General instructions on cleaning and maintaining your f-stop gear

f-stop backpacks are designed to carry and protect its contents from rigorous mountain terrain, airborne elements, and moisture. If you are doing battle with these elements, they can cause damage to your bag. Therefore, maintenance is required to ensure your bag is in optimal performing condition. There are simple steps you can take to ensure your pack has both has a long life while still doing its job in the field.

Below is a simple guide users can follow to help keep your pack in an optimally fresh and functional condition.

Washing

When cleaning your f-stop backpack you should never use abrasive pads, detergents, or a washing machine. Those cleaning tools can cause damage to the material and its water resistant coating. Hand washing with mild hand soap in warm water is the best method to keep your backpack shell materials clean and functional.

Follow these simple steps:

  1. Use a non-abrasive soft sponge to hand wash contaminated areas of the product.
  2. Only wash dirty areas as the unnecessarily brushing of clean areas can remove DWR* surface coatings
  3. For more difficult stains and filth we suggest Nikwax® Tech Wash (or similar products). Again hand wash with a sponge and be sure to read the product directions for detailed cleaning use.
  4. It is best to avoid any unnecessary agitation with the outer shell DWR and Advanta™ undercoating. Agitating either surface can reduce water-repellency
  5. Optionally, users can also clean SR buckles, ladder locks, zipper heads and Hypalon® areas. Airborne elements and ground dirt can build up on the components. In general these items are very durable but it does not hurt to take a fine soft brush (tooth brush) to clean out the corners for greater performance and longevity.
  6. When hand cleaning is complete hang dry at a neutral room temperature. Be sure all zippers are open and air is flowing through the bag. Using a circulating fan on a low setting can aid in the drying process.

Storing

It is best to store hang your backpack in well-ventilated area that has a neutral room temperature. A damp basement is the worst place to store your backpack and should be avoided if possible. Airflow is incredibly important when not in use to allow your backpack to breath and avoid moisture build up.

If you do not use your pack daily - and even if you do, we recommend removing all the contents after every use. Leaving any items in the pack reduces the bags ability to breathe and resist moisture build up.

Following the simple steps below will help keep you and your backpack happy.

  1. Empty your backpack and clear out all pockets. Be sure to double check for sandwiches and wrappers hiding in the corner of the pockets!
  2. Do a hand cleaning of the shell and components - if required.
  3. Unzip and open all pockets and access points. Clean out any contamination from inside the pockets.
  4. Leave pockets and zippers open and hang dry in a well-ventilated area. (Air circulation through the product is recommended and required for long-term storage)

Maintaining

DWR and Advanta™

DWR or Durable Water Repellant, is a coating applied to the outer shell of a textile. DWR adds water-resistance by sealing the fabrics weave. It causes water to bead into droplets and run off the shell instead of building up and penetrating into the material.

All f-stop bags use DWR treated fabrics. Over time and depending on use- the coating can wear and may eventually need to be re-treated. To bring new life to your exterior shell material, we recommend using waterproofing DWR treatment like Nikwax® Tent and Gear Solar Proof. When re-treating your DWR coating- follow the directions provided by the product you chose to use.

Advanta™ (featured in the 2015 Mountain Series) is a specially developed film that is laminated to the underside of the Nylon shell textile (DWR coatings exist on the exterior). The film lamination actually creates a waterproof barrier preventing any water from penetrating the Nylon surface. It is important to note the difference between Water Proof and Water Resistant. ‘Resistant’ generally is the first layer of protection but can be penetrated in consistent rain fall or soaking. ‘Water Proof’ actually stops water from entering through the Nylon. f-stop uses both for the 2015 Mountain Series as means to protect the contents of your bag.

As a result is it very important to exercise care if you are cleaning the inside of your pack. On Mountain Series products the Advanta™ laminate is white and very obvious to the eye. Please take extra care if cleaning the film. Again do not use detergents, strong soaps, and avoid heated storage.
Always avoid using cleaners with alcohol or ammonia when cleaning your backpack. These items can easily remove the protective coatings.

Zippers

All f-stop bags use YKK® zippers. While these are widely recognized as the best zippers available, they are not 100% invincible. Proper care of zippers will not only extend the life of the zipper, but also for the life of the backpack.

