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We have talked about what to carry in your backcountry gear repair kit, but what supplies should you keep at home to perform gear repairs? Although you don’t need to have everything on this list, having a few of the staples can save you time whenever you need to do a last-minute repair.
Right now, many of us are also prepping our gear for winter storage. Before you put your gear away for the season, it’s the perfect time to clean all of your gear and check to see if any repairs are needed. That way, all of your equipment is ready for the next adventure. If you’re getting ahead on holiday shopping, gear repair items are a great stocking stuffer or gift for the outdoorsy person in your life.
Tenacious Tape is a classic gear repair item to have on hand. It is designed to fix rips in materials and synthetic fabrics. While duct tape is another classic option for quick fixes, Tenacious Tape works much better on fabrics due to the aggressive adhesive that sticks for longer, even after washing. The tape is designed to bond to synthetic materials, allowing for a longer-lasting repair. Unlike duct tape, Tenacious Tape also doesn’t leave behind residue. Learn more about how to use Tenacious Tape.
Patches or a patch kit are a great way to stay on top of synthetic fabric repairs. Gear Aid has some of our favorite and easiest-to-use patch kits, but other brands like NOSO Patches make fun patches are only required about 15 minutes to fix a rip in a jacket or on a tent.
Some patches are steel and pick, while others require heat activation to work. Patches that need heat activation, like an iron or a few minutes in a dryer, are best used at home to ensure the bond to the fabric lasts longer. We like the Gear Aid patches or even some Tenacious Tape for most fabric repairs because it is easy to cut to size and fix in the backcountry. However, the heat-activated patches may last longer and are preferred at home.
Tent mesh can be difficult to repair, and it can be repaired either by sewing or with a patch. We find patching the easiest in general, but large vertical rips may be best fixed by sewing. Mesh screen patches for tents differ from other types of mesh repair products, so be sure to buy one that will adequately bond to the materials. These patches are pretty straightforward to use and utilize a stick-and-peel approach. Learn how to repair a mesh tent screen.
A quality sewing kit at home or even a sewing machine is an excellent investment if you plan to repair your clothes or other fabrics. While you can use a backcountry sewing kit for simple repairs, we recommend having a more inclusive sewing kit at home, so you don’t run out of thread, have a variety of needle options, and have a seam ripper.
Having a few replacement buckles and cord locks is so valuable. Some backpacks or gear may require specialty buckles that the company can only replace. In my experience, contacting the company directly and asking for a replacement is a quick and easy way to do this. Cord locks are pretty streamlined across all gear types, which is easier to replace, but many buckles can be replaced even if they are not the same stock size or style. If possible, having a few sizes available is helpful.
While it may be used most for tents, having seam sealant on hand is helpful for any item that is meant to be waterproof (i.e., rain jackets, dry bags). The Gear Aid Seam Grip is an excellent option as it is easy to use and versatile enough to be used on various items. Different sealant options are available with different instructions, but we like Gear Aid because it comes with a small brush, making application easy.
Specialty seam sealers are strong adhesives designed to hold for extended periods. They tend to be more aggressive than superglue, so apply them with care, as they can be hard to remove. Learn more about how to seal tent seams here.
Most of the time, the shock cord on your tent poles is the first part to wear out or break. Keep an extra shock cord or two on hand, just in case this happens. Even if the cord doesn’t break, it can lose elasticity over time, needing to be replaced eventually. The type of tent poles that you have will depend on how exactly you replace the cord, but this can be done at home with minimal tools. Learn more about how to repair a tent pole.
Replacement Tent Poles
Having tent pole splints is helpful in the field, and they can be used for a semi-permanent fix, but it still compromises the strength of the poles in general. So, we recommend finding replacement tent pole sections that you can keep at home and use when a replacement is needed. Getting the poles replaced by the manufacturer is also an option, and you may be able to buy replacement poles directly from them. Either way, just make sure that they are made from the same materials and are the same size as the original set.
Zippers can be tricky to repair, but if it is just the zipper pull, that’s easy to replace. Other zippers may need to be entirely replaced, which requires some sewing knowledge. There are several zipper repair kit options available, and if you are unsure if you can repair the zipper yourself, ask a local repair shop. For full zipper replacements, some shoe repair services may be an option. Learn more about how to repair zippers.
Q: What should I pack in a backcountry repair kit?
A backcountry repair kit doesn’t need to be elaborate, but it should have a few staple items, including tenacious tape or gear patches, a knife or multitool, and a sewing kit. You can invest in a pre-made repair kit or create your own using our list of backcountry repair kit items.
Q: How do you fix a rip in a tent?
Small rips in tents can be fixed by using synthetic material patches. Some patches provide a semi-permanent fix, while others are meant to be replaced when out of the backcountry. Some tent areas, like the meshing, can be repaired by sewing, but other tent areas should be patched. For large tent repairs, we recommend contacting the manufacturer or a local gear repair shop for guidance.
Q: Where can you send outdoor gear to be repaired?
Many outdoor companies perform repairs or replacements of their gear if damaged. If the wait time is too long or the company does not offer these services, another great option is to contact local gear repair shops or gear consignment stores. For certain repairs like zippers or boots, shoe repair shops are also worth looking into. There are several options for gear repair beyond DIY, but it often takes a bit of research to find the right place.