Backpacking and camping are awesome frugal activities. It costs nothing to take a hike. It costs a bit more to camp overnight, but even that can be done inexpensively. While browsing the web for camping stuff, I stumbled upon a great list of frugal suggestions that were originally posted to the Usenet group rec.scouting on 03 December 1994!
According to the original poster:
These low-cost equipment/ideas/fixes for Scouting and camping in general [were] originally found on a F-Net Scouting board and [were] reposted on Fidonet on Nov 11/92 by Steve Simmons. The file evidently originated with BSA Troop 886 in the USA.
This list is HUGE. Here are my favorite ideas:
- Channel lock pliers make good pot holders.
- Nylon rope can be used as shoe laces.
- Use a large zip lock plastic bag, filled with air, as a pillow.
- A plastic bottle makes a good latrine for cold weather camping. (You don’t
have to ‘go’ very far from your sleeping bag). Keep it just outside the tent flap.
- Carry several pieces of lumber cut into two-inch squares to summer camp and
use these to level platform, tent, and cot.
- Old shower curtains make great ground tarps.
- Waterproof matches by dipping them in nail polish.
- Waterproof matches by dipping in melted paraffin.
- Make fire starters by filling paper condiment cups with saw dust and pouring
paraffin into the cup.
- A length of chain and a piece of coat hanger bent into an S-shape will allow
you to hang your lantern from a tree limb.
- Keep batteries in prescription bottles.
- Prescription bottles also make good match safes.
- In fact, prescription bottles (or 35mm file containers) make good storage places for small items of all sorts.
- A frisbee will add support to paper plates when the plate is place inside
- Laundry lint makes good tinder.
- Keep the water in your canteen cooler by wrapping the canteen in foil.
- When it comes time to pack up at the end of a camp, a wet toothbrush, face
cloth and bar of soap wrapped in foil won’t dampen the other things in your
- To prevent batteries from wearing down if a flashlight is accidently nudged
on while you’re traveling, put the flashlight batteries in backwards.
- To protect your feet from blisters, smear soap on the inside of your inner
sock at the heel and underneath the toes. Carry along a bar of soap and,
when you feel your feet become tender, give it a try.
- To keep mosquitoes away rub the inside of an orange peel on face, arms and
- Wrap fishing gear in foil to keep line from tangling and hooks from rusting.
By lining the compartments of a tackle box with foil, you can prevent rust
damage to plugs and other equipment.
- To remove musty smell from canteen, put three teaspoons of baking soda into
the canteen with a bit of water. Swish it around and let sit for an hour,
then rinse out the canteen.
- An empty plastic soda bottle, cut off to a convenient height, will work as a
camp bowl. You may want to sandpaper the cut to smooth the edge.
- Save inner cardboard tubes from kitchen and toilet rolls, stuff with waste
paper and use as fire-lighters.
- Use zip-lock bags for mixing foods, be sure it is closed tight and the top
is held shut before shaking or kneading.
- Duct tape can be used to repair most everything on a trip. Use it to patch
tents, mend poles, hold up schedules, patch torn shoes, hold poles for
mosquito nets to cots, etc.
If you like these, check out the entire list.