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How to Repair Mesh Backpack Pockets

Torn mesh pocket on a Montane Grand Tour 55 backpack
Torn mesh pocket on a Montane Grand Tour 55 backpack

I have torn holes in the side pockets of many backpacks, enough that I now ding manufacturers in product reviews that include them on backpacks because they’re not durable enough. External mesh pockets are nice to have, but the only “safe” place to put them so they don’t get ripped up is on the front of a backpack and not on the sides. Even then, you don’t want to hike off trail with any kind of external mesh pocket because it will get quickly shredded.

If you do tear a mesh pocket, it is important to repair it so the hole doesn’t grow larger and become too large to fix without sewing. This is very easy to do with Tenacious Tape, and only takes a few minutes, as I illustrate below.

Cut out two patches from a roll of Tenancious Tape
Cut out two patches from a roll of Tenacious Tape

If you’re not familiar with Tenacious Tape, it’s a very stick repair tape designs to repair outdoor gear and can be used to patch tents, stuff sacks, sleeping bag shells, and rain gear. You can buy it in circular pre-cut patches that are good to put in your gear repair kit or in a larger-sized roll form. It’s also available in different colors such as dark blue, black, orange, white, green, and transparent if you want a patch to blend in with the damaged material. I keep several rolls of Tenacious Tape in my gear repair drawer because I got through so much of it.

Tenacious Tape is also far better than using duct tape to repair an item because it doesn’t leave a sticky residue behind. If you rip a Gore-tex shell for example, you should definitely use Tenacious Tape if you plan to send the coat away for a professional repair.

A slice instead of a rounder puncture
A slice instead of a rounder puncture

Repair Instructions

Before you apply the Tenacious Tape, clean the mesh pocket with a damp cloth to remove any lingering dirt and let dry. Make sure to do this on the outside and inside of the hole.

If the hole is a slice (see above) instead of a circular puncture, trim the edges with a pair of scissors in order to create a rounder hole as shown below. You will be applying Tenacious Tape to the outside and inside of the hole so it sticks to itself, which creates a longer lasting patch.

Make the slice bigger and rounder
Make the slice bigger and roundish

Next cut out two circular shaped pieces of Tenacious Tape. You want the edges to be round because they’re less likely to catch on something and get pulled off.

Put a water bottle inside the pocket with a hole.

Peel the backing off one of the pieces of Tenacious Tape and apply it over the hole so it covers the edges completely. Some of the tape will stick to the plastic bottle in the pocket. Gently pull it away and remove the bottle.

Peel the backing off the second piece of Tenacious Tape and cover the hole from the inside of the pocket, so that the sticky part of the tape makes contact with the first piece of tape you put on the outside. Firmly press the two pieces of tape together.

The final two-sided patch
The final two-sided Tenacious Tape patch

Fini

That’s all there is to it! This process creates a patch that will prevent the hole from growing and which will withstand much future abuse. The backpack manufacturer who sell backpacks with side mesh pockets should include a package of Tenacious Tape with each new pack sold.

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4 comments

  1. You’d think for the amount of money we pay for Backpacks that they would be made of some superior material because the Manufacturers know they are going to see some rough use. And go figure as to why the Backpacks are not made with a waterproof material..by the way all fabrics no matter what they are made of per Gooberment Definition is water repellent even mesh because it does repel water to some extent…But I do not have this problem I refuse to buy packs made with mesh or weak material in this area..Solves all the problems of needing to learn how to repair them right there.. But one does catch the material on pointy things along the trail and especailly when Desert Hiking, so this is something good to know just in case..thanks for sharing.

    • There are really two factors at play when it comes to waterproofing. There’s the fabric and then there are sewn seams. While some backpack fabrics are effectively waterproof, they all leak at the seams because they’re not seam taped. Anywhere you have a needle and thread running through a fabric, you will get a leak.

      Like you, the best way to avoid the problem of torn side mesh pockets is to buy packs that have solid panels over the pockets instead. I complained about this durability issue for years to Gossamer Gear and they did something about last year – replacing the side mesh pocket’s on their packs with solid dyneema panels – they are bomber – even off trail.

  2. Do you have a problem with peeling edges? I put a bead of aquaseal around the tenacious tape patches on the floor of my Alpaca.

    • Sometimes if I cut the patch too wide beyond the sides of the hole. It depends on the weave of the mesh. Normally, I just trim the excess off and that’s that. But I suppose seam grip would help strengthen the edges too.

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