When Larry Penberthy started MSR in 1969, he knew he couldn’t control the demands people would place on his gear, but he could engineer his products to be exceptionally durable and easily repaired, either by the owner or a specialist. By doing so, he’d ensure that MSR gear offered the longest possible useful life—good for both his customers and the environment. Even at that time, high-quality manufacturing was not always the norm and Larry wanted his gear built for the long haul, not for mere trends.
Today, MSR gear is still built on that same philosophy and our Seattle Warranty & Repair Shop is right there to back it up. Every year, the shop’s technicians restore to original working order thousands of well-used and lovingly abused MSR products—clogged WhisperLite stoves from the ‘70s, 10-year-old Lightning snowshoes with broken bindings, “ancient” MSR tents with torn rain flies. These beloved items might have ended up in a landfill, replaced with new gear and continuing the cycle. Instead, they are given new life.
“This gear has a history and the people who bring it in have a history—you can see it in their faces,” says Iris Diligencia, the shop’s repairs supervisor. “They tell us they want to pass their gear on to their kids someday. It’s cool to work on classic products and know I’ll be able to keep that gear alive for years to come.”
Walk-ins welcome Mail-ins welcome
The repair shop is located at MSR’s headquarters and (pre-COVID) it wasn’t unusual for PCT hikers to stop in with worn-out gear as they near the end of their hike. “Many people come in off of their trips—thru-hikers, motorcyclists on long tours, one guy biked in from the East Coast,” says Charlie Lane, a former full-time technician. Legendary mountaineer Fred Beckey once brought in his old cobwebbed XGK stove to have it serviced before a remote expedition. “In the spring we can get 40 stoves in one bunch from NOLS, or tents from Boy Scout camps,” Charlie says. Currently, gear repairs are accepted by mail only, but the shop plans to accept walk-ins again when it is safe to do so.
The shop team, comprised of four full-time repair techs in addition to supervisor Iris, possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of decades’ worth of MSR gear—they literally know the products inside and out.
It’s not just about breathing new life into old gear. MSR’s founder, Larry, wasn’t just a tech-minded engineer, he was also a passionate outdoorsman and lifelong mountaineer. He knew that respect for the outdoors was one of the best ways to help preserve precious wild places. The other way was to build gear that lasted as long as possible, so that excess resources needn’t be used up to replace them. That dedication to conservation is still alive today.
“The more things we can fix, the more things we can keep out of landfills, the better,” Iris says.
Warranty, maintenance, or repair?
When products come across their workbenches, the technicians determine whether the product falls under warranty, maintenance or repair. “We can fix most things because we can run over to MSR’s factory next door and get practically any part we need to fix a piece of gear,” Iris says.
The technicians also spend a good deal of time educating customers on proper use and care of their equipment. MSR sells replacement parts and maintenance kits for many of its products so that people can maintain and repair their own gear, including stoves, water treatment devices and tents. Resources on fixing your own gear can also be found at the bottom of this post.
Location, hours and services
Have a trusty MSR product that needs service or repair? The MSR Warranty & Repair Shop is located at 130 South Dakota Street, Seattle, 98134, and is accepting gear by mail (be aware there may be a wait as demand is high). Here are a few of the main services it offers:
Stove overhaul ($25): This may include a thorough cleaning, as well as replacing the fuel line, and if necessary installing new legs, new flame rings and a new wick. Afterward, the stove is burn-tested to ensure it’s working to MSR standards.
Fuel pump overhaul ($10): The team will clean the pump, change and lubricate the pump’s O-rings and pump cup, and conduct a pressure test to ensure it’s operating within MSR specs.
Stove + fuel pump overhaul ($30): Save $5 by pairing these two services
Water filters (Pricing varies depending on the amount of work done and parts replaced): This typically includes thoroughly cleaning and unclogging the filter, and replacing worn or broken parts.
Tent poles: Broken poles are replaced for free thanks to their limited lifetime warranty. The technicians’ “Tent Bible” includes tent schematic drawings that date back to 1998, and the shop has the pole segments to service many of those tents.
Tent fabric: Our in-house seamstress can sew in panels, fix mesh rips, and tape replacement panel seams. A seam-sealing service is available for Xtreme Shield fabric tents. The team can also replace the sliders on the zippers (but not the zippers themselves).
Snowshoes (prices vary depending on the amount of work done): We can replace straps, rivets, crampons, retainers, rails and tail spools.
Snowshoes overhaul: If your snowshoes are older than 5 years and the damage falls outside of warranty, the team can upgrade you to a new pair of decks or bindings for a highly discounted price.
How to service your products yourself
Just about every MSR product can be maintained in the field without special tools, and/or serviced annually with an MSR maintenance kit. Here are a few helpful links to get you started: