Written by: Opt Outdoor Staff
One of the most important things to bring with you into the backcountry is your backpacking repair kit.
This may seem a bit overkill to some backpackers. Yet, Mother Nature requires you to be self-sufficient when you are out there. If something breaks, it will be up to you to make it usable again, at least for your trek.
Backpacking repair kits don’t need to be fancy or overwhelming. You only need a few simple items to get you by on the trail.
In this article, we will break down what you should include in your backpacking repair kit. We will also let you know what are the most common repairs needed and why it's essential for you to prepare for anything.
What to Include in a Backpacking Repair Kit
If you want to be able to fix your gear when you are on the trail, it helps to always have a few critical items in your backpack.
You can store these with your first aid kit to make organization easy, or they can have their own pouch. How you pack your needs and personal preferences will determine these items.
Over time, you will also get to know what your needs are and which gear is most prone to breaking. While not every trail fix is predictable, you'll know which repair items are necessary or not.
If you're an ultralight backpacker, these distinctions will be more important as weight is the focus.
Backpacking Repair Kit Checklist
As always, it is beneficial to have a list of your items.
On our backpacking repair kit list, we will include the necessary items you’ll need to fix almost any of your gear. We have also included some suggested items for those that want a bit of added security, especially on longer treks.
Multi-purpose, durable, and waterproof. Pack in 3-ft rolls.
More effective than duct tape on gear like jackets, sleeping pads, and tents. It can be a long-term fix.
Multi-purpose- knife, scissor, tweezer, screwdriver, etc.
Sew tears in most fabrics, but you need heavy duty thread and a strong needle.
Fast-drying emergency adhesive with some first aid uses as well.
Multi-purpose- You can use as spare shoelaces, to secure a shelter, splint tent poles, and more.
All waterproof items (tents, jackets, etc.) are most susceptible to leaks at their seams. Having a seam sealer will be a quick and easy way to address leaks when they happen.
If you’d prefer to carry a small metal tube instead of using paracord or duct tape.
Affordable, lightweight, and almost as versatile as duct tape
The plastic parts of our packs are the easiest to break. So, having a backup is handy.
Certain items on the repair kit list will also be useful in a survival or first aid kit. These kits should try to have as much overlap as possible.
If each item has multiple uses, you can cut down on pack weight dramatically.
If you don’t want to put together your own repair kit, you can also buy pre-made kits at outdoor retailers and online.
Check out our other articles for what else you will need to pack for your next trip:
Most Common Repair Needs When Hiking
It is important not to rule out anything on the trail. Some breaks and fixes are far more common than others when you’re hiking.
How to Repair a Tent or Bivvy
Of the items that often need repair is a tent or bivouac bag. You may use another form of shelter, like a hammock, so those would fit into this category as well.
Repairs that come up with our backpacking shelters include:
- Rips or Tears
- Seal Leaks
- Pole Breaks
While those are not the only things that can happen, they are the most common. If you use the repair kit we described earlier, you’ll be ready for almost all scenarios.
For rips and tears, even on mesh materials, a sewing kit will get the job done. You can also choose to use duct tape or tenacious tape depending on the location of the tear.
Seal leaks are fixed easily using seam sealer of some kind. If the seam rips, you may need to sew it as well.
Having a pole splint is handy if a tent pole breaks. However, if you decide not to pack one, you can mend it with a stick and duct tape or even using paracord to reconnect it.
How to Repair a Zipper
Having a zipper that busts is a problematic fix on the trail. In most cases, you will need to fix the full zipper after your trip is over, but for the time being, you can make it work. The best option is to try and get the zipper back on the track.
If that isn’t the problem, and the zipper ripped away from the tent material, you could sew it back together.
There have been instances when you cannot mend a zipper on a tent or even a sleeping bag. For these instances, you can try to keep the area closed using zip ties or your sewing kit.
In another example, if the zipper’s teeth are worn down, and the zipper won’t slide, you can also use your multi-tool to pinch the zipper back down. Be careful not to go overboard here because you can easily damage the zipper.
If you have a finicky zipper on the trail, don’t worry about a forever fix. Do whatever you can to get by, and do a full repair of the zipper when you return home.
How to Repair a Sleeping Pad
If you use a foam sleeping pad, there will be very few repairs needed for backpacking. However, inflatable sleeping pads have become more common for comfort purposes.
Since these sleeping pads are inflatable, they are prone to popping. You can avoid this by never using them directly on the ground. Always use a barrier like a tarp or a tent footprint. Also making sure to move rocks and sticks away from the area you are sleeping to avoid punctures.
If you’re unlucky enough to get a leak in your sleeping pad, it is an easy fix. You can patch it using duct tape. However, Tenacious tape is more effective and a longer-term fix.
How to Repair a Backpack
There are so many things that can break on a backpack. You have zippers, buckles, straps, and the general materials itself. If a backpack zipper busts, follow the information provided in the zipper section above.
For buckles, this is why it is helpful to bring at least one extra plastic buckle along. They are easy to break, and if they do, it can become quite uncomfortable to carry your backpack.
You can sometimes patch straps and other backpack materials using tenacious tape. Yet, most often, they will need to be sewn together or patched using paracord.
How to Repair Shoes
Of the necessary items on the trail, your shoes may be of the most important.
Simple things like straps or shoelaces can break. You may even experience large tears in fabrics or separation of your sole from the shoe. These things are fixable with the right items.
You can replace your shoelaces with paracord. If the shoe materials rip, you can sew it back together. If your sole separates from the rest of your shoe, you can use super glue to reattach it.
How to Repair Clothing
No matter how durable your outdoor clothing is, at some point, you will experience a snag on a rock or a slip and fall that results in a tear.
When you’re backpacking, you may only bring the bare minimum. So sometimes you only have one pair of pants or one jacket. In those cases, you need to be ready to repair them on the spot.
Some places will say that a sewing kit isn’t a necessary trail item. However, we disagree. Having a sewing kit on the trail is invaluable. It allows for quick and effective repairs of clothing and other materials. Plus, they are very light to carry.
For jackets, especially rain jackets, hard shells, and puffy’s, having tenacious tape will be the best way to keep a hole covered. It also prevents moisture from leaking through.
How to Repair Glasses
This won’t be an item that applies to everyone. If you wear glasses, you may need to bring a repair kit specifically for them, or at least pack a backup pair.
You can sometimes repair certain breaks with duct tape. However, if you lose or break a lens and don’t have a replacement, then you’ll have a rough journey ahead.
In Summary: Be Prepared For Gear To Break
It is easy to think about leaving a repair kit off of your backpacking list to save some pack weight. Yet the more time you spend on the trail, the more you’ll realize you need to be ready for things not always to go smoothly. Your gear will break, it will rip, and it will fail.
To avoid this to an extent, you can invest in high-quality outdoor equipment. But you can't stop accidents from happening.
You could snag your jacket on a tree or branches can brush against your tent and rip a hole. Worst, you could step on your backpack waist buckle and break it.
Most trail fixes are unpredictable and unwanted, but that is more of a reason to be ready for when they happen.
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