Pimp your gear!

8:35 p.m. on April 11, 2009 (EDT)
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Following up on the thread about homemade gear, i tought it would be interesting to all share our little tricks that make our gear so much better. So there it is, fellow DIYers, pimp your gear and share your tips!

For example: i fitted my trusted Backcountry Access telescopic shovel handle with an aluminum blade from a grain shovel. Now i have a light blade that's a foot square for serious shelter building during powder days, and can still use my smaller blade when weight matters.

Now that's a mighty shovel!

9:28 p.m. on April 11, 2009 (EDT)
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Good God man! That's a GIGANTIC shovel!

1:49 a.m. on April 12, 2009 (EDT)
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So sometimes size does matter, eh?

I can't think of anything I do, off the top of my head, that compares, Franc.

I once made a bootlace out of duct tape, split lengthwise and twisted onto itself. Thought that was pretty cool. Worked fairly well, considering.

I'm hoping some folks run with your idea for this thread, though. We could all learn some things, maybe.

2:22 p.m. on April 12, 2009 (EDT)
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All right, here's another one.

I added a 6 inch extension on the sleeves of my down jacket. Just a simple tube of polarguard and ripstop nylon sewn to the sleeve. Now i can work on stuff in the winter with only my fingertips coming out of the sleeves and end up not wearing my bulky mitts around camp, even in deep cold. It's warmer on the wrists too.

I ended up doing this to almost all my jackets, i just can't find clothing that's long enough for me.

2:57 p.m. on April 13, 2009 (EDT)
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Pimp your leather belt:

if you're using a leather belt, consider rubbing the inside full of jewel polish. It looks like a green or black stone used to polish gold and silver, you can find this in a specialized store.

You can then use your belt like a strop and give a razor's edge to your knife anytime. If you're doing any kind of woodwork, it becomes vital. If you don't have jewel polish, you can use toothpaste.

Pimp your headlamp!!

If you're camping with friends, you can clip a very small, single-led light to your headlamp. Choose a yellow or green color and you will be able to look for stuff at night without loosing your night vision or wake up your buddies.

12:20 a.m. on April 14, 2009 (EDT)
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On the headlamp, you can let Energizer pimp it for you. I use a cheap Energizer headlamp from Home Depot, and it has red LEDs in it for night vision.

12:22 a.m. on April 14, 2009 (EDT)
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Pimp your pen (or just about anything else)! An old boy scout trick is to take your pen (or something else if you don't bother with writing utensils in the backcountry) and wrap duct tape around the base. That way, you have duct tape (it can fix anything, don'cha know?) without having to carry in a whole roll.

11:15 p.m. on April 14, 2009 (EDT)
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I made a fuel cozy for my butane cans out of an old mouse pad. I also made all my camp pans out of aluminum pans I bought at a 2nd hand place that I sprayed black with stove paint. It is also easy to make my own fire starters out of lint and old candle wax. I put a cotton string in it for easy lighting, and cover the string with wax so it's water proof. I also use solid hiking poles cut down from ski poles. I love the handles, and I like how there is no vibration in the solid pole. I have also cut down a regular round stic bic pen so it fits in the wire of a small notebook. I also put duct tape around my matches can because I want the matches to stay dry, so the tape does too.

12:07 a.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I got some insoles for my boots....does that count?

12:16 a.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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Wrap some Aluminum foil (or Aluminium, if that's your thing) around a square of corrugated cardboard, duct tape the edges and the perimeter, and you've got a cheap stove canister pad with remarkable insulating properties.

10:24 a.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I made a fuel cozy for my butane cans out of an old mouse pad

Good idea! I made a water bottle sleeve out of reflectix insulation (bubble wrap with foil on one side) for desert hiking. It helps keep the water cool.

I wrap my duct tape around a matchsafe. It makes a very good fire starter when you really need one.

Trout,

I'm sure you know a few tricks to pimp your fishing gear!

11:16 a.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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...An old boy scout trick is to take your pen (or something else if you don't bother with writing utensils in the backcountry) and wrap duct tape around the base. That way, you have duct tape (it can fix anything, don'cha know?) without having to carry in a whole roll.

Most serious backcountry skiers wrap duct tape around their ski poles to have a supply on hand. Since I use my poles for hiking, that means I have the tape for hiking as well, and since I often hike with my Leki monopod as one of the hiking poles, I have the tape handy for temporarily taping the "space blanket" in position as a reflector when photographing flowers or other subjects (for some reason, animals don't seem to wait patiently for me to set up the fill lights).

The Duct Tape book series has a large number of suggestions, including the boot laces.

