060: FIX: The Gear Maintenance and Repair Episode

Show Notes: Episode 060

Today on The First 40 Miles, if you’re scared to take your brand new gear out into the rough and wild wilderness because you think it might get damaged, have no fear! This episode is dedicated to making sure your gear stays in top form, regardless of the elements. You’ll learn the top 5 things you can do when good gear goes bad. Then, the SUMMIT Gear Review turns into the SUMMIT Gear Hospital, as we search and rescue gear that has flatlined. On the Backpack Hack of the Week, learn the critical pieces of a DIY Custom Repair Kit.


What better thing to do in the winter than gear repair and maintenance!

You may not be getting out as much, but that means you have a little extra time to finish your taxes and spend some quality time with your gear—even if it’s indoors

  • Knife sharpening and maintenance (WD-40 and sharpening stone)
  • Check your warranties
  • Check to see if your clothing fits (good to do with kids clothing)
  • Determine if your gear still meets your needs (bigger or smaller tent?)
  • Do a once over on your gear (sniff test, pocket shake out, airing out gear)
  • Has gear been solarproofed or waterproofed? It will extend life of gear!

Top 5 Things to Do When Good Gear Goes Bad


  • Sometimes, gear isn’t necessarily faulty, it’s just that maybe the learning curve is higher than what we expected. In this case it helps to READ.
  • This includes reading the instructions that came with your gear. Or, in some cases, getting on a backpacking forum to see if anyone else has had the same issue.
  • Maybe the issue you’re experiencing is normal—maybe it’s not.


  • Retailer: If you’ve just opened your new stove and there is a part missing, take your receipt and head back to the store. This works for recent purchases where the item has never been used. If it has been used, and you’re not sure if the gear is working the way it should, so ahead and go to the retailer with your receipt and find out.
  • Manufacturer: Tell them the story, and be very polite.


  • If you purchased a piece of gear years ago and you’re just itching to try something with a few more upgrades, then it’s time to replace it


  • Sometimes, no matter how old a piece of gear is, it’s been such a great friend along the trail that the best option is to repair it.
  • Patagonia Worn Wear


  • If you’ve had an experience with a brand, or a piece of gear, share your story. It will help others to make informed decisions.
  • SmartWool purchase and great customer service
  • Enlightened Equipment, great gear and great customer service

SUMMIT Gear Hospital™: Gear Maintenance and Repair

Horrible Smell

  • Gear Aid MiraZyme (a microbial digestant)
  • So safe it can be used on pets and people
  • Gets rid of a HUGE laundry list of smells
  • You can add it to your washing machine, dip it in a solution or spray it on

Mattress/Pad Puncture

  • Inflatable pads come with a patch kit
  • Looks like a throw away freebie (kind of like the free button that comes with shirts)
  • Do not throw it away!
  • Put it directly into your ten essentials or keep it in the stuff sack with your inflatable pad.

Zipper Fail

  • Long term/short term fixes
  • Take a $200 down puffy with a faulty zipper and all of a sudden you have a pit in your stomach!
  • FixnZip
  • How to Use (FixnZip Channel on YouTube)


  • Abrasions on the bottom of your pack, knee scuffs on your hiking pants, a minor tear in your down quilt, mouse holes, snagged mesh…
  • Gear Aid Tenacious Tape Clear Repair Tape
  • On pack/tent/sleeping bags/clothing (incl. technical fabrics)
  • “Better than duct tape”—adhesive strengthens over time
  • Washable and removable (without the adhesive ghosting)
  • Also can be used to wax your eyebrows and that embarrassing upper lip hair…
  • Comes in a small plastic tube shaped like a bolt
  • Tenacious Tape Clear Repair Tape is a must have—and we’ll explain why later in today’s BPHOTW!

Waterproofing and Solarproofing

  • Gear’s greatest enemy isn’t a bear, or even dirt—it’s the sun!
  • Sun can age and disintegrate clothing, umbrellas, tents, and packs.
  • Nikwax Tent and Gear Solarproof
  • Spray-on waterproofing
  • UV blocker for all synthetic textiles
  • So easy to use

Backpack Hack of the Week™: DIY Custom Repair Kit

  • One package of Tenacious Tape Clear Repair Tape
  • 1/4 ounce tube of Gear Aid Seam Grip
  • Needle (I keep an embroidery needle in my kit because it is thicker so I can use it to poke through webbing straps or layers of material, and it has a larger eye for easy threading)
  • Dental Floss about 3 feet, threaded through the needle
  • A Diaper Pin: They don’t rust, they are safer than cheap ol’ safety pins

Everything fits in the Clear Repair Tape container and screws shut (with virtually no risk of being bumped open) and stays clean, safe and ready to use.

Trail Wisdom

“People need immediate places to refresh, reinvent themselves. Our surroundings, built and natural alike, have an immediate and a continuing effect on the way we feel and act, and on our health and intelligence. These places have an impact on our sense of self, our sense of safety, the kind of work we get done, the ways we interact with other people, even our ability to function as citizens in a democracy. In short, the places where we spend our time affect the people we are and can become. – Tony Hiss