Expedient Field Gear Repairs Or “For Want Of A Nail”

Re-Post from MDT

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

One of the biggest problems facing the individual in the field can be equipment failure (blowout). Whether it’s your LBE/LBV or ruck coming apart at critical stress points, or your boots deciding to blow out due to hard use, these issues can and will happen in the field. Considering the importance of your boots and your load bearing gear, having some items to perform hasty repairs is very important to the Survivalist.

Once, while training using a LBV-88 vest, I had the left rear adjustment buckle’s suspension webbing come completely apart (bar tack thread came apart on the upper/outer side) which caused the gear suspended from the left rear of the vest to hang at a terrible angle, and making it nearly impossible to move quietly. My improvised field repair consisted of using the awl on my German army pocket knife (didn’t buy a multi tool till about ’92) to put a hole through both sides of the strap which was threaded back through the adjustment/slider buckle, and then thread 550 cord through the webbing, looping it around to the left, then back through again, looping it the opposite way, and tying it off with a square knot, and burning/melting the knot fast (this took about 10 minutes). Usually if load bearing gear needs repaired immediately, it’s the webbing straps which comprise most of the weight bearing material in and LBE or LBV.

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LBV-88 Vest, with area marked that “blew out”. As you can tell this is a high stress weight bearing part of the vest, and needed a repair that could take the weight put upon that area.

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Normally, mil issued 550 cord has seven strands of inner cord (this one has 8?)

550 cord saved the day, and is one of the best things you can carry in your gear for field repairs, shelter building, trap construction, and any other use that might come to mind. Besides the cord being used whole for different projects, it can also be taken apart and used in other ways. If you have something that needs threaded, and the cord is too thick (such as the small pommel holes on some knives), you can remove the cords guts (seven strands of thinner thread), and it should go through the smaller hole diameter. Speaking of the inner strands of 550 cord. These threads make very good sewing thread if you have a larger needle with a big eye.

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My field webbing repair starts with running your awl through both sides of the webbing.

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Run your 550 cord through both sides

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I then run the 550 cord around the left side and back through the webbing again.

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Go through both pieces of webbing.

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I then bring it around to the right side and secure it to the original 550 cord tail with a square knot

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Backside of the repair.

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Front side of the repair. You can run the repair knot under a lighter to melt the 550 cord slightly. This will help the knot hold better than just the knot alone. Be careful you don’t melt it too much and compromise the strength of the 550 cord.

Usually, 550 cord will work to repair most field load bearing gear, but what about boots? I have had boots split the sole across the ball of my foot (especially in extreme cold weather), and I have had heels start to separate from the boot. Although 100 mph tape will suffice for finishing a short term task, the Survivalist might need more of an extension in the “short term repairs” department. I have used a few different types of materials for repairs, and this is what I’ve found that works.

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The Speedy Stitcher sewing awl

For more specific repairs that involve the seam of your equipment or more than just temporary boot repair, nothing has worked better for me than “bank line” or some type of fishing line and a “Speedy Stitcher”. I have use them to repair nylon and canvas load bearing gear and boot seams (mostly the top of the heel cap behind you Achilles heel), and it will hold for some time before needing redone.

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Another product I’ve used is ShoeGoo for sole reconstruction. The boot pictured that had partial heel separation is still going strong after the repair, and that was a year and a half ago. What I have done when I have to use ShoeGoo on the shoe’s sole, is apply the ShoeGoo to the damaged area, using something like a Popsicle stick or ink pen shaft to get it in as much of the area as possible. I then seal up the area with duct tape (preferably “Gorilla Tape” for it’s holding ability), and place a weight on the shoe till the ShoeGoo sets up. Is this an instant fix? No. If you need instantaneous repair for use, the only options you have are to get another pair of boots, or wrap the Hell out of it with 100 MPH tape (it does work BTW). If you have another pair of boots to use, go ahead and repair the boots as shown, since you don’t know when they might be needed, and procrastination on repairs like that will eventually bite you in the ass.

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This heel separation repair was done over a year and a half ago and it is still going strong.

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A break of the sole across the ball of the foot. I have had this happen on three pairs of boots. The old black leather “leg boots”. A pair of Herman Survivors, and this pair of issued goretex Infantry boots.

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Same boot damage shown from the bottom

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Applying the ShoeGoo to the damaged area using the butt end a diamond sharpener case.

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“Gorilla” tape placed on the repaired area so the ShoeGoo can cure. As I’ve said, if you can place some type of weight on it (especially if it is an area under tension) you need to do that.

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Here is the repair after removal of the tape at 6 hours. If you need to use it at this point, keep the tape on it. The recommended cure time for ShoeGoo when applying a thick film to an object is 48 hours.

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Repair shown from the bottom of the sole. These boots are four years old, and worn 5 days a week. As you can tell, the sole has been worn down, but still can be repaired if the majority of the sole is intact.

I know this isn’t the “Sexy Tacticool” side of Survivalism, but it is just as important (if not more so) as the “run and gun” side of preparedness. Being able to keep your equipment in good repair is something that can not be over stressed. Gear should be gone over after use, repaired if necessary, and prepared for it’s next use (blades sharpened, weapons and gear cleaned, etc). Preventative maintenance is far better than loss of a piece of equipment due to procrastination. As a Survivalist, our preps are for the long haul, and who knows, something as simple as boot repair could mean the difference between getting out of harms way quickly, or being stuck there and taking the brunt of a bad situation head on. For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost, right?

JCD

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