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What’s in My Gear Repair Kit?

Backpacking Gear Repair Kit
Backpacking Gear Repair Kit

I had a reader ask, “what’s in your gear repair kit?” after I went through all of the gear repair supplies I use to maintain and repair backpacking gear at home.

Here’s what I carry in my gear repair kit on every trip in the autumn and winter when the days are shorter. It’s really very little.

  • 4 Spare lithium AAA batteries for my SPOT Gen 3 Satellite Messenger
  • 4 Spare lithium AA batteries for my Black Diamond Icon Headlamp
  • A spare and charged lithium rechareable camera battery
  • A backup 16 GB memory card for my camera
  • A lens cleaning cloth for my digital camera
  • A second Suunto M3 declination adjustable compass
  • A small roll of duct tape
  • A locking safety pin

In spring and summer, I switch out the Black Diamond Icon headlamp and spare batteries and replace them a pair of Petzl e+Lite headlamps with two extra CR2032 Lithium coin batteries.

Lest you think I’m paranoid about running out of battery power, I do periodically have to change batteries on all of my devices. Most of them have battery meters so I can tell when they’re getting low, thereby avoiding battery changes in the dark.

A spare compass? I have lost one off-trail and it was not a fun experience. I often loan the spare to friends who hike off-trail with me, but I do like having two compass with me on all hikes because I rely on them so much.

Out of curiosity, I went back to a post I wrote in 2011 about my gear repair kit then, and here’s what I carried at the time. It’s quite similar and it’s not very much…

Spare Boot Lace6
10' Roll of Duct Tape38
2 Lithium AA Batteries30
2 CR2032 Batteries6
REI Emergency Matches in WP Bottle18
6 Aqua Mira Water Purification Tablets2
6 Plastic Cable Ties4
6 Rubber Bands4
4 Safety Pins4
Needle and Thread1
Ziplock bag1
total weight in oz.4

Since then, I’ve stopped carrying a lot of the extra fasteners because I just don’t need them. and I can’t sew worth a damn, so I’ve stopped carrying a needle and thread. I don’t carry matches anymore and use a fire steel w/ vaseline covered cotton balls to ignite gas or light wood fires because they’re super reliable; and I’ve since switched to liquid Aqua Mira for bulk purification (I use a Sawyer filter during the day) because I have to resupply it less frequently than tablets.



  1. Interesting that you take relatively little – sometimes I feel mentally (and literally!) weighed down with ‘what if’ items… Have you any experience with Sugru? I’ve heard its great for repairs.

  2. When I carry a old Powerade bottle as my second water container, I carry an extra cap (lost one while in Zion…no bueno).

  3. I’m surprised you don’t include the .25oz superglue tubes. So useful for gear repair and liquid sutures in a medical emergency.

    • I always carry a small super glue tube with me. You can buy a half dozen of them for about two bucks at many places. That tube of glue has come in handy many times.

  4. It’s hard to even call what you carry a repair kit. Compass is a 10 essentials (even a spare), and the electronics stuff get’s categorized differently in my book – not quite a consumable because you bring it home, but almost like spare fuel canister – which I doubt you would call a repair kit item. You could definitely be a poster boy for duct tape. That plus a safety pin appears to be all you need, and I respect that you get out often and go off trail.

    I also appreciate that I have been carrying needle and thread, some tougher (waxed?) twine, I think I have a small piece of wire and a shoe lace. I also have duct and tenacious tape, and even a piece of cuben tape. What have I ever used? Duct tape. As a hammock camper I also carry some spare suspension lines, recently switching to mule tape.

    It got me thinking about what I would really need to “repair.” If my tarp is leaking I’ll want to fix that quickly. If my tarp or hammock suspensions fail, it would be nice to fix that. If my pack strap fails – need to rig something up fast. I’ve been carrying simple alcohol or esbit stoves, so no repair kit for that. I do carry a small multi-tool in addition to my primary folding knife, so that could be considered a repair item.

    • it comes down to what have I ever used. I use the duct tape rarely, but it’s good for short term repairs to shells, tarps, and footware. That safety pin has also served me well for pining a shoulder strap back on a pack and for catastrophic zipper blowouts. Like you, I mainly carry esbit or wood so stove repairs are unnecessary. I carry very little else that can fail in such a way that would compromise my safety given that I’m seldom 1-2 days away from “civilization”,

      I can understand your perspective re: electronics, but I still consider backup batteries as a repair item, at least as far as my packing scheme goes.

      • As a regular reader, I suggest you carry as many batteries and cleaning clothes as you need to keep the photos and reports coming!

        We’ve been having this discussion lately with other scout troop leaders (adults), about how packing your insecurities can really weigh you down (literally). Some items deserve a backup and an asst. scoutmaster would never scoff at a spare compass or other survival items like a mylar blanket, a good first aid kit, maybe two forms of fire-making. These are part of being prepared.

        Packing schemes or at least how you classify items are a whole ‘nuther conversation. I think there is a good BPL series just starting on that. However you want to group items in your garage or in your pack, PYOP. I’m constantly tweaking my just so I can quickly decide what I want to take, quickly gather it, and not forget something I need. When everything was unorganized throughout the house, I found I had too much time to think about thinks I might (but really didn’t) need, and often left something important at home.