Most zippers on our packs have added aids to provide more efficient usability such zipper protection and pull-tabs. Hypalon® zipper garages, Hypalon® zipper pull-tabs and slider pull cords all aid to the user experience.

If it starts to rain - stop and tuck the zippers under the zipper garages. Use the zipper pull tabs to get a straight line when zipping (one hand on the pull the other on the zipper - this helps create a straighter zip path). Pull cords help sooth out kinks/corners and provide easy locating and grip of a zipper.

Below are some precautionary tips for keeping your zippers healthy, smooth and functional.

  1. Operate zipper in a calm smooth manner for best results.
  2. Avoid awkward jerk motions when closing or opening zippers (use the Hypalon® zipper pull tabs).
  3. Keep zipper track in a straight line when operating if possible.
  4. Do not over pack your bag at the zipper track areas (avoid sharp bends in zipper track - especially the PU zippers).
  5. Do not store product with any weight placed on the zipper areas.
  6. Tuck zippers in 'zipper garages' for best water protection.

In point ‘4’ we mention ‘PU’ zippers, These are commonly referred to as Waterproof - but do not be fooled they are not. They follow the same Water Resistant VS waterproof story mentioned in the DWR/Avanta™ treatment section. PU zippers are very water resistant and do a great job keeping elements out - on the PU surface. You still need to take care around the seams (if no storm flap) and also use the zipper garages to keep out water. Where two zipper sliders meet there will always be a space between them potentially allowing elements to pass, but if you cover that space with the zipper garage, you will get much better protection.

Loss of Elements

YKK® says: “Trying to forcibly close a zipper in a bag that has been overfilled will cause an excess load on the elements. This stress may cause the elements to slip out from the tape. This is a fatal problem with a zipper. The zipper should be closed only after bringing the two element's sides near each other so that the slider can move more easily.”

This simply means if you force your zippers you may loose or damage the elements (teeth) and your zipper will become unusable. Please take caution and do not force or over stuff your pack.

Clean and Lube

There are numerous ways to keep your zipper clean and smooth, from wax to non-tinted lip balms. But since we solely use YKK® zippers and we will adhere to there advice.

“The elements' gears can be damaged by forcing a slider that does not open or close smoothly. Apply paraffin or the lubricating spray "ZIPPYCOOL®" to the front and back side of the elements and move the slider up and down several times to work in the lubricant and make the slider work smoothly.” - YKK®

As mentioned, there are numerous ways to keep your zipper smooth and you can do a search online for numerous alternatives- although we recommend sticking to YKK®’s advice.

Zipper Pull Cord

Ski boots love to smash zipper pull cord ‘clips’ - the plastic end piece. If you do experience an issue with a lost or damaged pull cord, please contact customer service and we will do our best to address the problem.

In general replacing the clip requires a box cutter and new clip. Simply separate the two plastic parts of the clip (at the ‘seam’) and replace.

Treating Odors

There are a variety of deodorizers available that can be used for the padded areas of your bag. Often times sweat will lead to fungal growth and odors if your bag is not properly stored or ventilated. If you’re ok with a strong minty smell (which will eventually go away), then tea tree oil may be an effective solution. Tea tree oil is incredibly potent with a powerful natural scent and antibacterial/antifungal properties. Read on for suggestions of how to use it for treating smells or odors in the back panel and shoulder straps.

(Caution – Avoid eye contact as it can cause irritation)

  1. This first step will come down to personal preference as the concentration can be varied. To start, add 5 - 10 drops of tea tree oil to one cup of warm water. Then add it to a spray bottle and give it a good shake to mix
  2. Spray the affected area and wipe with a clean damp cloth
  3. Dry in a ventilated area
  4. If the odor remains, increase the concentration and spray more generously to the affected area before wiping with a damp cloth.

Terms / Glossary

  • DWR – Durable Water Repellent
  • Advanta™ – Waterproof film featured on materials on 2015 Mountain Series and later
  • SR Buckle – Side Release Buckle
  • Ladder Locks — Adjusts and locks tension of webbing
  • Sliders — Portion of zipper which slides along the track
  • Elements — Commonly referred as the teeth of the zipper
  • Tape — The area the Elements are attached to on a zipper and attaches the zipper the the bag