Superhero Tape

by Andy Dappen

A 1.5″ X 60″ roll of Tenacious Tape. For field use, re-roll the tape on itself and toss the cardboard core which is a waste of weight and space.

Duct tape has dozens of uses to fix or fortify equipment in the field.  And yet there are times when you need something better – a duct tape with super powers. Enter Tenacious Tape, the product I call the X-Men of tapes.

The adhesive is the primary secret to this tape’s power. Rub this waterproof tape firmly to a wide range of materials and its grip puts other tapes to shame. It won’t come off in hot or cold temperatures. The adhesive is also stable and doesn’t go gooey over time like duct tape.

The other super power of Tenacious Tape is its invisibility. Actually the tape is just clear but it takes on the color of whatever you fix. While Tenacious Tape is available in different colors, why bother when the clear tape matches the color of whatever you’re fixing?

The main drawback of Tenacious Tape is its cost. A ‘roll’, which is a misnomer for a length of tape that is either 1.5 inches wide by 60 inches long, or 3 inches wide by 20 inches long will set you back $8 or $5.25 respectively.  That’s costly enough to keep duct tape in the arsenal for temporary fixes or applications requiring lots of tape. Pull out the X-Men of tapes when you need a better fix for a particularly important problem like a tear in raingear, a hole in hip waders, or a leak in an air mattress. Rub on a small length of tape and your stick-on patch will provide a nearly permanent fix.

Different Tenacious Tape products. Most versatile and economical are the rolls of clear tape which come is different widths and lengths (pictured in lower left).

Here are some of the ways I’ve used Tenacious Tape in recent years:

  1. Rain pant repair. While canoeing from Ketchikan to Juneau a few summers ago, a half-dollar-sized section of my rain pants got badly abraded, causing the Gore-Tex laminate to leak here.  We paddled through five inches of rain on that trip and I needed the pants to keep me dry. The Tenacious Tape patch applied to the abraded area eliminated leakage. I expected the patch to need replacing from time to time, but it rode out the trip just fine. The pants have been laundered several times since and the patch lives on.
  2. Air mattress repair. Neo Air pads are incredibly comfortable and warm … until they spring a hole. Then they are neither. My pad got pinched in my pack during a spring ski trip and was sagging badly minutes after inflation. It was nighttime and cold, and applying a glue-on patch was not practical. I rubbed Tenacious Tape over the leak and slept carefree for the rest of that trip. That patch might have functioned well for trips to come, but I take my back country sleep seriously and glued on a more permanent patch at home.

    Tenacious Tape used to repair two different holes and abrasions on Gore-Tex rain pants. The large patch is black Tenacious Tape and the smaller patch is clear Tenacious Tape and takes on the color of the underlying fabric.

  3. Down coat repair. We were skiing the trees when a miscreant branch snared my companion’s down coat. The tear was ragged, two inches long and bleeding down — definitely a job for superhero tape. We melted the ragged edges of the tear with a lighter; then we bridged the wound with a 3-inch length of Tenacious Tape. A few seasons later the patch lives on.
  4. Ski boot repair. My Scarpa Alien ski touring boots are ultralight and designed for ski touring rather than resort skiing. I, however, am not much of a quiver skier and use the same touring system for all my skiing. While skiing a particularly icy day at Mission Ridge last season, the boards were chattering so violently all day that the thin shell of my left boot cracked in several places. Shortly after discovering the problem I was headed to Canada for a week of hut-touring and lacked the time to replace the boots. I taped over the inside and outside of the cracks with Tenacious Tape and headed north. The tape didn’t provide any structural integrity to the shell but over the month ahead it effectively kept snow and moisture out of the boot.
  5. Tube repair. It was the second patch of puncture vine (aka goatheads) I had rolled through on the same bike ride. The sole spare tube I carried for flats was already in use and now that tube was riddled with holes. No problem — I pulled out the patch kit and took care of 4 holes with vulcanized rubber patches.  Suddenly I was out of patches but there were still two holes to fix.  You see where this is going: Tenacious Tape plugged those holes and got me home. Once home, I replaced the pin-cushioned tube with a new one. For testing purposes, I inflated the bad tube and let it sit. The patch failed after several days, I think because the tube had expanded abnormally when it was inflated outside of the tire, which placed abnormal strain on the patch. Still as an emergency tube patch, Tenacious Tape works.
  6. Electrical cord reinforcement. Ever notice that power cords and charging cords inevitably fail at one end or other where the wire attaches to the hardware, whether that’s a USB head, a micro USB fitting, or a standard 110 AC plug? Fix that weak point by reinforcing the area where wire and hardware meet. Formerly, I used electrical tape for this reinforcement but the adhesive of Tenacious Tape is better than that of electrical tape.

    Inner tube repair (red patch is Tenacious Tape and is sticking just fine after a few days, other patches are vulcanized rubber patches (much more permanent).

  7. Tarp or tent fly repair. It will happen eventually—a little mistreatment will put a hole in the outdoor roof keeping you dry. When this happened to my nylon tarp, I covered the leak with Tenacious Tape — problem solved. Note: Silnylon is a different beast – it’s so slippery that neither duct tape nor Tenacious Tape adheres to it well. Tenacious Tape sticks the best, but it’s far from tenacious. To patch Silnylon: dry the area thoroughly, rough up the area around the hole slightly (careful the material abrades easily!), round the corners of two patches of Tenacious Tape, rub those patches firmly to the fabric on both sides of the hole. Once home, repair holes and tears in Silnylon with a permanent adhesive like Seam Grip SIL.
  8. Screen door and mosquito netting repair. Both the screen door out to my patio and the mosquito netting to one of my tents have suffered tears that threatened to enlarge over time. More importantly, those tears gave flies and mosquitoes entrance to spaces where they were un-welcomed. I fixed these tears with lengths of tape that completely covered the wound from both sides. The tape sandwiching the tears sticks to itself through the holes of the screening/netting.
  9. Artwork attachment. If you want to attach a non-waterproof, non-sticky graphic to your Rocket Box or other outdoor gear, then this may be the tape for the job. A few years ago I tried to stick a photocopied risk-assessment graphic to the tip of my skis. Clear packing tape failed as did clear sticky shelf paper. Clear Tenacious Tape did not. The graphic has adhered to my ski tips, through powder and corn, for two winters and is still going.
  10. Miscellaneous. I haven’t had issues yet, but should any of my rubber, vinyl, or Hypalon products sprout a hole, I’ll fix them with Tenacious Tape. I’ve pre-tested and know the tape bonds firmly to these materials.

    Testing clear Tenacious Tape on a variety of fabrics. White fabric is uncoated ripstop nylon and the bond is excellent. Green fabric is Gore-Tex and again the Tenacious Tape bond is excellent. Yellow fabric is, Silnylon with 1) clear Tenacious Tape giving a so-so bond, 2) blue duct tape giving the second best bond 3) black Gorilla Tape giving the worst bond for this application.

Details, Details

  • Tenacious Tape is made by Gear Aid in Bellingham, Washington.  More details about Tenacious Tape.
  • Gear Aid makes all manners of repair products, including my other favorite fix-it item: Seam Grip. Seam Grip is a viscous urethane adhesive that squeezes out of a tube and acts as either a glue (e.g., for bonding delaminating boot soles) or as a flexible, waterproof patch (e.g., repairing all manners of holes and abrasions in outdoor gear. See our article about Seam Grip. Since we prepared that article, Seam Grip was re-branded as Seam Grip WP and the packaging has a new look. Worry not, it’s the same product.
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