By Mike Willis
There is nothing worse than putting on the perfect stalk, only to have your plans foiled by noisy gear.
Whether it’s a problematic buckle or strap, these unwelcome noises are the equivalent of sounding the alarm in the middle of your favorite hunting spot. When something seems odd, the leery game won’t hang around long enough to investigate. The big boys get big by assuming the worst and high-tailing it out of dodge.
Hunting packs are some of the most challenging pieces of gear to keep quiet. Between being loaded down with supplies and routinely exposed to the elements, they make noise! These noises present a real challenge as a quality pack is an essential piece of gear for a hunter.
Even well-made hunting packs will eventually begin to sound-off at some point.
Over the years, I have researched endless ways to silence these persistent squeaks. One common method of attempting to reduce squeaks is to utilize a graphite powder. By applying the powder directly to the source of the squeak, you can eliminate the noise until the next one appears.
An alternative way to combat noises is to wrap straps and buckles with athletic tape. This technique has worked well for many people over the years. Unfortunately, more squeaks will appear in areas that are not treated, and the tape leaves tacky adhesive wherever it was applied.
Instead of becoming frustrated with the continuous effort to chase and eliminate the elusive squeak, I decided to take matters into my own hands. I dug deep and assessed the root cause of the nuisance noise.
As the materials dry out, the fabric begins to get louder. When shipped from the factory, most gear has oils in the fabric from production. As these oils dissipate, the sounds start to show up.
I have a nice pack made by Sitka that I absolutely love. I was devastated the day it began squeaking uncontrollably. Rather than purchasing new packs annually, I started experimenting with ways to rehydrate the material to reduce the unwanted noises. After several attempts to locate the perfect product, I arrived at the right one.
Mineral oil is a petroleum-based product that is scent-free. Grandma will be happy to point you to the right aisle!
Mineral oil keeps the fabric hydrated while helping to expel rain. Having no scent at all, I have found this product to be perfect for eliminating noise. Since you are adding oil, it will darken the material and make it susceptible to getting dirty; but hey, it’s a hunting pack!
Gently massaging the oil into the fabric will adequately hydrate the material. You should be warned that applying this product too liberally will create quite the mess! Unless your medical insurance deductible has been met, do not attempt this process in your bathtub.
This method of treating gear will work for any fabric that is plaguing you. Just remember to take your time and slowly add the oil to get the desired results.
Two years ago, I added mineral oil to my pack. I have not had an issue since. My pack looks like it came out of a homeless encampment, but there is no scent and no sound!