It’s inevitable. If you use your outdoor gear long enough, you’ll eventually experience small tears, puncture holes, loose seams, or any other number of issues that require a small patch to restore your gear’s integrity.
Over the years, I’ve needed to patch everything from tents to sleeping bags to down jackets. And my go-to fix-it item is Gear Aid Tenacious Tape. Produced by McNett, Tenacious Tape used to go by the less glamorous name of McNett Nylon Repair Tape, but in my experience it’s changed little (if at all) over the past decade or so.
Tenacious Tape is just a thin layer of nylon (available with or without rip-stop) backed by a super-sticky adhesive that’s exposed when you peel off the tape backing. In my experience, once it’s stuck to your gear, it stays in place almost indefinitely—even when exposed to rain and moisture.
It’s designed to be used on the smooth nylon surfaces found on tents, sleeping bags, and outerwear. It also works very well for patching nylon mesh. (Note that it won’t stick to silnylon or heavier weights of nylon with a rough surface, such as those found on many heavy-duty backpacks. For the former, try McNett’s Sil-Fix. For the latter, I use duct tape.)
When applying it to a tear, I first round off the corners of the patch to prevent a sharp corner from working loose over time. I lay the material flat (using a book or other hard, smooth surface if doing the repair at home) to eliminate any folds in the fabric, apply the patch, press it tight against the fabric, and then rub a smooth pen or other similar object over it to ensure secure adhesion under the entire patch. If I’m repairing a tent, I usually apply patches to both sides of the fabric for maximum long-term protection, especially if I’m patching a hole in the mesh.
I’m not kidding about its durability. I have a heavily-worn down jacket I patched more than seven years ago; the patch is still firmly in place. I own and regularly use tents that I patched more than a decade ago; I’ve never needed to replace any of the patches. Of course, you can always use duct tape to accomplish the same thing. It’s just a bit unsightly, plus in my experience tends to fray and (very) slowly come unstuck over the years.
Tenacious Tape is available in a variety of colors (as well as a clear version), which makes it pretty easy to match the color of your gear. A 3″ x 20″ roll runs $5 and is available at most outdoor retailers, including REI, Cabela’s, and EMS.
Equipped is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.