Gear Aid’s Outdoor Sewing Kit is a great hiking and backpacking sewing kit if you already know how to sew. While it includes an “Expert Repair Guide”, McNett’s claim that “anybody is going to be able to make a sewing repair even if you’ve never picked up a needle” is patently false. I couldn’t repair a blown pant seam or a ripped pant knee using the instructions included in this kit and my in-house consultant, an expert sewer, agrees that they’re incomplete.
That’s disappointing because I think there’s an expectation made that a novice sewer can pack this sewing kit on a hiking or camping trip and use it to repair a blown seam or rip during a trip. Before heading out into the field, you will want to spend an hour with a friend or relative who sews, and practice making a complete repair before you try to do it on your own in the field.
Outdoor Sewing Kit Contents
Gear Aid’s Outdoor Sewing Kit contains:
- #30 Coyote Button x 2
- Black Nylon Thread (5 yards)
- #16 Chenille Sewing Needles x 4
- Seam Ripper
- Straight pins x 3
- Safety Pins x 2
- Orange plastic carry tube
- Expert Repair Guide
This is a good collection of sewing tools. Is it worth $8 bucks? It might be. simply in terms of convenience, if you don’t have spares in your home sewing and gear repair kit already .
The problem with the “Expert Gear Repair” included with the kit it doesn’t include complete end-to-end instructions for making a simple repair. While there are instructions for how to rip a seam, thread a needle and make a running stitch, there aren’t any for using the pins to stage a repair, or how to tie of a knot at the end, so your sewing job doesn’t unravel immediately. Maybe that’s obvious, but I sure as hell don’t know how to do it and I’m glad I decided to practice with this kit at home before discovering how clueless I am about sewing in advance.
Disclosure: McNett Gear Aid provided Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) with a sample Outdoor Sewing Kit for this review.SectionHiker is reader-supported. We only make money if you purchase a product through our affiliate links. Help us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides.
At least half that stuff is unnecessary! My repair kit: (1) Needle with large enough eye that I can easily thread dental floss from my toilet articles (needle also does double duty to remove slivers). (2) A couple of large safety pins (when I was growing up, these were called “Wyoming buttons”). (3) A small amount of Tenacious Tape. (4) One patch from patch kit for my air pad. The straight pins are useless—they’re only for holding items together while you’re sewing, and small pieces of duct tape can be used for that. A pebble can substitute for a thimble if you can’t push the needle through the fabric. Pocket knife is used for cutting. I don’t use a seam ripper even for home sewing!
I’m not so down on these little kits. Last year I lead a group of 8 inexperienced hikers into the woods for an overnight in Maine. Some of the gear they brought could be considered artifacts. I ran down to REI and grabbed a kit similar to this to repair a rip on an old pack and a rip in someone’s sleeping bag.
The kit I bought included a patch, so after I sewed the pack I applied the patch to make it “Water resistant.” The repairs have lasted and for how infrequently these guys use the gear it made a lot more sense than buying something new.
I think these are worthwhile to have around the house. I haven’t had to use it on my own gear, but it does an adequate job.
I’m mainly down on the claim that anyone canuse their guide to make a repair – NOT! False advertising or poor product marketing. Whichever.
I was just looking over my sewing kit this morning. This kit looks nice, but has way more than I need. I have 2 needles, a roll of thread, and 4 safety pins.
If the sewing guide had actually been complete that might have made the kit worth the $8. I frequently try to sew something and quickly realize its been too long since the last time and I need a refresher.
Point well taken about not being useful without knowledge (and practice probably). Having been taught all that by mom so long ago that I forget when, I wouldn’t have considered that people weren’t born knowing how to sew!
But if you think about it, there is relatively little in a well thought out backpacking kit that doesn’t require (or at least greatly benefit from) practiced skills (try sending a newbie on an overnight camping trip with a wood burning cook stove).
Regarding the kit’s contents, it is not without merit but still hardly adequate when it comes to repairs like a blown out pack or sandal strap.
A much more adequate kit used to be available, google “chouinard expedition sewing kit” to see info about it. Patagonia has recently (2013?) started selling a version of that, replace chouinard with patagonia in the above search string
I recently added two shoulder straps, one to each side of my day pack because it was cutting into my shoulders on longer AT section hikes. I used heavy duty nylon thread and a large needle suited to work with the thread. So far the double padding stitch work is holding up well.
When I run the thread through the material, I always make sure that it hasn’t bunched up on the back side. I often surprise myself on how well the sewing holds up after years of hard use.
$8. and you ask if it is overpriced? LMAO..You can put together a kit like that from the average American home for less than $1.00. In the Marine Corps we used to call it a “Housewife”. But seriously if you are going to put one together do NOT use Cotton thread and take a good solid look at your clothing and equipment, those buttons in the picture are for Military BDU’s not civilian clothing. So what you need to do is match the buttons on your hiking clothing with some spares, and generally you can find bowls full of buttons at Swap Meets or Flea Markets..What I did for mine was to buy a small bobbin of very Strong Polyester thread for $1.50 at Hobby Lobby. I’ve used Dental Floss in the past and well, not good, but good in emergencies and if your headed home that day..Check with the nice sales Lady if you do not know anything about Thread, their are different strengths, I went for the strongest and you do not have to buy those Large Bobbins but the smaller ones. Generally every one has a home sewing kit or their Mother does, and I raided it.. I carry Four Needles in Different sizes. 4 Safety pins in two different sizes. You can use your Victorinox Classic pocket knife for Seam Ripper which also contains a pair of scissors which can do the same job as a seam ripper and also has, tweezers for pulling tiny thread ends since usually your fingernails should be trimmed low so they do not break or shatter or split from activities on the trail..If you sharpen the end of the toothpick from the CLassic Knife, a bit more you can make a small hole punch or sharpen a piece of downed wood especially a hardwood like Oak….I store it all in a small plastic Medication bottle along with my emergency fishing kit and a couple of spare strike anywhere matches..$8 no way…
Yep. This skill is needed just like a little first aid training imo.
Thanks for posting this. I don’t think I’d actually purchase a repair kit like this one because I’m pretty crafty and have most of this stuff already. However, this was a good reminder to actually pack a repair kit! I’ve been really lucky (so far) while hiking and backpacking but I’m sure they day will come when I need to make a repair on the trail. Thanks again!
Great topic. I carry my own version of a sewing kit which is two needles, two types of thread. I have other things that are type specific to clothing and gear. Things could be worse, but carrying your pack with only one shoulder strap or a breeze blowing via a giant hole in your pants can turn a trip upside down.
A sewing kit a must have to keep the adventure moving in the right direction.
I carry locking safety pins. Work like a dream when pinning the shoulder pads back to a pack.
No need to buy a kit like this. I made one from a few items I scrounged from my wife’s sewing kit at home.
My sewing kit is a roll of strong nylon thread and a heavy needle. I do carry some locking safety pins (diaper pins). My Leatherman has pliers that I can use to push the needle through heavy material, and scissors to cut the thread.
I’ve always carried a sewing kit but only had to use it one time. My son sat down heavily on his pack and burst a main seam down the side of the pack. The seam separation became pretty long and I had to repair it in the field. I can’t sew either but I made a running stitch that seemed to work pretty well.
Yeah, but then you need to get married first. What if they don’t have a wife?
Good point, Philip. In that situation, the person should either:
1) Go to Walmart and get what they need, or
2) Get married.