A sharp branch at the edge of a trail. A wayward ember from a campfire. A car door that closes a little too soon and catches a sleeve.
Tearing or puncturing your waterproof jacket or pants is frustrating, but it doesn’t have to be the end of your garment’s life. Whether you’re in the field or in your own backyard, you can repair torn waterproof clothing and get back on the trail in no time. Here’s what you should have in your backpack, and how to use it.
How to repair a waterproof jacket or pants in the field
When you’re in the woods and it looks like rain, you just need your waterproof jacket to keep you dry. But while you might be tempted to use duct tape to repair your gear, don’t. It might keep out the rain for now, but it can actually cause more damage to your gear and make it harder to repair properly later.
Instead, carry a nearly weightless solution: pre-cut repair patches or a small roll of Tenacious Tape.
Here’s how to repair a torn waterproof jacket in the field:
- Decide whether to patch the inside or outside of your jacket or pants. On the inside, the fabric might be cleaner and your patch won’t show. Patching on the outside may offer more protection.
- Clean the area around the tear as well as you can. If you have an isopropyl alcohol wipe in your first aid kit, use it to remove any dirt or oils that might prevent your patch from sticking.
- Trim any loose threads from around the tear.
- If you’re using tape, cut a piece that’s 25mm wider and longer than the tear. Round the corners to prevent them from peeling.
- Lay your jacket on a hard, flat surface and line up the edges of the tear as closely as possible.
- Peel off the backing and place your patch or tape over the tear. Press from the middle out to remove any wrinkles or air bubbles.
You can wear your jacket immediately, although the adhesive will reach its full strength after 24 hours.
How to repair a GORE-TEX® jacket in the field
If your jacket or pants are made of GORE-TEX, consider using a patch made specifically to repair GORE-TEX fabric.
Follow the same steps as above, but make sure to place your patch on the outside of your jacket, according to the instructions. Once you’ve pressed out any wrinkles or bubbles, rub the patch with your fingers to warm up the adhesive and help it stick.
DIY waterproof jacket repairs at home
When you’re not in the woods, you have a few more options for fixing your torn jacket, including bringing it in for a professional repair.
If you still want to do it yourself, you can apply a patch using the instructions above. Or, for a more permanent fix, follow these steps to add an extra adhesive and make your patch bombproof:
- Lay the jacket on a smooth, flat surface.
- Dip a cloth or cotton swab in rubbing alcohol and carefully clean the area around the hole, both inside and outside the jacket.
- Bring the edges of the tear together.
- Squeeze a thin layer of urethane-based seam sealer on the fabric patch and on the torn area of the garment.
- Lay the patch firmly over the tear, smoothing it firmly from the centre out to remove any wrinkles or bubbles.
- Let your repair dry overnight.
Your jacket or pants are now ready to wear. While you’re taking care of maintenance, think about whether they need a little more TLC. Here’s how to wash and re-waterproof your rain gear.