18 Absolutely Brilliant Backpacking Hacks
I, among many, have read a million and one tricks, tips and hacks for outdoor living. I’ll admit it, I think they’re fun and every thirty second one is something rational enough that I may use it in my lightweight backpacking adventures. But most of them seem to be for car campers living out of the back of a mini van. No matter how hard it is to shove a roll of toilet paper into a ZipLoc bag, I will never carry around a homemade TP dispenser (via: pinterest). Zach had the great idea of sifting through all the oversized can charcoal stoves (via: diyncrafts) and 5 gallon bucket noodle toilets (via: budget101) to curate a list of hack for backpackers. These do not require carrying any large or heavy items and they are tailored to build convenience for backpackers. Enjoy!
Enhancing Your Technology
1. Toilet Paper Tube Phone Speaker
Sitting out a rainy day in the shelter? If you’ve got a toilet paper tube crushed up somewhere in your pack, you can bend it back to its shape and use it as a small speaker for your phone or iPod. Place a stick or stone behind it to keep it from rolling around.
2. Trekking pole tripod
Find a like-sized stick and use a piece of paracord to construct a tripod out of your trekking poles. A little bit more paracord, a bit of balancing or some duct tape will secure your camera on top.
3. Corn Chips
Salty foods are a must have when backpacking! They’re yummy and help replace the sodium you loose while hiking. It turns out that certain types are also great for starting fires. Corn ships such as Fritos, Doritos and corn tortilla chips burn slow and steady and can be used to start fires.
4. Cotton Balls/Pads Dipped in Wax
If you’re more health conscious than your typical piece of Hiker Trash, corn chips may not be the way to go for you. If you find yourself needing to start a fire in damp conditions, wax dipped cotton can do the trick. Here is a tutorial!
5. Repackage Your Food
This is Backpacking 101! Remove all items from bulky, heavy or air filled packaging. Or simply modify the packaging to make it more packable. Cut off excess parts or use a needle or small blade to puncture packaging to let out excess air. Every bit helps!
6. Straw Spice Rack
This is a great way to get a little bit of extra flavor into your camp food with out adding much extra weight. It is the ultralight foodie set up! Here is an tutorial (it includes eating Mini M&M’s!)
7. Tic Tac Spice Boxes
Some people are down right chefs on the trail and require a bit more to work with. For those of you who fall under this group of hikers, try the Tic Tac box approach to organizing and transporting your spices.
8. Waterproof Shellac Matches
A way to make sure your matches are ready to do when you are! Wax can sometimes have a tendency to flake off or make it hard to strike the match, but shellac creates a strong coat over the head of the match and provide enough texture to easily strike the match.
9. Compactor Bag
A compactor bag as a liner in your backpack can go a long way in protecting the gear within the pack. Wether you use a pack cover or not (some opt not to with the use of a heavy duty trash bag liner), it is a great, cheap, lightweight way to take the extra step in making sure your extra clothes and sleeping bag stay dry even when you’re soaked to the bone.
10. Bees Wax Waterproofing
Rain is a constant and inevitable foe of backpackers. Water logged shoes and gear are a major part of along distance hikers life, but not everything has to get soaked. Here is a cheap way to waterproof the things you’d like to keep the most dry. Remember to keep in mind the lack of breathability of some waterproof items. This may be best saved for things like the top of your pack or camp shoes. Here’s how to do it.
Wonders of the Nalgene
11. Hot Nalgene
Pour nearly boiling water into your Nalgene and cuddle up with it at night. Commonly referred to a “Nalgene Baby” on the AT, this is a great little trick for warming you up on the coldest of nights on the trail. Wrapping it in a sock or bandana saves you from a harsh wake up call if you bump into it. Just make sure you closed it really well or else you will do more damage than good!
12. Nalgene Lantern
Have a while Nalgene?! These guys are great little lanterns if you thrown a head lamp into them! You can increase the effects by having a bit of water water in the Nalgene. It can also be done with other colored Nalgene’s if water is in the bottle. The light simply needs something to diffuse it and suddenly you have a lantern!
Something for the Shoes
13. Defrost Your Shoes
Boy, does it suck to put on wet shoes in the morning, but you know what sucks more?! Putting on frozen shoes! So don’t do it! by carrying one 2.5 gallon ZipLoc during the coldest months of the year, you will never have to know the torture of shoving you blistered foot into a shoe or boot that is frozen solid. Simply slip them in the bag, zip it closed and roll it tight and sleep with it in the foot box of your sleeping bag. In the morning they will be wet and gross, but at least they wont be frozen!
14. Newspaper in the Shoes
If you come across a good stretch of weather or are stopping into town for a while, it may be possible to have dry shoes again! Time will always do the trick of drying them out but you can speed it up a a bit by loosely balling up news paper and stuffing your shoes with it. The fibers in newspaper will help to absorb the moisture in your shoes.
Not Everything Fits Nicely into a Category, That’s Life
15. Binder Clip Drying Rack
A couple of these guys clipped on to your pack in various places and you’ve got a mobile clothes line! No hiker has time to sit and wait for their socks to dry. Clipping them and any other drying clothes items on to your pack insures that they will stay with you as you hike. It is also helpful in deterring bears! (Not guaranteed but likely to deter friends as well.)
16. Freestanding Tent Trick
Several types of freestanding tents have the ability to be pitched without the body of the tent actually present. By placing the poles in the grommets of the footprint, the trail fly can be stretched over to make for a super light weight shelter or sunshade. Also makes for a great way to take down a tent in the rain!
17. Pill Bottle First Aid Kit
Really, unless you are a doctor or EMT and actually know what all that crap in a store bought first aid kit is for, this is all you need. Its lighter wight and its got all you need for the most likely situations.
18. Estimating Day Light
Trying to figure out if you have enough time to make it to the next shelter or not? Here is a little trick to help you estimate how much time you have left in the day. Pretty sweet!
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