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Backpacker Magazine – December 2007

Make Your Gear Last Forever

Backpacker's Ultimate Fix-It Guide

by: Annette McGivney, Illustrations by Supercorn

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11





BOOTS

Prevention

fix icon Save your leather (Online Bonus)
Caked-on mud works into the pores, drying it out and compromising durability. Warm water and a stiff vegetable brush will remove most dirt.

fix icon Air out insoles (Online Bonus)
Cobbler Dave Page says that sweat-soaked insoles will infect your boots with stink and mildew. When you take off your boots at the end of the day, remove the insoles, too, and let them air dry sticking out of your open, unlaced boots.

fix iconKeep away from heat
Never dry wet boots next to a campfire, stove, or space heater, or use a hair dryer. High heat will crack and shrink the leather and cause the soles to delaminate.

fix iconMinimize plastic bag time
Bagging muddy boots for a few hours is okay. But if you leave them wrapped in plastic for a few days–especially in warm temperatures–they might crawl away on their own. Use a paper or cloth bag for transporting muddy boots to avoid spawning mildew and other eager biotics.

Fact or Myth?
Q: Mink oil is bad for leather boots.
A: Fact! Most hiking boots made in the last 20 years should only be treated with wax or silicone-based waterproofing and leather conditioning products. Dave Page says oil-based treatments (including mink oil) over-soften chromium-tanned leather. Modern, glued-on boot soles can also delaminate when penetrated by certain oils.

fix iconRand splits apart
Repair a peeling, chipped, or cracked rand–the boot's rubberized front bumper–using McNett Freesole, a beefier version of Seam Grip. Do not substitute a "super glue" product like Liquid Nails that lacks Freesole's flexing ability.

  • Wipe away dirt with a damp cloth and brush; apply some rubbing alcohol to improve adhesion. Let the boot dry completely before proceeding. (1)
  • Apply Freesole using a brush or squeezing directly from tube. Wipe away excess. (2)
  • Wrap the front of the boot in Tenacious Tape or duct tape, inserting a pencil under the tape to apply direct pressure to the rand. (3) >>Leave the tape in place overnight.
    boots

fix iconbootsSole delaminates at the heel
Clean the heel of the boot with a damp cloth before brushing it with rubbing alcohol. Let the boot dry overnight. Peel back the sole and squeeze a quarter-sized dab of Freesole into the split. Press down firmly and wipe away any excess. Place a filled water bottle upright in the boot to keep constant pressure on the re-glued joint; dry overnight.

fix icon Worn-down heel (Online Bonus)
If your stride wears down one side faster than the other, restore a level surface by applying a foundation of Freesole.

  • Smooth the worn section with sandpaper. (1)
  • Buff with a rag dipped in rubbing alcohol. (2)
  • Apply duct tape to make a dam that is at least one-inch tall around the back of heel.
  • Holding the boot upside down and level, fill in the missing heel area with Freesole. (3)
  • Stabilize the upside-down boot and let dry.

fix icon Leaky boots (Online Bonus)
NOLS gear manager McGowan has found even waterproof/breathable boots can be enhanced by after-market sealants that keep rain or snow from saturating the exterior. The drawback: Extra waterproofing may reduce breathability. Products designed for waterproof/breathable boots can also be effective on boots without Gore-Tex or similar membranes. If you know you'll face deep snow or very wet trails, you may want to seal the exterior seams of your boots with Seam Grip. (See the "Products" sidebar for more options from Grangers, McNett, and Nickwax.)

fix icon Lost sole (Online Bonus)
All boot soles eventually wear out. If the uppers are still in decent condition, give your boots new life by sending them to a repair facility to be re-soled for $60. See "Resources" below.

fix icon Stinky boots
The drier your boots, the less odor they will produce. At home, get rid of moisture by stuffing them with newspaper. For odors that reach WMD status, spray the interior and the removed insoles with Lysol. If the smell persists, apply Mirazyme and place the insoles in the freezer overnight. This will chill-kill whatever biotics remain.

Boots/Make it

fix icon Build a toe cap
Upgrade your boot's toe protection with a strong, clear polyurethane shield.

  • Clean the rand and wipe it down with rubbing alcohol; let dry. (1)
  • Sand the leather on the toe with extra-fine (600-grit) sandpaper. (2)
  • Apply masking tape across the front of the boot to mark off the area for the cap. (3)
  • Buff the sanded area twice with a rag dipped in rubbing alcohol, air-drying in between.
  • Paint the toe surface completely with Freesole using a 0.5-inch paintbrush. (3)
  • Remove the tape after 45 minutes; let dry overnight. (4)


PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

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DO NOT listen to the recommendation from John regarding putting the footprint INSIDE the tent. His reasoning, that a regular footprint will create a bathtub, makes no sense, and if you put the FP inside, then puncture a hole in the actual tent, water will still seep inside causing the very problem he discusses (bathtub). If you are going to take one, listen to everyone else and use it as intended, outside and beneath the tent. I'm like most others, depending on the situation I may or may not take one.

