Field Repairs 202
by Andy Dappen
When it comes to keeping your outdoor equipment in good repair, I’ve sang the praises of Seam Grip many times. With this viscous liquid that flows from a tube like cold honey but cures into tough, rubbery patch, you can fix almost anything that tears, springs a hole, delaminates, or abrades. You can waterproof, patch, plug, splint, glue or reinforce with it. Learn its properties and you’ll discover it’s much more useful than duct tape in permanently fixing failing equipment. This old story will help you become a Seam Grip master.
Of course no product is perfect and the two down sides to Seam Grip when it comes to making field repairs are these: 1) It takes 8 to 10 hours to completely cure 2) it cures even slower (or not at all) in cold temperatures. That often means you need a temporary fix for a problem (e.g., duct tape, parachute cord, bailing wire) until you get home and can perform more permanent surgery with Seam Grip.
Now there’s good news for fix-it junkies who want a better field fix for tears in fabrics or holes in parkas than duct tape. It comes from Gear Aid (the makers of Seam Grip) and is called Aquaseal UV. To use it, first find a shaded place to work by getting under a tree, a cliff, or a tarp. Squeeze liquid from the tube onto the problem area and give that liquid a minute or two to soak into the pores of the item you are repairing. Now expose your item to the ultraviolet (UV) light of the sun and — schazam — magic happens.
In seconds the liquid starts hardening and within a minute or two it has cured into a rubbery patch that will plug holes in shoes or fabrics, keep tears in fabrics from propagating, glue materials together, or reinforce abraded fabrics. Even in cold temperatures it’s the UV light, not the ambient air temperature, that cures the liquid rubber.
Aquaseal UV bonds particularly well to porous items – clean fabrics, leather, paper, or wood. Items that are non-porous (metals, plastics, rubber) should be scuffed up with sandpaper and cleaned well before the Aquaseal is applied. Using Aquaseal UV on silnylon creates a temporary field fix for holes and small tears but the bond is weak so you’ll want to fix problems with a more permanent solution at home (e.g., sew hole/patch and then apply SilNet). Consult the aforementioned Seam Grip article for creative ways to use Aquaseal UV.
A while back my sleeping pad sprang a significant leak when it got punctured by crampons in the pack. I tried a temporary fix with duct tape but the wound was situated at the bottom of a baffle and the tape would not form a good seal. I often blame my Capilene underwear when things go bad and it took the brunt of my ire now — ‘Shirt!’ I yelled. I dug into my repair kit for the Seam Grip and resigned myself to a lumpy evening without use of the pad while the Seam Grip cured.
And then a beautiful thing happened. My fingers stumbled upon the Aquaseal UV I had thrown in the repair kit but forgotten all about. Moments later I had spanned the offending hole with liquid, held the mattress to the late afternoon sun, and watched magic in the making. Dream land was oh-so sweet that night.
Aquaseal UV is sold in 1/4-ounce tubes, which is plenty of material to address multiple field operations. Recommended retail is $7 — pricey to be sure, but so worth it when your gear is stricken by one of a hundred ills.