What was your most catastrophic gear failure/break?

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Home Forums Gear Forums Gear (General) What was your most catastrophic gear failure/break?

Viewing 13 posts - 26 through 38 (of 38 total)
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  • #3773720
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    …the (bear) slobber covered…”

    Ursak users, take note. Truly awful, sticky stuff. It will get on your hands, and from there…into what’s left of your food.

    d k
    BPL Member


    The sole of one of my boots started detaching in the afternoon before our last camp on a Sierra trip.  When we got to camp that night, we pooled our thermarest patch glue tubes, spread it between the layers, and then wrapped the front of the boot with some flat cordage that I’d gotten on BPL to use for bear bagging, and tied it up pretty well.  It held well enough to climb cross country up and out of Cherry Canyon, thankfully, after which I switched to my Crocs for the rest of the trip out, since the sole was only attached at the heel by then.

    Mina Loomis
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central Texas

    RE: Boot sole delamination. Paracord/utility cord works longer than duck tape because it slides in between the lugs which protects it from abrasion. The picture is temporary repair of my daughter’s boots; repair lasted 4 days on the Wonderland Trail.

    Joan's boot repair

    Jerry Adams
    BPL Member


    Locale: Oregon and Washington

    That’s a good idea, I’ll remember that.

    I’ve seen delaminated boots abandoned in the wilderness and wondered how they got back

    BPL Member


    Locale: The West is (still) the Best

    I’d say using a tarp-like structure where the sand wouldn’t even take groundhog stakes, the rocks were all too large to move, etc…. in the middle of massive wind gusts (70 to 100 MPH at the nearby wind farm .. which is why there was a windfarm nearby).  Eventually ended up as a fabric burrito.

    In retrospect I should have plodded on through the soft sand (and the next year I did) to the relative safety of an overpass.  I was pretty tired and the idea of replaying a Beau Geste French Foreign Legion novel through thick sand just didn’t appeal at the time.

    Related was reading on r ultralight an essay on how the perfect shelter doesn’t exist, so looking at a “wind” bivy + cat tarp next desert venture.

    Nick Gatel
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern California


    Snow stakes or deadman stakes in some desert environs. Sand in your hair and mouth isn’ fun either. But I happily continue to backpack in deserts decade after decade.

    This kind of stuff isn’t fun . . .


    John “Jay” Menna
    BPL Member


    Locale: 30.3668397,-97.7399123

    My knees failed 70 miles into the 100 mile wilderness.      I had to goose step like the Hitler youth for 30 miles.


    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    Nick, looks like you’re about to be smothered by a Haboob. Not a bad way to go…

    BPL Member


    Locale: The West is (still) the Best

    Snow stakes

    Thanks. I might try more of those next desert trip, though  I’m also curious as to whether my Cirriform’s pointed foot region would deflect said winds.

    Craig J.
    BPL Member


    Locale: Mid-Atlantic

    I have one. I was on a two night trip in Big Bend Ranch State Park with 3 other guys. I brought an MSR Sweetwater filter for the group. I showed my friend how to use it and he got water the next morning before we headed out. Our route passed only one water more source on this trip where we planned to filter enough water for the 4 of us for night 2 and the next day’s hike out. When we arrived at the water source, a muddy seep trampled by donkeys and every other animal in probably a few miles radius, I pulled out the filter to restock our water bottles and found my friend had completely dismantled the pump head for some reason. I reassembled and started to pump out of the mud hole, but on the down stroke the water would just go back out the way it came in. I took it apart and reassembled again. Same thing. We each took turns looking at the thing and decided something must be missing. We figured out that we could suck the water up, pinch off the inlet line and pump down and the water would go through the filter. What should have taken 5 minutes, took 45 working in shifts with one guy pumping and another one pinching. Fun times.

    I was able to order a replacement “duck bill valve”. It was a little rubber wedge that worked as a check valve. This was the trip that led me to Backpacking Light and ultralight backpacking about 10 years ago. I think I had a 25 lb base weight on that trip. This year I’m under 10. Gravity filter was my first gear change.

    Keiran S
    BPL Member


    The straps of my backpack got stripped off, exposing my gear to the rain. It wasn’t a downpour, but it was enough to make the night colder than I thought. My clothes got wet as well. Overall, it wasn’t the best day out.

    Luckily, I always bring some sort of sewing kit along with my first aid stuff. I’m glad I didn’t forget my thermal emergency blanket behind.

    Catherine D
    BPL Member


    I’d gone on a 10 day backpack through UCSC prior to starting college. A fellow student and I thought we knew more than we did and planned an overnight near campus. We rented a stove from the local backpacking store, got fuel and food. Once we got to the site, we discovered the fuel wasn’t compatible with the stove. We hadn’t checked it before hand. All our food required cooking and we planned to boil drinking water. The campsite was terrible and completely covered in flies. We bickered until first light and hiked out and never spoke to each other again. My next backpacking trip was 15 or so years later – so for me the catastrophic failure was missing out on 15 years of my favorite activity.

    Scott Nelson
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern California and Sierras

    I’ve seen tent poles break when stepped on or when they were flexed and one pole section was not fully seated at the ferrule.  Ferrule bent and worried us but didn’t break.  I have help a friend who received the wrong poles for their rental dome tent.  A tent stake up through the grommet and into the pole end can make do with a pole that is too long.

    The catastrophic break I experienced was whenI dragged my all leather Asolo boots out of the garage after not using them for years.  We were going on an all day hike in the snow, so I needed more than trail runners.
    Hiking along parts of the midsole start crumbling out of the shoes until nothing connected the rubber sole and the boot upper.  Duct tape and cordage got me back to the car.
    Not covered under warranty.  Hydrolysis breaks down the injected polyurethane midsole. Accelerated by warmth and high humidity.  Takes a few years and can happen while sitting unsold.

    And there was the time my buddy was snow sealing his leather boots late at night before a romp in the snow.  He wanted the wax to melt into the leather, so he put them in the oven.  To his surprise, he discovered that the big Vibram soles were attached with heat activated glue.  Duct tape at the toe kept them from flapping too badly the next day.

    Of course there was the day pack I sewed with spinnaker fabric that split open along half it’s side seam from the bottom attachment of the shoulder strap.  That was within the first 15 minutes of using the pack.  Why don’t we see spinnaker packs any more?

    All good fun,


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