Gear Shed

8 Household Items that Double as Gear

Save money by using things around the house to outfit your next adventure (at least partially).

    Photo: Daniel D. Snyder

If items like drybags and winter cycling shoe covers aren’t exactly in your budget right now, don’t panic. Instead, be resourceful. Chances are you already have items around the house that work just as well—such as these eight gear hacks:


Trash Compactor Bags
These durable plastic bags work incredibly well inside a backpack as a waterproof lining. Place anything you want to keep dry in the bag, and make sure it’s sealed securely inside your pack. The exterior of your pack might get soaked in the rain, but everything inside will be safe. Trash compactor bags weigh nearly nothing, cost about $5, and are considerably more durable than the average lawn waste or trash bag.


White Rice
You likely know that electronics can be dried out—and often revived—after a night covered in rice. Well, what works in your kitchen also works in the backcountry. Consider leaving some loose rice in your pack to cut down on clamminess that may affect something like your camera lens. And if you don't use the rice, hell, you can always eat it.


Library Pencil
Library pencils (you know those stubby yellow pencils you use to write down call numbers) are convenient for field notes. Just as importantly, library pencils can be used to carry duct tape into the wilderness—just wrap a few feet around the yellow part of the pencil (hey, it’s lighter than carrying a whole roll).


Plastic Baggies
On a really cold day, winter cycling shoe covers are ideal,  but if you don't have them, can't afford them, or are not quite cold enough to commit to them—you can cut the tips off of plastic baggies and place them between your socks and your cycling shoes as added wind protection.


Plastic Grocery Bag
Place a plastic shopping bag over your foot to cut down on the friction between your skin and the neoprene of your wetsuit when slipping in to it. Instead of the frustrating struggle-dance to get your feet through the legs, with a plastic bag your feet slide right in.


Old Toiletries Bag
The correct toiletries bag can make an excellent first aid container. Many of these bags are built out of water-resistant, durable material that packs well. Toiletries bags are also often compartmentalized, so you can easily organize the contents.


Egg Carton / Drier Lint / Wax
Cut up an egg carton into egg-sized sections, place drier lint in the egg slots, and seal the whole thing in wax. Presto, you have yourself a packable waterproof fire starter. These three bi-products could be vital if you’re stuck in inclement weather.


Dish Washing Gloves
If you find yourself without neoprene gloves, latex dishwashing gloves will keep your hands surprisingly warm and dry if you are repeatedly submerging them in cold water.

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