How to Patch and Repair a Hole in a Down Jacket - Outdoors Magic

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How to Patch and Repair a Hole in a Down Jacket

There are a number of quick fixes for a ripped or burnt/melted down jacket. Here's all you need to know to save your trusty puffer

Nothing beats a down jacket for warmth to weight and packability. Whether you’re climbing, hiking or backpacking, a down jacket is almost always a useful item to have stashed in your backpack. Modern jackets are tougher than they look, largely due to the use of ripstop fabrics. However, down garments are still susceptible to wear and tear. After all, when it comes to kit the great outdoors has more than its fair share of hazards. That might be a hole caused by a flying spark from a campfire, a ripped sleeve caught on a stray branch or a snag in the shoulder from the rogue pick of an ice axe. Fortunately, with the right know-how it’s easy to repair a down jacket.

If your down jacket has a rip or tear, you should try to fix it as soon as possible to prevent that precious down from escaping. The good news is that you can often make the necessary repairs yourself, with minimal skills and equipment – and it won’t usually require sewing.

If there’s down escaping from a hole in your down jacket, don’t pull it out! The same applies to down leaking from stitched seams. Pulling it out tends to cause the down to form a chain as it’s forced through the narrow hole (like spinning raw wool or cotton into yarn). You can basically end up emptying the whole baffle of the jacket as you continue to pull. Instead, reach behind the hole from the inside of the jacket, pinch the down through the lining fabric and draw it back inside.

Furthermore, this guide will give you the know-how you need to make a neat and effective repair to your down jacket. And even if your jacket has suffered major trauma, there’s still no need to throw it away – scroll to the bottom for advice on specialist repair services.

Should You Try And Sew Up A Torn Down Jacket?

It’s generally not a good idea to try and sew up a rip or a tear in a down jacket. Due to the very lightweight face fabrics used in the construction of most down jackets, you’ll need a very fine needle and thread to do the job, and even tiny needle holes can cause surprisingly dramatic down leakage.

Down Jacket Repair: Quick Fixes

Duct Tape
For field repairs, where you just need to patch a hole quickly, the classic solution is simply to stick some tape over the rip or tear. Duct tape or gaffer tape generally works well, as it sticks to most fabrics, and is an item that most climbers and hikers carry in case of emergency.

If the down fill of your jacket is escaping, try to poke it back inside the jacket. Rip off a strip of tape large enough to cover the tear and stick it carefully over the damaged area. Smooth out the tape to ensure a good hold.

Your repair probably won’t look great, but it should at least be effective. A down jacket patched with duct tape will also add to your ‘gnarly climber’ or ‘rugged outdoorsman/woman’ credentials.
Note that duct tape is difficult to remove once applied. If you’re considering having the jacket professionally repaired when you get back to civilisation (see final section), use sparingly.

The Tenacious Tape approach.
Using an adhesive patch.
Duct tape. It might not be subtle, but it works!

Repair Tape

A more elegant fix than duct tape is to use a specialist weatherproof repair tape. Good examples are Gorilla Clear Repair Tape, Stormsure Tuff Tape or McNett Gear Aid Tenacious Tape. All are relatively inexpensive and widely available. Repair tape comes in clear PVC as well as black or coloured nylon and ripstop nylon variants. This makes it easier to match to different fabrics.

Adhesive or stitch-on badges make for a fun way to cover up holes and imperfections. Photo: v2osk

Take a pair of scissors and cut a strip of tape to size, leaving a margin of about 6mm/¼ inch around the tear. Don’t forget to round off the corners of the tape. This will ensure a strong hold and prevent it from lifting.

Next, poke any stray down back into your jacket. Smooth out the jacket around the damaged area, ensuring the face fabric is clean and dry. Apply the tape over the rip or tear and press down firmly. Smooth the tape from inside to outside edges.

Adhesive Patches

A third option is to purchase a pack of nylon repair patches. These are made by a number of companies including McNett Gear Aid, Kleiber, Down Jacket Repair, Prym and Dritz. They are available in a variety of colours. Most are self-adhesive, eliminating the need to glue or heat-seal the patch.

 “If you think the damage to your jacket is just too severe to fix yourself, then never fear…”

The same approach to using repair tape applies – poke any loose down back in (use the end of a teaspoon if necessary). Then select the most appropriate sized patch for your repair job and peel off the backing. Spread the torn area flat, place the patch over the tear and press down firmly.

My Repair Looks Rubbish – Help!

If you’ve had a go and are unhappy with the results, or if you think the damage to your jacket is just too severe to fix yourself, then never fear – there are still a couple of other options.

Contact The Manufacturer

Your first option is to contact the jacket manufacturer to check whether they offer a repair service. Many will be able to help – for example, UK companies Rab and Montane both offer a range of specialist repair services. Their in-house experts can deal with everything from patching holes to replacing and re-stitching entire fabric panels or baffles. Other brands that offer similar services include Bergans of Norway, Patagonia (through their Worn Wear initiative) and Alpkit. In fact, Alpkit’s helpful staff in their Hathersage, Ambleside and Keswick stores can even repair your kit regardless of whether it’s one of their own products.

Though using an official repair service is sometimes costly, brands are usually able to match fabric colours and types. This means repairs are unlikely to be very noticeable or result in a loss of garment performance.

Try A Specialist Repair Service

An alternative option is to contact a specialist independent company. Many of these companies have a wealth of experience in repairing down products to an extremely high standard. As well as fixing holes, rips and tears, they can even replace or top up lost down. This will ensure your jacket continues to keep you as warm as it should.


You May Also Like:

How To Repair Taped Seams On A Waterproof Jacket

How To Repair Torn Waterproofs

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