In Case You Missed It
Boulderganic Fall 2009
Student Guide 2009
Boulder Weekly Sweet 16 Anniversary
Summer Scene 2009
Best of Boulder 2009
Annual Manual 2009
Newspaper of the Future
Kids Camp Guide 2009
Wedding Marketplace 09
Student Guide 2008
Best of Boulder 2008
Annual Manual 2008
Join Our Mailing List
|April 16-22, 2009
• Upcoming Events
• Stow it well, find it later
• Web adventure
What’s a gear head to do?
Follow in the footsteps of the thrifty
by Andrew Wineke
Money’s tight, the economy is lousy, and new gear can feel like an extravagance. But spring is here, and hiking/biking/boating season is just around the corner.
What’s a “gear head” to do?
Not to blow your mind or anything, but it may be time to consider following in the footsteps of our thrifty forbearers and pick up a needle and thread, a patch kit, some seam sealer or just some good old-fashioned duct tape and come up with a repair that will last you through the summer — and probably many summers to come.
In today’s disposable society, a lot of people never even consider repairing gear, but nearly anything that can be broken can be mended.
“That’s how I was raised — you don’t waste, you reuse,” said Eric Hunter, education chairman for the Pikes Peak chapter of the Colorado Mountain Club and a man not afraid to sew.
Hunter darns his socks, sews up his torn glove liners and assembles his own repair kits to take on the trail (key ingredients: duct tape, safety pins and zip ties).
“A lot of this is tribal knowledge,” he said. “One person finds out a trick, and they pass it on.”
Outdoors-lovers willing to repair their gear are few and far between, said Matt Chmielarczyk, sales manager at Mountain Chalet.
Still, there are enough of them for many Colorado outdoors stores to stock a wall of repair items and kits to fix everything from backcountry stoves to telemark bindings.
“We always have a stream of people coming through to repair Fastex buckles or a strap that’s been eaten by a pika,” Chmielarczyk said. “Why put something in the landfill when it can be repaired?”
Winter gear, such as ski bindings and crampons, tends to require more skill and equipment to repair, but most summer gear can be patched up with a few simple tools.
The holy trinity of outdoors-gear repair, Chmielarczyk said, is duct tape, Seam Grip and repair tape.
Here are some ideas for simple fix-ups you can do in plenty of time to hit the trails.
Tears, burns and holes
Sewing up a hole is the strongest repair, but you can get long-lasting results from fabric-repair tape. Simply cut a piece of repair tape slightly larger than the hole, round off the edges so they don’t catch, then apply to the tear and smooth it out. If you have access to the backside of the tear, apply a thin layer of seam grip, and you’ll have a waterproof, durable repair.
A peeling toe or a separated heel can be fixed with contact cement. Apply a thin layer of cement to both surfaces, then allow them to dry for 15 minutes. Press the pieces together and hold them with a weight or rubber band, then allow to dry overnight.
Gore-tex and similar waterproof-breathable fabrics lose their water repellency over time.
They’ll still keep you dry inside, but the surface of the fabric will soak up water and become heavy and clammy, plus you’ll lose heat to condensation. You can often revive the repellency by washing the garment and then ironing the surface on a steam setting.
For well-used garments, use Nikwax TX Direct (available in either spray-on or wash-in varieties), then dry it in the dryer. Again, a light ironing can help bring back the water repellency.
Self-inflating sleeping pads are a godsend in the Rocky Mountains... until they spring a leak. Pinhole punctures can be a bear to find. Try filling a spray bottle with water and liquid soap. Inflate the pad and then spray lightly until you see bubbles coming from the leak. Dry the area and mark it with a pen. You can patch small holes with Seam Grip or even a bike tube patch. Larger holes will require a patch kit.
Broken or malfunctioning zippers are a headache. A loose zipper slider won’t get the teeth properly meshed. You can gently tighten a loose slider with a pair of adjustable pliers — simply squeeze each side of the slider. Replacing a slider requires you to remove the zipper stops at the top or bottom of the zipper, sliding the broken slider off and replacing it with a new one. You can install new stops, or sew up the teeth.
Worn or clogged Velcro (or similar hook-and-loop fasteners) can be replaced, but be sure to sew on the new piece — don’t rely on the glue on the back of replacement pieces to hold for long.
Cobbler (shoe repair) shops can, obviously, fix up your boots, but they can also often repair outdoors gear such as backpacks with heavy-duty stitching. Businesses that offer tailoring or alterations can often perform jobs such as replacing zippers or performing patches for a reasonable price — and will usually do a much nicer job than you would.
Need more resources for gear repair? Check out these books:
• Don’t Forget the Duct Tape by Kristen Hostetter (Mountaineers Books)
• The Essential Outdoor Gear Manual by David Getchell (McGraw-Hill)
back to top