You might be wondering what we do with gear that comes into Rainy Pass Repair that cannot be repaired or is otherwise left behind. People often ask if we sell used gear-unfortunately we don’t as there are a few better outlets for used gear in the area. However, we do try our best to make the most out of every piece of gear that comes through our shop, whether or not it can be fixed or restored.

Believe it or not, we get quite a few abandoned orders. Either walk-in customers never return to claim their goods, or mail-order customers never return our messages to resolve their orders. In most cases, we suspect the gear was replaced and the repair order forgotten. We hold onto most forgotten items for about 6 months, and try to contact the owner by any means possible, but if we can’t get through, it is time to be recycled.

If it is a coat, pants, or sleeping bag in good condition, we donate it to One Warm Coat to be distributed to people in need. If it’s not in good condition, we salvage the piece for any useful materials and hardware, then send the rest out for fabric recycling (more on that below).

Packs and bags that are abandoned or donated are usually in poor condition or have a zipper that cannot be effectively replaced, rendering the bag useless. We cut off the buckles, straps, and other hardware and use these for future repairs. If the shoulder straps look good, we remove those and clean them to be used for future modifications. Plastic frame sheets can be used for a variety of special projects, but the metal components are usually scrapped, unless it is a very popular model that we might see again. Larger panels of good fabric are salvaged for patch material and the rest is sent off to be recycled.

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Many of our warranty accounts donate returned or rejected garments to be recycled at our facility. This is how we get most of our proprietary fabric and also why we cannot provide yardage of any proprietary fabrics. We piece together the cut up panels from defective garments to use for patches, alterations, and custom work. We cut out large panels from the backs and sleeves of jackets, and take off any hardware that can be used. If the fabric is in bad condition or the hardware is worn, we will just recycle the entire garment so we can be sure that we are always providing high quality repairs with materials that are in good condition.

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In the summer months, we receive many tents that are either beyond useful life and not worth repairing, or simply donated by local guide organizations when they update their stock gear. First, we strip the tents and rain flies of their plastic or metal hardware for use on future repairs. We also save things like zipper toggles and guylines in case we need matching parts for similar tent repairs down the line. Next, we wash the fabric. If it is in decent shape after the wash, we cut it up for scraps to use for future patches or tent modifications. This is how we get most of the tent fabric used for repairs, we only buy the most basic fabric colors by the yard.

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After salvaging whatever we can from items around the shop, we recycle any leftover materials with help from our great city: Seattle. We are fortunate to be within a city that values recycling and happens to have a textile recycling service called ThreadUp. Old fabrics are shredded and repurposed as carpet padding or insulation. Check out their site for more information about this program.

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Here at Rainy Pass Repair, we’re always on the lookout for new ways to recycle, conserve energy, and save items from a sorrowful fate at the landfill. Caring about the environment at home and work is a key value for preserving the wild lands that we all enjoy. Let us know if you have any ideas, and we will give you a shout out on our blog!!