An old adage is that if you take care of your gear, your gear will take care of you.
Properly dried out shelters means that you won’t have mildew and rot when you set up the winter tent that’s been in storage for a few months, and your pack strap won’t rip out at importune times.
Maintaining and repairing gear and clothing should be an essential part of an active outdoor person’s activity as spending time outdoors. More so than talking about the equipment or buying it instead. 😉
And if you use hiking poles or backcountry ski, you’ll invariably need to pay attention to your poles.
In an ideal world, that when poles get wet, “you lay them out fully extended and let them dry completely before you let them sit as well” as one customer rep told me.
However, as an active outdoors person, the world tends not to be ideal. If you cross creeks, ski regularly, or put up with fine sand in the Utah desert consistently, your gear will suffer from noticeable use. A tell-tale sign of that use with poles ends up being grayish-white powder from oxidation.
Before the gear becomes too beat up, some quick and simple maintenance will effectively prevent long term problems with your poles.
The simple maintenance solution? Use some gun cleaning oil with long wire brushes. A solution that ends up being inexpensive, effective, and easy to do.
I purchased some gun cleaning oil via Amazon, and a 100 ml bottle at $15 ends up being a cost-effective amount for all the hiking and ski poles we have in our gear collection.
Pair the gun cleaning oil with a pipe cleaning kit for only five-dollars and a rag you have around the house, and you’ll take care of your poles easily.
Though many sites advise against using WD-40 or similar, I find the gun cleaning oil to be effective and not gum up. If it works well for moving parts on more mechanically complicated firearms, I can’t see the disadvantage for your trekking or ski poles if appropriately used. At least in my use with a flick or snap-lock type pole or Joan’s packable poles.
How to use this simple cleaning kit?
- Disassemble the poles. Don’t be afraid; the poles dissemble and resemble very quickly.
- Add a small amount of lubricant in each section
- Use the pipe cleaner and vigorously brush in and out of each pole section.
- I also scrub a bit on the connecting sections.
- If you have expanding sections as found in “twist-lock” style poles, do not use the firearm lubricant on these areas. Brush vigorously only.
- For packable poles, you’ll have to work around the connecting cable but otherwise similar steps to flick lock poles
- Add a small amount of lubricant outside the poles and wipe down the pole exterior.
- Reassemble the poles
- Move the poles back and forth several times; wipe off any excess lubricant
- I leave the poles extended for the rest of the day before storing them again.
Easy, not time-consuming, and inexpensive; some maintenance I like to do at least once a season.
The entirety of this operation takes perhaps fifteen minutes total if that.
What do you gain by not performing regular maintenance on your trekking or ski poles? Or any gear for that matter?