Q. Help! All my gear reeks! How can I prevent that smell?
— Jake, Fayetteville, Arkansas

A. First, never leave your stuff cooped up in your backpack or stuff sack after an outing. When you do that, tiny microbes grow on your gear, and the smell can be lethal.

Second, be sure to get all your clothing in the washing machine as soon as you get home.

Also, let your gear dry out properly. Hang your sleeping bag, backpack, jacket and any other bulky item in the garage or on your porch or patio to let it air out.

Wet shoes? Stuff them with old newspaper.

Need more help? Find more advice for cleaning and maintaining your outdoor gear.

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