Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Little Creativity Can Make Your Backpacking Gear Lighter

One of the biggest hassles of backpacking is having gear that is too heavy. Heavy gear can slow you down and even cause problems with your back or joints. One of the best ways to combat heavy gear is to pack things that have a multiple use. By using gear that can be used for a few different things you not only cut down on the amount of stuff you have to pack, but you are also lightening your load which will make your trip easier and more enjoyable.

The following list explains a few ways to get more than one use out of some typical gear. These are some of the most inventive and creative ideas, but there are other pieces of gear that have multiple uses, too. In fact, you probably already are using pieces of your gear in more than one way without even realizing it.

- Parachute cord: You may not be parachuting on your backpack trip but this usefully piece of gear is easy to bring along and offers a few different uses. It can be used as a clothesline or to tie your food bag up when camping overnight. You can also use it in case of an emergency to tie a splint in place. To pack you loosely wind it up and hook it to the outside of your pack.

- Candles: You may have brought them along just for a little extra lighting, but candles do more than provide light. A candle can be used to help start a stubborn fire and works as a great waterproofing agent. They are lightweight and you will barely even notice if you add them to your pack. Plus they are much better than carrying a heavy lantern.

- Duct tape: This item is commonly know around the house as the ultimate ‘do-it-all’ tool. Duct tape is strong and durable. A roll can last you a long time and provide many helpful uses. It can be used to insulate, as a wrap for a bandage and repairing tents, backpacks and almost everything else. Duct tape should always be a part of your backpacking gear. You will most likely even come up with many other ways to use it, too.

- Safety pins: Another lightweight and easy to pack multiple use piece of gear. Safety pins can come in helpful to secure bandages, act as clothespins or hooks to hang items and as a stand in fish hook. This is another item, like duct tape, that you will likely find more uses for.

- Plastic placemats: This item is also lightweight and easy to pack. Plastic placemats can be used in a variety of ways. Instead of sitting on blankets and getting them wet, use a placemat. Use it to set your shoes on, so you do not get dirt and mud in your tent. You can also invent other uses, like a fly swatter or to prepare food on.

These are only a few pieces of gear and how they can be used in multiple ways. Most gear has more than one use. The key to multifunctional gear is to think outside the box and see what you could do with it, not just what its intended use is. You may find that you can cut your gear down by several pieces by simply using multifunctional gear.

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