The best part of backpacking is getting away. But when you’re deep in the wilderness, you’ll need to be prepared if your gear fails. For a list of repair tools, I turned to my friend Sam Theule, who spent more than a year hiking the Pacific Crest, Appalachian, and Continental Divide trails. Here are the eight items he always carried in his pack.
Speedy Stitcher Deluxe Sewing Awl Kit #110 ($20)
This is a hefty sewing kit, especially for someone like Theule, who cuts his straps and toothbrush to save weight. It’s his go-to because the needles and heavy-duty hemp thread are burly enough to fix a blown-out leather boot or tear in his tent.
Superglue ($2.50 for 2)
Superglue is almost as useful as duct tape. Theule uses it to seal holes in jackets, reinforce stitches in large fabric tears, repair hard goods like broken trekking poles, and even seal large cuts that are too big for a Band-Aid. (He cleans the wound, closes it shut, and puts superglue over the top.)
Theule uses moleskin to prevent and cure blisters on his feet and hands, as well as patch holes in his shoes, clothes, bag, or tent. Tip: Don’t apply moleskin directly over a blister. Instead, cut a larger square with a hole in it and apply the hole over the blister. The moleskin around the blister will keep your sock from making the sore worse, and the hole allows the blister to breathe and heal.
Use Leukotape, with its superstrong adhesive, to prevent bandages, gauze, or moleskin from falling off when you’re on the trail. You can also use it as a patch to repair worn gear. Theule once used Leukotape plus Tyvek (which he uses as a tarp) to seal a giant hole in his boot.
McNett Tenacious Tape ($5)
Meet the king of tape. McNett is designed to seal holes in waterproof or water-resistant gear. It comes in rolls or precut strips and uses a special glue that bonds to your jacket, pants, or sleeping bag and won’t come off when it gets wet. It’s made primarily from reinforced ripstop nylon, making it ultrastrong.
Swiss Army Knife ($25)
Theule carries a Swiss Army Classic SD for food and other camp chores, as well as a smaller version so he has scissors and a more agile blade handy for cutting bandages and patches.
Duct Tape ($5)
It’s strong, versatile, and has saved Theule in many a pinch. Use it to repair hard goods, cover blisters (if your moleskin runs out), and patch holes. Tip: Don’t bring a whole roll. Instead, tear 20 or so feet off and wrap it around a water bottle.
Hyperlite Small Roll-Top Stuff Sack ($36)
Theule organizes his repair kit in this sub-one-ounce bag. He likes the Hyperlite stuff sack because it’s ultralight and durable, but you can also get away with a normal nylon stuff sack like this one from Sea to Summit for less.
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