History of Gear: Repair facilities for your old classic gear, including tent poles

This page is always under development. As of Summer 2018, I have twelve repair shops listed below. Be aware, businesses come and go, so some listings may be obsolete.....

Do you own a treasured old sleeping bag, tent, parka or pack that needs a broken zipper fixed, a tear mended, a broken pole fixed, or just some overall refurbishing? .....Places that specialize in quality repairs of the outdoor gear we love are remarkably hard to find. There are several good choices, and one might even be close enough for you to visit personally....For tent pole issues please skip to #8 and #9.

1. Portland's Mountain Soles, since 1979 repairing not only mountain boots, but also a wide range of other outdoor products. Owner Matt Menely says, "We repair all kinds of things including (but not limited to): Boots, Climbing shoes,Tents, Packs, Sleeping bags, Outerwear, Dry suits and Dry tops, Atlas and Tubbs snowshoes....Check out our website or stop by sometime and check out our shop in person if you are in the neighborhood.
Mountain Soles Outdoor Footwear & Fabric Repair
1623 SE 12th
Portland, OR 97214
Hours: Tuesday- Friday: 11am-6pm

2. Seattle's Rainy Pass Repair was recommended back in a 1996 article in Outside Magazine and is still very much in business. I have personally visited and used this business (late 2010)....Here's a quote from the 1996 article: "Outdoor specialists such as Boulder, Colorado's Mountain Mend (303-443-1925) and Seattle's Rainy Pass Repair (800-733-4340, www.rainypassrepair.com) fix tents, packs, sleeping bags, and outdoor clothing at a surprisingly reasonable cost. Patching a tear runs about $15; replacing a zipper, $30. And for $8 an ounce they'll supplement matted loft with fresh goose down." (My note: these were 1996 prices, and are definitely higher now)..." Of interest is that Rainy Pass actually has a "down room" for down repairs that is very similar to the set-up that Roy and Alice Holubar used back in the 1950s to fill their marvelous sleeping bags--Rainy Pass uses a specially modified old Kirby vacuum cleaner running in reverse to blow the new down into its place in a garment or sleeping bag, just like the Holubars did so long ago!

3. Mae Wood. I personally know this talented repair person from Seattle. She worked for decades for MSR, sewing/repairing a vast variety of outdoor gear. If you are in the Seattle area, you ought to try her out. Contact.

4. Boulder Mountain Repair. Discussion from John Rutkowski (Formerly a Holubar employee, 1976 to 1979....John reports, "FYI, I am the founder of Mountain Mend. I started it back in ''79 and sold the business in '83 to Kevin Furnary. It has gone through many hands since then. I don't think it's still in existence. The web site is no more." Update: a recent confirmed email tells that there is now a "Boulder Mountain Repair" in Boulder, run by "Ron," and welcoming old gear:--- Boulder Mountain Repair moved in about 2010 to Lafayette, CO (just east of Boulder).

Boulder Mountain Repair - new location
1224 Commerce Court
Lafayette, CO 80026
303.499.3634 (not ...3534) ....303-499-3534. They’re in the Table Mesa shopping center, near Neptune Mountaineering in south Boulder.

5. Ripstop Repairs. Also in Boulder--- In June 2011, I was in Boulder, Colorado, presenting a talk about the History of Holubar Mountaineering. There I met Jim Clements, owner of Ripstop Repairs, "Saving the World, One Backpack at a Time." 2500 47th St. Unit A, in Boulder, 80301, phone 303.443.7788.. www.ripstoprepairs.com

6. from Joe Erhlich at Mountain Hardware, I received the following advice:
"I usually recommend Specialty Outdoors to my consumers.Contact person is Penny S. at 509-448-0346." (July 2018, I know Penny and know she's still in business).... Their pages about the care and use of gear are excellent, among the best I've seen: check out this one about zippers and tent care: http://specialtyoutdoors.com/tent-tips-care-and-selection/

"I hope that this helps.
Best regards,
Joe Ehrlich
Consumer Relations, Mountain Hardwear"

