Don’t Get Down: How To Patch a Down Jacket

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Key Points

  • There are affordable and easy-to-use products that can help you repair your down jackets.

  • The stitch and tape methods allow you to repair your down jackets at home.

  • If DIY isn’t your thing, there are many professional jacket repair shops across the United States.

Repairing a down jacket is a useful skill – especially if you rely on your jacket to keep you warm during outdoor adventures. Instead of constantly buying new jackets, it's often more cost-effective and sustainable to repair the tears and holes that inevitably occur over time. This article provides step-by-step instructions on how to patch a down jacket. Whether the tears are on the outside of the jacket or in the lining, the repair process is largely the same. However, it's important to keep in mind that tears in the lining may not be visible to others, so the appearance of the repair may not be as important.

Don't let tears and holes ruin your outdoor adventures. Learn how to repair your down jacket and extend its lifespan!

The Stitch Method

The most traditional method of repairing a tear in a down jacket is by stitching it up with a needle and thread. This can be challenging –particularly for newbie sewers – as the fabric of a down jacket is not as forgiving as stretchy, knitted Merino wool fabrics. When you sew through the fabric of a down jacket, you create permanent holes, so it's important to have good hand-sewing skills before attempting this method. 

To make the holes as small as possible, use the finest needle you can find and strong, fine thread (standard sewing thread works). The thread should be as close in color to the fabric as possible for the best appearance. As you sew, make sure your stitches are narrow, straight, and small to create a neat repair. 

It can be difficult to only stitch the tear together without going through the entire jacket, including the face fabric, insulation, and lining. However, if you're able to do this, it can help the repair blend in more seamlessly. When you finish, make sure the knots are small but tight and strong to ensure the repair will last.

Sewing materials, thread, and scissors for repairing down jacket

Steps for Repairing a Down Jacket with the Stitch Method

To repair a tear in a down jacket with a needle and thread, gather the necessary materials: fine needle, strong and fine thread (preferably matching the color of the fabric), and scissors. Begin by cleaning and drying the surface of the tear, then tucking any escaping insulation neatly into the hole. Thread the needle and tie a small, tight knot at the end of the thread.

Start stitching the tear together, making sure to keep the stitches narrow, straight, and small for a neat appearance. Try to only stitch the tear together and avoid going through the entire jacket, including the face fabric, insulation, and lining, to avoid creating a cold spot. 

Once the repair is complete, tie a small but tight knot at the end of the thread to secure it. Trim any excess thread and check the repair after a few days to make sure it is still secure. Repeat the process for any additional tears or holes in the jacket.

Gear Repair Tape: From the Outside

One effective way to repair a tear in a down jacket is to apply a patch of gear repair tape patch, such as Tenacious Tape or StormSure (discussed in more detail below), to the outside of the jacket where the tear is located. To do this, the surface should be clean and dry, and any escaping insulation should be tucked neatly into the hole. 

If the surface is dirty, you can clean it with water or rubbing alcohol on a clean sponge or piece of fabric. Be sure to avoid using soap, as any residue may affect the adhesiveness of the gear tape. 

It's also a good idea to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the gear tape you're using. Many brands offer transparent tapes or patches, which can be used on any color jacket, but a colored patch or tape looks better and can be more visually appealing. Tenacious Tape, for example, offers rolls in sage, coyote, off-white, olive green, black, and white, as well as pre-made round or rounded rectangular patches in black. 

The pre-made patches provide a cleaner look than the ones you cut out yourself, but they are only available in black. To repair a tear on the sleeve of a down jacket, use a Tenacious Tape kit with various shapes, which can also be used for future repairs.

Person wears down jacket on a cold morning near a river

Steps for Repairing a Down Jacket Using Gear Repair Tape From the Outside

Gather the necessary materials: gear repair tape, scissors, tweezers, and a clean surface to work on. Clean the surface of the jacket where the tear is located. Using a sponge or piece of fabric, clean the area with water or rubbing alcohol. If there is any escaping insulation, use the tweezers to tuck it neatly into the hole. 

Cut a patch out of the gear repair tape, ensuring it is the right size and shape to cover the tear. Use the tweezers to hold the patch with the sticky side facing up, and carefully maneuver it into the hole. Make sure the patch lies flat and the sides of the tear come together nicely. If there is fabric missing and the sides of the tear cannot come together nicely, consider using colored tape instead of a clear one to avoid seeing the white insulation through the patch. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the gear repair tape, which may include applying pressure or heat to the patch to ensure a strong bond. 

Once the patch is in place and secured, your down jacket is repaired. Well done!

