle with water set to a temperature of no more than 30 degrees Celsius. I recommend setting it to two rinse cycles to remove any detergent residue. Skip the spin cycle.
After washing, dry your padded jacket in sunlight for at least a full day to thoroughly remove moisture
Drying your padded jacket thoroughly is very important to prevent lumps and odors. Wash the jacket in the first half of the day and dry it in direct sunlight all day. Use a hanger to hang the jacket on the clothesline. Do not use clips.
After drying, pat your jacket well to dissolve the filling again.
6. Do not use harsh detergents when washing
You shouldn’t use regular harsh detergent to wash your padded jacket. Not only does it damage the texture of the jacket, it also removes the splash-proof layer.
I recommend using ‘Nikwax’. It is a detergent specially formulated for cleaning mountaineering equipment. You can get it online for Rs.1,800-2,500. It is a worthwhile investment to wash all of your trekking equipment.
7. Do not fold your jacket when storing it
Avoid folding your padded jacket and throwing it in a corner of your closet while storing it. Instead, hang it up using a high quality sleek hanger. This avoids unnecessary wrinkles and ensures that the acrylic fiber will last longer.
Do not fold your padded jacket while you store it. Hang it in your closet using a quality coat hanger to maintain the upholstered base
If you follow these simple steps, you can be sure that your padded jacket will withstand several long hikes.
If you know any more tips, write the comments!
(This article is part of a series by Trek Leader Tanmay Bain about maintaining your trekking equipment. You can read his previous article on maintaining your backpack here and the trekking poles here.)