My job has me taking on a lot of adventures with steep learning curves. For example, my first mixed climbing outing was on a trip in Chamonix, France, in the winter of 2012. I was just getting my feet under me using crampons on rock when a guide asked me about my experience with exposure to big drops. I said I’d been tied into ropes a hundred or so feet up before. He giggled as we swung around a ledge above a thousand-foot abyss.
While I held it together (for the most part), I ended up practically destroying my fancy Patagonia Alpine Guidelite pants because I wasn’t minding my crampons. Après, over beers and popcorn, my guide looked down and said, “Holy shit, you really shredded those things!” I was soon surrounded by about 20 climbers marveling at the multiple 12-inch tears in my pants. That evening, one quietly brought a roll of Gear Aid Tenacious Tape ($5) up to my room and told me that a solid application on both sides of each tear would fix it right up. I keep a roll in the repair box in my garage to this day.
It feels almost blasphemous to write, but sometimes duct tape just doesn’t cut it. Lindsey Stone, former repairs manager for Rainy Pass Repairs (a Seattle shop that fixes up thousands of pieces of technical gear each year), backs me up. “You don’t want to make any permanent repairs with duct tape because after a while it becomes gooey and leaves a sticky residue,” Stone said when I interviewed her in May of 2016. Machine-washable Tenacious Tape has a stronger structure and glue than duct tape, making it better for long-term repairs. Plus, you can remove or reposition it within 24 hours without leaving a gunky strip where it used to be.
Those same qualities make the tape a far better choice for repairs in the field. I interviewed triple-crown through-hiker Sam Theule not long after he finished the Continental Divide Trail in 2016, and he said it was Tenacious Tape, not duct tape, that was invaluable on his trip. One day during his journey, with about 500 miles to go, he decided to stay in his sleeping bag for warmth while hopping around a rocky campsite. He looked down to see feathers spilling onto the ground through the tears in the footbox. It looked like Theule’s bag was toast, but he patched it up with Tenacious Tape. It lasted the remaining 500 miles of his trek.
Finally, Tenacious Tape lasts an exceptionally long time. Patagonia doesn’t make the Alpine Guidelite Pants anymore, so if I can’t fix them up I’m out of luck. But I haven’t had to replace those Tenacious Tape patches I made in Chamonix in the past six years, and I’m betting they should be good for another six to come.