Posted on April 08 2018
It happens to everyone at some point - gear fails. It's inevitable. Sometimes it's when the gear is almost new and other times it's that well worn, long trusted item that finally gives up. The best plan is to be prepared for the inevitable. This doesn't mean you need back-ups for your gear or an extra XYZ. It just means you need a few items to help get you to the next town stop. Here's what my emergency repair kit looks like for long hikes like the Pacific Crest Trail. Although if I'm going for a short trip, I pretty much take the same items.
1. Tenacious tape - If you don't have it, you need it! It's the single most useful tape for gear repair. I personally have patched my cuban tarp and tent screen, rain coat, down jacket, sleeping bag, and backpack with it. It's light, waterproof, sticky, flexible, inexpensive, and very reliable. You can order it here.
2. Needles & thread - I take a small piece of cardboard and put 2 needles into it and wrap 5-10 feet of thread around it. I've used this to stitch my shirt, pants, gaiters, etc. You don't need to know how to sew to use a needle and thread in the backcountry. You'll figure out a way to use the 2 together to hold your gear together for the time needed. I promise! Just push the needle through the fabric, move over a couple millimeters and push it back through to the other side. Repeat back and forth until the item is repaired. Stitch around the perimeter of the tear if it's a large hole. Really...you'll do great!
3. 10 Feet of Bright Colored Cord - Oh the unlimited usefulness of 10 feet of cord. You can make a belt, a closeline, replace a tent guy line. Tie gear to your backpack. Make a new shoestring. Hang food away from small critters - bears require much more line. Tie the bright colored string to small items so if you drop them you can find them again. I think you see the usefulness of a little extra cord. Don't get carried away and think more is better and bring 50 feet.
4. Leukotape - I know it's more of a medical tape, BUT I promise you, a little leukotape belongs in your emergency kit as well. It's super sticky property in all weather conditions (including pouring rain) makes it ideal for using to splint a broken trekking pole, patching a hole in a shirt, patching mesh netting, etc. I have wrapped a few mostly straight sticks around a broken trekking pole overlapped on itself and hiked 100 miles cross country through the Sierra Nevada Mountains including through the rain and snow. The leukotape stuck it out the whole rest of the trip.
5. Super glue - Another item with seemingly unlimited uses. Super glue is great at stopping the fraying on your shoes if you break through the upper fabric. Good super glue can reattach your shoe soul to the shoe as well; you can use tenacious tape and super glue to patch a pinhole in an inflatable sleeping pad. You can also use superglue on yourself if you have dry cracked skin; simply put a few drops of super glue over the cracked area on your hands or your heels and it will help the healing of both.
6. Safety pins - A couple sizes of safety pins can be helpful if you've lost your button on your pants/shirts. You can also re-enforce a seam you sewed. You can quickly attach a couple pieces of webbing together. As you see, there are many uses for safety pins as well, including being able to attach your socks to your pack when drying them.
7. Waterproof matches - I always keep a few waterproof matches either with my cooking items or in my repair kit just so in case my lighter quits working or runs out of fuel, I have a way to make fire.
8. Water Purification Tabs - You can't easily improvise a broken water filter. So just in case your Sawyer freezes or you accidently leave your filter behind, I always carry a few water purification tablets. They are light and strictly for backup. Thankfully I've never needed them.
9. Paper and Sharpie/Pen - You never know when you will need to be able to write a message to someone or record information/location of someone else that's injured, etc. So just in case, the pen/marker is quite handy.
These 9 items complete my Emergency Repair Kit. There are a few other things I could add, but these 9 have served me well time and time again, are affordable, and readily available.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also check out my article on what's to take in your First Aid Kit. https://2footadventures.com/blogs/news/pct-first-aid-kit