Monday, January 12, 2009

Free UL Gear To Lighten Your Pack

If you don't mind some borderline petty theft, here are a few things you can snag for free to lighten up your pack on the cheap.


Any other ideas? What useful backpacking gear do you carry that you've scored for free or have dug out of the recycling bin?
Free UL Gear To Lighten Your PackSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

24 comments:

Sarah Kirkconnell said...

Jason, I am cracking up right now. The still of the video has you looking like you should be talking about "rolling doobies"

Heehee.....

Heber Farnsworth said...

I can't view this video for some reason. It says something about it being a private video? Not sure what that means. I can see your other videos just fine.

samh said...

When I buy dried apricots or beef jerky they often come in a strong, plastic resealable bags. When I've finished the apricots, jerky or whatever type of food it is I save the bag and put backpacking food in it.

If the bag is far too large I'll cut off the bottom and use my vacuum sealer to re-weld the seam so it's a perfect fit. I can use and re-use these strong bags for months on end with little to no wear.

That's just one tip. Great idea for a video.

Off Grid Survival said...

Matches from the bar are good, I also get all sorts of free stuff from all the tradeshows I go to. I always end up with loads of t-shirts, matches, mini key chain flashlights, etc....

jw said...

"I'll see you lighter"? Oy vey.

You've got some good stuff here; I'm really reaching to find something to add. For novices I will point out that a plastic dropcloth works great as a tarp: It's super cheap and is absolutely leak-proof. Downside: it stretches and is noisy. It's no long-term replacement for a real tarp, but can give cheap and easy proof that a tarp is even better than a tent at keeping you comfortable and dry. I'm embarrassed to say how many times I've used a $5 dropcloth as a UL shelter.

And the styrofoam cup? I don't see it. It's fragile and non-repairable. At least with a pepsi-can stove I can bend things back, but the foam? One little rip and it's into the garbage bag. Or am I missing some secret?

Sarah Kirkconnell said...

Jason,

I have often used a tall size cup from Starbucks from my morning latte on the way to the trail. You'd be surprised how well those cups handle and stay together for a trip. And beyond that, once falling apart they can be burnt (they are paper).

Matt said...

Jason, Don't forget your favorite fuel container, the contact lense solution bottle. And I have found that a travel size advil bottles works great as a container for matches. Also eye drop bottles for hand sanitizer.

Some old guy said...

I can't believe you of all people forgot the ultimate free-and-light item: an empty tea light tin for a stove!

Sara said...

Hit up the continental breakfast bar at a hotel. I found all kinds of free condiments there, including lemon juice packets and hot sauce. Also, call the front desk for a complimentary sewing kit - the one I received has 6 different colors of a lot of thread, buttons, and 6 needles. I was pleased :)

Jason Klass said...

JW,
OK, sorry that was pretty cheesy. Regarding the cup, I thought the same thing too. But in actual use, it proved to be much more durable than I had anticipated. The McDonald's foam cups are actually the most durable I've seen becasue they have some kind of coating on the outside.

There's no secret to keeping the styrofoam cup in one piece--just store it in your cook pot for protection. Unless you're careless with it, one will last a long time. But, they're so light, you could bring 2 (one nested inside the other) and have a backup.

Jason Klass said...

Hey Matt-
Doh! I forgot about the lens solution bottle! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

These ideas are great and remind all of us that backpacking doesn't have to be expensive! Thanks Jason. Looking forward to more terrific ideas!

JimQPublic said...

Jason,

Great to put a face and voice with the name I've seen on the hiking websites.

I haven't used them (yet) but the Campbell's "Soup In Hand" containers look promising. It's a plastic cup with aluminum rim and thin polystyrene insulating jacket. Also comes with a sippy lid. Less than $1.50 and includes free soup. Trader Joe has Minestrone in a bowl using similar concept.

JimQPublic said...

Re water storage:
I hiked 220 miles last summer (John Muir Trail) using a discarded 24 ounce sport top water bottle with a milk shake straw poking out the top for my main drinking supply. My extra supply for dry camps was a discarded 2 quart rectangular juice jug. I believe the two added up to less than 5 ounces.

Anonymous said...

I love the Taco Bell spork, but I have found a better spoon -- the long handled spoon from Dairy Queen. It is long enough to get into the corners of a Mountain House bag and the bright red color makes it easy to find in my bag.

Jacob said...

My only concern with the Heineken can stove is the fact that most beer cans are lined with plastic so that the beer never actually comes into contact with the metal. I know it's a very thin layer, but I wonder if there would be any issues with that.

wdancer said...

I always use steel wool for rubbing off the paint and coating from cans. Cuts down on fumes the first time you make a pop can stove or kettle.

Larry said...

A standard water bottle for big wall climbers is an ordinary 2 liter pop bottle wrapped in duct tape. I've been using them since the late 70's and never had one break. I can assure you they take a lot more abuse climbing than hiking. (I even still use one of my originals.)

Also, Starbucks coffee travelers have very tough two-ply plastic bags that are almost as tough as a platypus bag. removed from the box, they hold six liters. The outer layer is silvered mylar, the inner is clear. about 3 ounces empty, and they don't take up much room in the pack empty.

Larry said...

A site with pictures of the traveler bag
http://cruftbox.com/blog/archives/000932.html

Jason Klass said...

Nice Larry! How durable would you say it is?

Larry said...

I hope you don't mind the long answer. I'd say the bag is pretty durable. The burst strength seems fairly high, especially if the bag isn't all the way full. The puncture resistance is not going to be that of a heavy vinyl bag, so you'll have to be careful with sharp objects. Looking at the bag again, it looks like the outer silvered layer is Mylar 3-4 mil and the inner ply appears to be clear PVC about the same thickness and more elastic. the seal weld is maybe 1/4" wide so it should be as strong as the plastic. It looks like if you have a vacuum sealer, you could resize the bag (double seal it). The flat dimensions are about 10x19.

I've seen people drop a coffee traveler of hot coffee with no ill effects, so they must be designed for at least some abuse. Of course, in the box they are only half full.


I used the bag on a Grand Canyon trip a couple years ago when the camping permit only allowed a certain number of parties in the stream areas at a time, so we had to spend a couple of nights on the Tonto Plateau (nearest water was maybe three miles). The bag came in very handy for the relatively short haul out of the canyon, and it didn't take up much room for the rest of the trip. It worked perfectly for what we needed.

I would never trust one as my only water source, It did allow us to bake and wash, where we would have been more primitive otherwise.

I would (and have) trusted the Pop bottles. (I've tested them to 120 PSI before they burst quite catastrophically. The only issue is puncture, and the duct tape helps there).

Considering that they are free, the traveller bags are well worth getting. (a little secret- I walked into my regular Starbucks and just asked for the second box. they were happy to give it to me. Portland is like that.)

Larry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The silver platic bladders from cask wine are fabulous for storing water- I've never broken one yet, they take up no space when empty either. Good 'extra' water container when you have to dry camp overnight.
-Mara (Australia)

ODM (Original Ditch Monkey) said...

the silver wine bladders also make a good pillow, or so I hear.