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Gear list || Backpacking Field Repair Kit for broken, lost & worn out gear

Rain pants torn by brush and repaired in the field with needle, thread, and Aquaseal

Rain pants torn by brush and repaired in the field with needle, thread, and Aquaseal

Due to extended use, hard use, and sometimes human error, backpacking clothing and equipment will break, tear, and wear out. Personally, in the field I’ve experienced:

  • Torn trekking pants, rain gear, puffy jackets, sleeping bags, and backpacks;
  • Leaking seams on shelters;
  • Bent, splintered, and fractured trekking pole shafts;
  • Cracked sunglasses;
  • Punctured and cracked water bottles;
  • Dead headlamp batteries;
  • Slow leaks in air sleeping pads;
  • Frayed mesh in shoe uppers;
  • Delamination of rubber outsoles and toe bumpers from foam midsoles;
  • Broken and fraying shoe laces, both conventional and Quick Lace;
  • Blown gaskets in stove fuel pumps; and,
  • Clogged stove fuel lines that reduced performance.

In addition, I’ve witnessed or have heard from others who have lost spoons and bottle caps, took out a new tarp with no guylines attached, abraded a hole in their Dyneema Composite tarp with the edges of their bridge hammock, broken tent poles, and blew out seams and shoulder straps on ultralight backpacks. I’m sure I’m forgetting a few, too.

Most wear seems to be expected and consistent. For example, extensive bushwhacking often results in torn clothing, and mileage gradually wears out the carbide tips on trekking poles. But I’ve had some surprise problems, too, like trail running shoes that began to fall apart after just 50 miles.

My objective in carrying a field repair kit is to fix these issues, ideally to as-good-as-new condition, or at least so I can exit and find a replacement.

Gear list: Backpacking field repair kit

To download this list as a PDF or editable spreadsheet, go here.

  • Critical = A must-have, no exceptions
  • Suggested = A valuable addition, few reasons not to bring
  • Optional = Not critical, but worth consideration
  • Depends = Contingent on trip objectives, conditions, and/or other selections
  • Unnecessary = Unlikely to need and/or can be improvised

Images

Core items in my backpacking repair kit

Core items in my backpacking repair kit

Extra personal items. Depending on the conditions, I will bring some of these items on solo trips, and more of them on group trips.

Extra personal items. Depending on the conditions, I will bring some of these items on solo trips, and more of them on group trips.

Items that I normally leave at home, especially on shorter trips, or put in a bounce box if they will be hard to find in trail towns.

Items that I normally leave at home, especially on shorter trips, or put in a bounce box if they will be hard to find in trail towns.

How does my repair kit compare to yours? Am I unprepared for a common repair job?


Disclosure: I hope you have found this list useful. It contains affiliate links, which help to support such content on this website.

8 Responses to Gear list || Backpacking Field Repair Kit for broken, lost & worn out gear

  1. Greg October 5, 2016 at 3:30 pm #

    Nice post, Andrew. I appreciated learning about the butterfly stitch from you and use it frequently for repairs.
    There is a more portable/ vastly lighter version of the speedy stitcher that’s in the Chouinard/Patagonia Expedition Repair Kit. I made one myself from a jeweler’s pin vise and a cotter pin (check the hardware store) that cost under $10 and weighs about half an ounce with thread. It’s strong enough to go through webbing.

    • Shawn K. October 5, 2016 at 8:04 pm #

      Greg – I believe this is yours.
      https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/76028/
      Great work!

      I’ve considered buying the neo-kit, but it’s a litle pricey for what you get.
      http://www.patagonia.com/product/expedition-sewing-kit/12000.html

      I have a bored, retired friend that loves machining handy little things, so I may see if he has any awl ideas.

      Andrew, thanks again. I’ve been pairing down my repair kit & tools, and I was wondering what you carry.

    • Andrew Skurka October 5, 2016 at 9:04 pm #

      Great nugget of information there, thanks. I’ve never carried the Speedy Stitcher on a trip, but a good case could be made for your lighter version on tough trips with long distances between resupply.

  2. Bill October 6, 2016 at 6:01 am #

    There are aluminum pin vise tip drills made for cleaning welding torch tips. The bodies are hollow and allow the drills to be stored inside. I don’t know that the collets would open up enough to take a sewing machine needle shank, but they would easily hold a #16 needle without the shank.

    https://www.king-tool.com/storefront/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=5

    The small drills would be useful for drilling holes in leather or rubber. If I’m sewing leather, I usually pre-drill the holes. Pushing the needle through the leather is difficult and distorts the leather.

  3. Al S October 17, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    I am surprised not to see anything to repair a pack (extra buckle) or tent pole. Do you figure the items you carry can be used for those?

    • Andrew Skurka October 17, 2016 at 2:50 pm #

      I’ve only broken a few hipbelt buckles, and each time it was still functional because only one of the two prongs had broken.

      I use trekking poles to pitch my shelter, not tent poles, so I don’t need a fix for that. But you can McGyver a fix anyway, using duct tape, tent stakes or sticks, and guyline.

  4. Isaac January 17, 2017 at 5:09 pm #

    Great list. One item I have needed over and over is a small length of wire. It can become a hook to pull small things out of small places, it can bind things together, and it is generally a great bit to have for improvising. A key ring will often work if you pry it into a straight line, but that can be difficult without pliers. Just a thought.

  5. Eric August 14, 2017 at 12:58 pm #

    For duct tape, I always have found it handy to wrap it around another object as a makeshift role center. I usually use a bic lighter for the core as they are the perfect size for it, but around shortened spoon and toothbrush handles are other places to turn duct tape into even more of a multi-functional item than it is already.

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