With more than 1,000 brands under one roof, the biannual Outdoor Retailer trade show is one of the largest in the outdoor world and the place where the Outside gear team gets the scoop on all the sexy new gear for next season. I’ve been covering the show for nearly a decade and still revel in the opportunity to geek out on some of the priciest, highest-end gear the industry has to offer. And while I loved going deep into the minutiae of Dynafit’s new $ 799 ski-touring Hoji Boot, the product I was the most excited about has a much more modest price tag: the $ 10 Noso Lil’ Bits Puffy Patch Kit.
Jacket repair patches aren’t new. I was initially wary of getting too excited about Noso because it looked similar to Gear Aid’s Tenacious Tape ($ 5), which I’ve used in the past. (Duct tape is also a favorite puffy patch, of course.) But after swinging by the Noso booth at OR, I’m convinced that these patches are really different and one of the coolest pieces of gear to cross my radar in a while.
Founder Kelli Jones started the company by chance, after the Jackson Hole local ripped a sleeve of her puffy jacket on barbed wire during a hunting trip in 2015. She used an X-Acto knife, some cloth, and adhesive to cover the rip with a patch in the shape of a heart (so she could tell her friends she wore her heart on her sleeve). The next day, Jones recognized there was a need after someone waiting in line for Jackson Hole Mountain Resort’s tram asked her to make a patch. With the help of a successful Indiegogo campaign, Jones has been able to carve out a cool little niche with these Wyoming-made patches. What makes Noso different from its competitors is that the patches are made from nylon cloth rather than tape. That nylon moves and stretches better with the fabric of your jacket or pack, doesn’t fray at the edges, and stays put through more washes—more than five times as many spin cycles as duct tape, Jones says.
Tech aside, the flair that these patches will add to a jacket are probably the strongest selling point. Their bold colors and fun shapes—like lightning bolts and hemp leaves—make them almost more accessory than repair piece. “You can use it to add your own personality to your gear even if it doesn’t need to be fixed,” Jones says.
My favorite patches from Noso are the Lil’ Bits Kit, made from leftovers from winter skirt maker Skhoop that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. Lengthening the life of your gear—rather than throwing out a jacket after one rip and buying a new one—is one of the best ways to reduce your impact on Mama Nature. A tip of the hat to Noso for making environmental friendliness look good.