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Ingenuity in the outdoors Answered

I firmly believe that ingenuity is much more important than money when it comes time to pack for your backpacking trip. For example, you can spend $30 on that sweet new .5 gram titanium pot holder from MSR, or you can do as I do and bring a bandana and use it wet to grab your pots and lids. Sure, i love going to the store and looking at all the sweet new gadgets that people have come up with, but left to my own devices i can get by with what things i bring along. Does anyone else have any new and clever ways of using things to save money and a few pounds? I'm sure on a site like this one there are lots of great ideas out there. Please share your favorite.


i love making liquid fuel stoves out of soda cans...
not my idea, it's on the site somewhere

some stuff from my trips with mates : light fire with piece of foil and rechargeable battery light fire with flash circuit from camera (and not damaging the camera in the process using long wires. we converted the camera back to normal camera at the end of the trip) dry wet matches with incandescent flashlight (put them inside the place with the lamp) use a thread and motor from electrical toothbrush (who the hell brings one to a trip ? well one of our mates did !) to make electricity and recharge our flashlights connect 2 wires to a dinamo flashlight and power 3 extra flashlights from the dinamo (the wire in the air was an issue but at least we saved some battery life) things i allways pack with me : some electrical stuff tools hard core electrical wires - both as wires and hooking stuff cable ties phosphorescent glow in the dark plastic stars

Instead of foil, use steel wool. Much better. Some motors are not reversible as generators, so be careful with that toothbrush thing. And most toothbrush motors are very small, and use a very small amount of current. You would have to add a diode to prevent the battery power from powering the motor in reverse. It would also take a very, very long time to charge...

you dont take steel wool to the outdoors. you do take foil to make the spuds the key here is to spin it fast and use diodes to block reverse current (its allready kinda rectified by the motor itself but you need diode to avoid the batteries discharging when motor outputs 0) for speed we used a thread and hooked it in 1 turn on the pin of the motor (below the gear to prevent it from slipping) then pulled it fast in the forward direction (the backward is useless if you have 1 diode and not 4) for diode we used a green LED from key chain toy (it kills some 2.5 V but still works) this did fill the batteries enough for the 'end of the day' before we lit the fire. this was the last night of the trip so we did not need full charge

When I go camping I take steel wool. It's very good at cleaning things.

I use a frisbee for a plate/bowl, I have a KFS set from my army days, I spent the money on a good sleeping bag and a gortex bivi bag. I also carry a tarp for shelter from the sun/rain. It also makes for a good water collector. I cannot say enough about a good multi tool, and soon I'll be adding an "ible on how to make a survival chain saw which blows the doors off of a wire saw.

Some friends and I were dayhiking a mountain trail once, and we ended up walking down the entire trail in total darkness. In desperate situations, the LCD screens from your camera/cell phone can provide some minimal light. Maybe a good tip for the day hiker.

lol same here(due to lack of willingness to carry a lot) i use my Utica sportsman standard WWII issue knife with leather sheath(got it from my grandpa, its been sharpened 3 times since its creation and its still razor sharp) a small LLbean forest green backpack from my grandparents(also my school bag) a small OD green blanket(its only true purpose is to keep animals off on me, i just sleep in my clothes),a metal pot with handle, a spork, and a windproof "zippo-esque" lighter. but i also have a 6 pound .22 that conveniently needs a certain rare specialized 20 dollar clamp to mount a sling onto... therefor i do not have a sling. and plus its North Carolina, the temperature isnt too bad. like right now, its 74 degrees with a breeze!

Wow, I would be right with you, but its 30 or 40 degrees and wet at night here. That sounds like a really sweet knife. I have a swiss army knife (a real one) and a small gerber that i take with me, but maybe ill have to look for the one you're describing.

The temp here has been nice for the last couple of days. The end of last week was cold though.

I haven't thought about this for ages. When I was younger, I was trapped out on a mountain in Dec (it had been particularly warm that "day") in a short sleeved shirt. And when it got dark and started to rain, I had to improvise a shelter.

Does anyone else have any new and clever ways of using things to save money and a few pounds?

Just don't do like Red did on the Red Green show (Canadian comedy), and try to make kayaks out of a washer and dryer LOL

Ooh man the Red Green Show is awesome! He also used coolers for a canoe.

I must have missed that episode. They took it off air here, and I miss it. I think it still comes on South Carolina's pbs station, but I don't really want to wait out in the building all night looking for it. (We have a small 4 inch black and white tv in the building that uses an antenna. I just thought of something... What happens when they go to all digital? I doubt we can use our little tv anymore...)

If there is a way to hook a converter to it, there will be. In fact, the first one's effected will be the tv's using antenna's

There is no way to hook anything up to it. The only signal it can receive is from it's antenna, which is built in. There isn't even a cable input for it.

Ugh, so not even a pair of screws in the back attaching the antenna....hmm, that makes it harder to convert *sigh*

LOL, my predicament is similar to yours, except my 4" B&W TV is a mere 1ft from my bed =p

That was my favorite show! Too bad they don't have it in NM. Does anybody know if you can watch it somewhere on the internet?

I mean like how abc has a lot of their shows on their site. i'll look for it in miro.

i agree...but i also dont...i agree with things like not buying a 30 dollar pot holder but i think you should bring a gps and a few back up things like that when backpacking... but one thing about things like gps's and crap like that is if it does brake or batteries run out you DO need ingenuity.

forgot to say that the quality of equipment can really count on LONG hikes or hikes in a very unforgiving environment.

I bought one of those pocket wire saw things and the wire snapped the first day i got it ! instead use old guitar strings. They are more flexible and you can usually get them free from your friends.


10 years ago

Good topic.

My favorite: A lot of the older kero or white gas stoves (optimus 123, etc.) aren't very efficient. But a friend who works with optical coatings gave me a small sheet of heavy metal foil. It weighs very little, but is thick enough to survive packing.

Using the metal foil as a heat reflector / windscreen cuts boiling times in half! It's so efficient that the entire top of the stove glows red-hot, and blowing up the stove becomes a real possibility (my stove has a safety valve, but even if it works, it would release in a three-foot blast of flame.)

So, like most good things, some care and moderation is advised...

I'll try to post a pic later today...

Here's pic of the 123 (and the 16oz fuel bottle, enough for 3-4 days, assuming I don't need to melt snow for water) and the foil shield. The foil will work with just about any stove. The stove still works great, but there are so many better stoves currently available...about it's only plus now is that it's self-contained fuel tank is fine for an overnighter.


Hmm, I still have a can of Sterno here somewhere...... *roots around behind the bookcase* There it is :-)

Whatever works...;-)

haha - yeah, as of date i've only had cold food or lukewarm food, due to just eating straight out of cans / heating things up with a butane campfire lighter. but i'm getting a gas stove soon, thank heavens.


10 years ago

i totally agree - i'm a barebones camper. cooking= i use only one knife for all my cooking, i take one spork, one origami bowl/plate, i own one cheap non-stick mess kit, and i'm buying an MSR whisperlite internationale. sleeping gear/shelter= i don't currently own a backpacking tent, but i'm not a tarp guy (i hate strangers seeing me sleep!), but i am soon purchasing a tent. a good, but inexpensive sleeping bag is all i take for sleeping - no bivys, no expensive bags. in terms of clothing, i'm a minmalist. but nalgenes are a must, and a decent but cheap water carrying backpack is nice- i have a few sierra nevada ones in my house. trekking poles are for wimps, but real men wear sock liners.