Repairing Gear vs. Replacing Gear

Needle and thread through a button holeIt’s easy to convince yourself that you need new gear. A tear here or some fraying there gets you thinking that it’s time buy a brand new jacket or invest in a new tent. But you have to keep in mind that buying new gear isn’t always the most practical option. Sometimes gear can be salvaged with a little repair.

Repairing gear vs. replacing gear is a tricky subject. There are plenty of reasons why you might want to replace your gear, but there are just as many reasons why you shouldn’t.

Some people love the thrill of buying new gear. Gear addictions can clutter closets with ridiculous numbers of jackets that hardly see the light of day. A rip, tear, crack, or chip will send gear addicts to their nearest outdoor sporting goods store in a heartbeat. Sometimes this is warranted. If you have a cracked carabiner,  replace it immediately. If your jacket has a slight tear, however, it’s likely that the damage is purely cosmetic and replacing that jacket isn’t necessary.

If a shabby and battered tent fly has you feeling a little self-conscious, it shouldn’t. As long as that fly, or jacket, or whatever the gear is still functions the way it’s supposed to, then you probably don’t need to replace your gear.

The time to replace outdoor gear is when wear and tear compromises the performance or safety of that gear.

Another thing that tricks people into prematurely replacing their gear is the fact that outdoor companies constantly improve or change the products that they offer. Outdoor apparel companies will change the aesthetics of their jackets, or introduce new mid layers with better lines, every year. Other outdoor brands might up the lumen count on a headlamp, shave a couple of ounces off a tent, or unveil a better and more efficient backpacking stove.

Something being new and improved doesn’t make your current gear obsolete.

More often than not, it’s better to repair your gear than replace it. If it’s possible to make repairs to your outdoor gear, it’s typically going to a better decision both financially and environmentally.

Outdoor gear is often expensive, but it’s also built to last. Let’s say that you spend $200 on a tent that will last you for 10-15 years. 2 years into using your tent, you accidentally poke a hole through the mesh screen with some fire wood. That mesh is certainly an important feature on your tent, but it doesn’t compromise the structural integrity of the tent. Instead of buying a new $200 tent, you could spend $5 on a patch kit, repair the hole, and still get another decade out of that same tent.

Something else to keep in mind is that outdoor brands often carry pretty solid warranties. Most, if not all, outdoor companies will boast a lifetime warranty that covers products against manufacturer defects for the lifetime of the jacket. The Outdoor Research Infinite Guarantee is a no questions asked warranty that covers just about everything.

Not all damage is covered under a warranty, however. If you slice a hole in your puffy jacket while whittling sticks, or if you burn your boots while leaping over a campfire, or puncture a hole in your tent with some firewood, you’re on your own. Same goes for the fleece that has finally worn through after two solid decades of use. But if the stitching starts to come undone on a jacket before it should, or the seams start to leak on your rain fly too soon, companies will often repair that item or send you a replacement.

When should you replace your gear rather than repair it? A needle and thread or a nylon patch can go a long way, but even high quality outdoor gear won’t last forever. There are three main questions to ask yourself when it comes to repairing or replacing gear.

  • Is it necessary to replace your gear? If you’re using a tarp that has so many holes that it looks like a slice of swiss cheese, it’s time to replace it. However, a single hole is probably manageable.
  • How does the state of your gear affect your experience? Some people can deal with challenges better than others. A hole in your tarp might not concern you at all, where as a hole in your buddy’s tarp might drive him so mad that he complains the entire trip and ruins everybody’s time.
  • How affordable is it to replace that gear? Outdoor gear can range from $1 to $1,000. The price of the gear you’re fixing correlates to how easy it is to replace. Constantly patching a tarp to save $10 bucks probably isn’t even worth your time, whereas fixing a hole in a $300 jacket makes more sense than buying a new one.

Whether you need new gear or the things to patch up your old gear, we’ve got you covered. Stop by and see us!

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