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Backpacker Magazine – April 1999

For Broken Gear, Don't Despair...Repair

What you can and can't fix: How to breathe new life into tired old faithfuls.

by: Dan Nelson

Sleeping Bags

Can Fix

Dirty bag. Every time a sleeping bag is used, it accumulates body oils and dirt, which reduce the efficiency of your bag's insulation (see Gear Works, May 1997). You can use a commercial front-load washer to clean your bag an expensive down sleeping bag is worth sending to a repair shop for cleaning. Don't use a home washing machine: its agitator will tear up the baffles that hold the insulation in place.

Unraveling seams or holes in shell. Repair shops can fix separating seams and put patches on torn shells and liners easily.

Lost loft in a down bag. If proper laundering doesn't bring back the old loft, the bag; may need fresh feathers. Many repair shops can inject new down into the baffles. Just make sure they use a down rated to at least 550-fill power. If your bag was made with a higher quality fill, such as 750-fill, ask the repair shop to match it.

Broken hardware. Shops can mend or replace zippers and slip new drawstrings into hoods.

Can't Fix

Lost loft in a synthetic bag. Sorry-there's no way to restore the loft to synthetic fills once they go flat.

Improperly laundered bag. If you ran your sleeping bag through your home washing machine only to find that all the fill material gathered in the foot, it's time to buy a new bag. Repair shops can't rebuild ruptured baffles that once held fill in place.


Can Fix

Broken buckles, straps, or hardware. It's a quick and easy job for repair shops to replace broken or lost buckles, torn compression straps, and lost lash straps. Zippers, grommets, clevis pins, and zipper pulls all can be repaired or replaced inexpensively.

Holes, tears, or blown-out seams. If a critter gnawed into your pack to get to that peanut that fell out of your gorp bag, don't dump the pack. Just have a shop slap a patch on the hole. If you overpacked once too often and blew out a seam, the shop can restitch that for you, too.

Dirty pack. If the pack bag and shoulder straps are filthy, take the pack to a repair shop for a thorough, safe cleaning.

Bent framesheet, stays, or external frame. A good repair shop will have the skill and tools to shape stays and frames, ensuring you get a good fit.

Tired, compressed padding. When the padding in hipbelts and shoulder straps refuses to rebound, it can no longer be called padding. Repair shops can replace the compressed foam and the semirigid foam panels found in some internal frame hipbelts and back panels.

Can't Fix

Mangled external frame. If the metal tubing is bent, broken, or crimped in more than one or two places, it might be wise simply to buy a new frame for your pack.

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