I’ve got a pair of cross trainer shoes that I love to wear when I’m not packing a lot of weight and just want to move quickly, problem is they are wearing out, but I can’t let them go just yet. They are like an old pair of slippers, getting more cozy with the passage of time. So I hit on an idea to save them for a while, I’ll repair them and see what happens. I’ll do the repair in style, a repair in the field, not in my living room on the couch while watching TV. A bit tougher, since I won’t have access to all the helpful things available at home to make the project easier.

So here’s my plan. I decided to go out do an extended hike, carry some new gear on a new rig I’ve been working on, and get way up somewhere, do the repair, finish the hike up, then all the way back down, in the shoes. I like to accomplish several things at the same time when I go out, so this is a great fit.

Here’s how it went

“I just hiked up for about an hour and a half to a ridge line, then scouted out a dense stand of Juniper where I could get out of the wind, the sprinkles of rain, and snow pellets. I’m not dressed too well for sitting and doing a shoe repair, I’m better suited for energetic hiking, but that’s all part of the scenario. I want to simulate a real life kind of experience. My right shoe’s sole is tore loose from the toe about 1/3rd of the way back and needs to be repaired before I don’t have a shoe to wear, but the weather is turning, a storm trying to blow in. I’m just dressed in regular pants,  and a North Face long sleeve poly T shirt, not so good for sitting and sewing.

I’m pretty experienced with a Speedy Stitcher and don’t think this will be too hard to do. So I find a little patch of grass to sit on, take off my shoe and go to work. Since the repair is in the toe, I need to take out the laces. I get out the Speedy Stitcher, shove the needle through the rubber sole and the shoe leather, not too hard to do, so far so good. Now I discover a problem I had not anticipated, the toe area is so small and tight, I can’t work in it. For every stitch I make I have to push a thread through a small loop at the end of the needle, inside the crowded dark toe. It’s a nightmare, I’m thinking what did I get myself into here, this is not going to be easy, it’s going to take a while. It takes me half an hour to do just 3 stitches, and I’ve got to do about 10. I feel myself getting a little chill.

In frustration I try several different things to get the stitching done, finally I hit on an idea, I’ll pull out several inches of loop thread out of the needle, then I can see what I’m doing. I try it, thats the ticket, still not easy to do, but much faster. It’s been another half hour now and I’m just finishing up, it’s looking good, I’m happy about it. So what I figured would be 20 to 30 minutes turned into over an hours work, sore fingers, and a new vocabulary. I’ve got it done though and it’s solid, that’s what counts. I put on the shoes run around in them, they feel great, success!!”

So why am I blogging to you about my shoe repair experience? Because it’s part of reality, it’s something that actually happens, something that needs a solution. For me personally, the reason is to test myself, to see if I could do it, under less than ideal conditions. I admit I underestimated the difficulty and the frustration I would feel, with my fingers cold and getting numb, but having to pull with all my effort with just my finger tips to work the thread in the toe of my shoes. I had to show myself I had the patience to keep at it till done. I purposely hiked back in a good distance before doing the repair so it would not be easy to just go back. Thats how I test myself.

Here are some points to consider

  • Do you test yourself?
  • Can you start a fire in most conditions with your survival gear only?
  • How do you know, if you don’t test yourself?
  • Can you do a repair like I just talked about?
  • I didn’t know for sure till I did it
  • Have you slept in the cold, shivering all night?
  • Have you made yourself uncomfortable?
  • Have you been hungry?

There are some things in life, in survival training that you cannot learn without doing. You cannot watch someone else do it and say you’ve learned it. Do you need to go to the jungles of Brazil to practice? No, not unless you live there or plan to spend a lot of time there. Practice where you are, doing what you normally do, that’s where a problem will come up, if it ever does. There is a certain confidence with every step along the way, each experience you go through adds to it. Your catalog of experiences can only be filled by you doing things, no one can do it for you, you can’t imagine it, you can’t read it, only by literally being there can you add another experience.


  • Spring Rendezvous, first weekend in May. Friday afternoon into Saturday, if you haven’t already reserved a spot email us.
  • The Speedy Stitcher Shoe Repair Video will be online at our YouTube channel in a few days, a link will be added here when done.
  • Introduction of our CEC Levels training system

Until next time, this is Perry Peacock, “Simplifying Survival”

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2 Responses to Field Repairs It’s about Tools, Skills, and Patience

  1. Great way to test yourself. I am a firm believer that you only learn from your failures not your successes. Great post. Great info.

  2. Aaron Bennett says:

    I ran paracord through the sole and upper, and sewed it. The front half of the sole is separating from the upper, so I ran a paracord loop through a hole in the sole and upper, and sewed it together. You have to cut a notch in the sole as well, so the paracord doesn’t rub directly against the ground. I have a pair of merrells with about 1600 miles on them, including half of my AT thru hike. They are really beat up, but still comfortable and have usable tread.

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