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

This page is always under development. As of Fall 2020, I have thirteen 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 (website is current as of Nov. 2020)
1623 SE 12th
Portland, OR 97214
Hours: Tuesday- Friday: 11am-6pm

2. Seattle's Rainy Pass Repair (www.rainypass.com) (current Nov. 2020) 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. 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. Boulder Mountain Repair (www.bouldermtnrepair.com). (current Nov. 2020) 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.

Boulder Mountain Repair - new location
2200 Central Ave.
Boulder 80301

4. 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. Note: as of Nov. 2020, this website appears to be gone. www.ripstoprepairs.com

5. 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." However, as of 2020, due to the CoVid-19, they are no longer doing any mailorder 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/

6. Rugged Thread (info@ruggedthread.com), In Bend, Oregon. Phone 541-306-8727. They do a variety of gear repairs, including tents and bags. www.ruggedthread.com (current Nov. 2020)

7. Repair Lair, (www.repairlair.co) (current Nov. 2020). Nancy Ford writes: "I'm the owner of a 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. ..I do everything from patching tent screens to making fur coats for dogs.... and everything in between... I also have a facebook page.

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


8. Narains, Albany, Calif. (current Nov. 2020). A correspondent wrote, "It's Bruce Gilman down in Southern California. Here is another shop that does quality gear repair."
1275 San Pablo Ave. Albany, Calif. 94706
Telephone: (510) 527-2509

email: narains_outdoor@yahoo.com

Gilman continued: "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 (see #8 above). It's next door to REI. Of course there's always REI itself for many repairs." .
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) ..... 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. several years ago. He reported an excellent experience with TentRepairServices.com, which had been located in Camden Maine for many years. These were the dedicated people who prior to 1994 actually were the tent repair department of Moss Tents! Note, Nov. 2020: the site appears to be gone, and, worse, threw up a virus alert on my computer! Beware! Reader input solicited!.

12. Finks Luggage and Repair (www.finksluggage.com) (repairs@finksluggage.com) (current Nov. 2020). 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. (www.johannsonline.com) (current Nov. 2020). This diversified sewing shop has deep roots in the mountaineering community via its owner Gary Craghead. Under the tab "custom sewing" you'll find help for repairs and gear modifications aplenty. They are on SW Hall, actually a bit into 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.


Back to Bruce's Page about modern suppliers of fabrics and notions to build your own gear

History of Gear Main Page: Essays and pictures about the Pioneers of the Outdoor Gear Revolution, 1935-The Present, 45+ pages, five history of gear books published, and still ever-growing!

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Last Revision November 30, 2021

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"Mountain Night on the Skyline Trail"

"Old Trail"

"Dark Lake of My Dreams"