Notes on Making Gear

There’s a few things that don’t fit anywhere else. This will list a bunch of them for easy access.

  • you can get fabrics nearly anywhere. Joann fabrics has materials, hardware and good patterns. Seattle Fabrics, Fabrics and OWFI all have some patterns and fabrics. Patterns to look for are Green Pepper and The Rain Shed. Wal-Mart DOES have some materials (mostly fleece and non-ripstop nylons) and a FEW hardware pieces plus a handful of patterns (be aware- these are all ‘seasonal’ items). Your local sporting goods or hardware store should have webbing and hardware.
  • A blanket for you is real easy. 60″ wide by 2-2.5 yds of polar fleece. Customization is a blanket stitch around the edge or putting a footbox into it. For some people (like me) that’s just a liner blanket, not really warm enough by itself. Others are probably just fine. To save weight you can cut it down to 45″ wide, but for me that’s just too narrow. 60″ gives enough room to have the dog share the blanket though, so that’s a plus.
  • Dog blankets are simple as well. Buy 1 yd of fleece, then cut it in half so it’s 30″ X 36″. Blanket stitch if you want, and they are also just the right size for a recieving blanket (a staple gift from me to new nieces/nephews).
  • Shoe strings work for drawstring cords. Sometimes you can find really cheap cording if you look around the boats/automotive section of Meijer or Wal-Mart or something. Save weight by tying knots instead of using barrel locs. I suppose the same would go for guy lines- use knots instead of the little plastic sliders.
  • 3.5 mil Polyethelene tarps cut to 8′ X 10′ (10′ square for two people or you and several dogs) and a length of nylon cord makes a wonderful shelter. Use a sheet bend to attatch the rope to the edge of the plastic. Groundcloth can be a garbage bag, space blanket or whatever you want to use.
  • Hit the dollar store for leashes, collars and anything else you can think of. I got leashes for cheaper than I can make them, a great 1-qt. aluminum pot weighing about 1.5 oz. plus plastic zippies are CHEAP!!!
  • Old Navy really does have some good bargains, if you look at the right times. I got some super nylon zip-off cargo pants for a really good price. They also have fleece tops and accessories, plus nylon jackets… you could totally outfit your clothing there and have some serious funtionality.
  • Don’t sell Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Meijer, etc. short. Some gear is lousy, but others are pretty good. Boots aren’t even all that bad if you or your kids are constantly outgrowing/wearing out boots.
  • A Brother (brand name) sewing machine is about $100 for the basic model. It’s a good ivestment. You probably don’t need to have anything fancy or a Serger for most gear. The one I have is great and I’ve made a lot of stuff on it.
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle. See what “worn out” gear can be cannibalized for new stuff. You see beat up sandals, I see straps for lashing trekking poles to your pack. You see a worn out belt pack- I see new buckles and sliders. That plastic mesh bag oranges come in make a nice drip bag for your dishes as well as a pot scrubber. Empty soda bottles make fine water bottles. The part you cut off your sleeping pad can be used for shoulder straps, a dog sleeping pad, something to sit on during day hikes, a kneeling pad (gardening) or insulation for dishes in the winter. Padded envelope? Camera case. Trash bag or bandanas- the possiblities are endless. You get the idea. Ask any small child- the imagination is a wonderful thing. On another upside, double duty items sure save a lot of weight in your pack!
  • Ask around. Sometimes you can get some super deals if you just ask. I got 50 lbs of Perlite at a floral shop for $10. Some alcohol stove patterns call for 1/4 cup of perlite. That’s a lot of stoves. At a ski shop I got free gaiters. The colors weren’t exactly matching and as such were getting thrown out. Heck, they were virtually the same color anyway– and for FREE. Check at fabric stores for quanity pricing and/or if you can get some remnants. You just might find a use for that quarter yard of whatever.