10:09 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I got a few for ya. I buy 1 inch x 4 foot wood dowells, shove a rubber chair foot on one end and a bike handle on the other end to make a cheap, light weight, and strong walking stick.

I made my stove following Russeltheweekednadventure's directions using a bud light bottle which I cut in 3 pieces, shove the top in the bottom, added some 1/16 inch holes in the rim, and a piece of fiberglass wick as a primer, to make a great alcohol jet stove.

I buy every camping pot set I can find at the thrift stores. I mix and match pieces, making the best pot/pan combos where the pan is the lid and a good bowl. Then I paint them black with fireproof paint that I bought for painting my truck pipes.

I used a dollar store silver windsheild shade to make a pot cozy. Instead of taping it together, I cut the leg off an old pair of jeans, then glued the silver shade material to the inside after sewing a piece of denim to the bottom. I even made a cut down the side and applied velcro so it is easy to slide my pot in and out.

I go to the thrift stores around millitary bases and have bought a few modular sleeping units. SOme are complet now, others are just one part. I don't know if others are familiar with the MSU, but it is a 4 piece sleep system, a light weight green mummy for warm weather, a heavier black mummy for colder weather, a Gor-tex bivy, and a compression sack. You can use the whole thing for really cold hikes or just use the parts you need.

I'm a bit of a cheapskate lol

10:30 p.m. on April 15, 2009 (EDT)
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I use the military sleep system. Love it. It's not the lightest thing for cold camping, but the light "patrol" bag weighs about the same as 30 degree down bags despite everyone's insistence that "down is always lighter".

I use the bivy even with other sleeping bags. Until I get this hammock thing figured out, it's the bees knees.

1:29 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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I've been thinkin bout doin the Hammock thing myself. I met a guy who goes by Darby on most of the Hiking sites, who makes his own Hammocks, and have been debating myself on whether to ask him to show me how or not. When i was young I could lay on rocks and be happy, but I noticed last year while hiking the trail, that the platform in the shelter was too hard lol. I have a self inflating pad, but to be honest I really don't want to cary it.

7:45 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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phoenix, i posted the instructions and price in a previous thread.

You can also see pictures of a homemade one here.

10:16 a.m. on April 16, 2009 (EDT)
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Nice, thanx Franc. I'm still gona ask Dale to gimme a hand lol. All I need now is some1 who understands electronics so I can finish rebuilding my solar charger lol.

12:41 a.m. on April 19, 2009 (EDT)
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Oh, and I took this trick from someplace i read...I bought a 5L box of wine (oh, darn, I had to drink it) then cleaned up the mylar/plastic bladder. Now I have a fairly durable, repluggable "bucket" that I can fill up at the stream. I can filter water at camp, leave it out in the sun for a solar bath, rinse my dishes, etc for the cost of a box of wine!

On a scary note, I had to use it to help douse a serious smoulder I found -- somebody must have built a huge fire in their fire ring, but the fire had run deep into the root system it was built over. I think we dumped nearly 10-15 gallons or better into the smoulder. Was very glad to have more than just a couple of nalgenes to deal with the event. Left unchecked, I am quite sure it would have turned into something quite eventful...

1:27 p.m. on April 19, 2009 (EDT)
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second gear--

Thanks for the attentiveness to that unattended smolder. I don't know where you were at the time, but I'm glad you came upon it and prevented a "heap big unpleasantness".

I've seen way, way too many folks just kinda dump the dregs of a cup of coffe into the last bits of a fire, stir it up a bit with a stick, and, if they don't actually see any flames, they call it "out" and move on to the next disaster-in-the-making. I'm frequently ridiculed for what is usually described as on obsessive tendency to drown fires beyond any even remote possibility it's still going, for double- and triple-checking knots, for carrying one more layer of clothing than the next guy, and so forth. But I return the ridicule when I hear someone say, "Well, I've been doing it like that for years and never had a problem." Those unwilling to learn from the experiences of others will never achieve the greatest heights.

2:14 p.m. on April 19, 2009 (EDT)
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Second gear,

another good reason to carry a sizable water container, and many thanks for improvising yourself a fireman! Big open fires are so hard to put out i don't do then anymore, except on sand. Then like a good frenchy i'm always the first one to say "More wood tabarnac!"

11:00 p.m. on April 23, 2009 (EDT)
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Pre-dousing the spot, and lining the area / fire pit, with rocks if handy, works well in areas where I go. I do my utmost to follow LNT guidelines, but in some cases your good judgement is the best thing to consider.

I've also noticed that a lot of beginers tend to build a fire that is way too big. Often sparking root fires or other types of underground fires.

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