Our Clothing And Equipment Repair Kits advice article shares some ideas on the kind of things you might want to take on your next adventure. We hope you find it useful.
We think there are lots of reasons why taking a repair kit on any adventure is worth the effort. Infact, it may be better described as essential? It may help you to keep a piece of damaged equipment in service when otherwise your trip could be jeopardised. This could be, for example, repairing that crucial rucksack buckle or stitching up a key insulation layer.
Repairing a piece of equipment may also allow you to stop damage getting worse or causing long term problems. Maybe this is patching a small tear in a tent flysheet before the rip spreads. Alternatively, patching a hole in a down jacket may stop the down escaping as you climb (it will escape if it can!).
A repair may also help keep an item of equipment in service longer. Sewing that glove seam may extend it’s working life or replacing that stuff sack drawcord may stop your sleeping bag from popping out and getting wet, dirty or damaged. This has financial benefits, but keeping items of equipment in play longer is also a key sustainability strategy.
One Repair Kit?
With all that in mind, we carry some form of clothing and equipment repair kits on every adventure. But, the items needed are going to vary considerably depending on the activity and the context. If you are on a long mountaineering expedition you may need a wider range of items. If your journey is a lightweight summer backpacking trip you will want to keep your selection compact and light. This will also dictate how much of each item you take. On a remote trip with a large group your repair kit may get almost daily use. In other circumstances it may never see daylight.
With all that in mind, we couldn’t really offer a single recommended repair kit selection. But, after many years exploring the mountains and with long term stays away from civilisation, we have definitely got some ideas that may be useful to consider. The selection is based around our ‘belt and braces’ kit that we take on longer trips or when we have the luxury of operating out of a base.
We also have a much smaller and lighter alternative that we take on shorter or less equipment intensive trips. We also have a separate kit focussed on repairing technical winter equipment and we’ve done a separate advice article about that (to find that one please follow the link at the bottom of this article). This article is simply ideas sharing and so you can then pick and choose what might best apply to your needs.
We should also say that it is definitely not exhaustive. Everyone ends up finding what works for them and thats’s the best way to decide your own kit needs. With all that in mind, please do have a browse and we hope you find our Clothing And Equipment Repair Kits advice useful.
This just needs to be something suitable and of the right size. The photo above shows our lovely purpose made Patagonia Repair Roll which is great because everything is easily to hand and stays organised, but you could just as easily use a small box or spare stuff sack.
The method you use to repair a particular fabric item is going to best be decided by the garment and the nature of the damage. Of course, you might also often be combining methods too. For example, a glove seam might be sewn together and then you also want to add a flexible adhesive over the repair for weather proofing and to add durability to the fix. So, we have split this section up to make it easier to categorise options.
A stitch in time! Sewing is an age old fabric repair option. Whether that is fastening a button back on, darning a sock or sewing up that heart breaking gash in your over trousers. A lot of times sewing can provide a secure and permanent repair. We carry a selection of types of needles and threads to suit different repairs. Some repairs may work with standard cotton thread and others may benefit from a more durable polyester thread. For repairs that need a much stronger option we find sail repair thread is a great option.
Also, for more durable fabrics it can sometimes be really hard (or impossible) to push a needle through. One way to help is to have a thimble. But, sometimes even that is not enough. For that situation a sewing awl may be a game changer. These often use durable sewing machine needles and will get through most fabrics. At home we also have a really handy device called a Speedy Stitcher. This is almost like a simple hand sewing machine, but we don’t tend to take it in the more portable kit as the portable sewing awl shown in the photo works well enough for smaller repairs. Having a needle threader is useful too.
A larger rip may need a more substantial patch. For this, carrying some suitable offcuts may be the answer. We have accumulated a selection that originally came as repair patches with tents. Alternatively you could cut some fabric off a retired garment.
Sometimes a patch works best for small holes in lightweight or waterproof fabrics. Sometimes this may be for a temporary fix until we can get it professionally sorted out, but at other times a patch may offer a permanent repair. We carry a selection of types and colours.
Sometimes, a piece of the classic Duck (or gaffer) tape is a good options and we’ve patched up everything from tent poles to crampons with this stuff in the past. There are also more specialist fabric repair options that are like gold dust in a repair kit. Gore make repair patches designed for their fabrics and Tenacious Tape works really well. There are similar offerings from other companies, but that works well for us. It is worth a mention that some materials such as silicone proofed fabrics need a special type of patch.
They usually come in sheets and so we cut them into a range of sizes to make trail side fixes much quicker. Curving the corners of each patch also really helps them to stay in place.
