Apr 03 2012

In Search of the Missing Collet Chuck, or
Can You Help Me Recreate the Chouinard Expedition Sewing Kit?

My little Chouinard Expedition Sewing Kit has been my constant companion for many years. It embodies all the virtues: It’s light, compact, and versatile. And while sewing kits don’t generate the buzz that high-tech hardware does, it’s a mistake to underestimate their importance. If a critical seam in your tent blows when you’re high on a windswept mountain, your sewing kit may be the most important item of gear in your pack. Still, when I wrote about this little kit here, and later—at somewhat greater length—in my weekly column for Paddling.net, I didn’t expect that my articles would result in much mail. After all, I was writing about a sewing kit:

Chouinard Expedition Sewing Kit Pouch

But I was in for a surprise. It seems that the Chouinard kit has quite a few fans. It’s easy to see why, of course:

Chouinard Expedition Sewing Kit

Despite the kit’s diminutive size, it has everything you’d need for most fabric and clothing repairs, from missing buttons to blown tent seams. But there’s a catch: However much you might want one, you can’t buy it. The Chouinard kit hasn’t been made for many years. This was very much on one reader’s mind. Here’s what Brad Carson wrote:

I am the proud owner of a B[lack] D[iamond] Expedition sewing kit. [Black Diamond succeeded Chouinard in a corporate name-game shuffle. – Editor] I know that they have stopped producing, as has Exped who made an almost exact copt of the kit. My climbing partner covets my kit, and I would like to put one together for him before he steals mine. The only challenging part of the kit is the collet chuck. Do you know a manufacturer/part number for the exact or similiar collet chuck?

Sadly, no, I don’t. Like Brad, I’ve often wanted to clone my kit, if only to deflect covetous glances. But I’ve had no luck locating a substitute for the collet chuck (it’s #9 in the photo above) that forms the centerpiece of the sewing awl:

Chouinard Expedition Sewing Kit Collet Chuck

This nearly weightless awl is sturdy enough to punch holes through canvas or leather. Without it the Expedition Sewing Kit would lose much of its utility. So… What about it? Do you know of a similar collet chuck—something that could grip a heavy-duty needle with enough authority to permit quick and easy repairs in thick fabrics? If you do, please give me a heads-up. Brad and I would both be very grateful.

Further Reading


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