Home / Backpacking Skills / Gear Repair and Maintenance / What Backpacking Gear have you Damaged or Destroyed?

What Backpacking Gear have you Damaged or Destroyed?

The problem with mesh side pockets is that they are easy to tear. Montane Grand Tour 55 Backpack.
The problem with mesh side pockets is that they are easy to tear. Montane Grand Tour 55 Backpack.

Describe a piece of hiking gear or hiking clothing that you damaged, destroyed or wore out this year, including what it was, the circumstances leading to its demise, whether you plan to repair or replace it, and if the latter with what.

Here are a few examples:

Damaged: I tore a hole in the upper arm of my Patagonia R1 Fleece Pullover this spring on a bushwhack. I plan on sewing up the hole eventually, but it hasn’t grown in size since then, so I’m not in a rush to repair it.

Destroyed: The waterproof zipper on my EMS Helix Ascent Hard Shell Jacket fell apart when I was unzipping it and a section of the teeth fell out. I took it back to EMS and they replaced the coat with the 2012 model of the same coat, which is made out of a better shell material than the previous one I owned.

Worn Out: I finally wore a hole in the butt of my full-zip Marmot Precip Rain Pants this year after wearing them for 4 maybe 5 years, and they’ve started to leak when it’s raining. These pants are already patched all over with duct tape and sewn together in places, but my friend Pam told me of a way to repair them with silicone sealer, which I think I’ll try.  If that doesn’t work, I’ll probably just buy another pair of full-zip Precip pants to replace them with since they’re not expensive and a good value.

Please leave a comment.


  1. Wore out: 2001 Columbia OmniTech Rain Jacket. This thing had never let so much as a drop through, but during the last major rain event I subjected it to… it was like condensation built up through the entire thing. I couldn’t find a seam to seal, so I think maybe the fabric just gave up. Admittedly, the older it’s gotten, the less reluctant I’ve been to washing it. I plan on replacing it with something lighter… but I’m not too light. I’ve grow accustomed to its durability and ability to pair with a fleece. I just realized “system failure” had been reached, so I’m beginning the research phase of the process – admittedly, I’ll enjoy the process as I haven’t been able to do it for over 10 years. I got this brand new in 2001, at a pricetag of $110+. At the time I had just heard of OmniTech, and the jacket felt solid. So, I told myself that if I got 5 years out of it, I’d be happy. It’s not the lightest jacket on the planet, but it was packable, and had a visor built into the hood – two things I wanted at the time. It was my only spring/summer jacket durring that time period, and in the fall I’d pair with a fleece. Well, 11 years later, I can say it was a stellar purchase. As soon as I pick up something else, I’ll “retire” this to storage compartment on the CRV. It’s still perfect for everything… but wet weather :)

  2. Tore a hole in my REI rain jacket on a bush whack to Bear Pond. Repaired it with duct tape in the field and later with Tentious Tape.

  3. I only have been recreational backpacking for a few years and was bummed that I had not damaged, wore-out, or destroyed any gear yet and would not be able to enter the raffle. But yeah, last night my Neo Air sprung a leak and I got to sleep flat on the ground!

    I received my long Neo Air when they first came out and have loved it, but this summer I noticed that I would wake with less air, sometimes would give it a few extra puffs in the middle of the night if I was side sleeping. But Saturday night, it was not holding any air. I do not have a clue why the full out leak now. I have been using a bag to inflate lately instead of blowing it up by mouth – maybe the more forceful push of air?? Anyway, not for sure what I will do. I may modify my Mt.Washington foam pad, so I can fold it and go back to using that, while I send my Neo-Air in for repair to try to patch myself. Or I may look at the newer All Season Neo Air.

    Funny the timing of the fail this weekend, for I was trying for the first time to sleep in my floorless shelter to see if I could handle sleeping so close to nature. I just had to laugh how close I got to be.

    Thanks for a great site!

  4. Damaged: Terra Nova Laser 35L pack. The side compression cords got tore out from its holes. Very disappointed with this as it was a brand new pack and i was just starting to use it. The material to hold that cords was too thin. No longer used that pack and now i am back to use my old pack, Golite Jam, or my newest one, GG Murmur 2012.

  5. Destroyed: a Trangia alcohol burner. Yes, it is hard to do, which is why (along with weight, economy, simplicity, safety and reliability) I use one in the first place. But temperatures unexpectedly went to freezing, and I didn’t tuck the cup into my sleeping bag as I usually do in the cold. In the morning, I reached out of the warm tent from my warm sleeping bag and lit the stove without even a thought that preheating/priming might be required. And the cup split, a hairline crack down one side. No worries, really, the Trangia aluminum windscreen/stand held any leaking fuel, I just had a larger flame burning more fuel (at $4 per litre, I might have lost a dime). But the simple extinguishing method of dropping the closed simmer ring on top wasn’t going to put it out, and I couldn’t use the screwcap on the burner to save unused fuel afterwards. Which left it behaving like a homemade alky stove, I guess. I used it like that for the remaining two days, but I’ll replace it. Cost: $13.50 Canadian.

  6. My REI Half Dome tent was bent in half (or nearly so) by 50+ MPH sustained winds (for a few hours) at Green Mountain Reservoir in Colorado. Luckily, REI is good on its return policies. I returned it and invested the funds in a Hammock setup that I’ve been wanting to try for quite a while (which is working out great).

