The Great Outdoors demonstrates how to repair waterproof jackets – including tears and rips – to elevate your British-weather-ready gear skills.

Your waterproof is your first line of protection against the Great British weather. Investing in a good level of protection isn’t always cheap, either, so it’s disappointing when your outer layers get ripped or snagged during use. But, with plenty of gritstone and splintered stiles out there, accidents do happen. So, let’s learn how to repair waterproof jackets.

Main image: In the wet and wild Grey Corries. Credit: Jessie Leong.

How to repair different rips and tears in your waterproof

Repairing a small hole or tear

You will need: Duct tape, seam sealant
How to do it: Patch over with tape (do this on both sides if possible). Reinforce edges with seam sealant. You could also use a Gore-Tex repair kit. You can use duct tape on clothing and sleeping bags.

Chris Townsend said: “I have down jackets and bags with duct tape patches that have been there for years). I’ve never had to repair a softshell jacket but if there was a big hole or rip I’d just stick duct tape on it. Of course, a hole in softshell or fleece is more significant compared to one in a waterproof.”

repair waterproof jackets

Stitching the duct tape.
Credit: Chris Townsend

Repairing a medium rip or tear

You will need: Duct tape, seam sealant, a sewing kit
How to do it: Repeat the same steps listed above to repair a small rip or hole. If the area is under much tension and the rip is long, sewing the edges together as well would help to prevent it from tearing again.

Repairing a large rip or tear

You will need: Duct tape, seam sealant, a sewing kit
How to do it: For a large rip or tear use a long strip of duct tape or similar as a rough and ready repair. If conditions are right (in camp or on a sunny day), stitch the edges together before applying the tape. Seal the edges. Don’t rely on any repair of a large tear to last a long time – send the item off for professional work.

repair zips

Repairing a zip. Credit: Chris Townsend

Maintenance tips

  1. Hang jackets after a trek (never on a hot radiator)
  2. Clean with Nikwax Tech Wash or Granger’s 2-in-1 Cleaner and Waterproofer.
  3. Conventional detergents damage the DWR coating. Waterproofer is only needed if the DWR is failing.
  4. Membranes like Gore-Tex, eVent and NeoShell will leak when punctured. Páramo doesn’t fail when punctured and will last if re-proofed.

You can learn more about gear maintenance from our gear expert, Chris Townsend, who has detailed how to clean a tent and how to look after your hiking boots as well as how to make your outdoor gear last over 40 years for The Great Outdoors.