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December 2007

Make Your Gear Last Forever

Backpacker's Ultimate Fix-It Guide

PACKS

fix icon Loose zipper (Online Bonus)
A worn slider can loose traction, resulting in a tent door or pack lid that won’t stay shut. You can fix the problem in the field with multitool pliers. zipperOpen the zipper all the way to the bottom and gradually apply pressure to both sides of the slider. Repeat until the slider grips the track securely. Warning: Over-tightening the slider could permanently warp the coils. At home, replace the slider using the Mountain Hardwear Zipper Repair Clamp (see "Products"), or send it to a professional repair shop (see "Resources").

fix iconTorn mesh side pocket
To fix ripped mesh or webbing, sew it back together with a large needle and #46 or #69 bonded nylon thread (dental floss and medical suture also work). Use the first few stitches to close the tear–if it’s large and the edges are frayed, run the stitches from the outer edges of the pocket, where thread will hold securely. Sew horizontally over the gap, then repeat with vertical stitching to create a grid-like patch.mesh

fix iconKeep it clean (Online Bonus)
Any properly used pack should spend most of its field time in the dirt, but excessive mud and grit–especially when it’s left on post-trip–will take a toll on pack performance. Caked-on dirt will eventually degrade the pack fabric’s DWR coating and grit in zippers will wear out the sliders. Brush your pack off periodically in the field and give it a bath at home at least once a season (see "Cleaning" below). Also, double bag any liquids–especially hard-to-clean items like olive oil and DEET-based repellents–to prevent any leaking onto pack fabric.

fix iconpack Pamper your pack
Tossing your pack around like a gym bag will shorten its lifespan. "Always lift it by the haul loop just below the top lid," says Mountain Hardwear pack designer Eric Hamerschlag. "That’s what the loop is there for." If your pack is too heavy, get help from a hiking partner or prop it on a truck tailgate or log. Or lift it using a simple method that protects both your pack and your spine: Bend one leg into a shallow lunge; pick up the pack by the haul loop and place it on your front, bent thigh, making sure the shoulder straps are facing you. With one hand still on the haul loop, twist your torso and slide one arm through the far shoulder strap; then bend forward to shift the weight onto your back and slide the other arm through the strap.

fix icon Stop abrasion (Online Bonus)
The quest for ultralight packs means thinner fabrics that are more prone to abrasion. Backpacker editors have found that, generally, pack exteriors made from 70 denier Cordura or less will be too flimsy for rough trips like slot canyoneering, tight scrambling, bushwhacking. Bring your thrasher pack on those trips, and save your ultra-light hauler for the open country.

Fact or Myth (Online Bonus)
Q: The safest place for an empty pack is zipped up inside your tent.
A: Myth! Empty packs can retain food odors, crumbs, and sweat-soaked pack straps prized by sharp-nosed rodents. Hang your pack from a tree branch or keep it off the ground at night, and when you’re absent from camp during the day.

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