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The Duct Tape Dilemma

  |   Blog, Gear Care, Outdoor Gear Repair

Duct Tape is a repair savior, right? Many of us don’t even stop and think twice before slapping some duct tape across the hole in our jackets and calling it good. We might even carry a small roll of it in our packs for when we have a malfunctioning pack, tent or jacket. The simple answer is always duct tape.

At BMR we have a complicated relationship with duct tape. As repair pros we have seen a lot of home made duct taped repairs walk through our door. From a small patch to get the customer to our shop or a more intense approach where the duct tape has been sewn down.

Is there an acceptable time to use duct tape on your outdoor gear? How do you avoid a sticky mess? If not duct tape, then what?

Don’t let duct tape become a dilemma for your outdoor gear. It is time for us to reveal the truth about duct tape and your gear.

A time and a place

Don’t mistake us, there is a time and a place for duct tape. Yes, even the repair experts are guilty of patching a hole with this strong and sticky stuff. However, it is only the answer in what one might call the perfect storm. If you’re considering a duct tape patch job ask yourself these questions first:

Am I outdoors?

Is it essential for this hole to be patched ASAP?

If you answer NO to either of those questions, we advise you to stay away from the duct tape.

Sometimes the situation is dire, you’re gushing down out of a gaping hole in your puffy coat. There is a large hole in your pack and your gear is spilling out. Your options are to bail on the adventure, or duct tape your gear. If so, that would be the time to pull out the duct tape and put it to work. 

This jacket is a good example of a BMR approved duct tape situation. The hole in the sleeve is clearly large enough that large amounts of down are being lost. A temporary solution until the customer could get their jacket into the shop for a sewn patch job!

Use with caution

Duct tape should not be a long term fix. As soon as possible, take it off with care and replace it with a more permanent patching option designed for your outdoor gear. Duct tape leaves a nasty residue behind if it is left stuck onto your fabric for too long. Don’t just take our word for it, have a look at the evidence.

The longer the duct tape remains on outdoor fabrics the more residue it will leave. You also run a risk of causing further tearing, especially on light weight fabrics, when you peel of this powerful sticky tape.

So what are the alternatives?

There are several good alternatives to duct tape, depending on your situation and budget. In our experience with patching these are the three strongest options for patching (in order from least durable to most durable).

  1. Gear Aid adhesive patches.
  2. Heat patches.
  3. Sewn patches.

Adhesive patches like tenacious tape and Gear Aid products, like tenacious tape, are best applied on clean fabric. It is likely that during washing these products will being to peel up. However, they make great additions to a repair kit in your backpack in case of an emergency! A heat patch is similar to self application adhesive products, but is applied at a very high heat, under pressure, increasing the durability of the adhesive.

At BMR we offer both heat and sewn patching services. We carry outdoor gear specific fabrics so we can patch your jacket, tent, backpack and more with the proper care to ensure that the hole doesn’t bust next time you’re out in the backcountry.

Bring your patching problems to the experts, and we can help you avoid a sticky situation. Contact us for more information about the services we provide.

Not all duct tape patch jobs are bad news if done in the right circumstances. Just remember that the longer the duct tape stays on your fabric the more residue it will inevitably leave behind.