10 Tools from Walmart to Hack Backpacking
This post was originally published on LifeHack.org
Backpacking is considered to be a rough way to travel with high costs for good gear and many inconveniences. While true in some regards, there are ways to hack your travels to make life a bit easier on you. Here are ten items that you can use to make life on the road a bit easier. No high costs - you can find them all at Walmart. No added weight - they each weigh only a few ounces.
Your universal drain stopper can be used in just about any sink or tub. Stopping the drain allows you to pool water for washing clothes. Whether your lodging doesn't have accommodations or they are just too expensive, you've got the answer in your pack.
Camping Clothes Line
If you're washing clothes, you'll also need a place to dry them. A basic bungee cord style camping clothes line allows you to hang your clothes just about anywhere; dry them between two trees, between bed posts or even a couple of chairs.
Clothes lines also come in handy for supporting a tarp to protect your hammock or sleeping bag from the dew or rain.
These small clips are invaluable when backpacking. Most travel packs will have an abundance of D-rings, straps or handles that you can clip your carabiner to, allowing you to attach nearly anything to your pack. If you're swapping out shoes, tie your laces together and hang your old pair from your back. Got a water bottle? Slip it in a side pocket and secure it to a strap with a simple clip. It's an easy and convenient way to carry your loose items that won't quite fit into the pack itself.
Ziplock bags work well for storing items that you want to keep dry. Put your electronics in one before you travel to keep them from frying if you get caught in a rainstorm or drop your pack in a creek. Slip a sandwich in one for the road. Stuff your toiletries in them before boarding an airplane to get them through security and avoid spilling soap and toothpaste on your pack's contents should it spill. The uses are endless!
Backpacking is difficult for many people because they want to pack everything they normally would in a large, 50lbs suitcase into a backpack. If you have to cut down on the amount of clothes you bring, you have to aim for versatility. What items can be paired with any of the other articles of clothing I bring? Under Armour is light and packs small while still bringing that added layer of warmth without the bulk of a jacket.
Camp Utensil Set
When traveling, food is a big concern. Many tourists or vacationers will just go out to eat. The backpacker, on the other hand, must often buy his/her own food. Buying food on the road means you're also stuck figuring out plates/utensils. A simple camp utensil set will solve that problem for you.
Like Ziplock bags, garbage bags are tremendously helpful. With a few tears, one could be converted to a pancho during a downpour. Slip another over your pack and you'll keep it dry as well. Heading into town for the day? Put your gear in a bag and toss it in the bushes near your campsite. People will think it's trash if they find it and it'll stay dry from any unexpected rains. They're also quite helpful when you need to pack that muddy pair of shoes in the same bag as your clean clothes.
Just as strong as duct tape, but more versatile, athletic tape allows you to patch leaky tarps, brace sprained ankles or any number of other hacks. It also packs smaller, allowing you to take more tape per role.
Everyone knows you can't take a knife on an airplane unless you check your bags. If you're carrying your backpack on the plane, that's out of the question. On the road, however, a pocket knife can be invaluable. Of course, you can purchase a knife once you get to your destination. However, an alternative should that option not be available is to bring a pair of nail clippers. Passable through security and incredibly sharp, they can be used to cut bits of string, tape, cloth or plastic. Though they might take a bit longer, they'll get the job done.
Finally, pick up a padlock. Look for one with a large loop but a medium sized latch. This will give you maximum versatility when securing your possessions in a hostel's locker, locking your zippers together or simply lashing it all to a bed post.