WenOut spearheaded a session at Pybus University on Jan 23, 2018 covering some of the basics of repairing outdoor gear. The session was part instruction and part workshop — we had experts and sewing machines on hand so we could fix the gear attendees brought in.
The handout from that session will be useful to anyone wanting to keep their outdoor gear in the best shape, so we’ve included them in this post. Whether you’re looking for a local seamstress to fix the blown seams on a pack, a shop that can maintain your skis, tips for maintaining your climbing skins, online resources to help you rejuvenate a leaky tent, or a list of the best repair supplies to keep at home, we’ve got it covered in the notes below.
Repair Resources & Repair Supplies
by Andy Dappen
American Shoe Shop, 118 N. Wenatchee Ave, Wenatchee, WA, 509-662-5470. Resole and stitch tears in many hiking boots, stretch walking and hiking boots for a better fit, replace zippers on some cross-country boots, stitch short segments of heavy-duty seams, replace buckles on packs.
Arlberg Sports, 25 N Wenatchee Ave, Wenatchee, WA, 509-663-7401. Handles all manners of ski and snowboard repair (bases and edges). The shop has Reichmann ski tuning machines which are the premier machines used in World Cup Racing. These machines are almost infinitely programmable to put any base pattern and any edge bevel on skis and allow for completely consistent results from ski to ski. Arlberg also specializes in all manner of boot repairs (e.g., broken buckles) and boot fitting (from creating custom insoles to punching boots to eliminate pinch points. Fit issues for hiking and walking shoes are also handled (e.g., stretching shoes or creating custom insoles). Finally, their full-service bike shop can fix any road bike, mountain bike, fat bike, bike trailer or jogging stroller issue.
Performance Footwear, 24 S Wenatchee Ave, Wenatchee, WA, 509-662-2910. Known for their custom fitting of walking, hiking, and running shoes. Can handle some trekking pole repairs (cams, baskets, pole segment in need of replacement).
Full Circle Cycle, 318 S Chelan, Wenatchee, WA, 509-663-8025. Their full-service bike repair shop can handle any issue with road bikes, mountain bikes, fat bikes bike, bike trailers, or jogging strollers. Sell tools to do your own work as well. Don’t be in a hurry — their front man (Dan) is chatty and will teach you a lot about bikes while discussing your particular issue.
Diane Ritter, 929 Kittitas Street, Wenatchee, WA 98801, 509-699-0762. Will sew most anything at a reasonable rate. Knowledge and machinery to sew heavy-duty fabrics and seams (pack materials, pack straps, etc.).
Pins and Needles, 8 Orondo Ave, Wenatchee, WA, 509-662-0813. Specialize in the sewing and alterations of formal wear for weddings and proms, but have the knowledge and upholstery sewing equipment to repair the heavy-duty fabrics and seams of packs, rope bags, and more.
Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts, 300 Valley Mall Pkwy, East Wenatchee, 509-884-3121. Limited inventory of outdoor fabrics. Better inventory of accessories needed for repairs — threads, Velcro, elastic, buckles, grommets, snaps, webbing, etc.
Leavenworth Mountain Sports, 220 US-2, Leavenworth, WA, 509-548-7864. Handle base and edge maintenance of skis as well as some ski boot comfort and fitting issues. Carry SeamGrip, Aquaseal, Tenacious Tape, stick-on patches, Revive X Pro Cleaner, and other GearAid products mentioned farther down in this list.
Jean-Luc Robichaux, 509-669-0289. Repairs or replaces the rubber gaskets (seals) of dry tops and dry suits. Also does repair work on fiberglass toys (kayaks, canoes, SUP boards). Text him for an estimate.
www.SeattleFabrics.com 8702 Aurora Ave North, Seattle, WA, 206-525-0670. A brick-and-mortar shop in Seattle as well as an online resource for purchasing outdoor and marine fabrics. Also carry all the accessories needed for repairs (buckles, fasteners, zippers, webbing, elastic, Velcro, threads, etc.).
Pro Ski and Mountain Service, 108 W North Bend Way, North Bend, WA, 425-888-6397. A specialty skiing, ski touring, and climbing shop. Grind, tune, and repair ski bases; sharpen and bevel edges; fix binding issues; adjust and punch boots for comfort; and more. Many local backcountry skiers are loyal to the expertise and service provided by this shop.
Dave Page, Cobbler, 3509 Evanston Ave N Seattle, WA, 206-632-8686, www.davepagecobbler.com. The go-to Northwestern shop for repairing, resoling, or comfort fitting climbing shoes, mountaineering boots, hiking boots, telemark boots, and even Birkenstocks.