7. Minnesota (new, August 2014). Nancy Ford writes: "I'm the owner of a new repair shop in Minneapolis, Repair Lair. I worked over at Midwest Mountaineering for close to fifteen years and ran the repair department in Thrifty Outfitters for five. Thrifty is limiting the scope of their repairs and will probably close up within the next year or two...I do everything from patching tent screens to making fur coats for dogs.... and everything in between...My website isnt up yet but Ive got a facebook page. (July 2018: I've had contact from Nancy within the past six months)

Nancy Ford
Repair Lair
3304 E Lake St
Minneapolis, MN 55406


8. The Wilderness Workshop (aka "Narain's)--- a correspondent writes, "It's Bruce Gilman down in Southern California. Here is another shop that does quality gear repair:
Wilderness Workshop
6916 N. Figueroa Steet
Highland Park, California 90042
Telephone: (323) 256-0723
They've worked on my Camp 7 North Col sleeping bag, my Snow Lion
expedition parka, as well as my Seirra Designs 3-man tent (Pleasure
Dome), and their work is outstanding." ....More recently, a different correspondent reported this shop doing a fine job replacing the stiff, worn-out shoulder and hip belt padding in a classic Trailwise Model 72 pack.


I entitle the image to the left "Filthy Collar Syndrome." Here's an otherwise fine vintage Sierra Designs down parka, but the collar area is very heavily stained with what I like to call "neck oil." A shop like Rainy Pass Repair can deal with this issue for you. Or you can laboriously use a toothbrush and some "Shout" laundry spot remover and get most of it removed at home!

9. Bob Howe, tent designer suggests: "...Hi Bruce, first people should check to see if the company that made the gear is still in business. Most offered lifetime warranties and should honor them. Also, there is a pretty good repair shop called Narains in Berkeley, next door to REI. Of course there's always REI itself for many repairs." Narain's Outdoor Sewing & Fabric at www.campingrepair.com (Billy Singh).
1275 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706

(510) 527-2509

10 and 11. Especially for TENTS and POLES, I recommend two resources. The first is one that I have visited/used personally; additionally, Bob Howe (see # 7 above) recommends this shop--- It's a long-established business in Vancouver, Washington, run by Tom Hegerle and named TentPole Technologies LLC (see first picture) (August 2018: yes, they are still in business)..... Tom worked for Easton 30+ years ago in Van Nuys, California, and was part of the pioneering innovations in tent poles that have allowed the evolution of tents far away from traditional A-frame designs. In recent years, Tom also works with the high-tech carbon fiber poles.

Tom has named his website "Poles for You"; the website is PolesForYou.com, (ph. 360-260-9527)..... In the picture below, a Moss tent has turned up with excessively long main poles and is in danger of ripping itself apart when the owner attempts to set it up under low-humidity, summertime temperatures (such weather conditions cause nylon to contract). The fix was to shorten the two poles by a carefully-tested amount, reattaching and appropriately shortening the internal shock cords. In the picture, one witnesses an astounding variety of tent poles and fittings!

The second tent pole resource was recommended by reader David M. about 18 months ago, who reported an excellent experience with TentRepairServices.com, which has been located in Camden Maine for many years. These are the dedicated people who prior to 1994 actually were the tent repair department of Moss Tents! Note, 2018: I've heard mixed reports, some seeming to indicate that this business may be closed.. Reader input solicited!.

12. John H. in Portland, Oregon reports that Fink's did a great zipper repair on his old Holubar Ultimate expedition bag, and also would have outright replaced the entire zipper if needed! 18 months later, he told me he is still very satisfied with the repair.
Fink's Luggage & Repair Co.
517 SW 12th Ave.
Portland, OR
503 222-6086

13. Johann's in Portland, Oregon. Finally, another long-established place near Portland, Oregon ought to be mentioned (it's actually in Tigard)..... For the full story, click here to go to my coverage of "Johann's," which originally was a mountain store started in 1964 by Mountain Guide Edward Johann, but which has always done quality repairs and modifications to outdoor gear.


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Last Revision December 21, 2018

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