The Case For Drying Out

The Case For Drying Out

June 11, 2020

Countless gear advocates will tell you that the manner with you treat your gear is the manner with which your gear will treat you, and they are right. Soft goods, like harnesses and tool bags, are susceptible to the elements just like anything and their performance can degrade over time with exposure, even failing in some cases where proper care was not recognized. A rule of thumb states that daily airing out of your gear allows the gear to perform as it is intended, but there are more duties that we must be careful to execute on as well.

Daily inspection of sewn goods, especially for those working-at-height, is critical to proper drop prevention and asset protection. I often ask field techs to look at their gear twice a day, once at the start of the day and once at the end. Why? Because a lot can happen in 8 hours. Drop your wrench roll enough and a seam can become compromised. The next thing you know a 10mm wrench is hurling towards the ground from 100ft above - enough to kill an unsuspecting coworker. 

What do we look for? Well, remember when you were young and grandma had that fancy velvet couch with the tiny whole you stuck your peas in because you hated peas? Imagine if you kept jamming peas through it until you could fit 2 peas, then 3, then 4, and so on, eventually the whole is so big it exposes the insides. The same thing happens with bags - the more a seam is worked - stretched, saturated, dried, exposed to UV, etc, the more it is breaking down over time, then one day the seam fails and the contents spill out. That may take a long time, but the think the time you dropped that same bag on a composite roof and it slid 60 wearing the edge. Now you have a recipe for failure. Usually it is pretty easy to see when it is going to fail, but not always. Should you ever question it, stop using it and look for advice - we give advice out for free!

Water is a staple of life, but when it comes to bags, it can be killer. Nylon bags, like those made of 1000d Cordura, will saturate (Nylon is somewhat hydrophylic) and often any contaminates will remain once dry. Nylon also stretches when wet (lubrication) and can loosen a weave, thus making any sewn seam susceptible to failure. While it is a modern marvel of synthetic fiber and rugged and durable as all get out, Nylon does have its Kryptonite. In addition, Nylon is highly susceptible to UV damage over time, fading and becoming tough. 

Here is a great summary for reference:

https://www.jasonmills.com/blog/index.php/2019/02/28/nylon-vs-polyester/

In summary, while we use our gear everyday to support our work and lifestyles, we must also understand the complexities and vulnerabilities of the products so that we might protect them for many years of use. An ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.