When out on the trail, your backpack very well could suffer rips or tears. Unless you’re able to repair it right away, the damage likely will only worsen as you hike. You even may find yourself unable to use parts of the backpack, forcing you to carry or leave behind gear.
Prepare in advance by assembling and carrying a small repair kit that you can use to fix your backpack. It should include: duct tape; small scissors; sewing needle; thread or dental floss; safety pins; patches for tent or sleeping bag repair; and seam grip. With these few items, you can temporarily fix just about any problem that comes up with your backpack.
Microtears can be mended by using a patch for tent or sleeping bag repair on the outside of the bag. If the rip takes up almost the entire diameter of the patch, place a large swath of duct tape over the patch as well (Always cut the tape or patch in circles; this reduces the chances of it peeling off). Reinforce any patch by placing one on the inside of the bag as well. Long rips or tears will need to be resewed with your needle and thread; if you’re uncomfortable with the quality of your sewing job, patch over your sewing job with duct tape. Before placing any patch or tape, be sure to clean off the area it will cover.
Seal them with a patch. If it’s a pinhole puncture, seal grip alone will work fine.
Cannibalize your backpack by finding another buckle, usually on a sidestrap, that you can do without. Cut off the broken buckle. Next, cut off then sew the working, cannibalized buckle onto the webbing for the broken buckle and then reinforce it with duct tape.
Flap snaps or zippers break
Use the safety needle to hold the two pieces of fabric in place. If worse comes to worse, use duct tape to hold the flap in place.
Seam coming part
Use seam grip to hold the backpack’s fabric together. If the seam has come part in an area longer than a half-inch, resew the seam.
Shoulder strap breaks
This probably is the worse damage that could occur to your backpack when on the trail. Your best bet is to sew the break, reinforce it with duct tape, then readjust the straps so the backpack fits comfortably.
Zipper pull breaks off
Fashion a new one using duct tape or use the safety pin. If the latter, cover the safety pin with duct tape so your fingers don’t accidentally release the pin when pulling on the zipper.
Be aware that if you use duct tape for any of your repairs, it’ll leave behind a sticky residue when later removed. Of course, if your backpack reaches the point where it must be held together by duct tape, a new one probably is needed.
Learn about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.