How to Clean and Wash A Hunting Backpack

Hunting is a hobby, but it’s also a sport and even a means of survival. When you know how to hunt, you will be able to eat what you shoot. You will be independent and self-reliant because hunting teaches you about surviving in nature and sometimes pushing your limits.

One of the many things you will learn as a hunter is that proper gear is essential and can make a difference between life and death. An appropriate backpack for hunting can store and organize all your gear without affecting your comfort or freedom of movement. In time, you will learn the day hunts will require different equipment from overnight hunts.

Just like with everything else you need for hunting, it’s only a matter of time until your backpack becomes dirty, especially if you do backpack hunting. But do you need to wash it after every hunt? Is it safe to wash the backpack? If yes, should you wash it after every hunt? To these and many other questions, we answer down below.

Why should you wash the hunting backpack?

Even if aesthetics are important, you shouldn’t wash the backpack only because it will look nicer. A clean and fresh-looking pack puts you in a good mood; we have to admit that a neat looking backpack won’t make you a better hunter, nevertheless.

For some, a bit of dirt will add a good camo feel; it looks like you mean hunting. In many situations, cleaning the hunting backpack will be necessary, so here are the main reasons to do it:

  • Even if dirt and leaves don’t pose a problem, blood does. Blood from the kills can carry viruses, diseases, and parasites, and so cleaning the hunting backpack will help preserve your health and your family’s.
  • You never want old rabbit, deer, or duck blood in the pack; when in contact with food or clothing, it could make you severely sick.
  • Old leaves, dirt, or blood, or another type of grime that builds up in the hunting pack could smell in a couple of days. The smell is unpleasant for any of your hunting pals, but it can also inform a prey where you are.
  • Debris or residue in the backpack will spill over all items in the pack. Even if your clothes, gloves, or hat were clean when you left home, you might discover that they’re all covered in dirt by the time you get to your hunting place.
  • Debris may clog the zippers, and it will become complicated to open/close it to access your gear. The longer you wait to clean the bag, the more difficult it will be.

It’s like with a red sauce dish. It’s straightforward to clean the plate right after you ate; if you leave the container out for a couple of days, the red sauce will dry, and washing it will be a pain.

What’s the best method for cleaning the hunting backpack?

No matter if you’re aiming for light or deep cleaning, you should never begin without checking the washing instructions on the label. Many backpack fabrics are put through various treatments to make the material waterproof; using hot water or detergents could ruin the water resistance. Not only will you destroy the backpack’s waterproofness, but you also render the investment you made into it completely useless.

No matter how time pressed you are, you should never wash and dry the hunting backpack in the washing machine. The detergent will leave a scent on the bag, and that will give you a way to your game. Blood and dirt can also leave some residue in your washing machine, and you will find it on your clothes next time you’re using it. As for drying, it goes without saying that the tumble dryer will most likely shrink the pack.

Before everything else

You don’t just go ahead and wash the backpack; you have to proceed by following specific steps:

  1. It would help if you began with emptying all of the pockets and compartments. It’s not possible to wash the hunting backpack when you have gear inside.
  2. Turn the hunting backpack upside down with all pockets and compartments open as far as they go. Shake the backpack so that you remove dirt, sand, and debris as much as you can.

Light cleaning

When you’re washing the hunting backpack after every hunt, a light cleaning is enough. It would help if you did it after a hike or overnight trip.

  • Use a clean sponge for wiping out interiors (you don’t need soap). A coarse dish sponge will be enough. You may use a very mild soap to wipe stains or dirt from the inside/outside of the pack. Use a scent-free soap, nevertheless.
  • Gently scrub the spots or stains on the exterior with some soap and the sponge.
  • Use cool and clean water with the sponge/cloth to rinse off all soap.
  • Let the pack air dry.

Deep cleaning

It could take years until a deep cleaning of your hunting backpack will be necessary; you will have to remove the camp smoke sooner or later, though.

  • Empty the backpack and carefully vacuum the seams and crevice in the pockets; go deep inside the pack’s main compartment as you have to remove all loose dirt, crumbs, or sand.
  • If possible, detach the shoulder straps and hip belt as well. It would help if you washed them separately with some soap and a sponge. Place the straps and hip belt under running water for a good rinse.
  • For backpacks with a removable metal frame, you have to detach it and detach everything that allows it.
  • Put 6 inches of lukewarm water in the bathtub or a large sink. Add some mild soap to it (scent-free is ideal). Gently submerge the backpack and sponge off the interior; brush off the exterior stains. Don’t scrub very hard the mesh pockets and pay attention to areas that contact your skin.
  • Drain the dirty water and fill the tub/sink with clean, cool water, rinsing your pack until the water runs clear. Rinsing more than once for removing all soap residue will be necessary most of the time.
  • Hang the backpack up and allow it to air dry but in a place away from direct sunlight.

One last thought

You should never skip reading the labels with care instructions for your backpack; different manufacturers may have various recommendations for the washing, according to the materials and technologies for the pack.

Also, don’t forget to clean the zippers on your backpack. You have to remove dust, sand, and particles that could build up in the zippers, affecting the performance and durability. Don’t scrub, especially if the zippers come with water-resistant coatings. Use a lubricant made for zippers to make the stuck zippers work correctly once again. The last thing you want when you’re out there is not to be able to reach your gear in a blink of an eye without making a noise.