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March 2014 Issue
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Fix a broken pack strap

With a bit of know-how you can fix your pack strap with native plants. Photo: Ian Barnes
What do you do if your pack strap breaks while on the trail and you can’t nip to the shop to grab rope or tape (or a new pack)?

Luckily there are plenty of natural resources to help out. The obvious go-to plants would be flax and cabbage trees which are, fortunately, common throughout the country.

But there are many other plants and trees that are widespread in the backcountry and useful if you know what you’re doing.

Survival expert Ian Barnes, of demonstrates how to use two such plants.


Found in lowland forest, it splits easily which improves its flexibility and ease of knot-tying.

Split the supplejack

Split the supplejack into strips roughly 5mm wide.

Thread through four times

Thread the cordage so the load is supported by four strands.  Tie the ends together with sheet bend or reef knot.

Note: The knot is the weakest link but having four strands greatly reduces the risk of snapping

Lancewood leaves

Lancewood is widespread in both mountainous and lowland forest. The skin of the leaf rib is very strong and it’s important to leave this intact throughout.

pack fix.lancewoodRemove the fleshy material from each leaf, leaving the rib with skin intact.

Pack fix.lancewood.1The common three-strand plait creates a long strong strap from short sections of leaf.

Pack fix.lancewood.2Tie to the pack using a knot that requires as little cord as possible to minimize the amount of plaiting required.