Look, we’ve all done it. And I won’t say we are all “guilty,” because there’s nothing to be guilty about when it comes to using a piece of gear so often, so hard, and for so many years that eventually, something goes. A zipper that can’t be fixed. The tread on those shoes. A hole in your favorite shirt. No more waterproofing.
There are plenty of ways to do some DIY repair on gear yourself — anyone with basic sewing skills, the proper replacement parts, a patch kit (we love NoSo patches), or fabric treatments can fix up most gear. But what happens if something truly breaks?
I wondered how many brands out there were actively offering — and fixing up — gear that folks still want to use. No, I’m not talking a limited or lifetime warranty or brand guarantee. That’s a given at almost all brands: something breaks, rips, or fails, they send you a new one.
But that’s wasteful. While you still get the same product for the same value, the old gear is getting tossed, and ending up in a landfill where it could take hundreds of years or more to degrade. And there’s enough of that going on already. The average American throws away 70 pounds of clothes and other textiles every year. It accounts for 5.2% of all waste generated in the U.S., according to Harmony Enterprises Inc.
I’m talking good old-fashioned, take your gear into the repair shop, get it fixed up, and get it back. Similar to how you’d take your car into the shop, your shoes down to the cobbler, your clothes to the dry cleaners … of course, you don’t want a replacement! Nor do you want to use gear that’s broken or degrading. That can be a recipe for disaster.
Good news: you can keep your well-used, worn-down, sentimental gear, thanks to these companies that offer free repairs to get gear that needs fixin’ back into action.
In-Person Repair Shops
It goes without saying is that the easiest way to repair your gear, if you can’t do it yourself, is to take it to a gear repair shop — don’t forget to look around locally to see what’s near you and what services they offer. Big retailers like REI and evo offer everything from major bike, ski, and tent repairs, to basic tuneups.
Some of our favorite places are Repair Lair in Minneapolis, which repairs “pretty much anything with a zipper,” and Mountainside Gear Rental in Golden, Colo., which offers repairs on items like tents, sleeping bags and pads, stoves, bear canisters, and backpacks, and also offers a gear cleaning service as well.
And, shops like Rainy Pass Repair in Seattle specialize in repairing and reviving more technical garments like down, ripstop nylons, and GORE-TEX fabrics. At many repair gigs like these, you can get everything from a quick patch job, to all-new waterproofing on a jacket, or refilling insulation (down or synthetic) in a bag.
We’ve even included a list below of all our favorite independent gear shops that offer repair services (beyond the basic bike or ski tune). But for everything else, apparel, footwear, and more, the best way to get your gear fixed is to go back to the brand itself.
Outdoor Brands That Will Repair Your Gear
Many brands offer warranty repairs on their own outdoor products. Some of them will do it for free, while others might charge for the service. Either way, gear repair is built into a lot of brands. Your gear might be covered for repairs whether you know it or not. So, it’s worth reaching out! You’d be surprised by the types of parts, issues, or failures that can still be repaired.
*Free (must make a request or contact the brand, fill out a form, provide proof of purchase, etc.)
**Requires payment (cost of shipping, labor for repair, or cost of parts, etc.)
Patagonia**: offers free or warranty-covered repairs, but charges $15 round-trip shipping. “Our goal is to repair everything we can, but each repair is different.” Patagonia repairs gear including apparel, packs, jackets, snow gear, waders, and wetsuits. Repairs include issues with fabric, stitching, buckles, zippers, and more.
Chaco*: Offers free strap repair and resoling; typically takes the brand several weeks to repair and return shoes. As of 2023, over 266,000 pairs of sandals have been repaired for Chaco customers.
Arc’teryx*: The Re-Bird program from Arc’teryx offers “care, repair, resale, and upcycling” for any of its products. New Arc’teryx locations feature a service desk where you can take your broken or worn-out garments and gear, and an expert will help you fix them up.
Primus stoves*: This brand offers free stove replacement parts annually; just fill out a form. Replacement parts cover backpacking stoves, camp stoves, and grills sold at Primus.
Cascade Designs*: This brand covers repairs to all Cascade Designs brands including MSR, Therm-a-Rest, Platypus, PackTowl, and SealLine. Includes repairs to sleeping bags, pads, tents, stoves, and more. (Some repairs are free, and some include a cost. If there is a fee associated with a repair, Cascade Designs will send the customer a payment invoice after they’ve completed the repair. If the projected cost is equal to or more than $50, Cascade Designs will contact you before repairing.)
Danner Boots*: Danner offers leatherwork and boot repair (including the outsole, midsole, insoles, stitching, laces, hardware, and leather cleaning). Why? “Danner Recrafting provides you with an option to extend the life of your boots and keep them out of the landfill,” Danner says. (One note: they can’t patch leather, or replace full denier nylon side panels, so some of the repair work at Danner involves new parts and materials.)
MSR Repair** (Seattle only): MSR offers tent, stove, and gear repair, but currently in-person only at its Seattle location. Call for details.
