Repair Kit

As in all areas of life, Murphy's Law seems to prevail while canoeing. If something on our is going to break, it will never happen while we are out on a day paddle, or when we are close to civilization. Instead, the devious piece of gear will wait until we are two days and seven portages into a trip, then promptly fall apart. The likelihood of an item breaking is directly proportional to the distance we are away from the tools required to fix it.

That being the case, it is a good idea to bring along a little container with some odds and ends that will enable us to fix whatever breaks. A combination of the items listed below and a bit of ingenuity will keep nearly any piece of equipment operating.

Ever tempted to leave the kit at home to save a bit of weight? Don't even think of it! In all of my years of canoeing, I have only had serious need of my repair kit once. We were paddling the Spanish River and one of the canoes wrapped on a run through Cedar Rapids. The canoe, a fiberglass Swift, was a mess. There were six separate cracks and holes, the portage yoke was torn off at one end, both aluminum gunwales were snapped, and the canoe had basically assumed the same shape as a banana. We dragged the canoe to shore, dried if off, and began major surgery. A lot of grunting, pounding and leverage got the boat back into a reasonable canoe shape. Holes were quickly repaired with duct tape. A couple of wood screws through the gunwale fastened the portage yoke. The result wasn't pretty, but within half an hour, we had transformed the canoe from a wreck into a perfectly serviceable craft. Without the repair kit, two paddlers would have been hiking out to the train tracks to hitch a ride back home.

Here's what I carry in my repair kit.

A Basic Repair Kit

Duct Tape Need we say more? There is nothing that can't be repaired with a judicious application of duct tape
 
Fastener Container I carry a baby food jar with an assortment of nuts, bolts, screws and different sized nails. Good for everything from re-nailing up portage signs to re-attaching that broken portage yoke.
 
Epoxy Adhesive A tube each of 5 minute set resin and hardener - bonds anything
 
Snare Wire A small roll of brass snare wire is great for temporary fastening of straps, canoe seats, whatever
 
Needle-Nose Pliers For loosening or tightening anything
 
Multi-Tool A great addition - these ingenious devices have everything from pliers, to screwdrivers to knife blades to files on them.
 
Flashlight Stuff A spare bulb and maybe a couple of double A batteries for that flashlight that dies.
 
Plastic Wire Ties These plastic straps used by electricians to bundle wires and cables are a great addition.  They 'loop' together and never come undone, and they're made of very strong plastic. 
  
Stove Parts If a pump or generator dies, it's nice to have a spare. Same thing for that pesky cap for the tank. A stove isn't much good if you can't pump it up because you dropped the filler cap in the lake.
 
Vinyl Patch and Contact Cement Try and scrounge an old piece of swimming pool liner about 12" square. It can be adhered over a major hole in a canoe with contact cement. Good for those repairs that are beyond the duct tape stage.
 
Fiberglass Repair Kit Not something I carry on every trip, but if we're doing a route with any significant amount of whitewater, I bring along a couple of square feet of fiberglass fabric, a small container each of epoxy resin and hardener, a paint brush, a small plastic squeegee, and a pair of vinyl gloves.