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It’s hard to know where to start when we need to repair a piece of outdoor equipment. Do we take the time to learn how to repair it ourselves? Can we send it back to the company? What are the options?
Three ways that make gear repair easy and accessible:
- Manufacturer warranties and repair programs
- Local repair shops
- Learning how to repair things on your own
Options for Outdoor Gear Repair
There isn’t a wrong way to get your gear repaired. Learning how to fix your equipment can be a fun new project if you have the time and the tools. Many of us may not have the time to invest in that right now, which is where sending the repair off to an expert to fix may be the best choice.
1. Warranties and Repair Programs
The vast majority of companies within the outdoor industry have a product warranty or repair policy in place. Knowing these policies before you purchase gear can save you time and money if/when a repair is needed. Plus, with some companies (like Osprey), even if you buy a used backpack from someone else, they still honor the repairs of all products.
Knowing how long it takes for them to complete a repair and how much it costs can factor into your decision to go this route. For things like backpacks, many companies get overwhelmed with repair requests at the beginning of the backpacking season. So, if you have a repair, it is sometimes best to save it until things are winding down or it is the off-season. However, waiting doesn’t always work because you may need that item for an upcoming trip.
Contacting the company directly is the best way to decide if this is the right option for your repair needs. By providing details and a few pictures of the damage, their customer service can usually give you a decent time and price estimate. Be aware that many repairs sent back to a manufacturer can take over six weeks and cost $80+, not including shipping.
Depending on the repair needed, some companies may send you a brand-new product instead of repairing the old one. While this does benefit the consumer, it doesn’t help reduce the environmental impact that most company repair policies claim to reduce.
2. Local Repairs
In my opinion, finding local repair shops is the fastest and easiest way to get outdoor gear repaired. They tend to be very inexpensive and efficient with repairs. Plus, you don’t have to bother shipping your item if they are in town.
The type of repair shop will determine what they are capable of fixing. In my experience, though, it never hurts to ask. For instance, I needed a complete zipper replacement on a jacket once, but I was on the road and didn’t have a way to fix it myself. So, I called a boot repair shop in town, and they fixed the zipper the same day for around $15.
Another common place you can get outdoor gear repaired is at gear consignment shops. These used gear shops often have staff to manage minor repairs on things like backpacks, tents, and more. The prices vary according to the repairs’ severity, but most shops are accommodating.
A quick online search in larger cities will also do the trick; many metro areas have designated outdoor gear repair shops. Some of these shops will allow you to ship the product to them, but if you live in the area, it is easy to call in for a quote and drop it off in-store.
Repairing anything yourself can be an enjoyable learning experience or a super frustrating endeavor. It is good to have a basic idea of how to repair simple things before jumping into a complex repair project, but it can be convenient and rewarding to know how to fix items yourself.
Access to tools like a sewing machine or a gear repair kit can help the process. Then, leaning into online resources like video tutorials or how-to guides provides much-needed guidance.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help, either. If you have a hiking buddy or are part of an online group, there may be someone around who can provide you with a few tools and resources or is even willing to help teach you how to do the repair.
If you try a repair for the first time and it doesn’t work out, at least you tried, and you always have the fallback of finding a professional to finish the repair.
Q: How do you repair a Gore-Tex jacket?
Head to the Gore-Tex website for detailed information about repair center locations and how to address temporary Gore-Text repairs. Like many synthetic fabric repairs, minor tears in Gore-Tex can be repaired with patches. These can either be peel-and-stick patches or heat-activated patches. Gore-Tex generally should never be sewn like other types of textiles can be. If your jacket is losing its waterproof capabilities, then it may need to have a waterproof coating reapplied.
Q: How do you fix a tear in a tent?
Since tents are made from synthetic materials, small rips and tears can be fixed using a patch. For larger tears, you may need to send it in for repairs to ensure you do not damage the materials further by sewing them. Mesh tent screens can also be repaired with patches or sewing.
Q: How do you wash hiking and camping gear?
Most hiking and camping gear cannot be washed in a washing machine. Some outdoor clothing and sleeping bags may have this capability, but check the manufacturer’s care and washing instructions before doing so. For things like cleaning backpacks or tents, washing them in a tub with specialized cleaners is ideal. Spot cleaning is another good approach for minor stains or isolated areas.