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October 2014 Issue
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Pack Warrant of fitness

Photo: Dajahof/

Matthew Pike catches up with Nick Monteith from Bivouac Outdoor for tips on making sure your pack is still up to scratch.

Mould and mildew: If it’s been stored in a damp place, a layer of mould may have developed. “Wash in a tub of warm water with mild soap and a scrubbing brush,” says Monteith. “As far as I know, there’s no way to remove mildew – the best advice is to store your pack inside the house, somewhere dry.”

Check the buckles are working and replace those that aren’t.

Buckles: Check these aren’t broken. If so replace. “Sea to Summit make a good field repair buckle allowing you to replace a sewn in buckle without having to unstitch it.”

Holes and fraying: You can probably ignore tiny holes, but slightly bigger holes or fraying can be contained by applying seam grip. “Take your pack into your local outdoor store for advice on the best treatment,” says Monteith. “If there’s a big tear it will need to be properly stitched up, with a sewn patch.”

Check the zippers run smoothly and aren’t corroded.

Zippers: Zips hate salt and can get stuck from corrosion. Your best bet is to rinse zippers in fresh water before putting the pack away. “Sometimes replacing a zip slider will work, replacing a whole zip is more costly,” says Monteith.

Foam padding breakdown is the shoulder straps is a common problem with older packs.

Shoulder and waist padding: Over time and use, foam padding will break down or compress. This loses the even cushioning needed for the pack to be comfortable. “Try loading it up and walking around the block,” suggest monteith. “If it doesn’t feel comfortable, it may be time for a new pack.” You can get replacement hip belts or shoulder straps for some packs, but chances are the whole pack is getting tired.

Check for holes in your pack liner by holding it up to the light.

Pack liner: Hold your pack liner to the light to look for holes and fix these with seam grip or adhesive. If there are a lot of holes, consider replacing with a dry bag-style pack liner. “Some are actually lighter than the yellow plastic bags and they have a better seal at the top.”

TIP: Check the warranty on your pack to see what it covers. Some brands offer amazing warranties that cover accidental damage.