I don’t know about you but for me half the fun of camping and backpacking is improvising in tricky situations. On such occasions having boundless ingenuity is a bonus, but for the best solution is to plan ahead and pack a few repair essentials. The following list includes my favourite repair supplies as well as a few tips on how best to use them.
- Multi-tool – How anyone could survive without one of these is beyond me. When I’m away on a trip I use mine every day to cut, file, bore, screw, and saw my way out of various situations. For car camping I prefer a Leatherman style tool with their tough pliers and extra functionality. For day trips out these can be a little bulky, so in my day bag I carry my trusty Swiss Army Knife.
- Duct Tape – Whether you call it ‘duck’ tape or ‘duct’ tape it doesn’t really matter. What we do agree on is that it is awesome stuff. Adhering well to a huge range of materials to provide strong and highly water resistant repairs duct tape is a must for any repair kit. If a whole role is too bulky for you simply wind some off onto a small stick or pipe and take that instead. If you like to move with the times there are now products available like Tenacious Tape that are specifically designed for use on outdoor kit. Not only do they offer greater strength and adhesion but are also clear making repairs much harder to spot.
- Paracord – Also known as climbing cord, this handy twine looks like string but is almost as strong as rope. With even the 3mm thick version being able to hold over 100kg paracord, it makes a strong and lightweight replacement for boot laces, guy ropes, and washing lines.
- Seam Grip – I’ve simply lost count of the number of things I’ve repaired with Seam Grip. Clothing, footwear and equipment can all be pieced back together with this super sticky flexible glue. Seam Grip is particularly good for re-gluing the soles of footwear, and for making repairs that must be air or water tight. This makes it great for sealing punctured inflatables, and for repairing the flysheet or seams of your tent.
- Super Glue – Although not on a par with the mighty Seam Grip I always have a tube in my repair kit. Super glue is good for fixing ridged material that won’t be subjected to bending and flexing. That said I use mine most often to glue up minor cuts, however this not officially recommended.
- Needle & Thread – Bit of a ‘no brainer’ but worth mentioning to make sure it’s not forgotten. Obviously a needle and strong thread are great for repairing clothing and replacing buttons. They are, however, especially good when used in conjunction with Seam Grip for repairing waterproof clothing, flysheets and tent seams. For an extra secure repair in these instances the damage is first stitched closed using a patch if necessary. The stitching is then coated with Seam Grip to make it water tight and further strengthen the repair. Job done!
- Cable Ties – Last but not least is the strong, versatile and inexpensive cable tie. Ideal for load bearing repairs on things like rucksack harnesses, tent guying systems and camping furniture. Smaller cable ties can even be used to stitch heavy duty fabric together on tents, rucksacks or footwear. Pick up a selection pack of assorted sizes next time you are at the DIY shop.
Well I hope you’ll add some or all of these items to your kit list. Even if you include everything mentioned here it will all fit in a small Tupperware container and weigh just a couple of hundred grams. Definitely a better option than trying to manage with broken or leaky kit. If you think I’ve missed anything off I’m always keen to try new fixes so please let me know your top tips in the comments below...