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ThePeregrine
member (16)member
  
06/08/2024 04:23PM  
What gear failures have you experienced in the field? What are some things you double check before or during your trip to prevent against failure? What pieces of gear do you take a backup?

I recently completed my first solo trip. My very first night I decided to boil some water to rehydrate my first meal of the trip. I fired up my MSR Wisperlite Universal stove using a brand new 8oz isobutane canister. While digging through my Ursak for the meal I wanted I heard a "woosh" sound. I looked up and my fuel canister was engulfed in flames a foot high or more. I grabbed the stove by the fuel line and tossed it into the lake. After inspection, I found there is a nut on the fuel line near the canister connection that was loose. Enough fuel must have leaked out to be ignited by the burner, turning my canister into a giant lantern. I tightened the nut and the stove and canister worked for the next 5 days.

I had no idea the nut could come loose or lead to such a result. The incident got me thinking about what other unexpected failures I might run into. Please share your experiences so that others may learn and prevent similar outcomes.
 
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06/08/2024 07:02PM  
Wow, that could have been caused big problems if you had been really close when it lit up. Quick thinking on throwing it in the lake.

We tripped in mid May this year and had a few failures. Usually we don’t have any issues. 1)We always take 2 stoves. This year the Coleman exponent would not light, still need to figure out why. 2) Then on one of our exped pads, the glue on the center baffle gave out, so the center was 2 inches higher than the rest. Not the best sleeping conditions. ( exped is replacing the pad! Nice service! ). 3) on our tent, the little plastic clip that holds the 2 poles together in an x at the top broke (user error, but really, plastic?). We did a temp fix with duct tape (Marmot can’t send us that small piece, guessing they switched to aluminum, but they are giving us credit to purchase new poles with the redesigned clip- again, great service on an older tent). 4) our sons tent, which has seen a lot of use, started leaking along a roof seam. Not good in 40 degrees and heavy rain. Sort of did a temp fix by placing a tarp between the fly and tent. 5) my raincoat developed a small hole on the inside layer between the shoulders. Just kept me wet enough to be damp all week. Hopefully we have all our gear failures over with!
 
06/09/2024 08:04AM  
4keys, it’s amazing you and your family continue camping with all those issues happening on one trip. At least you have a good story to tell.

My only notable failure was an old (probably at least 30 years) propane suitcase stove valve that decided to not work on an October trip to the UP. My nephew who was back from 2 years in AmeriCorps and very handy with patching up old worn-out equipment, which AmeriCorps had a lot of, disassembled the valve and with a bit of aluminum foil got it to work. It would only run full-out but at least we could use it. The lesson I took from this was to test run my stove before departing on a trip and I also bring a compact twig stove on all trips.
 
06/10/2024 07:28AM  
I’ve been fortunate to not have many, especially since I made it a practice to test/check most things before departure. But even then it can happen - had a headlamp not work once even after new batteries and test a week before departure.

I have a list of things I check/test before my trip. Tent, pad, sleeping bag, stove/fuel, tarp, electronics, zippers, lighters, expired first aid/personal items. I also use an extensive packing checklist.

 
EddyTurn
distinguished member (279)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/10/2024 11:14AM  
I'm in the same camp as Boonie. Recheck everything, replace all batteries with fresh ones. Bring a repair kit, including a multi-tool and speedy stitcher for fixing packs and tents. Bring non-technological replacement for all high-tech gear (compass for GPS, regular pot for Jetboil, TearAid, Superglue and duct tape for everything else).
 
colddriver
senior member (51)senior membersenior member
  
06/11/2024 11:17AM  
I don't put fresh batteries in anything until I'm at camp, had headlight turn In The pack. I had spares but that's not how I wanted to use them. Lesson learned for me.
 
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(1997)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/12/2024 03:39PM  
1) Had a mouse chew a hole in the top of our tent one night...who can blame him, it was a nasty cold and rainy night. We were able to repair it with the stash of repair tape I had along. Lesson: If you hear chewing sounds in the night, ignore your husband when he tells you its nothing and that you should just go back to sleep...LOL.

2) My newish sleeping pad had a major leak when I pulled it out of its bag this spring on a canoe race. Turns out it looks like it was slit with a knife and I have no idea how or when. I had just used it a month before and it was fine. Must have happened somehow when it was being dried in the garage. Lesson: blow your pad up before you go no matter what and carry plenty of repair tape even when trying to travel light for a race.

3) A 4 year old tent had blown out pole bungie cords which we discovered the first night of an 8 day trip. We were able to do a work around in the field but it was annoying.

4) Before I learned that you should put electrical tape over all "waterproof" plugs on rechargeable devices, I had a SPOT Gen 3 malfunction due to water ingress. It lit up the SOS button when it failed and scared the s*** out of me that SAR was coming to find me. I boogied out of the BW a day early to contact my husband to reassure him. Fortunately, it was a false alarm. Lesson: Cover all rubber plugs with electrical tape

That's about it.
 
06/12/2024 07:53PM  
The major one we had last month in Quetico was rivets that secured the seats to the kevlar hull on one of our tandems started loosening and pulling out; suddenly had a bow paddler supported by 1 of 4 rivets on the starboard side, 3/4 on larboard...it was clear that it was all coming out if any more weight was put on that seat.

This was day 5 of 9. We simply cut some log rounds from deadfall and wedged them under the seat. Finished the trip that way.

Now I have to make the repair...
 
blackdawg9
distinguished member (197)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/13/2024 07:41AM  
we had a coleman 442 stove completely lock up and fail. the internal cleaning needly let go and lodged in the orifice.

we switched to a svea 123 slant valve , no needle, its bullet proof and toss in a msr pocket rocket and a small can or 2 of fuel stashed.


if i was taking a whisperlight , i would take a xtra pump.


i dont know what the issue is, i've had with batteries lately, but my good flashlights made of alunimin , seem to have batteries start corroding almost immediately. is it heat or humidity? IDK, but never had the same issue with headlamps or cr123 batteries.
 
06/13/2024 12:02PM  
blackdawg9: "we had a coleman 442 stove completely lock up and fail. the internal cleaning needly let go and lodged in the orifice.


we switched to a svea 123 slant valve , no needle, its bullet proof and toss in a msr pocket rocket and a small can or 2 of fuel stashed.



if i was taking a whisperlight , i would take a xtra pump.



i dont know what the issue is, i've had with batteries lately, but my good flashlights made of alunimin , seem to have batteries start corroding almost immediately. is it heat or humidity? IDK, but never had the same issue with headlamps or cr123 batteries."


I have wondered about leaking batteries also. I think it is the batteries themselves and I avoid Ray-O-Vac batteries which seem to leak quickly and into everything I have used them in.

It’s been quite a while but I remember when all batteries were guaranteed against leakage and the manufacturer would supposedly replace your damaged item.
 
Bjfinnegan
senior member (80)senior membersenior member
  
06/13/2024 02:13PM  
Failures:
- Broken fishing rod that was repaired using a tent pole splint, some sticks as shims, and duct tape.
- Tent poles elastic - I think three guys have now had this happen after 6-7 years of use. REI, Big Agnes, and MSR. Luckily it was a $15 fix to redo mine with about an hour of time.
- Inflatable pillow failures. Easy to use your clothes bag. This year I happened to have an extra Nemo Filo Elite that I don't like with me for a guy when his leaked.
- Hammock - it was an ultralight for leisure only, but had a couple tears near one of the gathering points from abrasion. Lucky to have not injured a wrist when it failed over rocks.

Prevention: The BRS stove is any easy very small stove to carry as redundancy if you use IsoPro cans, and only like $15. Extra water filter. Avoid JetBoil for universal use. Obvious things like gear aid patches, repair kits, duct tape, super glue, etc.
 
Jefflynn06
member (45)member
  
06/14/2024 10:50PM  
My wife and I were out with a student group one year when my water filter became so clogged that it only spit water out the release valve and the handle of the back up pump broke (two different pump types). We attempted to clean the clogged pump and repair the broken handle with just about every fix we could think of. They worked a bit but not nearly enough for a group of 9. We tried boiling water lover the fire - resulted in smoky water that was undrinkable. Didn't want to burn the fuel canisters either. Luckily, had water purifying tablets with as option number 3.

Switched to gravity filters after that and have had no problems.
 
chessie
distinguished member (385)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/15/2024 01:32PM  
Many years ago, we were camped at the beautiful peninsula site on Cummings. We knew a storm was brewing, with distant thunder rumbling much of the afternoon/evening. It finally let loose a little before midnight. We were camped in our Eureka Alpine Meadow, which is like the Timberline with an additional center pole that arcs over, bisecting the ridgeline, giving the tent more support on the long side walls (I don't think they make these anymore). It's a 4 person, and we were with our big dog. The rain was coming down horizontally, with such wind that it came through the fly/tent walls. One of the tent poles broke about midway, and the jagged ends protruded into the tent, right over our dog. The ends were only held together by the internal bungie. We had with us the Annex that could be set up attached to the front of the tent, or free standing. It's like a parabolic tarp. One of the annex poles is interchangeable with the 4 tent poles. Thank goodness. I was able to switch out the broken pole. We had our rain gear on and our backs against the windward side of the tent to keep it from collapsing. We had standing water inside the tent. About the only dry spot was the pad the dog was on. I stuff extra clothes & loose items into dry sacks before retiring, so much gear stayed dry. Once it let up, we stayed huddled on the 'dry island' in the tent until I couldn't stand it any longer and got up quite early in the morning. Our friend's aluminum canoe got picked up and blown sideways into a smallish red pine tree. The tree gave at the roots, so the canoe didn't kink, but held enough to keep the canoe from blowing off the point. Grateful for that spare tent pole!
 
Bamthor
senior member (60)senior membersenior member
  
06/17/2024 08:48AM  
Our number one failure by far in the BWCA has been Katadyn water filters for their Be Free system. We now take 3-4 on every trip. Sometimes you are lucky to get one pass with them before they clog up. We fill out of the lake in the deep to try to avoid problems. We love the system but they are a royal pain. I also use a Sawyer filter on my water bottle and have never had issues with that after ten years it is still going strong.

 
AlexanderSupertramp
distinguished member (407)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/17/2024 09:32AM  
Not me, but my father brought along a brand new, unused Jetboil Flash a couple years ago on our Fall trip. It made it through one dinner boil then never worked again. We disassembled the entire stove using some pick tools and a small screwdriver that I had in my kit but still were unable to get it to work. We presume the valve body failed from manufacture defect, as it was not getting gas to the burner. It was a rainy trip so fires were almost impossible. Our only backup stove was my pocket rocket, which is a champ for the remaining 4 fays, and has never failed me. I found it rather entertaining actually because he kept telling me how great his stove was on that first day because it was all-in-one, blah blah.

For me personally, the Katadyn BeFree fails/clogs pretty much every time I use it, almost immediately, I dont know why I paid money for that filter setup.
 
06/17/2024 02:37PM  
My JetBoil Sol stove in contrast has worked without fail since 2012. The nice thing about canister stoves is there's little weight penalty to carry a spare burner.

People were having trouble with the old Katadyns years ago (15+) because they weren't field-maintainable by back flushing. I've had good luck with most others - Sawyer, Platypus, HydroBlu, etc.
 
ThePeregrine
member (16)member
  
06/17/2024 09:02PM  
Thanks all for the responses. My goal in asking was to identify risks I wasn't aware existed, like the random nut of the fuel line of my whisperlite. Batteries out of headlamp while traveling is an idea I haven't done but will now. A backup pocket rocket or similar seems like a good idea. I'll also be bringing 2 small fuel canisters instead of 1 medium incase one fails or explodes for unexpected reasons. Looking back, I wonder how long I could have left the canister engulfed in flames before it exploded? Probably longer than I thought when I was afraid to pick it up and just kicked it haha.

A companion of mine also had his tent fail (pole broke, rainfly destroyed) in an epic severe thunderstorm in June 2014 or 2015. I don't know how my tent survived, and I don't think there is much one can do to prepare for that type of wind except buy the best tent you can afford.
 
06/17/2024 09:36PM  
straighthairedcurly: "1) Had a mouse chew a hole in the top of our tent one night...who can blame him, it was a nasty cold and rainy night. We were able to repair it with the stash of repair tape I had along. Lesson: If you hear chewing sounds in the night, ignore your husband when he tells you its nothing and that you should just go back to sleep...LOL. “


What the huh?? What a story!
 
PabloKabo
distinguished member (151)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/18/2024 01:09PM  
I use white gas for most of my cooking. Testing out new-to-me stoves is sort of fun for me, though I have fallen in love with my Dragonfly and probably won't use anything else.

Anyway, I was testing a stove my father and I had used many many years before for a backpacking trip. It is a tiny military stove that burns white gas (or just about anything else I think). Anyway, it started up just as I had remembered and burned well for the most part. I ran it wide open as well as at the best "simmer" the stove could muster. As I was powering it down - I had just extinguished the flame, I heard a little hissing sound coming from the stove. I noticed a small jet of liquid spraying from the bottom of the fuel tank. It was gas! Fortunately, it didn't ignite. After the stove had cooled, I relieved the pressure and emptied the tank. There was a small pinhole where rust had eaten away at a small part of the fuel tank. I never expected that!

Besides that incident which could have been a horribly dangerous incident out on a campout, we've had a nut come loose on the canoe's thwart, or forgotten stakes for a screen tarp. Nothing too bad.

 
Diego
distinguished member (375)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/19/2024 12:52PM  
Only real gear failure of consequence I’ve had is multiple Exped sleeping pads. I’ve had three in the BWs fail. Just yesterday I did a gear check before our upcoming trip and two more baffles have delaminated causing bubble's to form. And I’m meticulous with gear and never overinflated or left in the sun to expand. Very frustrating. Customer service has replaced them before but I just can’t trust them anymore while out camping.

 
06/19/2024 02:53PM  
For prevention, seam sealing and reapplying spray-on waterproofing are the most important things to plan on doing. Otherwise, I always recommend setting everything up once before your trip to ensure everything is in good working condition. Preferably early enough that you have time to order parts to treat, repair, or replace the gear.

Sanitizing your water filter after every trip is important, cleaning your stove and checking the parts, sharpening blades and hooks, replacing fishing line yearly, untangling all the ropes, repacking gear that may not have been stored as it's supposed to be, ensuring anything that needs to be charged is 100% before the trip, and more.

I usually do a process before and after every trip to ensure I have everything and it works. Some of the above I do before OR after the trip, some I do both. Then I give everything a once over as I pack as well to ensure that I didn't miss anything. I tend to get a little particular when I am making sure I have everything.
 
06/19/2024 03:37PM  
Reminds me, Diego, of that old saying . . . "the best warranty is the one you never have to use".
 
Crappiekillah
member (25)member
  
06/23/2024 07:43AM  
Great thread,other peoples failures are good lessons.Of course take along all the necessary repair items like most do.I alway roll with 2 sawyer gravity filters and 2 cnoc 3 liter water bags.Boiling water all trip would be a HUGE time suck.I take a yoga mat plus a thermarest inflatable.yoga mat is always under thermarest and makes for a great sleep system(which I need due to a couple disc herniations)just the yoga mat would get me thru if inflatable failed.plus the yoga mat is my ground pad while I chill out cooking my grub.
 
Thabstarbod
  
06/26/2024 12:01PM  
I couldn't agree more.
 
salukiguy
distinguished member(602)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/26/2024 03:38PM  
I had my Peak 1 stove burst into flames as well and had to throw it into the lake to extinguish it.

My friend brought an aluminum canoe that he knew had been hit by a falling tree. He neglected to leak check it and it leaked for the whole trip. He mitigated it by placing his packs on to logs to keep them above water and occasional bailing. On the same trip a storm blew that canoe away and we lost it overnight at a campsite above basswood falls. Luckily the wind blew it the other way instead of over the falls.
 
06/27/2024 07:20AM  
colddriver: "I don't put fresh batteries in anything until I'm at camp, had headlight turn In The pack. I had spares but that's not how I wanted to use them. Lesson learned for me."


A lot of headlamps have a built in failsafe for this possibility. Set it before you pack.
 
Samsquatch
member (44)member
  
06/27/2024 08:59AM  
I had a fishing reel malfunction last year. I think it got dunked in the water while landing a smallmouth from the canoe. Cranking the reel, there was a lot of resistance and it felt gritty. This was on the last afternoon of the trip so I borrowed a spare rod and reel from my paddling partner for the rest of the day. This year I'm bringing reel lubrication for our trip.
 
BdubyaCA
member (22)member
  
06/27/2024 10:21AM  
Jefflynn06: "My wife and I were out with a student group one year when my water filter became so clogged that it only spit water out the release valve and the handle of the back up pump broke (two different pump types). We attempted to clean the clogged pump and repair the broken handle with just about every fix we could think of. They worked a bit but not nearly enough for a group of 9. We tried boiling water lover the fire - resulted in smoky water that was undrinkable. Didn't want to burn the fuel canisters either. Luckily, had water purifying tablets with as option number 3.


Switched to gravity filters after that and have had no problems."


only one filter for a group of 9? thats a bold move!
 
bottomtothetap
distinguished member(1061)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/27/2024 11:50AM  
The snapped tent pole stories remind me of when in '08 we were camped on kind of a high knob on Ogish during a night of nasty storms that came in wave after wave. During one windy wave of the storm one of our fiberglass tent poles that had been getting bowed in by the wind snapped. We held it place as best we could from the inside of the tent until there was a brief lull to the storms and then went outside and repaired the pole with duct tape. The repair held the rest of the night and then for a number of years afterward until I finally retired the tent in '16 with that same duct tape holding the pole together. The night of those storms one of our party in another tent also got struck by lightning when a close strike travelled along some tree roots and then arched from his aluminum tent pole to his nearby elbow. A nasty looking bruise on his elbow was all that resulted for him--very lucky. Worst night of storms I've experienced in over 30 trips.
 
RunningFox
distinguished member (227)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
06/27/2024 06:36PM  
New one-piece guide at the tip of an Ugly Stik Lite came completely off this year. Last year the knob on the handle of a Pflueger President XT came off —- screw was stripped for some unknown reason. Also, last year the two-burner Colman suit case stove failed, this when there was a fire ban in effect. Luckily I had an MSR Windpro as a back up.

Always bring an extra rod and reel. Always bring a Steri Pen in addition to my Katadyn Base Camp water filter. And I carry two stoves (Colman two burner plus MSR windpro), plus I carry a Purcell trench grill.

As has been said, in the wilderness one is none, and two is one.
 
billconner
distinguished member(8697)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberpower member
  
06/27/2024 06:53PM  
Maybe a little off topic but my Exped pillow and Synmat failed this past weekend while camping. Pillow blew a seam and the stitching between 2 tubes of mat blew out. Kind of like it has a disease. Both bought in spring of 2013 for a Philmont trip. Sent an email to Exped - they're sending me new replacements. Just amazing. I bought a lifetime mat and pillow.
 
Jefflynn06
member (45)member
  
06/28/2024 06:10AM  
BdubyaCA: "
Jefflynn06: "My wife and I were out with a student group one year when my water filter became so clogged that it only spit water out the release valve and the handle of the back up pump broke (two different pump types). We attempted to clean the clogged pump and repair the broken handle with just about every fix we could think of. They worked a bit but not nearly enough for a group of 9. We tried boiling water lover the fire - resulted in smoky water that was undrinkable. Didn't want to burn the fuel canisters either. Luckily, had water purifying tablets with as option number 3.



Switched to gravity filters after that and have had no problems."



only one filter for a group of 9? thats a bold move!"



We did have two pumps. One became clogged and the handle of the second one broke. And brought purifying tablets as option 3.
 
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