Outdoors: Repair Your Gear

September 5 2012, 10:00 AM

I've been a bit of a gear nut ever since my first track season when I was nine-years-old. My mom bought me running shoes that smelled heavenly, rubbery, wonderful. Sometimes, I’d come home after a run and place the shoes back in the box so that the next time I went out, I could remove the cardboard lid and just like the Foreigner song, it’d feel like the first time. (I’m sure my mother had her concerns.)

For the last five years, I’ve turned this love into reviewing the latest gear, tech, and fabrics, first as an editor and now as a freelance writer. Here’s what I’ve learned: Gear can be expensive. As in, trip-to-Europe expensive. And as a self-acknowledged cheapskate, I know there’s nothing worse than when a favorite item breaks, or tears, or gives out past warranty. 

For a lot of people, a broken zipper is an excuse to upgrade, but I think there’s something honorable about a jacket or tent that has some history to it. I know people who have had tents for 30 years or hiking boots for 10. I want to be like them: My goal is to have gear that outlives my pets. So when a friend gave me a free (new) pair of Bontrager Race WSD Shorts last month because there was a huge tear along the waistline, I knew they’d be worth fixing and keeping around. Luckily, we Colordans have options for fixing mangled gear. Here's a short list to get you (and me) started:

Stitchlines is certified to repair Gore-Tex, The North Face, and Marmot products. This means fixing tears, zippers, patches. They’ll even alter your outdoor finest for a bespoke fit. The trick is catching them when they're open (Wed-Fri, 11-1). (3750 S. Broadway, Englewood; 303-781-9044)

Ripstop Repairs covers a lot of the same territory, like fixing up your old tents, packs, and clothing, but has more manageable hours. Plus, when they launder your sleeping bags, they’ll also determine if you could use some extra down. (2500 47th St., Unit 11, Boulder; 303-443-7788)

Steve Komito at Komito Boots has worked on shoes for over 40 years. Mountaineers, rock climbers, and everyone in between trust him for a reason. He also does warranty work for manufacturers such as La Sportiva and Five Ten. (235 West Riverside Dr., Estes Park; 970-586-5391)

If you have any other gear repair recommendations, leave them in the comment section below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock