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Time is not on your side when it comes to the fragile exterior of your synthetic-or feather-filled vest or shell. Eventually, an encounter with a barbed-wire fence or the tip of a knife being returned to its sheath will slice an opening in the nylon. The best repair for such a tear is simple duct tape. (I’ve found Gorilla-brand tape to be the stickiest and most waterproof of the bunch.) But to save us from looking like a frat boy wearing his brother’s hand-me-down puffy, we’re going to put the tape on the inside so it won’t curl up and fall off in a week.

Tear off a piece of tape larger than the rip. Trying to avoid the sticky surface, trim the corners with a pair of scissors. Once the piece is ready, flatten the interior fill and gently slip the piece of tape inside with a clean stick, keeping the sticky side facing you and the slick side lying on top of the fill.

Once the tape is in place, close the tear on top of the duct tape, and you’re done. It might take a try or two before you get it right, but once you’re done the hole will be closed, there won’t be any sign of the tear, and the stuffing will stay intact.

Lofty Expectations
Traditional down, synthetic downs, and even the new waterproof downs need to be kept clean in order for them to retain their loft, which gives these garments the ability to retain heat.

To clean them, use a front-loading washer on gentle cycle with at least one extra rinse. Make sure you use a soap that rinses clean, like Sport Wash or Sensi Clean. Do not use Woolite, traditional granular detergent, or any fabric softener. The key is to completely rinse out any detergents, since these notably hamper the fill’s performance.

Once the garments are ready for the dryer, toss in a tennis shoe or a hard rubber ball and dry on medium heat until they’re completely dry.

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