The Best Gear-Fix Products on the Market

Don't buy new stuff! Extend your old gear's life cycle!

By Megan Hill

March 1, 2019

Illustration of a woman hiking and snagging her coat on a tree branch

Illustrations by James Olstein 

We've all been there: Your buddy steps a cramponed boot through your tent fly. You snag and tear your favorite down puffy on a thorn. Or the waterproofing on your rain jacket goes kaput. But a gear fail shouldn't always lead to a new purchase. It's more economical, and more environmentally conscious, to repair your goods. Here's a look at some of the best gear-fix products on the market.

Black and teal illustration of a puffy jacket

A NOSO Puffy Patch is a stylish alternative to duct tape on that ripped down jacket, sleeping bag, or tent. Simply place one of the patches⎯which adhere to fabric better than tape and come in a variety of shapes, from stars to skulls to whales⎯over the tear and give the damaged item a spin in the dryer. $5 to $15,

Black and teal illustration of a zipper

Available in several sizes, FIXNZIP's Zipper Slider realigns teeth so you don't need to sew in a new zipper. The small tool works on watertight zippers found on wetsuits and waterproof gear; closed-end zippers on tents, pants, and backpacks; and open-end zippers on jackets and sleeping bags. $11,

Black and teal illustration of a spray can

NIKWAX's TX.Direct Wash-In restores the waterproofing on your rain gear. Apply it by hand or add it to a washing machine with the (clean) item you want to refresh. The product leaves a water-repellent finish that doesn't compromise breathability. The company makes a slew of similar products for non-machine-washable items. $13 for 10 oz.,

Black and teal illustration of a roll that is peeling

For sealing rips and holes in sleeping pads, tents, tarps, and rain gear, GEAR AID's Tenacious Tape is a standout among repair products. Available in clear, black, and four other colors, the tape is safe to put through the washer or dryer after 24 hours and, unlike duct tape, won't leave a sticky residue behind if removed. $5.25 for a 3" x 20" roll,

Black and teal illustration of a sewing kit

BEST GLIDE's ASE Survival Sewing and Repair Kit has darner needles, straight pins, heavy-duty nylon thread, a threader, a thimble, duct tape, a waterproof patch, zip ties, buttons, safety pins, and super-strength Kevlar thread, all packaged in a waterproof bag about the size of a smartphone. A lightweight folding knife helps finish the job. $14,

Black and teal illustration of a tube squeezing liquid on to the tear in a black rectangle.

GEAR AID's Seam Grip WP Sealer adds a waterproof, flexible seal to almost any type of fabric, including those most commonly used for tents, backpacks, and other gear: nylon, polyester, canvas, and vinyl. A one-ounce tube gets you up to 12 feet of sealant, which can also act as an adhesive. It dries clear and stands up to abrasion, so you can use it to reinforce the seams of tents, rain flies, and outerwear. Seam Grip tubes come with two brushes for easy application. $8,

Black and teal illustration of a tube squeezing gel on to the toe of a lace up boot.

SHOE GOO repair gel has long been a go-to for reattaching shoe soles and heels. The liquid adhesive works with flexible materials and forms a long-lasting bond. It creates a waterproof barrier, so the bond stays strong even when exposed to moisture. That means Shoe Goo works well for sealing rubber boots. You'll want to apply it in a well-ventilated area. $6 for 3.7 fl. oz.,

Black and teal illustration of a tent with a large patch on the side.

COGHLAN's Nylon Tent Repair Kit holds everything needed to fix every part of your tent, including two adhesive ripstop nylon patches, two mesh screen patches, two spools of nylon thread, three pole ferrules, and one piece of shock cord. It's all stored in a ziplock bag for easy transport on your next camping trip. $6,

Black and teal illustration of a patch covering a tear.

A TEAR-AID Repair Patch is an easy-to-apply solution for almost any rip. Type A patches stick to nylon, canvas, and neoprene, and Type B varieties are for vinyl and vinyl-coated products. These patches are clear, waterproof, elastic, high-heat tolerant, and long-lasting. Kits $10,

Black and teal illustration of a mattress with two patches.

Save a punctured inflatable bed from the dumpster with REI CO-OP's Sleeping Pad Repair Kit. It contains a tube of liquid adhesive, 20 circular adhesive patches, and 12 rectangular patches, both in various colors. To apply, inflate the sleeping pad and cover it with soapy water to find the leak. Then mark the spot, rinse the mat, allow it to dry, and apply the kit's adhesive to a small hole or a patch to a bigger tear. $7,

 This article appeared in the March/April 2019 edition with the headline "Second Life."