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Gear Guy

Closet Car: Is it Safe to Store Climbing Gear in Your Vehicle?

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My spouse doesn’t like seeing my stuff strewn around the garage, so I leave my climbing gear in the car. Am I harming it by storing it there?

—Jim Newless, via

The interior of a car can, on a sunny day, heat up enough to bake chocolate-chip cookies and delaminate rock shoes left in the rear window.

Any other equipage that is glued together (boots) or made of nylon (a rope, harness) can also be degraded by heat and sunlight. You could instead keep your gear in the shady trunk, but beware. There has been one rope and one harness failure attributed to chemical contamination, possibly from being stored in a car trunk, but a cleaning closet and garage are also culprits.

Possible contaminants in a car trunk include sulfuric acid leaked from a car battery or crusted on jumper cables, and leakage or vapors from common auto and household cleaners that contain muriatic acid, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, bleach and acetone. Contact with any of these chemicals is a death sentence for nylon gear. For a detailed study on which chemicals and products can harm nylon, read the excellent article, “The Electric Harness Acid Test,” by Kolin Powick in the Climb Safe section.

Even if you keep your gear in your car in a storage bin or bag, where it is protected from sunlight and chemicals, you still have reason not to use your vehicle as a gear closet. In the past month two of my partners have had their cars broken into and all their climbing gear stolen. One bum even slept in my friend’s rig, and it still stinks like a vodka sweat. Next!

This article appeared in Rock and Ice issue 241 (April 2017).

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