Outdoors equipment and clothing tends to take a beating, and even the best-made garments will show signs of wear and fail in time.
Patagonia recently launched the “Worn Wear” tour, in which repair technicians tour the country to work on customers’ old clothing and teach repair techniques along the way.
I caught up with Dominique Buncio, a repair tech on the tour, to learn some tips to make your gear last longer, repair it in the field and make repairs easier for the pros.
Duct Tape Will Save Your Day: This might be common knowledge, but it’s so useful that it’s worth stating again: Duct tape is awesome! It can be used to fix zipper failures, patch holes — even waterproof small holes for a brief amount of time.
“As a quick fix it won’t ruin your garment,” Buncio said. “It won’t affect the future of the jacket or repairs. We’d rather this than have people try to sew themselves. It’s easier for us to remove duct tape than bad stitches.”
Alternative: Tear-Aid patches are another good option.
Safety Pins Can Help: Super light and versatile, safety pins are valuable tools in the backcountry. Zipper slider broke? Just slip a safety pin into the hole and close it, problem solved. Pin a couple of these to your backpack and be prepared for all kinds of unexpected repairs.
Say “No” To Glues: One of the easiest ways to make your “temporary” repair permanent is to use glue. It’s hard for repair techs to remove and can damage fabrics beyond repair.
“I’ve seen superglue and hot glue used,” Buncio said. “It can make a mess.”
Hand Wash Old Garments: Yes, machine washing is easier and usually works fine, but for older garments, machines are just too harsh.
“Do a light hand wash and don’t machine dry these old garments that are starting to come apart,” she said.
Don’t Give Up On Love: If you love an old piece of gear, get it fixed as almost everything’s serviceable life can be extended with a little repair work.
“Sometimes we’ll replace a whole sleeve of a shirt to make the garment last longer,” Buncio said. “Even when something is so worn out it’s full of holes, we can do huge patches on them.”
Craziest In Field Repair? “Once a guy sent in a down sweater sprayed with expanding foam insulation,” she said. “From some things, there’s no coming back.”
Professional Help! Sometimes needed repairs go beyond the scope of do-it-yourselfers. The Worn Wear tour will be traveling the United States all spring, so check out page two to see if they’ll be near you.