by Milo Pierwola
When you get hit on the trail, you’ve got your first aid kid; but when your gear takes a hit, do you have a repair kit?
If you have read my reviews here, you know I’m no good with my gear. In fact, pretty much everything I own has some sort of McGuyvered solution to a problem I caused. Because this all happens on the trail, I’m often left pawing through my bag for pretty much anything I can use. And after six months away, here’s the kit I pulled out of my pack.
TAPE (and lighter*)
While I can count how many times duct tape has saved me on more fingers than I have left, you need some variety. With all of its advantages, duct tape leaves a residue, becomes slick when wet, and does not offer much flexibility. When dealing with electronics, you’re looking for electrical tape. Electrical tape offers a great deal of flex, insulation from electricity, and comes off easily if you need to re-apply it. When dealing with larger breaks, you have athletic tape in your first aid kit, but please don’t deplete your medical supplies. I recommend hockey tape for gear repairs as my experience has taught me that it sticks better and doesn’t begin looking drab almost immediately from your filthy hands.
Clear fabric repair tape falls into a category of its own. Not only do I keep a sewing needle in the container, but this item has fixed my down jackets, Gore-Tex pants, and I’ve been the savior for beautiful damsels in distress when their performance gear snags a tear. I have only had experience from Tenacious Tape by Gear Aid, but I will say that it has repaired gear that’s been through the wash 5+ times and is still holding strong.
*don’t question the lighter
One thing I learned from being in extreme places is that you cannot overemphasize the value of just a few feet of cord. It can help hold something together temporarily, attach two things together, or silence that flapping when you’re trying to sleep. I should also mention that this simple string can be that replacement shoelace you never thought you’d need.
If you are like me, you’re telling yourself right now that you’re going to finally superglue those asinine rubber ends to your headphones and never have to deal with a lost rubber nub again. Sigh.
SEWING KIT and FLOSS
Hot tip: You can ask most hotel desks for a sewing kit and they will give one to you for free. That’s right, a compact little sewing kit that comes with a needle and multi-colored thread FOR FREE (you’re welcome). When that runs out, use floss and pass that off as your high standards for dental hygiene when you’re with a cutie. But for real, cuz, dental floss has incredible strength, it is durable, and it keeps your chompers chompin.
Developed to seal open wounds at war, this incredible invention will be the source of, and answer to, all of your problems. The most important thing to keep in mind is the following: for moving parts USE TAPE, for static (non-moving) broken gear, use superglue. As a Wilderness EMT, I cannot recommend using this to patch up your skin, but when you have a crack, shear, or break in a solid piece of gear, there really is no better solution.
MICRO SREW DRIVER SET
Your glasses will break, your camera will get wet, your something small will need something tiny and this handy little tool is today’s sliced bread for technology. I don’t really know where to get one since this was handed to me (with a bonus LED light!) at some event I don’t remember. However, it has allowed me to open up cell phones, GPS devices, sunglasses, and anything else that you wouldn’t think to even look at - until you NEED it.
EMERGENCY BATTERIES AND MEMORY CARD
You don’t get signal out in the woods, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach a place that does. At one point in my life I got double capacity batteries for my phone (you should be doing this right now), and so I have my old battery left. If your first aid kit is necessary when your life is in danger due to a medical emergency, then this is your lifeline if technology can help you. I keep fresh AA’s and a backup cell phone battery just in case. As for the SD card, it’s small enough to keep me from having a heart attack when I leave my other ones behind.
I have used this to seal tents, stuff sacks, wet-suits, jackets, gloves, and honestly anything at all that flexes but needs to be bound and keep out moisture. It is hard to express the versatility of this item when you are in an emergency situation and I highly recommend having it on hand on anything longer than a week.
Ultimately, I realized I had this Gear Repair Kit not because I assembled it but because it came together. For those of us who backpack with a purpose, this can be the difference between capturing that groundbreaking shot or seeing it dissolve into our memories. For everyone else, this is a great baseline for keeping your gear functioning, but you should play around to create your own.