Saturday, February 23, 2013

Backpacking Repair/Backup Kit

Small And Lightweight Repair & Backup Kit
Over the past few months, I have put together a small and lightweight repair and backup kit for backpacking and hiking.  It contains the following:
4 safety pins (pinned to the inside bag label), 10 Micropur water purification tablets (purify 1 liter each), 45 feet of 2 mm reflective EZC2 line, a backup mini flashlight, lens cleaning cloths (for my glasses) and extra zip-lock mini bags.  In 2 more small zip-lock bags are a book of paper matches, and some dryer lint for fire starting.  There is also a traditional, lightweight, waterproof backpacker match case, a P-38 military-style folding can opener and 2 four-inch strips of double-sided Velcro.
The rest of the repair kit is kept inside of a small zip-lock bag.  It carries 4 three-inch mini zip ties, 3 plastic clothes pins, 2 feet of duct tape rolled onto a cut drinking straw, a one inch and a two inch square piece of Tenacious Tape (for tent leaks), 3 wire ties and 6 rubber bands.
I used plastic drinking straws cut to fit for both the small roll of duct tape and the sewing kit needle-holder, since it is so lightweight.  Rubber bands are a great lightweight option to hold several of my camping items rolled-up until I need them, so spares are necessary.  The Velcro strips are great for attaching items to the outside of my pack and for holding items together.   The mini flashlight is temporary - I plan to replace it with a smaller and lighter weight Princeton Tech Pulsar II LED flashlight down the road.
Kit Contents - Safety Pins And P-38 Are Inside The Bag.  The Sewing Kit Is On The Bottom, Lower Right.
The mini sewing kit contains two needles poked into a cut piece of drinking straw (so you won't get stuck).   The needles are sized to hold the 2 feet of dental floss for secure sewing wrapped around the drinking straw, plus 4-6 feet of gray thread kept inside the straw.  I put this small sewing kit into a super-mini zip-lock bag to keep the pieces organized.
All my backup parts are kept here: backup fire (2 backups for my mini Bic lighter); a backup mini flashlight for my headlamp; and Micropur tablets to backup my water filter for 2 days.  I do not carry a backup knife or stove.  It all fits into a plastic-coated Eagle Creek small zipper bag that was leftover from my traditional backpacking days.
In my mind, I have just about everything covered for a typical weekend backpacking trip, mostly just to fix something so I can get back home.  In case I need more, there is also first aid tape in my first aid kit, my shirt came with 2 spare buttons sewn in, and there is more dental floss in my health kit.  For a through-hike I'll need to carry more repair items like zipper parts and specific pack parts that my tools and parts cannot repair.  I carry this kit for day hikes also.  Be wary of the weight of commercially available repair kits, as most are not meant to be made for ultralight backpackers.
What is most important here isn't just what is in your is what is in your mind on how to use what is in your kit to get out of a jam.  If I can't fix it with what I have, I'll have to drag it home, or get rained on, or do without.  I can open a can of beans with my single-blade pocket knife, but for 4 grams more weight, I can open that can cleanly with my P-38 can opener.  4 grams is about the same weight as all the labels on my clothing, pack and quilt combined.  I can purify water for two full days if I have to, and I can strap or tie most anything onto my pack.  I have sewn torn pack straps back on, taped holes in my tent and lit fires with my third tier of waterproofed matches during a storm.  I have had those experiences, and with some ingenuity, I should be able to fix most anything else.
The individual weights of my repair kit are:
Eagle Creek small zipper bag with 4 safety pins       1.0 ounce    26 grams
2 Velcro double sided 4-inch strips                         0.1 ounce     4 grams
Mini flashlight                                                          0.5 ounce    12 grams
P-38 military-style folding can opener                      0.1 ounce      4 grams
10 Micropur water purification tablets                      0.3 ounces     8 grams
Waterproof matches in case                                     0.5 ounces   14 grams
Dryer Lint                                                                Less than 1 gram
45 feet of 2 mm reflective EZC2 line                        1.3 ounces    38 grams
Paper Matches                                                        0.1 ounces      2 grams
2 Lens Cloths                                                          Less than 1 gram
3 Clothes Pins                                                         0.4 ounces    12 grams
2 foot Duct Tape Roll                                              0.1 ounce     4 grams
Rest of Repair kit items in bag                                  0.3 ounces    8 grams
Sewing kit                                                                Less than 1 gram
Remaining zip-lock bags                                           Less than 1 gram
Total repair kit weight                                               5.2 ounces    148 grams
There's room to carry more items inside the bag, if needed, since my repair needs seem to vary over different trips.


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