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December 2007

Make Your Gear Last Forever

Backpacker's Ultimate Fix-It Guide

fix icon Replace a broken buckle
The buckles that control a pack’s suspension are often sewn into the webbing–in other words, not easy to fix in the field. Fortunately, a complete fracture is fairly rare, so there’s no need to carry spares. (Hipbelt buckles are a different beast; if one pops, rig a carabiner to tide you over.) If a buckle does break, here’s a simple solution devised by Mountain Hardwear’s Eric Hamerschlag that should hold until you get home:

  • Remove the damaged buckle from its webbing (1).
  • Find and unthread a buckle elsewhere on your pack that matches the orientation of the broken buckle. (If there is no match, resort to duct tape.) >> Using a lighter or stove, heat a blade until it is hot enough to sever plastic. (2)
  • Press the blade into and through the base of the buckle at a 45-degree angle. Make the angled slot in the spot where the webbing will need to slide through to attach the buckle to the strap. (3)
  • Insert the new buckle in the webbing. (4)
    buckle

Mend a fabric tear
Self-adhesive ripstop nylon patches or repair tape (applied to both sides) will fix smaller rips and holes in low stress areas that receive little abrasion. But in high stress areas like the pack’s bottom and sides, a dime-sized hole will expand to quarter-sized and larger if not patched promptly. Here’s how to plug them using a combination of polyurethane and fabric patches.

  • In the field, empty the pack, remove the stays, and turn the entire bag inside out to wipe away any dirt. (1) Tape over both the inside and the outside of the hole with ripstop nylon repair tape. (2, 3)
  • Back home, buy a swatch of Cordura at a fabric store that is similar in color and weight to the damaged area. Cut out a patch that is about 15 percent (or an inch) wider and taller than the hole you need to cover. Remove the repair tape from the outside of the packbag (leaving the tape on the inside). (4)
  • With a clean cloth and rubbing alcohol, wipe away any dirt and tape residue. (5)
  • Place the pack on a hard, flat surface. Cover the underside of the patch with Seam Grip and press it onto the packbag, smoothing it from the center toward the edges. (6)
  • For extra waterproofing, paint the patch’s edges with Seam Grip. (7)

    tear

fix icon Remove duct tape residue
The gummy remains attract dirt and can complicate further repairs. Rainy Pass Repair manager Julie Parker says you can remove the goo with 3M Adhesive Cleaner or rubbing alcohol.

fix iconRefresh a dirty pack (Online Bonus)
After a muddy or sweaty trip, spray your pack with a hose or dunk it in a tub of warm water. Use a toothbrush to work out dirt, paying particular attention to zippers. Avoid using soap unless the pack is stained with oil residue–like olive oil or sunscreen; in those cases, use a mild, unscented detergent like Ivory Flakes. Rinse and dry thoroughly. For funky odors, use Mirazyme.

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