  5. Although not part of your ‘kit’ per se, what multi-tool or knife do you carry to assist with repairs?

  6. I’ve also been carrying an almost empty tube of Shoe Goo but I might look for a small tube of contact cement if I can find one. Shoe Goo takes a while to dry whereas fixing something with contact cement is quicker.

    I thought of the tube of contact cement while repairing a set of cleats this week. I had glued the sole back on with Shoe Goo in the past but it came off again. After a web search of shoe repair, I decided to try contact cement. I’ll find out this weekend how well the repair worked.

    I have torn the sole off a hiking boots a couple times and had to duct tape the sole back in place to finish the hike. I used Shoe Goo at home to glue the sole back on but contact cement might allow a better in the field repair. Of course, since I switched to trail runners, I haven’t ripped any soles off.

  7. As far as rubber bands are concerned, I’ve taken to carrying a few of the elastic bands used to put hair in a pony tail. They have a woven cover and multiple interior elastic bands. They weigh next to nothing and are much more durable than rubber bands.

  8. Best not to keep the compass with the battries as it can effect the polarity.

    • So, that’s something I have often wondered about… Just how much does a battery or a firesteel or iPhone or my knife or any type of metal affect a compass? I know that if I bring one of these close to the compass it effects the baring, but how permanent could long term proximity ( in the same pocket or pouch) be a on a compass? Would a button compass be more affected than a larger compass?

      Please excuse my grammar. “Affect and effect” are hard concepts for my primate noggin’

  9. I customize my Repair kit before each trip so there is no set list.. I spread everything out on the Floor and then take a long look at everything to see which item may break, and what I need to fix the breakage. First is the Pack Frame, age of the Pack, and how many trips it has been on. For my 50th Anniversary Kelty Frame Pack, I add extra Pins and a Short Roll of Duct tape in case the Pack rips, by itself or gets caught on something, same for the Osprey Kestrel…… Next are the Pot Lids, if the little Top tabs come off how can I repair that or work around it. Are they attached with screws of Rivets? Next is the Sno-Peak Stove, the more complicated the stove, the higher chance of needing repair so I bought the one without the automatic lighter… So right off I need a Flame source to start the stove. What kind of ignition source and is it foolproof and reliable. So I went back to Strike anywhere Matches with a backup of REI Waterproof Matches after I had two of those Plastic Lighters fail… Next was the Sno-Peak Lantern, I added extra Mantles to the repair kit and again bought the kind of Lantern you light with a match. Next was my Fishing Reels which have a number of moving parts relying on screws, so from a couple old reels I cannibalized some parts..I also took the Reels apart and put them back together using “Loc-Tight” to set the screws. I also added special glue to glue the Rod back together should it break and an extra top Eyelet.. .Next on my list was Tools…What tools do I need to fix the Pack, Stove, Lantern, and Reels should the need arise.. Well that is when I found the Victorinox “Work Champ” some 15 years ago, which is different Model than their regular “Champs” with 101 tools, the “Work Champ” has a non-slip grip handle and has a 3.5 inch Locking main Blade, both of which are very important to me,,Phillips Head screwdrivers, small and large, Flat head Screwdrivers small and large, Useable Pliers, (which can be used to remove hot Pot lids, should the lid tabs break off) Scissors, Wood Saw, Metal File, Metal Saw, Can opener, Bottle Opener, Cork Screw, Tweezers, Toothpick and Reamer.., Plus a Lanyard which I tied a Trip Tease glow in the dark cord to….All the tools I need to fix things..(If the Work Champ had a Fish Scaler and a Magnifying glass it would be perfect for me, but Victorinox will not customize it for me as I asked) . So my base list consists of: Spare Batteries for Petzel Tikka II and Spot Global Messenger, Two Needles, one Curved and 20 feet of the toughest Black Nylon thread they make which also can be sterilized and used to Sew up gaping wounds using the Curved Needle… Two Buttons one small one large which match my Shirts and Pants, 10 feet Duct Tape, 2 feet of Bailing Wire, a 2 inch wide 20x Magnifying glass, very small tube of Super Glue. Other items may also be found in the First Aid Kit, Safety Pins for example and Waterproof Matches. Also the 6 lb test Fishing line on the Reels have many uses..Other items as needed or substracted

  10. Had a chuckle at the following:

    Ziplock bag – 1 gram

    Then I wondered how many grams I carry. I ziplock everything and ziplock those is a larger ziplock.


  11. I have a mesh fiber towel bag in which I have “Dimp” insect repellent, a small bottle of sun screen, a micro multi tool, 2 meters of para cord, 3 Opsite medical dressings, 2 Panadol tabs, 2 AA batteries and a small roll of Duct Tape. This is OK for day, overnights and three day trips; for longer trips I add a flint and steel, fire starter, a small bottle of household bleach for purifying water (2 drops per liter), surgical needles and sutures x 2 plus 2 field dressings. This plus a good folding hunting knife handles emergencies that crop up on the track or trail in my experience.

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