Show me a camper or hiker without duct tape and I’ll show you someone with holes in their shoes, rips in their tent and blisters on their feet. In honor of all industrious, inventive and, dare we say, cheap folks out there, we’ve assembled a list of the most practical, versatile, least-expensive items you’ll ever use outdoors.

1. Duct tape

Of course this is No. 1. It’s on the Department of Homeland Security Web site, isn’t it? Purchase a roll, and you’ll be ready for basically anything, according to U.S. officials.

“Duct tape is like the force: It has a dark side and a light side and it holds the universe together.”

Intended use: It was invented in 1942 by Johnson & Johnson to keep moisture out of ammunition cases in WWII.

Other outdoor uses:

  • Fix holes in clothing, sleeping bags, tents
  • Hold together boots and their soles
  • Repair gaiters and rain gear
  • Cover the ends of frayed shoelaces
  • Close bags and packages of food
  • Keep matchbooks dry
  • Tape shoelaces to keep tied
  • Seal bottoms of pants to keep ticks out
  • Fix or make a dog leash or collar
  • Twist to use as a clothesline
  • Cover blisters or cuts (preferably over the top of bandages)
  • Patch a canoe
  • Remove cactus spines

Ramen Soup For Carbs - OutThere Colorado

2. Ramen noodles

OK, we know carbs aren’t technically gear. But they are among the most-loved essentials. It’s amazing what you can do with them. One hiker swears you can pulverize a package, then open it and sprinkle in flavor for a great snack.

Here’s a quick recipe for the campfire:

Ramen snack mix (to make at home before you head out)
4 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 teaspoons seasoned salt
4 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 packages ramen, crushed (no sea- soning packet)
1 cup peanuts
1 cup small pretzels
Melt butter. Combine salt, Worcestershire sauce and melted butter; mix well. Pour sauce, uncooked noodles, peanuts and pretzels in large plastic bag and close. Shake bag until all pieces are coated.

Pour contents of bag evenly into open roasting pan. Bake at 250 degrees for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread mix evenly on paper towels to cool.


3. Blue plastic tarp

Intended uses: machinery or construction cover, boat or pallet cover, ground cover
Other outdoor uses:
– Footprint for your tent (to protect its floor from the ground)
– Tent
– Bivy sack
– Blanket
– Sunshade
– Hammock
– Covering for homemade kayak (check out the “fourhour kayak” at shelter-systems. com/kayak.html)

4. Fleece Pullover

Intended use: clothing
Other outdoor uses:
– Sleeping pad
– Pillow (filled with clothes) — or pillow stuffing (stuffed inside a drawstring bag)
– Dog sweater
– Sling for injured arm

5. Rope or parachute cord

Intended use: Pulling and connecting
Other outdoor uses:
– Clothesline
– Tent tie-back
– Belt or hair tie
– Dog leash

Vaseline - OutThere Colorado

6. Vaseline

Intended use: Lubricant for skin, leather
Other outdoor uses:
– Heal windburned skin
– Keep ants out of the dog’s dishes (smear around the rim)
– Soothe sore dog paws
– Use as firestarter (applied to cotton balls)
– Lip balm

7. Aluminum Foil

Intended use: Wrap objects for preservation
Other outdoor uses:
– Shape into bowl or plate
– Wrap food for cooking
– Make tent for baking
– Hold small items securely
– Make trail markers (take them with you when you leave)

8. Trash bags

Intended use: Hold trash
Other outdoor uses:
– Rain poncho
– Ground cover
– Homemade sink (dig hole in ground, line with bag, fill.)

9. Bandanna

Intended use: Neckerchief or handkerchief
Other outdoor uses:
– Hair band
– Bikini top
– Drink cover (guard against wasps)
– Fishing net
– Trail marker
– Bandage or washcloth

Foot Socks - OutThere Colorado

10. Pair of socks

Intended use: Foot covers
Other outdoor uses:
– Mittens
– Small-gear holder
– Bandage
– Glasses case

11. Tuna Can

Intended use: Food
Other outdoor uses:
– Drinking cup
– Candle-holder
– Cake pan

12. Dental Floss

Intended use: Tooth cleaner
Other outdoor uses:
– Thread for repairing clothing, backpacks or tents
– Shoelace or tent tie-back

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We are driven by our deep respect for our environment, and our passionate commitment to sustainable tourism and conservation. We believe in the right for everyone - from all backgrounds and cultures - to enjoy our natural world, and we believe that we must all do so responsibly. Learn More