    Luckily, the Old Town canoe I pulled up on shore during the wind storm survived being tossed up the beach about 200 yards by the wind, spiraling end-over-end in mid air. That was quite the sight to see!

    RIP Half Dome.

  7. Worn out: After MANY miles hiking and bushwhacking, my Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra 2 trail runners recently gave up the fight. The soles are separating from both shoes and there is zero tred on them anymore. They’re the best hiking shoes I’ve ever owned (never a blister in those shoes).

  8. I ripped up the leg of my REI Sahara pants when I was walking off trail earlier this summer. Walked through some thick vines with thorns on them. I was fortunate that the pants were the only thing on my lower half that got ripped up. My arms didn’t fare so well. I was wearing a t-shirt so my skin got scratched up quite a bit. Ouch. Next time I’m bringing a machete! I really like these pants, so I’ll probably get whatever direct replacement there is for them.

  9. While hiking the VT 4000 footers not too long ago, I finally wore out the stirrup strap on my REI Trail Gaiters. I had them nearly two years, and obviously put a lot of use into them through each of the seasons. The strap is probably easily repairable, and I’m sure REI would do me good if I wanted to try, but I’m still satisfied with the quality and value in the purchase, considering the affordability of this basic gaiter from REI. I will not put the time into repairing the item, but hope to pick up a durable winter-use gaiter as well as a short gaiter for 3-season use. I think I will shift towards using a shorter gaiter more often anyways.

  10. Destroyed a Mountain Hardwear Fluid 18 pack during a January fastpack of the AT section through Shenandoah NP. I didn’t overweight the pack, but definitely had it packed full. The lightweight nylon across the top at the main compartment tore away from the seam. Bottom line is I turned it into an open top bag with no way to close it by the last day. Thank you MH for replacing in short order and standing behind your goods. Thank you hefty for making trash bags to cover torn packs!

  11. Seam tore on old Walrus 360 tent. Need to either sew or find new tent. It was too heavy, anyway

  12. Damaged: I blew out the seam of my Alpacka Inflation Bag on my first outing. It was easy to repair with a sewing machine, but was a little disappointing considering the price.

  13. Pre-damaged: I hiked the Adirondacks with an REI Chrysalis tent that was produced with one too many links in its structural frame, causing the tent to list. It tipped so badly that I rolled in it and crushed the frame. Do you know that REI replaced it without batting an eye? Now I have an even steven tent to take with me next time I hike the Northville-Placid Trail.

  14. Gear: Montane Lightspeed Jacket

    My go to three season wind and light rain jacket for the Sierra Nevada Mountains around Lake Tahoe. Take it on every day hike, climb and backpacking trip as it packs up smaller than an apple and after 5 years is still pretty waterproof.

    Issue: Blew the zipper pull last spring, no zipper damage, the pull just came apart.

    Initial Solution: Emailed Montane in England for new zipper pull. Fantastic service and it showed up in two weeks….. problem, no pull in envelope, some jerk off had ripped the envelope and taken the pull. Called them again, same thing happened. Gave up.

    Final Solution: Dug through my mother in laws sewing supplies and found a tiny zipper pull, undid the top of the zipper, install new pull, add a little thread and some super glue and it is good as new.

    Follow up: Repaired jacket has another 25 days on it with no issues.

    I bought two more off ebay just in case.st in case.

    Thanks for the consideration.


  15. I ripped the front pocket off a Columbia hiking shirt when I caught it on the forward push of a two-man saw while cutting trees of the trail this summer. I didn’t much like that shirt anyway, since the billowing pockets had just a tiny piece of velcro to hold them shut. I had lost my favorite pair of eyeglasses early in the summer when they fell out of that pocket unnoticed.

  16. I left a mixture of Gatorade and water in my bladder for a two weeks, and when I went to go clean it out it was mold stained on the inside :(

  17. Garmont trail shoes – The front toe bumper separated from the shoe upper, so they now let water in. Not great in my main winter shoe. I duct taped them when it happened, on day 1 of a 3 day trip and reapplied some a couple times a day. I won’t get another pair, they lasted 2 years at most, not drable enough for what little use they got.

  18. Khris,

    That’s why you need to take a pee every now and then…

  19. Damaged: I have the bad habit of picking up my Go-Lite Quest pack by the lid instead of the shoulder or lift straps. While hiking on the AT in MA this summer, I went to pick it up and my hand pushed through the seam that joins the main pack body to the extension collar. It’s far less waterproof now and will only get worse until I repair it, which I do intend to do.

  20. Worn out:
    I’ve owned a pair of Merrell Blade (birch/yellow) for a few years now however I’ve only put maybe a 70 miles on them. It’s really unfortunate that it’s so few mile because I like them a lot. I love all but two things about them. For one they are a bit snugger in the toe pocket then I like but I never wear wool socks and liners with them so it’s manageable. The second, and most disappointing, is how fast the soles wear out. I bought them to be my quick day hike shoes. Quick day hikes often have mixed trail surfaces, some paved, some gravel, and some dirt. The Blade’s soft sole material provides great traction on all surfaces but just cannot stand up to the wear and tear of pavement.

  21. Damaged: I tore the extension collar on my REI flash 30 backpack that I use for overnighters. The extension tore at the seam where it joins the main compartment. This was due to me gripping the extension collar while stuffing in my sleeping bag into the pack. Guess I should have held it by the shoulder straps or haul strap while stuffing. REI replaced it with a brand new one.