Gear failures in the field can destroy a trip, particularly when they’re involving large items like your backpack, tent, or raingear. Whether it’s a quick weekend getaway, or a long extended expedition, torn, ripped, or otherwise damaged gear can be a tough fix in the back country. It’s always important to have a couple of skills under your belt, and some multi-use items with you in the event of a mid-trip gear disaster.
Before embarking on any trip I try to make sure my equipment is up to par. It’s never a good thing to have gear fail mid trip, so ensuring that everything is in working order beforehand can be a huge help. Always layout and inspect any closure points on your equipment, including buckles and zippers. In my opinion, buckles and zippers are the two weakest points in any piece of equipment, so inspecting before the trip, and carrying extras with you can be a huge help. Also be sure to inspect any seams on your equipment for stretch marks, or pulling that could turn into tears. Finally, make sure that any item that is supposed to be waterproof is treated and in good working order before going out.
It’s always best to carry some form of a repair kit with you. Ideally, the items in your repair kit are lightweight and multi-purpose. Don’t weigh yourself down with a lot of little excess items, focus on the items that are most likely to fail, and bring a few backups. Also bring a small sewing kit and some patches for fixing anything that you might not be able to replace. Here are a few of the items that I carry when hiking:
- Zip Ties
- Cord-lock Toggles
- Fast-ex Buckles
- Duct Tape
- Super Glue
- Extra Shoelaces
- Safety Pins
- Dental Floss
- Mesh and Fabric adhesive patches
All of the items in my repair kit are lightweight and multi-purpose. I keep mine in a small, container that is well labeled for organization. Be sure to pay attention or make notes of the equipment that you use so that you can replace it when you get back home, and always be sure to double check your repair kits before leaving to make sure that you have enough supplies to last the upcoming adventure.
Having a good multi-tool is a huge help on any adventure. They provide a compact, lightweight collection of tools that can help you out of any jam. Don’t over weigh your group, not everyone needs to bring a multi-tool, but generally it’s good to have at least 2. Be sure to match your multi-tool to your activity to ensure the tool you’ve chosen has the right gadgets for what you’re doing. All tools should at least have the following items:
- Needle Nose Pliers
- Knife Blade
- Screw Driver
- Can Opener
These simple tools, in combination with your repair kit, should be able to get you through just about any repair situation. It’s often helpful to have a few basic household skills as well. Proper sewing technique, a good sense of patching, and some very basic building skills can aid you in repairing just about anything.
After you’ve returned home, be sure to re-do your repairs so that your gear is up to par. If the failure is covered under warranty, then send your equipment back to the manufacturer. Generally speaking, the manufacturer will be able to provide the best repair for you. If it is not covered under warranty there are a few options. I have had success with many tailors and cobblers. Once you get past the funny look they give you when you walk into their shop with a giant tent in hand, they can generally fix just about anything. If there is something they can’t fix, there are camping repair shops, such as Rainy Pass Repair, Inc. that specialize in high end camping gear.