When it comes to outdoor gear, we all want to be the James Bond of the woods, having the most advanced, lightweight, sleek technology available that will make our excursions classy and sexy. Problem is, none of us can afford laser watches, jet packs, or weaponized cars. Maybe it’s time to start thinking more like MacGyver when it comes to top-of-the-line gear. A lot of the equipment you need to survive in the wilderness can be made from items found in your trash can or junk drawer. Check out these pieces of gear that can be made on the dime right out of your home.
An ultra-light, pole-less fishing reel can be made from nothing but an old water bottle, fishing line, a hook, and, of course, duct tape. In order to make your reel, simply drink a bottle of water or your favorite sports drink and remove the label. Select the proper fishing line and tape it onto your bottle with a small piece of duct tape. It will take a while to wind the line around your bottle, but you want to do a good job, if it’s sloppy, your cast will be to. When you’re done winding your line, tie on your hook. It’s that simple. You can store your tackle inside the bottle as long as you hold on to the cap. To cast, pull out a few feet of line, point the mouth of the bottle toward where you see the most fish with one hand, and with the other, swing the hook and bait like you would swing a grappling hook, then let ‘er fly.
Some of the best trail food is made right from home with the amenities you would use to feed yourself on a daily basis. Dehydration is the best way to keep delicious food from perishing on the trail, it’s also lightweight and easy to prepare. All you need is the dehydrator. Don’t want to spend $80 on a manufactured dehydrator? Don’t worry, for only the cost of a large Costco-style, clear plastic cracker container, some pieces of window screen, and some scrap molding, you can build your very own Dehydrator. Just cut off the base and measure out the dimensions of the bottom of the container in order to build a square platform out of your leftover molding. Once the platform is cut and glued together, staple the window screen to it and place the platform back in the bottom of the container. This will be where you set your food for the dehydration process. Basically you want the food to be elevated and on a screen instead of resting at the bottom of the container. Finally, poke holes in the lid of the container and screw it back on. When you go to dehydrate your food, place the dehydrator in the sun and, if possible, hang it so that air flows in from the bottom as well as the top. This will be a fairly small dehydrator, so if you’re trying to make a lot of calorie-dense food, you may want to make a bunch of them.
Beer Can Stove
The ultimate synthesis of ultra-light, craftiness, and trashiness: the beer can stove. Not being limited to solely beer cans, this stove can be made from any variety of pop cans as well. But it’s always the more fun to grab a case of beer and put a few down before you get started. Beer can stoves can be as simple as a beer can that is cut in half. The real magic is in the burning power of denatured alcohol. One ounce of denatured alcohol can boil 2 cups of water in 2 minutes. In order to pressurize the flame of your stove, you’ll want to be a bit more creative with your design. Cut off the bottom inch and a half off of 2 beer cans. Try to make the cuts as clean as possible. Insert one can butt into the other so that you have what looks like a miniature beer can with a bottom on both ends. This is the most tedious part, but with patience, it can be done. The final step will be to poke the jet holes around the rim. 16 evenly spaced holes is usually the standard. You will also want to poke a bigger hole in the top/center of the stove to pour your alcohol into. Before you put fuel in the stove, prime it by heating the base with a lighter for 30 seconds. This will get the alcohol evaporating, creating more fumes. Then pour in your fuel, light it at the edges and throw a penny in the center hole to plug it. Voilà, beautiful blue jets. All you need now is a can of chili.
Once you’ve reached the top of that snowy, windy pass that will be your home for the night, you’ll need find a way to keep the fire of your beer can stove alive despite the fierce elements. The easiest windscreens to make are made from leftover disposable aluminum pans. The grade of the aluminum is much thicker than what you would find in a roll of kitchen foil. Simply put your stove on the table with its stand and pot assembled (oh yeah, need an ultra-light pot? Drink a Fosters, cut off the top), then measure from the table to about three inches up from the bottom of the pot. Cut the pan so that it can wrap around the entire assembly while still allowing for some air flow. In order to avoid being cut by the sharp edges, you can fold them over and crimp them flat with a pair of pliers.