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Gear talk: repairing holes in tent mesh

Backpacking the Pembrokeshire Coast Path this year, I camped at a farm site one night. While I was away from the tent, the farm cat decided to rip holes in the mesh side of my tent. I took time out this week for repairs.

Damage to Duplex mesh on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path
Damage to Duplex mesh on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

I was fuming. Walking up the field to my tent I saw the cat under the vestibule doors. It shot off as I neared but I had a strong suspicion of what I would find. Thankfully the damage could have been a good deal worse, and I attempted to ignore it for the remainder of the trail. Arriving home, the shelter was laid over a clothesline in the garden and hosed clean. Hung from the upstairs banister (sorry about that Mrs Three Points of the Compass) for a week to thoroughly dry, it was then packed away while I thought about other things. However, I knew it had to be dealt with so eventually went online, ordered a few patches and tape and today, I put over half an hour to repair the damage.

Castle Farm. East Angle Bay, Pembrokeshire Coast Path
Castle Farm. East Angle Bay, Pembrokeshire Coast Path. Mind the cat!

For over thirty years the McNett brand was a familiar sight in the UK. Following a takeover and name change, since 1 January 2017 all European products are branded Gear Aid. They sell just about the only easily available circular mesh repair patches, so I ordered those. There are patches available elsewhere for flyscreen doors and the like but those all appear to be over-specced and inflexible and would not suit a lightweight shelter being scrunched or rolled up each day on trail. Unsure if the Gear Aid Mesh Patches would be large enough, I also ordered two large, shaped rectangles of flexible TPU tenacious tape, and in case they were not big enough, another role of stiffer PVC tenacious tape that could be cut and shaped. Gear Aid also sell Tenacious Gore-Tex, Sympatex, SilNylon, neoprene and coloured repair patches.

The Gear Aid Mesh Patches are 76mm diameter and comprise a circular ring of tenacious tape with a 63mm black mosquito mesh centre. These are advertised as being suitable for small holes and tears up to 70mm. These mesh repair patches used to be sold as separate mesh circles that had to be first positioned, followed by sticking the ring of adhesive tape over the top. I would like to have ordered larger mesh patches, perhaps 100mm or 150mm diameter but could find none. I reckon there is a gap in the market here.

Tenacious tape from Gear Aid
Tenacious tape from Gear Aid- Mesh, TPU and PVC

If my damage proved to be too large for these mesh patches, I decided I would simply stick ‘solid’ tenacious tape Gear Aid patches each side of the damage. I could have alternatively used Duct Tape, Gorilla Tape, DCF repair tape or any other decent tape, but DCF repair tape is very expensive while TPU tenacious tape is more flexible and lighter than most other repair tapes which are constructed primarily from PVC or fabric. The TPU tape also has a decent adhesive that makes a permanent bond when stuck down.

The two rectangular Gear Aid TPU Repair Patches measure 76mm x 127mm and have curved corners. This pre-shaping would mean less faff as I wouldn’t have to cut out two identical patches. Curved corners mean less likelihood of the tape peeling. Patches would have to be identical so as to correctly line up with each other when stuck to the opposite sides of the damaged mesh. I would have to put a patch on each side as otherwise the adhesive on a single patch would continue to stick to anything it came in to contact with through the mesh. I bought a 75mm x 500mm roll of PVC adhesive tape in case I did have to shape something bespoke. Note that the PVC is thicker and less flexible than the TPU patches. If the damage had been to the shelter’s ‘solid’ sides, I could potentially have got away with a patch on just one side for a tear, but, again, a hole would require two patches, but not necessarily identical in shape or size.

Holes cover a 70mm spread
Holes cover a 70mm spread
Offering unpeeled mesh patch to holes prior to starting
Offering unpeeled mesh patch to holes prior to starting

This is the type of repair job that has to be carried out slowly and carefully. Rush it and I’d end up with rucked mesh and a sticky mess. Spreading the damaged part of my tent I could see I had two holes, one small, the other much larger. Offering a Mesh Patch to the two holes, I reckoned I was in luck and could get away with these circular patches.

Gear Aid mesh patch

Each Gear Aid Mesh Patch measures 76mm diameter and has a ring of tenacious tape around a black mesh circle. The adhesive surface has a silicone release paper covering, that can be individually removed as two semi-circles.

Gear Aid mesh patch

The damage to my shelter was cleaned up with a sharp pair of SOG Snippet scissors and, again, the mesh repair patch offered to the damage to ensure it would cover it. I kept the damage as two separate holes and didn’t join them as one large hole just to try and preserve as much integrity in the mesh side as I could.

cleaning up holes
Again offeirng unpeeled mesh patch to holes prior to starting

The adhesive on these patches is particularly aggressive and care had to be taken with sticking on the first patch, inside the damage. Any rucking of the mesh at this time would result in a messy job and strained material when the tent is erected. Moistened fingers will help prevent them sticking to the adhesive, but I never bothered.

First patch stuck inside mesh
First patch stuck inside mesh

Happy with the first patch, the second was then stuck down on the other side. Taking great care to correctly line up the two identically shaped adhesive discs. It was simplest to remove just one semi-circle covering from the adhesive, only removing the second once it was correctly half stuck down. Then it was just a case of pressing the two sides together and ensuring there is a decent bond through the mesh. The remaining tape has gone into the gear locker, ready for any further, hopefully never to be realised, damage.

Half unpeeled outer patch is carefully applied over the inner patch ring
Half unpeeled outer patch is carefully applied over the inner patch ring
Inner and outer mesh patches applied
Inner and outer mesh patches applied

“our non-gloss matte finish is almost invisible, eliminating the need to match colours on fabric and other materials”

Gear Aid/McNett

Gear Aid call this tape ‘almost transparent’ and ‘almost invisible’. I wouldn’t go that far. Opaque would be a better description. This is not an invisible repair. Where the tape has been machine cut there is a tacky edge around the edges and that continues to stick to anything around, so I just dusted it with talc which removed that problem. Job done.

Tacky edges dusted with talc
Finished repair. Tacky edges have been dusted with talc

2 replies »

  1. Another TPOTC entry bookmarked!
    These things seem pretty darn good. Might have to get myself some.
    Thanks for the very detailed review, Jools!

    Like

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