Intro: Ultra-Lightweight Tyvek Backpacking Belt
Hiking around in the jungle involves lots of walking. Having pants that stay up is a non-trivial aspect of this! But after a couple years of rainforest adventures, I still hadn't found a nice solution to this.
Jungle Pants Problems:
- They stretch out from moving around (you need an adjustable belt)
- You might lose a ton of weight in the forest (you really need an adjustable belt)
- All your clothes get soaking wet all the time from storms, river crossing, and your own sweat (you need a waterproof belt)
- Thick belts interfere with hiking backpacks waist straps (you need a thin belt)
- Everything gets destroyed (a cheap belt is nice!)
So my first thought was, "oh Ill just go over to REI (US outdoors store), and I'm sure they have a nice, waterproof, thin, cheap hiking belt! I'm sure that's a thing that exists." They had some, but I was pretty dismayed by their selection. Also like the cheapest belt was still $20. I wanted DIRT CHEAP. My roommate (who works at Comingle.io with me) suggested making my own out of tyvek since it is tear-proof and waterproof and thin.
I am not saying that this Tyvek belt solved all these problems, but it's a start at working on them, and it worked way better than I thought! Helped me through our crazy "Hacking the Wild" expedition in Madagascar with Plusea (Hannah Perner-Wilson) and Brian Fisher from the Cal Academy of Sciences.
But hey, why read about a weird belt, when you can watch my jungle-disease addled brain try to explain it to you! (Video Above)
So check out how it's made! Make your own! Leave feedback on better jungle belt designs!
Step 1: Cut Out Some Tyvek
This isn't rocket science, this is jungle science: it helps to keep things simple, cheap, and straightforward.
- A carabiner (I used a fancy "S" Shaped one, you could work it with a regular one)
Cut it Out
I used some Tyvek to make ground mats for tents (and also sexy tarps for Comingle), so I have a big roll lying around. Grab a different belt that fits you, and cut one out to length.
If you don't have a whole roll lying around, You could get some tyvek mailers cut them apart and sew a couple together to get the length you need.
Step 2: Sew It
Again, this is simple. Take one end of the belt, fold it over the carabiner, and sew it on good.
For people who are good at textiles and sewing and stuff, I am sure there is probably a proper name for this (I bet Plusea would know), but I think the key is to sew what I am going to call the "POWER X"
It's the easiest, and I think strongest pattern, I could think of for sewing the material together, without having to really take your needle off on your sewing machine.
If you hate sewing, there's lots of materials that bond Tyvek really well, like hot glue for instance really melds it together great.
That's it! You are done!
Step 3: Wear It to the Wild!
How do you use this belt? Again, super easy!
- Slide the free end through
- Pull it tight
- lock it in place with the little sliding nibs of the carabiner
-Crap, I don't have one of those fancy carabiners!
No problem! You could use TWO regular carabiners and tension the belt between them!
Worst case scenario, just take a chunk of tyvek and tie it together!
Step 4: Evaluation
How does this belt stack up?
I have two other belts depicted that I used in the jungle. One cloth (blue), one synthetic (black).
Gets wet, never dries, still thick, I hate this kind of tensioner.
Better at staying dry, but still holds some water around your beltline. Still thick, chafes when wearing a hiking backpack too long. I also kinda don't like this tensioner
Way more comfortable and stronger than I was expecting. So thin it's not noticeable! I was worried the front belt buckle (carabiner) would be too large, but really didn't bother me!
Here was the main problem: The tyvek kinda rolls up into a thin cord. This didn't make it uncomfortable as I feared, but I think it would work better as a flat-style belt. I am thinking if you sewed two strips of tyvek together, they would maybe resist the curl. Other than that, it's pretty great!
(BONUS) Rubber Lab Tube
The Biohacker, Marc Dusseiller Dusjagr has this input to add:
"I prefer the rubber tube, chemical grade gas tight labware. Dirt cheap, perfect elastic properties... And in case you need a tube, there you go."