Air pad tears, tent rips, boot blowouts. All of these are possibilities while on the trail. The questions is, are you prepared to deal with them and keep going or are they game enders for you?
If you spend enough time on the trail, sooner or later you will suffer from equipment issues. The first thing you can do to minimize these experiences is to purchase quality equipment and inspect it regularly.
However, we all know that after a few hundred miles a boot will blowout and try to sideline you.
Though many people will be dumbfounded by this statement, I’ll say it loudly and proudly. DUCK TAPE IS NOT THE END-ALL ANSWER! There, I shouted it from the proverbial mountaintop.
So, what is the end-all answer when you’re on that mountaintop and have equipment problems? That’s easy…there isn’t one.
But, if you take a little time to research your equipment and the best ways to fix it, you can put together an effective, low cost and lightweight equipment repair kit.
Equipment repair kit? Yes! It starts at home with regular inspections and repairs. However, we all know things happen. Now what? Take along these few items and it’ll make your trail life a lot easier.
1. Zipping sandwich Bag
Every kit needs a place to be kept. Sandwich bags are clear and waterproof. You can easily see the tool you need and it all stays dry. Not to mention, you can’t get much lighter weight than this.
2. Alcohol pads
Alcohol cleans the surface of fabric making the repair adhere better.
Many surfaces, like mattress pads, need to be roughed up a little for the glue of a repair to meld effectively.
I have packed the same Leatherman multi-tool for nineteen years including on duty with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. If you don’t already have one on your hip, get a small one for your kit.
Uses can vary, but you’ll get lots out of it. Weight can be as little as four ounces.
5. Patch Kits
You can find these in most outdoor stores, but be sure to carry some for “all purpose” repairs and some for vinyl repairs. Be sure to read the packaging.
6. Tent pole sleeves
A broken pole isn’t the end of the world, especially if you’re in an area with trees. Just tie off to a tree.
But if you are in an area with sparse vegetation, a pole sleeve is just what you need. This is also a good spot to use your favorite duct tape. It helps secure the sleeve.
Be sure to have spares of every type of buckle that is on your equipment. This is one reason I prefer building my own kit as opposed to buying a premade one. Buckles are all different.
8. Seam Grip or Super Glue
This should be self-explanatory, but there are thousands of uses for this item. You can repair tents, sleeping bags, mattress pads, boots, etc.
Spare o-rings for your stove and other necessary equipment is a small thing to carry, but can go miles for your comfort. Be sure to inspect these before heading out. Replace old worn o-rings, even if they’re backups.
Bonus canoe repair tip:
Once while on a canoe trip on Ontario, Canada, one of the group had a rivet pop in their aluminum canoe. With no replacements on hand, the pair had to continually bale water out of the bottom of the boat.
At one stop, we broke off a piece of pine tree twig small enough to fit in the hole of the missing rivet. Then we used a knife to cut into the bark. As sap oozed out, we rolled the twig in the sap and stuck it in the hole. We broke off the remainder of the twig, let it dry and hit the water.
No more trouble with water leaks.
Everyone will have a different repair kit, because everyone has different needs and equipment. The one universal thing to have is the kit itself. It doesn’t take long to put one together and it can be a lifesaver on the trail, water or land.
Yes, go ahead and wrap some duck tape around your trekking pole or pencil. It, too, is handy.