April 4, 2014

Repairing Holes in Packs and Pants

I can rarely escape a season of ice climbing without some damage to my climbing pants. Crampons are not kind to soft shell gear (or hard shell gear for that matter). Jackets and backpacks receive similar rough treatment from rough alpine granite in the summer.

Some duct tape fixes the damage on the spot, but usually doesn't last and often leaves behind some adhesive. Tenacious Tape will last quite a bit longer (including multiple trips through the laundry) but isn't particularly abrasion or cut resistant. 

The best long-term fix I've discovered is Seam Grip. It comes in a 1oz. tube and can be found at any halfway decent gear shop.

The process is pretty simple. You'll need:
  • The damaged item
  • Scissors
  • Tape - It doesn't matter too much what kind. Tenacious Tape if you want to leave it on, masking tape if you're going to remove the tape when you're done, or duct tape.
  • Some newspaper or cardboard to protect your working area.
  • Something to apply the Seam Grip - An applicator brush comes in the package, popsicle sticks or Q-Tips work well also.
  • Seam Grip - If the item is silicone impregnated nylon, like some tents and stuff sacks, you'll want to use Sil-Net, as Seam Grip won't stick.

First, make sure the area around the damage isn't really dirty.

Next trim away any dangling or damaged thread or fabric that you don't want to become part of the item. The goal here is to clean up the area.

Now put the damaged area back together using the tape. Apply the tape to the other side from where you'll apply the Seam Grip, usually the inside. You're trying to bring the edges of the tear together neatly and leave minimal empty space.

Here's the tear cleaned up and taped shut on the inside.
Apply the Seam Grip to the damaged area, making sure to spread it maybe a 1/4 inch or so beyond the edges of the tear or abrasion.

Find a place to leave the item where it'll be undisturbed for 24 hours. Now clean up. Squeeze the air out of the Seam Grip tube and toss it in the freezer. This seems to slow the process of the whole tube curing and becoming useless.

I made the repair in the photos to a pair of softshell pants, but this method also works really well on packs, gloves, and jackets. If I know a particular area of an item (like the palm of my favorite ice climbing gloves) will receive a lot of abuse I sometimes reinforce it ahead of time with a layer of Seam Grip. 

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