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  • Writer's pictureBen Kilbourne

Patching EPL Ultra

Even the Toughest Fabrics can be Damaged

EPL Ultra is a very durable material, but like any fabric, it has its limits. I found the limits of the EPL200 on my Ultralight Long Haul 50 when I clipped it to a rope and dragged it about 40 feet up the Redwall Limestone in Grand Canyon National Park. If you're unfamiliar with the Redwall, all you need to know is that it is smooth in places, jagged in places, and sharp as a knife in places. This climb was jagged. After two of us made the climb, we hoisted the packs one at a time. First a Big Wild and then my Long Haul. Both took damage. By the time we got to the final pack, we figured out a better system. My hiking partner Landon stood about 10 feet below the top so that he could get a better angle on the pull. I stayed at the top and captured his progress.

The cliff we had to drag our packs up.

The Big Wild 70 and the Long Haul 50 made it to the top, but not without taking some damage.

Our improved method of pack-hoisting.

Repairing the Damage

Your method of repair may be dependent on the severity of the tear, rip, hole, or abrasion. The easiest way to patch a tear will be to stick the patch to the inside of the pack and then Aquaseal the outside. This is what most people will probably want to do for field repairs, and it will suffice for most tears/cuts. I will be demonstrating this method below. For field repairs you may want to carry some Aquaseal UV because it cures in seconds when exposed to UV light. Aquaseal FD cures slower and is great for at-home repairs. It will work in the field as well, but only if temperatures are conducive to curing (60° to 100°F and above 40% relative humidity), and you have enough time in camp to let it dry (8-12 hours or 2 hours with cure accelerator). For larger tears, you may want a patch on the inside and outside. Patches won't stick well to the outside of the pack without using Aquaseal or something similar. For exceptionally big holes, you may even need to stitch the tear together before patching.

I didn't feel a need to do a field repair on this tear because it wasn't going to affect the functionality of my pack. Because EPL Ultra is very tear-resistant, the risk of this tear getting larger over the course of the next six days was minimal. The only downside to not performing a field repair was that a decent amount of water poured into my pack when swimming with it on the last day. I had a pack liner, however, so everything stayed dry. If your pack has a hole, and you feel that you need to increase the water resistance of your pack during a trip, a field repair could be in order.

The repair pictured below demonstrates a method that can be performed either in the field or at home. You will need the following:

  1. EPL Ultra Patches

  2. Scissors or knife for cutting patches to size

  3. Aquaseal

  4. Alcohol or Alcohol wipes for cleaning the area

  5. A stick, toothpick, or piece of cardboard etc. for applying Aquaseal

  6. A pack with a hole in it

What you need to repair a hole in EPL Ultra.

First, cut your patches to size, rounding the edges if possible so that they won't peel up over time. I might recommend doing this at home with a blade that is made for cutting fabric. If you have to use pocket knife scissors—as I'm demonstrating here—you may be frustrated because EPL is really pretty tough to cut.

Rounding edges with pocket knife scissors.

Next, wipe down the inside of the tear with alcohol to remove any grit that could keep the patches from sticking. The primary patch will be going ON THE INSIDE of the pack because it will stick far better to the smooth coating than it would on the outside which is textured.

Cleaning the inside with alcohol.

Remove the backing from the patch and press it firmly over the tear, making sure to avoid any wrinkles.

Applying the patch to the inside of the pack.

The outside of the tear now looks pretty good. You now have two options:

  1. Put a patch on the outside and Aquaseal around the outside of it.

  2. Just Aquaseal over the entire abraded area.

The outside of the pack after the interior patch has been applied.

I chose option two for this patch, giving the outside surface of the tear a liberal coating of Aquaseal. Make sure to give the holes themselves a very substantial coating.

Smearing Aquaseal over the entire abraded area.

The completed repair looks pretty good!

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