I wear a pair of Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters in winter to keep snow out of my mountaineering boots and to provide some protection for my legs against self-inflected crampon strikes. I’ve owned a pair for going on 4 years and they are in rough shape, but rather than replace them, I decided to have a go at repairing them myself to save $70.
Crocodiles are tough high gaiters made out of Gore-tex and pack cloth with a thick velcro strip running down the middle of the boot. They also have a very tough, replaceable plastic strap that runs under your boot to keep them situated properly. My pair have a few duct tape covered holes from crampon strikes, but my big area of concern are the heavy cloth patches that attach the bottom strap to the gaiter. The stitching holding them in place has almost completely torn out and they need to be reattached to the pack cloth.
I imagine this happens to a lot of people who use this gaiter, which is certainly one of the most popular ones available for general mountaineering, so here’s how I did the self-repair.
First, I bought myself a Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl ($14.) This is a very sharp sewing needle that is tough enough to punch through heavy material. It locks into a handle containing a spool of waxed polyester thread, although other thread types and thicknesses can be used.
To use the awl, you thread the needle with about 6-8 inches of thread and push it slowly and carefully through both layers of cloth or material you want to sew together. Take care, the needle is very sharp and you want to avoid self-inflicted damage by pushing it through your finger or hand.
One through, you pull the thread through the fabric, pull the entire needle out and then push it back through again a little farther along the area you want to sew. To make your first lock stitch retract the needle slightly so that a loop of thread forms along side it (and running back down to the spool.) Pass the free end of the thread you pulled through earlier, through the loop and pull tight at both ends. Continue to do this for the length of the repair until the last hole. Pull 3 more inches of thread from the spool through it, cut the thread, tie it to the other end of the string using a square knot, and trim the excess thread.
The stitching gets much better with very little practice.
That’s all there is to it. I was able to teach this to myself and repair three boot strap patches in less than 90 minutes. This repair saved me at least $50 and I can think of lots of other repair and customization projects where I can use this awl in the future.
Who knows where this could lead?