Review: Complete Guide to Outdoor Gear Maintenance and Repair

Review: Complete Guide to Outdoor Gear Maintenance and Repair

Repairing gear is not something most people want to think about unless they have to. But if you’ve ever found yourself sleeping on a deflated sleeping mat in the middle of a trip, or trying to prevent the down from pouring out of your torn $350 jacket, you know how important it can be when you suddenly need it.

Kristin Hostetter, the longtime gear editor at Backpacker (16 years and counting), has collected all her gear repair know-how into a beautifully-photographed new guide, The Complete Guide to Outdoor Gear Maintenance and Repair. For anyone who takes their gear seriously, and doesn’t have an unlimited budget to replace it at the first sign of distress, we highly recommend it.

In almost 200 photo-filled pages, Hostetter runs through basic (tear patching) and advanced repair techniques (zipper repair, boot resoling) for the types of products and features you depend on—fabrics, zippers, backpacks, tents, boots, sleeping bags and pads, cookware, etc.

Hostetter doesn’t waste a lot of time recapping tips most backpackers know intuitively (a little duct tape can get you through anything, etc), and takes it one step beyond the obvious without leaving novices in the dust (the best product for removing duct tape gunk without unsightly smudges—Goo Gone!). About half of the book is dedicated to field repair, and most of those tips that are in this book are the kind you don’t pick up until you’ve found yourself stumped with a broken tent pole in the backcountry, or zipper that won’t close the tent mesh during mosquito season. I suspect even seasoned gear wonks will learn some insightful techniques for bringing tired gear back to life.

But what I found really set this book apart from the raft of forgettable “How To” guides on the topic are the repair photos of real, beat-up gear. Instead of just asking some graphic artist to illustrate, say, resoling a boot, or patching a torn tent wall, Hostetter called in loads of broken gear from Backpacker magazine’s readers, and used the stuff to demonstrate the techniques she’s teaching. The beautiful color photos illustrating each technique (and the enjoyable anecdotes of real gear disasters) make it easy to come away inspired to get to work.

Having seen a lot of similar guides over the years, I can honestly say I was quite impressed by The Complete Guide to Outdoor Gear Maintenance and Repair. It deserves a spot on the shelf of any aspiring gearhead.