Gear Review: Gear Aid Repair Kits

Whether it's a torn pack, cracked buckle, ripped tent mesh, or leaky sleeping pad, these kits can pretty much restore anything that breaks.

The scene is familiar: You pull a little too hard on a zipper you know isn’t quite going to hold, or a branch comes whipping back too fast and rips a hole in your new 3oz wind shirt.

Most of the time when gear gets “worn out”, it’s because one defective component becomes a critical failure, rendering the entire piece of gear useless. Repair seems too expensive or too much hassle—once you’ve torn your jacket or busted a zipper, it’s trash time, right?

Not anymore: Whether it’s a torn pack, cracked buckle, ripped tent mesh, or leaky sleeping pad, Gear Aid makes a wide variety of repair products to restore pretty much anything you can break.

The packages are available in single-purpose kits (for commonly busted components like zippers) or all-inclusive, fix-everything-you-own-including-yourself kits. I was a little surprised to see first aid medical supplies in the substantial Cuts and Bolts kit (11 oz), but for many it makes sense to have one single “go-to” pouch to bring along.

The Soloist kit (4oz) includes buckles, cable ties, fabric patches, and a sewing kit, which is enough to fix the most common gear failures. The larger Guide kit (9oz) adds zipper fixers, tent repair (no-see-um patches and pole sleeves), an extensive selection of buckles, and a full set of adhesives to repair a floppy boot sole or leaky inflatable pad.

The large kits are well suited for Boy Scout troops and guide groups that own a lot of gear (or a lone, particularly rough gear-abusers). The smaller kits like the Soloist or Camper packs meet the needs of most everyone else; you can always buy a specialized kit if you happen to snap a tent pole.

The decision to carry a gear repair kit is akin to carrying a first aid kit: You hope you don’t need it, but when you do, you’re glad it’s there. I won’t be packing the full Guide kit up any mountains, but I will definitely take it in my car to the trailhead. And you can bet that if you need a replacement buckle, zipper, duct tape, safety pin, or zip tie, you’ll be covered.