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Making Basic Repairs & What to Use in Remote Areas

February 2024
Author: Forest Pike

Being capable of performing basic repairs in remote areas can help ensure that you remain present in the adventure at-hand rather than in early withdrawal. Through my experiences of testing and proving modern gear, both from a military and recreational capacity, I’ve come to rely on certain repair techniques and products more so than others due to their better performance. After all, ideally, a repair should be capable of enduring not only the remaining days of an extended trip but also those of future outings. Here, I’ll highlight the more common repairs I’ve experienced along with those techniques and products I’ve found to be the best at making a lasting, quality fix where Amazon and REI can’t be reached.


Whether you’re busting through vegetation on an uncharted trail or setting up a hasty shelter in poor weather, holes and other small tears in your gear may inevitably manifest. The good news is that they’re easy to address when afield and I’ve found that relying on various Gear Aid Tenacious Tape products can work wonders for these misfortunes.

When the repair at-hand concerns a small hole or tear in the delicate face fabric of a down product or a nylon ripstop panel of a shelter (to name just a few), I’ve found that applying a Gear Aid Tenacious Tape Mini Patch has proven most effective. These mini patches are durable and made of waterproof fabric with a quality adhesive. My personal technique is to ensure the fabrics around the hole or tear are clean and dry to the greatest extent possible, then after ensuring any loose or lingering fibers are carefully removed that would otherwise lift or ripple the pending patch out-of-plane, a firm application of a mini patch does the trick. In a matter of mere moments, a proper repair is made that will last for many more adventures to come.


Repairing damaged waterproof fabrics or panels requires a bit more diligence in approach, but the technique here is much the same along with some added redundancy and sealing to guard against water intrusion. When it comes to my waterproof clothing or other waterproof fabrics, I readily rely on Gear Aid Tenacious Tape GORE-TEX Fabric Panels and their Seam Grip WP Field Repair Kit (due to the size and weight of the sealant tube mostly) to make a flexible, waterproof repair.

When the small hole or tear concerns a waterproof fabric, applying a patch repair to both the inside and outside surfaces has proven to be the most effective. Again, my personal technique here is very similar to that already mentioned but with a few added steps. Much like the application of antibiotic ointment on an open wound prior to the placement of a bandage, I like to apply a thin, even layer of waterproof sealant around the hole or tear prior to placing the patch. The same process is repeated for the opposite side of the fabric, ultimately ensuring the utmost waterproofness of the repair. Applying a similar layer of the same waterproof sealant around the edges of a patch doesn’t hurt either if it can be done neatly; however, the quality of the GORE-TEX Fabric Panels themselves and their adhesion is often good enough to ensure waterproofness without this added step of edge sealing.


These can often be avoided by employing some common sense and due diligence in their handling, but even the most disciplined user may at some time experience a broken tent pole. If so, there are few repair assets better suited than the small repair kit that likely came from the tent manufacturer itself due to the known diameters of the tent poles at-hand (both inside and outside). However, if such a proper repair kit isn’t available, there are alternatives, such as the Gear Aid Tent Pole Splint, that can certainly help in a pinch.

The Gear Aid Tent Pole Splint is rather unique in its approach to repairing a broken tent pole. It doesn’t use a short length of tubing with an inside-diameter large enough to receive the broken tent pole lengths to splint the break. More so, it uses a short length of rolled aluminum that can be placed around the break and taped at each end to effect a splint capable of withstanding the energy and tension once the shelter is pitched. Think of it as applying a SAM Splint used for a wounded limb in wilderness first-aid if you will. It will get the job done and keep you from having to withdraw early to the trailhead. Ultimately, if a repair such as this becomes necessary to make, there are few resources better to have than the Gear Aid Tent Pole Splint and further employing an ample amount of guy lines at adequate tension can help ensure the effectiveness of the temporary repair.


Being self-reliant and exercising some ingenuity doesn’t mean that you’ve become a magician, so having some resources in your repair kit to address a broken buckle is your best bet. Personally, I’ve found that all buckles aren’t created equally and more often than not the higher the quality of the product manufacturer the higher the quality of the buckles.

With the heavy weight of a loaded backpack or the extreme tension applied to a compression sack (after all, every cubic inch matters), buckles are regularly exposed to relentless abuse and even the best can fail because of it. Having at least one replacement buckle in your repair kit is best; however, many broken buckles can otherwise be temporarily repaired with Gear Aid Tenacious Tape products (or even basic electrical or Leukotape tape if that’s what you have available) or even small zip ties and cordage. Often, the name of the game in this moment of misfortune is to simply “make-do” and having these types of repair assets can “more easily” make that possible.


In summary, exercising proper self- reliance through skillset and preparedness can make all of the difference in the future experiences that are the backcountry. The mountain doesn’t care whether you have a shelter to sleep in. The weather doesn’t care whether you become cold and wet. And perhaps most importantly, the adventure itself doesn’t care whether you push through adversity with resilient determination or whether you quit early with your tail between your legs. Take the time to consider and prepare for contingencies such as those mentioned here, if for nothing more than the insurance of an enhanced experience and the ability to spend more time beyond the city limits.

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