ALPS Mountaineering*: Offers free replacement parts on a case-by-case basis; if something is broken beyond repair, ALPS may forward it to limited warranty or warranty replacements.
Big Agnes**: Offers low-cost gear repairs to all of their tents, sleeping bags, and packs; typical repair costs are $5/zippers, $4/pole segment, $5-20/fabric patching and sewing, $5/misc. hardware; covers larger repairs on a case-by-case basis. Customers will also need to pay shipping and mail to brand headquarters.
Komperdell poles*: Offers repairs for all its trekking poles for up to 3 years, free of charge.
NEMO*: Free repair parts/services, and NEMO has a page on its website dedicated to tips for proper gear maintenance and DIY gear repair.
ENO: ENO offers free product repairs (when possible). Common repairs include rope replacement, knot re-ties, cord lock replacement, compression strap re-stitching, and stuff sack re-stitching. ENO also offers DIY repair options, replacement parts, and a recycling program when a hammock reaches its end of life.
Rab Equipment**: has an in-house Repair and Care program which covers a variety of fixes, like replacing fabric panels, patching, stitch and seam repairs, and zipper repairs. The repairs apply to “all gear that’s salvageable.” Another unique service is Rab’s down washing program; it’ll run you $30/waterproof shell, $35/down jacket, and $45/down sleeping bag (shipping included). Impressively, in the U.S., Rab has been able to repair 86.5% of gear that gets sent to them.
Salomon*: Offers free spare parts and replacement.
GORE-TEX: Fabric repairs, patching, and waterproofing at authorized centers across North America, Europe, and Asia.
Our Favorite Independent Gear Repair Shops, by State
Many states have at least one shop that offers repairs on outdoor gear and equipment (outside of the big brands and chains like REI that we’ve listed above). These businesses help improve the circular lifecycle of gear and directly divert waste from entering landfills. They’re out there doing good work, and yet there really aren’t that many of them.
Editor’s note: If there is a business you know of that does gear repair that’s not on the list, please let us know! We’ll add it to the list.
Pack Rat Outdoor Center, Fayetteville, AR – “We can examine your footwear, clothing, and equipment, and either assist you in making repairs, or begin a warranty claim.”
The Fixed Line, Anchorage, AK – “We repair outdoor recreation equipment, from tents and backpacks to zipper repair and replacement. We can patch waterproof breathables like Gore-Tex and others.”
Last Minute Gear, San Francisco, CA: “Using the experience & processes we use to maintain our own rental camping gear or rental snow clothes, we will help restore your gear back to good, usable condition!”
Feral, Denver, CO: “We repair tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, jackets, clothing, and more.”
Boulder Mountain Repair, Beyers, CO: “We repair tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, jackets, clothing, and more.”
Ripstop Repairs, Boulder, CO: “Repair is a radical act.”
Mountainside Gear Rental, Golden, CO: “Storing gear that is dirty or broken decreases the longevity of the product by creating unneeded wear and tear.”
Gear Washers, Denver, CO: “Gear Washers is a technical gear restoring company in Denver. We safely launder and re-waterproof technical and down apparel as well as outdoor gear items.”
Stitchlines, Englewood, CO: “Serving both local and national outdoor recreational companies and enthusiasts by meeting current modification and repair needs to tents, backpacks, fishing waders, drysuits, wet suits, and much more in activities like camping, backpacking, kayaking, rafting, triathletes, scuba diving, sailboarding, fishing, skiing, snowmobiling, hunting, etc. “
San Juan Sewing, Durango, CO: “I am an Army veteran and ex-field/wildlife biologist who thought it was time to do something a little different in the name of sustainability.”
The Local Gear, Cornish, ME: “We offer outstanding bicycle sales and service along with recumbent trikes, boots, trail shoes, and outdoor sporting goods for hiking, camping, fishing, boating, and hunting.”
The Repair Lair, Minneapolis, MN: “From sewing patches onto your favorite jeans to replacing a broken tent zipper, we can fix almost anything. And if we don’t know how — we know who does.”
Mayhem Mending, Repair, Salvage and Sewing, Ely, MN: “We offer repair services for anything we can fit on our industrial sewing machines.”
Kenco Outfitters, Kingston, NY: “Launching a gear repair department this year.”
Roads, Rivers, and Trails, Milford, OH: “We want to provide resources so you can keep using your gear ’til the last drop of adventure is squeezed from its threads.”
Rugged Thread, Bend, OR: “Our goal is to make the repair experience easy, affordable, and of the highest quality while contributing to the well-being of our planet and communities.”
Outdoor Gear Exchange (GearX), Burlington, VT: “We offer quick turnaround on the shop services you need to keep your gear performing at its best, including repair services for skis, snowboards, and bikes, boot fitting services, and tent and backpack repair.”
Mountain to Sound Outfitters, Seattle, WA: “We also offer qualified repair services, performed by certified technicians, to keep your sporting equipment in peak condition so you can enjoy your favorite outdoor activities in safety and comfort.”
High Mountain Gear, Bellevue, WA: “We make equipment that works for the guides, skiers, and climbers that use them all year.”