5 fixes for damaged or old hiking and adventure gear
Instead of throwing out damaged or old hiking and adventure gear, we should be thinking about repairing, making do and recycling. So often it also feels like we are too much of a throwaway culture – and this has a huge impact on the environment.
First, there’s the manufacture of outdoors products, many of which cause environmental damage. It’s important to look for products that are made in a more sustainable way and with least damage to the environment.
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Then there is the purchase of poorly made products that don’t stand the test of time, or the fact that as soon as there is a little wear and tear we out items in the bin or to the back of a cupboard and buy a new one.
Not to mention all the wasteful packaging as well. Plastic wrapping pollutes every corner of the world.
In addition, there is a modern attitude that sees us believing that it is easier to throw out and buy new, rather than repair. Many people don’t even think about recycling or passing on a product when they have no further use for it.
There are so many ways that we could be more thoughtful and kind to the environment when choosing, buying, using, re-using and recycling hiking and adventuring gear.
5 fixes for damaged hiking and adventuring gear
Find a clothing repair company
There are a growing number of companies that will accept items of outdoor clothing and kit and aim to repair them. Many times, clothing will be faulty in a small way, such as a broken zip or a small tear but the rest of it is good to last for years to come.
Search for outdoor clothing repairs online to find companies that will fix an item, whether it’s a waterproof jacket or a pair of trousers.
Another great idea is to replace parts of items, such as sunglasses. If the frames are still good you could get a company such as Sunglass Fix to replace scratched lenses for a fraction of the price of buying a new pair.
Repair kit yourself
Recently, GORE-TEX and Patagonia launched #wornwear. These companies went on tour, teaching outdoorsy people how to repair damage to their GORE-TEX garments for free.
However, you don’t need a GORE-TEX representative to teach you how to sew. You can teach yourself to repair clothing by using online videos, or by taking a short course on how to sew. Another good way to learn is to ask a friend or relative about how to use a sewing machine to good effect.
It is far better for your pocket and the environment if you learn how to repair a hole in a waterproof jacket or patch a tear in a pair of ski trousers.
Remember too that you can re-waterproof many items with specialist products applied in the washing machine or by spraying on the outside.
Fix a zip
I find that zips are often the area where my jackets get damaged. Many different outdoor products use zips, including tents, jackets, trousers, bags etc. But a broken zip doesn’t necessarily mean the end of an item of gear.
Could a stuck zip be caused by a build of dirt. If so, use a toothbrush dipped in a little water to clean the teeth of the zip. If that doesn’t work, use your pocketknife or a needle to carefully bend uneven teeth back into position.
If that doesn’t do that trick and you’re out camping or hiking far from home, use tape to stick the item together until you can get it home. Try one of these methods and if nothing works, take the item to a clothes repair shop.
If a zip is not working at all, it is not too difficult to get a zip replaced. You could do it yourself if you are handy with a sewing machine, take it to a local seamstress or send away to a specialist online outdoor clothing repair company.
In many cases, the item with the broken zip still has plenty of wear if you can get the zip replaced.
Prevention is better than cure. To make your hiking boots last as long as possible, make sure you never store them in a plastic bag, clean them after every use and air out the insides. If your boots do become damaged, you can usually fix them:
- If the rubber part at the front of your boot (the “rand”) splits or your sole begins to detach, you can glue it. It’s best to use a product specifically designed for this purpose, not regular super glue.
- There’s no such thing as “100% waterproof”. Even the best quality hiking boots will eventually spring a leak. To avoid this, it’s a good idea to use an extra sealant on the surface of the boot throughout its lifetime. You can also use Seam Grip, or similar, to seal up any areas you think moisture is getting through.
- Many people find the heels of their boots wear down more on one side than the other. This can be fixed with a product like Freesole. Smooth the bottom of the heel with sandpaper and use duct tape to make a little wall around the heel. Fill the missing heel area with Freesole and allow to dry overnight.
- If your heels are a mess but your uppers are still good, have your boots resoled. Prices vary but you shouldn’t pay more than around £50 for a new pair of soles. This is much cheaper than a new pair of boots and much better for the environment.
Reuse and recycle
If an item of clothing or gear really has come to the end of its useful life for you, you should consider passing it on to others who might be able to use it or taking to a centre where they can be recycled.
You could make use of Gift Your Gear, which is a project that collects unwanted outdoor clothing and gear and gifts it to organisations that encourage the next generation, especially youngsters, to get outdoors.
See Recycle Outdoor Gear.
Take other items to a local recycling collection point. Many have a place for clothes and footwear, which means your unwanted old items will not simply end up in landfill sites.
You could also reuse, for example, insulated jackets as beds for pets, a walking jacket as a gardening jacket, or turn fleece jackets into rag rugs.
Other people have many more creative ideas for the use of old outdoor clothing and kit, such as using an old climbing rope and a snowboard to create a tree swing, or turning a bike into a garden decoration and a place to grow flowers, or using a bike wheel to make an interesting table.
It you think about it and take time to fix and repair your hiking and adventure kit, it will be better for the planet and for your bank balance.