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A Few New Backpacking Ideas

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First, four new ideas for lightweight backpacking products. Then, three techniques to use when lightweight backpacking. Good techniques can often lighten your load as much as lightweight products. The following ideas are borrowed from www.999ideas.com.

Potential New Backpacking Products

Tarp rain cape. Not quite a poncho, this would be a tarp that simply has a chin strap and a few velcro attachments down one side could be used for a "rain cape." It would be cheap and simple to manufacture, and easier to actually use it as a tarp. It would also easily cover you and your backpack. If you have ever held a rectangular tarp around you to keep the rain off, you get the idea.

Disposable wax paper water container. The idea here is to have a water container for those long hikes in the desert when you need to carry extra water. When you have used it up, the container doubles as a good fire starter, eliminating its weight from your pack. Existing waxed milk and orange juice cartons could be used for this.

Cooling shirt. Again, this is for hot desert hiking. Soaking your shirt in a stream and wearing it wet is a great way to keep cool from the evaporative effect. The problem is that twenty minutes later you are far from the stream and the shirt is dry. The idea here, then, is a shirt that has some kind of water bags attached. Once filled, they slowly leak the water into the fabric of the shirt, keeping you cool for hours.

Solid fuel fire starters. Take army fuel sticks and add a strike-anywhere match head. You have an instant fire starter. It would be something like having a mini emergency flare.

Backpacking Techniques

Air conditioning your tent. If the day is dry and hot, try wetting any large piece of cloth in the nearest stream and laying it over the roof of your tent. The evaporation can cool the interior of the tent by ten degrees. Just be sure that if you are using a shirt or other clothing that you'll be needing, to allow enough time before dark for it to dry completely.

Raising your body heat. You can get by with less cold weather wear and sleeping gear if you have more body heat. One way to create more is to eat fats before going to sleep. Fats create heat when they are digested (this is why eating whale blubber helps Eskimos stay warm). Corn chips are oily enough to help if you can't stomach a half cup of olive oil before bedtime.

Walking at night. I purposely timed a five-day backpacking trip through the Sierra Nevadas to coincide with the full moon. I slept until the cold got to me and then easily hiked through the rest of the night by moonlight. It meant I could go with a lighter sleeping bag, and it was a unique experience - one of those backpacking ideas I had wanted to try for a while. It did mean taking a nap in the sun every afternoon.

Note: I have another page of backpacking inventions and ideas.



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