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December 2007

Make Your Gear Last Forever

Backpacker's Ultimate Fix-It Guide


fix icon Leaky hydration system
Busted seams can be glued with Seam Grip, as can small punctures. Cracked or dripping silicone bite valves can be repaired with SilNet. Make sure the hydration system is empty and dry first, and afterwards give the glue 24 hours to cure so that the adhesive is rendered inert and safe to drink from.

fix icon Defunk a hydration reservouir
A bleach solution can quickly evict mildew and gunk from bladders and bottles. Pour in no more than a half-teaspoon of bleach with warm water, then shake. Loosen the cap to douse the threads; with bladders, squeeze the bite valve (while holding the bladder high) to flush the hose. Remove the bleach taste with a baking soda rinse (one teaspoon of baking soda per liter of water) and flush once more with water. Camelbak also sells a bleach-free kit (see "Products"). Extra mildew-proofing: Store your bladder in the freezer.

fix icon Create a hydration hanger
Convert a plastic coat hanger into a device that holds the reservoir open for faster and more complete drying. Saw off one arm and wrap the rough edges in duct tape. Feed the other arm into the reservoir; drape the hose over the top and hang it up to dry.

fix icon Busted trekking pole lock
If your telescoping pole keeps collapsing, the expander nut inside the pole sections could be loose or gummed up. This defect can be caused by grit, corrosion, and general wear. The fix:

  • Loosen the bottom pole section past the "stop" mark until the plastic expander nut is exposed. (1)
  • Wipe away dirt from the nut and screw. (2)
  • Inspect the expander. If it’s loose, manually tighten. If it’s damaged, get a replacement from your local retailer.
  • Slide the pole sections back together and twist to tighten them down.

fix icon Gash in shell jacket (Online Bonus)
Fix rips in waterproof/breathable shells with Gore-Tex fabric patches (see "Products" sidebar). Adhesive repair tape is a good second choice, but needle and thread aren’t, for obvious reasons. Before applying a patch, wipe the repair area with rubbing alcohol. Then pull the torn fabric back together as closely as possible and lay down the adhesive tape or Gore-Tex patch. Plug pinprick holes (often caused by thorns) with a dab of Seam Grip.

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