Gear Repair Tape: From the Inside

An alternative way to repair a tear in your down jacket is to attach a patch to the inside of the tear between the insulation and the tear in the fabric. This method requires a little more dexterity and precision, as you'll need to maneuver the patch into the hole with the sticky side facing up and make sure it lies flat and the sides of the tear come together nicely. 

To do this, you may want to purchase a roll or sheet of gear repair tape that you can cut into patches of the right size and shape. Be sure to round the edges of the patches to avoid creating sharp corners that could damage the fabric or create additional holes or weaknesses. 

If there is fabric missing and the sides of the tear cannot come together nicely, you may want to choose colored tape instead of a clear one, to avoid seeing the white insulation through the patch. As always, be sure to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the gear repair tape you're using.

Steps for Repairing a Down Jacket Using Gear Repair Tape From the Inside

Gather the necessary materials: gear repair tape, scissors, tweezers, and a clean surface to work on. Clean the surface of the jacket where the tear is located. Using a sponge or piece of fabric, clean the area with water or rubbing alcohol. Avoid using soap, as it may affect the adhesiveness of the gear tape. 

If there is any escaping insulation, use the tweezers to tuck it neatly into the hole. Cut a patch out of the gear repair tape, ensuring it is the right size and shape to cover the tear. Use the tweezers to hold the patch with the sticky side facing up, and carefully maneuver it into the hole. Make sure the patch lies flat and the sides of the tear come together nicely. 

If there is fabric missing and the sides of the tear cannot come together nicely, consider using colored tape instead of a clear one to avoid seeing the white insulation through the patch. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the gear repair tape, which may include applying pressure or heat to the patch to ensure a strong bond. 

Once the patch is in place and secured, your down jacket is repaired. Boom. 

Couple wears matching red down jackets

The Duct Tape Down Jacket Repair: A Last Resort Option

Patching a tear in your down jacket with duct tape may seem like a quick and easy solution, but it's not a particularly durable nor attractive option. Duct tape is likely to disintegrate with washing or exposure to water, and it may leave a sticky residue that can be difficult to remove. 

Additionally, duct tape looks cheap and unappealing. While it's important to repair any tears in your down jacket as soon as possible to prevent insulation from escaping and tears from getting worse, it is recommended to use a more permanent and aesthetically pleasing method if possible. Duct tape is only suitable for emergencies where the tear is actively spreading or when you are losing insulation.

Steps for Using Duct Tape as a Last Resort Down Jacket Repair Option

To repair a tear in your down jacket using duct tape, gather the necessary materials: duct tape and scissors. First, clean and dry the surface of the tear. Then, tuck any escaping insulation neatly into the hole. 

Cut a piece of duct tape slightly larger than the tear, and carefully apply it over the tear, smoothing it down to ensure good adhesion. Trim any excess tape with the scissors. Repeat this process for any additional tears or holes in the jacket. Be cautious when washing the jacket, as the duct tape is likely to disintegrate. 

Keep in mind that this is a temporary fix, and a more permanent solution should be sought as soon as possible.

The Best Gear Repair Kits and Tapes Available

Check out this comprehensive comparison between the most popular repair kits and tapes so you can determine which option is best for your jacket repair.

Gear Repair Kits

A gear repair kit typically includes a variety of items for repairing different types of damage, such as adhesives, patches, fabric glue, and instructions for use. The kit may also include different shapes and sizes of patches, as well as different colors of adhesive or patches to match the color of the gear.

Gear Aid

After trying several different down jacket patch kits on the market, the Tenacious Tape kit from GearAid is clearly the best option. The patches are very easy to apply and have a strong adhesive that holds up well even in wet conditions. Additionally, the kit comes with a small tube of adhesive for any hard-to-reach areas or for reinforcing the patch. 

The only drawback is that the pre-made patches are only available in black, but the rolls of tape offer several color options. In conclusion, the Tenacious Tape kit is a reliable and stylish solution for repairing tears in down jackets and is highly recommended.

Stormsure

Stormsure is a reliable choice for repairing tears in down jackets. It comes with a waterproof adhesive that is simple to apply and dries clear, making it nearly undetectable on the jacket. The kit also includes a repair patch for larger tears and a fabric repair glue for smaller tears or holes. In summary, StormSure is a great option for a fast and effective repair.

Woman sits on bench wearing down jacket and beanie

Gear Repair Tape

Instead of a gear repair kit, both of these top products offer the option to use the repair tape only. Tenacious Tape and StormSure are both popular and highly-rated options for gear repair tape. 

Gear repair tape is a single product that can be used to repair tears or holes in the gear. It is typically a roll of adhesive tape with a strong and flexible backing that can be cut into the desired shape and size. Some brands of gear repair tape may also offer pre-made patches in different shapes and sizes. 

