Free Stuff for Hiking

You really don’t need to spend up big to have great stuff for hiking, hunting etc as I posted recently here: For example, for years I carried a $50 .303 Lee-Enfield which has still harvested more deer than the newer guns Della bought for me for special occasions (50th Birthday, 40th wedding anniversary etc). Many of the things I use pretty much cost me nothing at all. I just cobbled them together out of bits and pieces I had lying around. Certainly you can save a lot of money if you are careful, as I pointed out here: Some things were pretty much free, like the following dozen:

The Ultralight Fisherman: Today is using a 1 oz (30 gram – including a selection of flies and leaders) hand line made from a 100 ml plastic ‘spice’ bottle which easily and accurately casts 30 – 40 metres – as you can see! A pill bottle of roughly the same size though slightly heavier, would work just as well. I tried an empty Nurofen bottle, for example. Another half an ounce or so would add a couple of lures, hooks, split shot, etc suitable for bait fishing as well. (This particular bottle is 14 gram 100 ml about 43mm wide and 80mm long and has the advantage you can see through it).

A Ball of String and a Feed of Cray: Once you have your feed of trout you will have some heads, tails, fins etc left over. Now you have your cray bait for the next course! All you need to catch them is a bit of string. I have wound 50lb line on my ultralight hand line (because it was what I had lying around) – it would cast a lot further still with lighter line. Certainly though, a few 3-4 metre lengths of this is all you need to catch a feed of crays. You might need to mark the location of your lines with some tiny pieces of fluoro tape as this Dyneema line will be very hard to see.

Collecting Water:This is a great tip from JJMathes: ‘Have you ever needed to fill your water container only to find there wasn’t enough clearance for you to get the opening of your container under the flow?  When water levels are low the flow doesn’t always shoot out far enough to catch the water, it rolls around the contour of the rock making it nearly impossible to fill a bottle or bladder. Altering the flow is an easy fix by using the windscreen from your cook kit to form a spout; or anything flat that won’t absorb water will work, even a broad leaf.’


Ultralight Glasses Case: 12 grams If you have got to my age (or had other bad luck) you no doubt need glasses. I now wear progressive frameless titanium glasses (14 grams) all the time, but I also need a spare pair in case I lose or break them. The quite lightweight case they came in from Zenni weighs 47 grams (blue below). I knew I could do better. Like this:

Straws Into Containers Making drinking straws into mini containers: Now that is a genius idea: ‘Place the straw over the opening of the ointment tube and carefully squeeze in a small amount of the ointment that is approximately one quarter of an inch in length. You’ll notice that transparent straws work best for this. Use you fingers to squeeze the end of the straw so that it pushes the ointment further up inside the plastic straw. This will provide a clean area for sealing the end of the straw without having the ointment ooze out while you are holding it with your pliers.


A Further Use for Drinking Straws: Emergency fire starter storage: This is a top idea. It is also easy to do. All you need is some drinking straws, a pair of needle nosed pliers and a lighter.

Just add some matches, sandpaper and some cotton wool soaked in Vaseline

Hiking Yoghurt You can make your own yoghurt on the trail. I have tried this and it works fine with the ‘Easiyo’ sachets you buy from supermarkets and some powdered milk.This is from a CDT thru-hiker: ‘Yoghurt can be made on the trail in a zip lock or a more durable plastic jar. It’s very simple to make:


Bathtime on the Trail: The One Gram Platypus Shower: An ordinary water bottle cap will fit any Platypus bottle (by the wonderful Cascade Designs who also make the absolutely best Sleeping Pad: You can make holes with a large needle (doll needle pictured – much safer). With nine holes as pictured one litre lasts 6 ½ minutes.

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DIY Simple Hearing Aid Safety Clip This is the simplest and cheapest way to make sure you don’t lose your hearing aids on a hiking or canoeing trip (such as this). Works with any BTE (Behind the ear) type hearing aid. Bulldog clip, (dyneema) string, two simple slip knots. Attach clip to back of shirt collar. Cost: cents. Cheers.

No Sew Sandals 80 grams: I made this pair as an experiment as I know there are lots of folk who don’t sew. This pair can be made with a pair of scissors, some blue hiking mat foam, a car inner tube, some Velcro and some contact adhesive (eg Selley’s Gel Grip) Should take you less than half an hour. They weigh 80 grams each in US size 9.5 , but could be trimmed a little. They would make excellent hut booties or for river crossings – or you could walk a long way in them if your shoes gave out.


DIY Crampons I bought a pair of Yaktrax Pros for my Everest Base Camp walk. You need some extra traction when you are going to be crossing glaciers like the Khumbu where a fall can be decidedly fatal. I have since seen even lighter ones such as Vargos but I need such things so little I doubt I will be replacing mine. If i had thought about DIY I could have saved myself a few bucks as the series of suggestions below illustrate. A few 1/4″  nuts and some cable ties or even just a used bike tube and a bit of spare time and you are good to go! People are so ingenious.

Sawyer Water Filter A 2 gram back flush for Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter: : and it works! PS: If you have a later model of the Sawyer (I have the Mini which filters down to 1 micron so excludes viruses and all bacteria), you can source a different water bottle cap to do the same thing. See picture below:


19 Gram Dyneema Camp Shoes (Correction: 17; well 12!) I just finished making this pair of US Size 9 ultralight camp shoes for my Dusky track walk which I start on Monday. They are made from 3.6oz/yd2 Dyneema fabric. Together with a pair of  down socks from (approx 50 grams per pair), I should have nice dry, warm feet at the end of what is usually a fairly wet slog each day.

The Ultralight Bush Chair

Reader Jenny wrote to tell me about these wonderful chairs she makes when hiking. She thinks she could get the pack weight of her chair down to 50 grams. She writes, ‘The material is just a rectangle of fabric, with big seams top and bottom (bottom for the cross piece of wood to thread through; and top for the cord to thread through and tie off at the top of the tripod).

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The Egg-Ring Ultralight Wood Burner Stove: This Egg-Ring Stove is a development of the traditional ‘three-stone fire’ using three tent pegs (21 grams) and an egg-ring (8 grams). NB: My latest model = 12.5 grams! The aluminium (easy drill) egg-rings cost $8 for 3 on eBay and stop the pegs from falling in/out. You need to drill three equidistant holes around the edge. Presumably you already carry tent pegs. These are the Vargo’s Shepherd’s Hook Titanium Pegs

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Bush Shower: Mechanical Advantage This is an excellent idea: it would work well with a solar shower or camp shower too such as this one sold by Sea to Summit which weighs about 100 grams (if you ditch the stuff sack). I find two 1300 ml billies of cold water (add FIRST!) + 2 of boiling water gives a perfect shower in the woods:

You will find a heap of other DIY ideas here:




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