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Here's What You Should Know Before Patching Your Winter Outerwear

The number one repair request we get from our customers? Gear patching.

It's not even a contest. Patching gear, including both outerwear and down/synthetic layers, is far and away the most common topic we talk about with our customers.

Why is that? Well, if you've spent any time out in the mountains, then you will likely know that it's not all-together uncommon to see rips, tears, holes, and/or slices arise on your gear. We have seen a wide variety of causes, but the usual culprits behind these pesky little repair issues can be narrowed down to a relatively short list:

  • Tearing/ripping: your gear gets caught on something and enough force is exerted to pull the fabric apart. Trees and branches are the #1 offender here, followed by resort lifts and even the rouge boot buckle.
  • Abrasion/friction: if your gear is rubbed up on another rough surface with enough force, holes can begin to form in the fabric. The most common occurrences we have seen are from falling/sliding on icy slopes or having a close call with a tree.
  • Slicing: ski/board edges are sharp, and even the burliest of fabrics can't always stand up to a good 'whack' from an edge. Some other sharp things: blades + knives, ice skates, shovel edges, our sense of humor; we recommend keeping your gear far away and safe from these things.

Why are we talking so much about the different types of tears, rips, etc.? Because our first recommendation to customers, if they haven't already done so, is to find the root cause of the damage.

Step 1. Figure out the cause

If damage is showing on your outerwear and you don't know how it got there, take a moment and try to deduce what happened before you begin a patch repair. This method will make sure that you have some grasp on what happened, and will tell you if it's likely to happen again. Sure, many scenarios can be far-fetched and unlikely to happen again (like that one time your 'friend' got their bibs stuck on the ski lift and they dangled from the lift for a good 20 feet after trying to unload, only to get unhooked when the bibs ripped. Oh, that only happened to us? Dang, okay.). But there is a chance in many situations that the damage will only return after you've spent all that time patching it up. Here's an example that we see a lot:

Problem: Slicing down near the cuffs/leg openings on pants/bibs, and it has been seen to get worse after backcountry tours - specifically the uphill portions.
Cause: There's a very good chance that the pants/bibs are getting caught on ski/board edges during the hike portion. This is even more common to hear of from new splitboarders, who typically have never had to worry about edges before when their board was always in one piece.
Solution: In addition to patching the gear, this would require a change to someones hiking habits. A very easy fix to ensure that this doesn't happen any more is to roll your pant legs up while hiking, making sure that the fabric goes no where near any edges.

 

So avoid the possibility of having to re-patch later on, and take a moment to think through what caused the damage. Even if it's a guess, it's better than nothing -- and we're always here to help you out if you have questions; we've seen A LOT of things come through our inbox, and we can likely shed some light based just on photos of the damaged gear. 

 

Step 2. Decide between DIY or professional patching

So you know (or have a decent idea) what caused the damage...now what? Well, depending on the size and scope of the damage, you will need to decide whether you want to patch it yourself or have it repaired professionally. 

Do it yourself (DIY): the vast majority of tears, rips, holes, and slices are simple and small - perfect for a fun little DIY project. And with some incredible patches and repair tapes available these days, it really couldn't be easier to do. An added bonus is that you will almost always save a little bit of cash by doing it yourself. 

NOTE: But before you grab your roll of duct tape and get going, stop! Do NOT use duct tape to fix this. There are products on the market that are meant for these sorts of things, and the use of duct tape will likely void your warranty going forward.

We've tested a lot of different patches out there, and our favorites come from Noso Patches. You can even choose from unique shapes, designs, and a myriad of colors when you purchase a patch, leaving you with some room for creativity and personality. 

Another good option, especially for those longer, straight-line tears, is GearAid's Tenacious Tape. There may be less options on color or shapes, but the cut-to-shape tape can be found in many outdoor retailers and is a quick fix for nearly all technical outerwear.

Professional patching: whether the damage to your gear is large and complex, or you just don't trust yourself to DIY, you can always look to a pro for some help. We typically recommend looking for a local technical sewer who is experienced with outerwear, but if you can't find anyone near you don't worry too much. Many outdoor gear repair shops allow for mail-in repairs, and if you are a TREW customer we are more than happy to help get you connected to one of our partner seamstresses. 

For reference, here are some examples of fabric damage that should be patched and repaired by a professional.

Having a professional patch your gear will likely cost a bit more than doing it yourself, and of course if you do need to ship you item(s) to location then you should factor in the shipping cost as well. But we will say that the peace of mind that comes with a pro patch job is usually worth it, especially on those more complicated repairs.

Step 3. Clean your gear

It doesn't matter if you decide to go the DIY or professional route, your gear needs to be clean before it can get patched.

Cleaning your gear for a DIY job can be a little less rigorous, and some isopropyl alcohol in the damaged area will get the job done. But if you choose to get your gear professionally repaired, the entire garment will need to be washed and clean before moving forward.  

 

Step 4. Get to patching!

By now, you should have a clear idea of how your damage came to be, have a game plan as to how to patch your gear, and have a clean item ready to be patched. So what are you waiting for....go on and do the dang thing!

How to Patch Your Winter Outerwear [video coming soon]

We've said it before and we'll say it again: if you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to hit us up at info@trewgear.com. We're to help you out!

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