www.Patagonia.com/worn-wear-repairs/One of the best websites with how-to instructions for restoring and fixing gear. Detailed how-to info and pictures for reapplying durable water repellent finish, washing waterproof jackets, removing and installing zippers, patching puffy jackets, replacing stitching on quilted jackets, repairing the baffle of down jackets, washing down products, fixing holes in pants, hemming pants, lengthening pants, resizing pants, sewing patches into pants and shirts, putting on applique patches, applying iron-on patches, shortening shirt straps, repairing holes in waterproof products, darning holes in knitted products, repairing sliders on zippers, replacing sliders on coil zippers, repairing tears in backpacks, fixing pack straps, and more
www.GearAid.com (used to be McNett Corp). Best single source of high-quality repair, restoration, and maintenance items. Aquaseal / Seam Grip / Free Sole – all come out of a tube as honey-like liquid that bonds to most anything and hardens into a flexible rubbery patch that is waterproof and tough (abrasion and cut resistant) – good for patching holes in waterproof items, reinforcement of abraded areas, building-up of worn shoe soles , waterproofing seams, and more. Aquaseal UV is good for the repair kit to instantly repair waterproof items in the field (it sets up once it’s exposed to UV rays). Tenacious Tape is expensive but 10 times better than duct tape in adhering to anything, without becoming gooey – it makes a permanent patch and comes in different colors (the clear tape is most versatile). Myrazime Odor Eliminator (good for reducing the odors of wet suits and ski boot liners). Revive X Pro Cleaner – for laundering the waterproof-breathable fabrics of raingear and ski gear with minimal disturbance of the DWR finish added to new rainwear (most laundry detergents remove the DWR finish). Revive X Durable Water Repellant Spray restores the DWR repellant added to most new raingear that makes water bead-up and run off the item – the original DWR finish gradually abrades off or washes out over time, allowing raingear to wet out quickly. UV Tech Protectant is like a sunscreen for plastic, Latex, rubber, Hypalon, neoprene, vinyl, and fiberglass –it keeps the sun from gradually drying out and cracking drysuit seals, snorkeling masks, fins, rubber boots, waders, plastic kayaks, float tubes, awnings, patio furniture, sidewalls of bike tires… Seal Cement neoprene cement permanently glues holes or repairs slices in neoprene – it is also an excellent contact cement for patching rubber boots, waders, gaskets of drysuits, and regluing delaminating boot soles. SilNet effectively seals any seams and patches sewn through silnylon. Tentsure Tent Sealant applies a new polyurethane coating to leaky tent flies and/or tent floors. Zipper Care Cleaner and Lubricant makes the zippers of coats, tents, and sleeping bags last much longer. Zipper Repair Kit lets you replace the sliders of the most commonly used zippers– a worn out slider is the cause of most zipper problems.
www.Nikwax.com. An excellent source of solutions to clean outdoor gear, protect outdoor materials, restore water repellency of outdoor fabrics, and more. Tech Wash will launder raingear without destroying its DWR coating. Concentrated Tent & Gear Solarproof restores the DWR coating of outdoor gear and can double the life of raincoats and tents that are exposed to abundant sunlight. Down Wash Direct is for laundering regular and hydrophobic down garments. Leather Restorer adds water repellency, revives breathability, and conditions the full-grain leather of boots and gloves. Ski Skin Proof repels water and stops the saturation of older climbing skins. Base Wash works particularly well at getting the stink out of synthetic base layers, pile coats, synthetic pants…
Solution-X Stain Remover. A last-ditch stain remover if you’re ready to dispose of stained clothing. The chlorine in this solution could ruin some gear, but the large majority of items will survive this treatment just fine. To a bucket (or sink) of very hot water, add 1 cup chlorine and 1 cup of powdered Cascade dishwasher detergent. Stir well, add stained items, and stir the items in the water for several minute. Allow items to soak for 2.5 to 3.5 hours with a minute of stirring every 30 to 40 minutes. After soaking, squeeze out excess water, rinse once, and then launder normally. Heavy-duty rubber/Latex/Nitrile gloves recommended for stirring and handling items in the solution.
Online outlets. I recommend supporting local resource when possible. Still, many specialty repair fabrics, supplies, and doodads simply aren’t available locally. Regardless of what you need, the right search will find it quickly. Type ‘ballistic nylon fabric,’ or ‘ripstop nylon by the yard,’ or ‘silnylon by the yard,’ or ‘Cordura nylon fabric,’ or ‘Fastex buckles’ and many sources selling such items pop up.
Additional Notes from Mark Shipman. 1) Many folks forget that some companies (like Outdoor Research) have ‘lifetime warranties.’ Those warranties will have some caveats about gear that has been grossly mistreated but usually O.R. will repair or replace items that are leaking, have blown seams, or have faulty zippers. People should think about this before throwing away any old item – it might qualify for fixing or replacing. 2) Both Yates and Black Diamond will re-sling cams, which is worth doing every few years. 3) I don’t do much with my skis beyond waxing, but repairing bases with P-Tex candles and sharpening edges is also easily done at home. 4) Beacons, probes, snowshoes etc. are best sent back to the manufacturer for repair or replacement in the spring when you don’t need them. 5) Bicycle repair classes are more and more common, and everyone should learn how to make minor repairs and adjustments – you’ll ride much more if you know how to repair a flat tire.
Sources from Jamie Tackman: 1) www.specialtyoutdoors.com/technical-clothing-repair/ has articles for do-it-yourselfers wanting to diagnose zipper problems, fix zippers, launder gear, care for tents, make jerseys, select a sewing machine… 2) www.tentpoletechnologies.com/ a business specializing in the repair or replacement of aluminum or fiberglass tent poles. 3) www.rockywoods.com a single place to buy specialty fabrics and fixtures to make your own outdoor gear and clothing.
WenatcheeOutdoors.org has an arsenal of repair-oriented articles. Use the search box with these search strings: ‘skin tips’, ‘cleaning climbing skins,’ ‘field repairs 202’, ‘big five repair kit’, ‘mountain biking repair kit’, ‘Voile’ strap,’ ‘ski maintenance 202’, ‘quick sticks’ or ‘waxing skis’. Once you lose this article, find it again by searching on ‘repair resources’.