How to Repair Gaiters with Tenacious Tape and Seam Grip

How to Repair Gaiters withTenacious Tape and Seam Grip

If you do a lot of winter hiking in high gaiters, sooner or later, they’re going to get punctured by self-inflicted crampon strikes or get hung up on vegetation and torn. Many people repair them with duct tape when this happens, which works for a subset of repairs, but make it difficult to patch when new holes develop and leaves a sticky mesh if you try to remove it. It’s much better to use Tenacious Tape or a Urethane-based adhesive like Seam Grip for this type of repair.

High winter gaiters have two functions. The first is protection, mainly against self-inflicted crampon strikes, when you begin to fatigue and your foot placement becomes less accurate. The sharp spikes at the end of crampons can do a lot of damage to your ankles or shins if they’re not covered with thick protective fabric. The second is to keep your socks and lower legs dry and warm, by keeping the snow from sticking to your lower legs and pants and melting.

Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters
Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters have a thin waterproof/breathable upper half and a thick, puncture-resistant lower half to protect against crampons.

To accomplish this, most high gaiters have a thick cuff of durable fabric, like a high denier Cordura nylon, that covers the top of your foot and around your boots. Above that is a waterproof/breathable layer made with a much thinner material to help release calf perspiration, which can make your socks and lower legs cold and wet if it’s allowed to accumulate.

Tenacious Tape and Seam Grip

If you’re not familiar with Tenacious Tape, it’s a sticky tape, available in multiple colors, that’s sold as a roll, in sheets, or as individual patches. It’s a general-purpose fabric repair tape that’s great for repairing holes and rips in outdoor gear and clothing. It’s very flexible, so it can be used on clothing, but doesn’t leave a residue (like duct tape) if you decide to peel it off and send your gear off for a professional repair. It lasts a long, long time so there’s really no functional need to remove it if you don’t want to. I buy it by the roll because I use a lot of it every year to repair tents, tarps, sleeping bags, and quilts, backpacks, hard shells, raincoats, rain pants, etc.

Most fabric repairs can be made with Tenacious Tape and Seam Grip. Masking tape is useful for holding fabric tears together for repair.
Most fabric repairs can be made with Tenacious Tape and Seam Grip. Masking tape is useful for holding fabric tears together for repair.

Seam Grip is a urethane-based adhesive that comes in a tube and has the consistency of airplane model glue. Smells like it too. It’s also good for patching punctures, small tears, and torn seams because it has a rubber-like texture when it dries. You can also use it to reglue tent seam tape that is coming unstuck, reattach peeling boot soles, and for sealing seams on PU-coated tents and tarps.

A big rip in the waterproof:breathable upper.
(A) – big rip in the waterproof/breathable upper. This is a good candidate for tenacious tape because it’s a large hole and there’s just enough good fabric below the horizontal tear to get good cohesion.

Gaiter Rips and Punctures

Most of the rips and punctures in high gaiters occur in the upper waterproof/breathable part, either:

  • (A) high up in the thinner, breathable panels, or
  • (B) along a seam between thinner and thicker fabrics

A: Large Rip repaired using Tenacious Tape

I like to repair rips in the upper panels (location A) with Tenacious Tape since they’re often fairly large and there’s plenty of fabric adjacent to the rip to get good adhesive coverage. Patching tears near the boundary between the upper and lower fabrics is much trickier because Tenacious Tape can’t lie flush across the upper and lower fabrics. A liquid urethane patch like Seam-grip is much better because it can flow into the seam joining the two fabrics and because it stops tears from expanding.

For example, for the large tear above in (A), it made sense to patch the gaiter with Tenacious Tape on the inside and the outside to prevent it from leaking or expanding in size. You can also get a very strong patch if the tape on the inside and outside of a hole meet so the pieces stick to one another.

The tear is large enough that taping the inside and outside made sense.
The tear is large enough that taping the inside and outside made sense.

The nice thing about Tenacious Tape is that the repaired gear is useable immediately and you don’t have to wait for any glue to dry. I used clear tenacious tape for this repair because that’s what I had on hand, and I don’t really care how it looks. But as I said earlier, you can get tenacious tape in different colors if appearance is a concern.

B: Holes near seams/fabric boundaries repaired with Seam-Grip

Two smaller rips, both close to fabric boundaries
(B) Two smaller rips, both close to fabric boundaries

Here are two smaller punctures (B), one barely discernable at the tip of the Seam-Grip tube above and the other at the tip of the scissors below it. There’s very little space on the inside edge of these rips to get a tenacious tape page to adhere, so I used Seam Grip instead, applied to the outside of the gaiter only.

I simply flipped the gaiters over, lay them on a piece of cardboard to protect my floor, and applied a liquid patch straight from the tube to the small holes. They’re not the neatest patches, but they close the holes with a patch that can flex with the surrounding fabric while also preventing further tearing.

Seam Grip creates a flexible patch that can flex with the surrounding fabric.
(B) Seam Grip creates a flexible patch that can flex with the surrounding fabric.

Unlike Tenacious Tape, a Seam Grip patch must dry before use. I’d suggest hanging it up outdoors to dissipate the glue smell.

Wrap-Up

Winter hiking and backpacking gear is expensive, so it pays to patch and repair clothing that gets ripped up or punctured. The best time to repair an item is shortly after it’s been impacted so the tear or puncture doesn’t grow in size. Gaiters, in particular, are frequently damaged but warrant repair because they serve a protective function to keep your legs injury-free and drier on winter hikes. Products like Tenacious Tape and Seam Grip are two good products to have in your gear first aid kit at home. They’re simple to use, long-lasting and can be used to repair a wide range of clothing and gear.

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3 comments

  1. I did a “field repair” once by wrapping a velcro strap around my leg to keep snow out of the gaping 3 corner tear made by my MSR snowshoes. There was trail breaking in 2′ of snow, so I really needed them that day and the strap worked great as a temporary measure to keep snow out and keep from making the tear bigger.

    • Good reminder. I imagine that the idea of wrapping something up to hold it together until a better repair can be made goes back for millennia. I consider a small hank of nylon line to be one of the “ten” essentials, even though it doesn’t show up on lists that I’ve seen.

  2. There is a big difference between the clear & colored tape. I find the colored tape much superior as it is fabric where the clear is more plastic like. Also, cleaning the area w/ alcohol & rounding the corners off helps w/ longevity.

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