Glues & Sealants
Different glues and sealants serve different purposes and so it pays to carry a selection. Whichever you take, there are usually really small tubes available and these are ideal because, in our experience, once they are opened any unused liquid in the tube will start to harden over time. At least with a smaller tube minimising any left over means less to waste!
Super Glue is useful for some repairs. For shoes we have had good success with Shoe Goo. For gloves and small holes Seam Grip or Stormsure work well. Some remain flexible once cured and this can be more effective for any repairs where the repair area will bend.
Gluing a patch on with one of these products can also sometimes work well. Coating a small patch with glue and weighting it in with something heavy until it dries really works. A pile of books works well stacked on top works well.
Any adhesive will stick better to a clean surface. We carry a few alcohol wipes incase things need cleaning. We also really rate Goo Gone. This is a special cleaner that will remove residual adhesive from surfaces. It works really well.
It isn’t uncommon for buckles to break and often the only real solution might be another buckle. Having a selection of spares might really save the day. For trailside or base camp spares the Sea To Summit ones with a screw in fastening work exceptionally well. We carry a selection of types and sizes, but generally err on the side of larger than smaller. Our principle is that we can use a larger one on thinner tape and it will work, but you can’t do the opposite. Maybe a spare cord grip or two may be useful too.
Spare Cord & Laces
Laces snap and wear. Having spares make sense. But laces can also be used for tying up a broken rucksack strap or splinting a tent pole. Similarly, we carry a spare length of shock cord because that can also fail or lose its elasticity.
Having some flexible wire has got us out of a tricky spot a few times. It can be wrapped around a broken buckle to make a get you home repair or it can replace a lace to fasten up a shoe or boot. It’s uses are endless.
If you are going to cut something, twist wire or screw up the buckle connector on a Sea To Summit repair buckle, having a tool for the job will be key. Pliers can help thread a needle through thick fabric and a small awl can help punch a hole to secure a cable tie or wire. A multi-tool can do such a wide range of jobs.
A lighter can do many jobs and may be worth including. You can seal the ends of cord, heat up a multi-tool to pierce a hole through plastic or warm a cold surface to help an adhesive stick better.
We were once sent a tape called Adventure Tape. This is a strong and flexible polyurethane tape that can be used for lots of repairs. It sticks to itself and can easily be wrapped around things and stretched tight to provide a seal or make a repair. They market it as the tape you never realised you needed and they might be right. We even once used a length to seal a crack in a leaking mug. It may be worth considering and you can find it here.
One item we came across some years ago is called Fix-Its. These are plastic strips that become malleable when dunked in boiling water. They can then be moulded around broken items and they harden in place to form a solid repair. We have used them to repair broken sunglass arms and charging cables and they work really well. The other beauty of them is they have no expiry date and they can be stored in a repair kit with no risk of them leaking. You can find out more about them here.
We pack a few releasable cable ties. They are great for various fixes, but can also be useful for keeping an item in place while you sort a repair. Similarly, a few safety pins have lots of potential uses. Some sealants come with small application brushes and these can be useful to avoid getting sealant or glue on your hands. A pair of disposable gloves can be useful for this reason too. Lastly, a small scalpel blade or craft knife can be really handy. It allows accurate cutting of fabrics and can be useful for prepping the damaged seam edge of a garment. Infact, they have loads of potential uses.
You want your adventure to succeed. After all, you’ve made considerable effort to make get to that base camp or remote bothy. You are likely to have taken time off work, saved hard, trained and sorted all the logistics. What a shame if it all grinds to a halt because some crucial piece of equipment fails and you don’t have the means to fix it. Carrying Clothing and Equipment Repair Kits may save the trip. Similarly, keeping equipment and clothing in use longer can save money and produce less waste. This has be a consideration given our climate emergency.
In either context, carrying simple Clothing And Equipment Repair Kits on your trips is a simple insurance policy. The other plus side is that darning those socks is a great way to while away those long evenings at base camp while you wait for the weather to change! Lastly, a shout out to Patagonia who have detailed repair guides on their website. Lots of great ideas here from the masters of keeping gear in action longer. You can access them here.
We really hope you have found this Repair Kits advice article useful. Please also check out our Technical Equipment Repair Kits advice article here. This provides some ideas about items that would help maintain and repair technical winter equipment like ice axes, crampons and ice screws. We have a broad range of other advice articles available on our website blog here. Our blog also contains many gear reviews and inspiration articles that may be of interest.