No, we won’t go on a mission to the moon, although the picture above looks pretty much like it. We go on a long hike and we take some DIY camping gear with us.
A long-distance hike costs a lot of money. Plane tickets, visa fees, accommodation, food etc. And then there is your gear! If you don’t have your outdoor gear yet you have to dig deep into your pockets. There are no limits to the prices of products from outdoor brands. And if you like it a bit more lightweight (Ultralight), you pay even more.
No wonder that many people from the hiking community are into Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and make their own camping gear. In the Internet you can find numerous instructions for every kind of camping gear. Sleeping bags, backpacks, tents, whatever you want. But there are some limits to the DIY principle. You won’t find many instructions for making your own shoes (closed shoes, not sandals).
DIY is a trend and lots of private gear makers don’t have to hide their creations from industrially manufactured products of big outdoor companies. Some of these gear makers even founded small companies themselves.
We used our limited possibilities while staying in Hobart (Tasmania) and made our own DIY camping gear. We saved some money, spent our time meaningfully and helped ourselves out because we couldn’t find everything of the needed gear.
DIY Camping Gear – Camera Holster
My most ambitious and time-consuming project was my DIY camera holster. So far I have used a holster from Think Tank (350g) during hiking. I attached it with two karabiners on my backpack, so that the holster was lying on my breast. I still like it. The Think Tank Digital Holster 10 is robust and of very good quality; and I’m still going to use it while hiking and travelling in the future. But I wanted to have a lighter version for our long-distance hike on the Te Araroa in New Zealand.
I used the material Reflectix and a heat resistant tape, as I did with the Pot Cosy (see further down). It took me uncountable hours and the help of some outlines to make it. The holster weights around 70g (incl. karabiners) and already passed 100km of hiking successfully. The holster doesn’t look very robust but it carries my Fuji X-T1 (incl. lens, 800g) without problems. The Reflectix reflects the sun and blended me in full sunlight. That’s why I taped some nylon fabric on the top and on the lens shaft. Theoretically, the holster is also waterproof but I haven’t tested it yet. And I probably won’t because I rarely take pictures and have the holster stored in the backpack when it’s raining.
Reflectix: This material is used for isolating houses and in these silvery car sunshades. It has a reflecting surface and air bubbles between the two layers.
DIY Camping Gear– Rain Mitts
Rain. It’s not very unusual to encounter it in New Zealand. If you have ever hiked several hours in wind and rain you probably know the feeling of numb fingers. Nadine tailored two pairs of rain mitts with nylon fabric to make such nasty rain days more pleasant.
They look like oven mitts and should withstand rain for some hours. But they’re not fully waterproof. The material and the seams aren’t. Sooner or later the rain mitts won’t be of much help against the wet.
Mostly we wear fleece mitts/finger gloves underneath the rain mitts. The combination of the two layers should offer enough isolation and protection against most of New Zealand’s weather.
Tip: A cheap and fully waterproof alternative would be a pair of rubber gloves like the ones you use for washing dishes.
DIY Camping Gear– Mini Gaiters
Nothing goes without gaiters in New Zealand (and btw in Australia, too). To protect us from the muddy paths in New Zealand’s rainforests and against the spiky vegetation, we use almost knee-high gaiters. But we also walk approx. 800km on roads (forest, farmland, highways) and along fabulous beaches on the North Island. So we won’t need the high gaiters then and we save us some weight on our feet by wearing DIY mini gaiters. They are very simple. We used a piece of nylon fabric and a rubber band. We wear the resulting funnel over our trail running shoes. The mini gaiters basically prevent us from getting dirt, sand, debris etc. into the low-ankle shoes and into the socks. But they won’t be of help in deep mud. Nevertheless, they are worth their weight (13g).
DIY Camping Gear – Protective Cases
Kindle, tablet and smartphone: expensive gadgets which we have to protect on our hike. We made some very lightweight protective cases with Reflectix and tape. The air bubbles in the Reflectix protect from bumps and shocks and the reflecting coating protects from sunbeams and heat. It looks kind of futuristic but they have proved themselves during our travels in Australia.
DIY Camping Gear– Pot Cosy
The Pot Cosy was the origin of all our DIY works and we have a second version (this time with heat reflecting tape) on the Te Araroa Trail with us.
A Pot Cosy is an isolating shell for your cooking pot, which reduces the cooking time and keeps your food warm.
After the water has boiled up and you’ve added the ingredients you put the cooking pot into the Pot Cosy, where the isolated heat starts to simmer the content. You find more info about the Pot Cosy in this article.
DIY Camping Gear– Tyvek Groundsheet
Sometimes you can’t buy a fitting groundsheet with your tent. Because of that we made our own groundsheet with Tyvek. It protects the floor of our Tarptent Strato Spire 2 from humidity and from the underground (debris, sharp objects).
In this article you can find out more about our tent and how to make a groundsheet.
Of course, there is plenty of other stuff we could make for our DIY camping gear. But at the moment we’re fine and ready to use the DIY camping gear on the Te Araroa Trail. It was very interesting and fun to make our own gear and we’re surely going to make other stuff in the future. There are so many advantages of individualised gear compared to standardised products. But we wouldn’t switch to DIY camping gear completely.