Gear repair tape is typically easier to use and apply than a repair kit, as it only requires one product and does not require any additional steps or tools. However, it may not be as versatile as a repair kit, as it is limited to repairing tears and holes. It may not be suitable for repairing other types of damage, such as rips or frays.

Tenacious Tape

Tenacious Tape is a strong and durable repair tape perfect for fixing tears, rips, and cuts on a variety of fabrics, including nylon, Silnylon, neoprene, and GORE-TEX. It is easy to use, requiring no sewing skills or heat and is available in peel-and-stick and iron-on options. The tape is washable and weatherproof, thanks to its ultra-aggressive adhesive that won't peel off when applied to technical fabrics like nylon and vinyl. Whether you're active or not, Tenacious Tape is always ready to handle any repair needs you may have. 

Stormsure TUFF Tape

Stormsure TUFF TAPE is a versatile and durable adhesive tape that is ideal for a variety of repair and sealing needs. This tape is made of a tough polyurethane film that is highly resistant to abrasion and tearing, and it can withstand extreme temperatures without losing its strength. The pressure-sensitive adhesive on the rear side allows for easy application, and the backing paper ensures easy removal and handling. In addition, TUFF Tape is waterproof and airtight, making it perfect for use in wet conditions. It is available in a range of shapes and sizes to suit your needs.

Person goes for a walk through the woods wearing a down jacket

Professional Fixes for Your Outdoor Gear

Not everyone is a DIY whiz; thankfully, there are many top-notch gear repair shops to get your down jacket back to its best form. 

Repair Lair

Repair Lair is a gear repair shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota dedicated to fixing just about anything. Repair Lair believes in the motto "If it's broke, fix it," and has a section for gear consignment. 

AdventureUs

AdventureUs is a Wisconsin-based outdoor adventure brand and resource offering quality adventure accessories and promotes a positive, inclusive community centered around the love of the outdoors. Founded by Amy Trimbo in 2018, AdventureUs began as a sewing service business focused on outdoor garment restoration and has since grown into a brand, retailer, and resource for environmentally-based products and eco-sewing supplies. 

The company is committed to environmental stewardship, learning, building communities, and quality, and is a member of 1% for the Planet, which means it donates 1% of its gross sales to environmental organizations. AdventureUs offers sewing classes and DIY supplies to encourage the repair of existing gear and sources. The shop only uses eco-friendly and ethically-sourced materials for its products and supplies. 

Rugged Thread

Rugged Thread in Bend, Oregon is a repair shop specializing in fixing broken zippers on a variety of outdoor gear including rain jackets, sleeping bags, tents, and life vests. They can also repair other issues such as holes, missing or broken snaps, and worn-out elastic cords. 

Prices for their services are case-by-case but can be as low as $20. 

Rainy Pass Repair

Rainy Pass Repair, Inc. is known for the expert factory finish work they provide. For over 30 years, they’ve been recognized as a premier outdoor gear repair shop in the US. They offer comprehensive services for repairing, modifying, or altering packs, tents, and rain jackets. They are a business recommended by major outdoor brands for expert warranty repairs and after-sale consumer needs, and their top priority is customer satisfaction. 

Close-up of down jacket zipper and pillows

Boulder Mtn Repair

Boulder Mtn Repair has been in the business of outdoor gear repairs for over 25 years. This includes services such as replacing old zippers and patching up holes to keep the technical gear fully functional for many adventures in the future. The company is dedicated to helping its customers repair, restore, and revive their beloved gear. 

Mountain Soles

Mountain Soles is a business that has been providing high-quality resoling,-8 and repairing services on boots and other outdoor sports footwear since 1979. Founded by Bill McKinney, who learned the skills of boot making and repair from John Newberry, Mountain Soles began in a garage before moving to a warehouse location. 

In addition to footwear repair, Mountain Soles also provides comprehensive sewing repairs and alterations for down jackets. The team at Mountain Soles is not only skilled in gear repair but also in outdoor gear restoration. Their goal is to keep customers' gear functioning and out of landfills. 

The Bottom Line: No Need for Tears Over Tears

Repairing a tear in a down jacket can be a challenging task, but it's important to take care of the tear as soon as possible to prevent insulation from escaping and the tear from getting worse. There are several methods for repairing a tear, including using gear repair tape or a repair kit, hand sewing, or even duct taping in an emergency. Each method has its pros and cons, so it's important to consider the severity of the tear, your skill level, and the desired appearance of the repair when choosing the best method. 

While it is possible to repair a down jacket at home, in some situations it may be better to have it professionally mended. If the tear is large or complex, or if you are not confident in your repair skills, it may be worth seeking the help of a professional to ensure a strong and durable repair.

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