For a long trip where weight is an issue I leave it, but for shorter hikes I prefer to have it. When there are two or more in our party we split up the gear (like fire starters, water purification and food stores) and one takes the footprint while the other packs the tent, that way if there's a separation the second person can make a quick shelter if need be. It's also great on protracted afternoon showers to create a quick retreat where we can fix lunch and enjoy the surroundings.

john
Apr 03, 2012

the idea of using a tent footprint under your tent is asking to make your tent into bath tub. water driving by a little wind or where part of the footprint is exposed causes water to fill the space between the the footprint and the bottom of the tent. no tent bottom is of totally water proof for long.(micro holes caused by sand) A better and cheaper idea is to cut a piece of plastic to fit the inside of the tent. This layer can be replaced as needed. so you will a thicker replaceable water proof layer between you and the ground

Jim
Apr 03, 2012

You do not need the grommets in your plastic sheet footprint to help protect the bottom fabric from wearing out sooner, just cut it so it matches the bottom. If you want to use the above idea keep in mind that most footprints use nylon straps so the only the strap goes to the pole. This helps keep it from collecting water. If you want to use the above idea with plastic sheet you should consider trimming only a thin width of plastic out to the pole and reinforcing this area with either clear packing tape or duct tape before installing the grommet.

Brian Preston
Apr 03, 2012

I am disappointed at the print option for these wonderful tips. There's way too much white space and pointless icons (I get that you have to sell ads to stay in business) so the print-outs are about twice as long as needed--wasting the trees I want to see when I hike. Your online print options need to be reconsidered and streamlined.

Eliza Winters
Jan 09, 2012

Thanks for all the great tips on how to care for outdoor adventure products. Getting all of the gear can be a huge investment and it is a shame that people do not care for it well enough and end up buying new equipment every year. I would rather invest in lasting equipment than spend more, in the end, repurchasing cheaper products.

http://relivetheoutdoors.com

Chris
Aug 01, 2011

As an added step to the hydration bladder hanging tip, instead of wrapping the rough edges with duct tape, use a open flame to melt the rough edges to create a smooth tip.

Brandon
Apr 15, 2011

I've found that washing my sack, sleeping bags, mats etc by hand with no or light detergent like organic soaps with out caustic chemicals then I hang dry my items until bone dry then put away. Sometimes with dryer sheets or ceder blocks sandwiched in. But this is not required for neutral smelling gear.

rr
Mar 01, 2011

@ Joe Jul 20, 2010 MiraZym helps really well against mold/mildew on sleeping bags/tents/pads

Joe
Jul 20, 2010

Anyone know how to get rid of mold/mildew on sleeping bags/tents/pads?? I had some mold start growing in my basement, and of course it was where my equipment was. Any ideas on cleaning my equipment without destroying my equipment? Thanks!

ryan b.
Apr 29, 2009

When cleaning a hydration system, pull out the hose from the balader, with a pair of pailers, so you can clean the whole hose,

hoosurdaddy
Apr 27, 2009

Contemporary fabric softeners tend to be based on quaternary ammonium salts with one or two long alkyl chains, a typical compound being dipalmitoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate.[2] Other cationic compounds can be derived from imidazolium, substituted amine salts, or quaternary alkoxy ammonium salts. One of the most common compounds of the early formulations was dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride (DHTDMAC). I looked it up. see Wikipedia cut n paste. no animal fat here.

Jefferson
Mar 03, 2009

Under "Pole problems (Online Bonus" it should read "splint the broken pole," not "split the broken pole."

sol
Feb 04, 2009

no, eric's right - the first posting says mentions washing in a top-loading washer. the second posting specifically says to never do this. (the second is the right one; never wash a sleeping bag in a top-loading washer)

Sean Columbus OH
Jan 19, 2009

A point about dryer sheets, the main ingredient in them is rendered animal fat (look it up people) so you may smell pretty good to a bear. In areas with uber predators, keep smell to a minimum, in camp and on your person.

oki
Dec 14, 2008

Uhm, not really Eric. It just says to wash them.. sparingly. And then it tells you how. :B

And no, Anon, I don't think dryer sheets would attract bears. They smell more chemically than delicious or even edible.

Anyway, this article is great! Wow, so many tips. I suppose it's okay to store bags and pads rolled/stuffed if they're clean and dry and in a dry indoor closet, right? Plus my Thermorest doesn't have foam.

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