If you want to save money on backpacking gear, there are a lot of everyday items lying around your house that you can use. The only limit is your imagination!
Trash Compactor Bags – Line the inside of your backpack with a trash compactor bag instead of using a backpack cover. These plastic bags are extremely durable and they will keep your gear DRY.
Soda Bottles – 1 liter sized soda bottles provide an ultralight alternative to heavier Nalgene bottles. Many long distance hikers swear by them and they’re easy to replace.
Reflectix Insulating Wrap – use this to make freezer bag and cook pot cozies.
Padded Mailing Envelopes – The kind lined with bubble wrap. These also make great freezer bag cooking cozies.
Household Bleach – makes a great water purifier for long distance hikers. The CDC and EPA even recommends it for water purification, but stay away from the scented kind.
Plastic Shopping Bags – these make great snow anchors in winter if you need to pitch a tent on snow. They’re also ultralight. Just make sure to pack them out when you’re done using them.
Tyvek House Wrap – Got some extra Tyvek? It makes a great ground cloth that’s lightweight and waterproof.
Safety Pins – These are a great addition to your gear repair kit. I’ve pinned a shoulder hardness back onto a backpack in the middle of nowhere so I could finish my planned trip. Locking safety pins are the best!
Oven Bags – Oven basting bags make great vapor barrier socks. Just put them over a sock liner and then cover with a second warmer sock and your feel will stay toasty warm all day. These are best used when temperatures are well below freezing. The ones sized for cooking turkeys are too big – go a size smaller.
Drier Lint – Makes a great fire starter.
Plumbers Tape – Wrap a little plumbers tape around the threads of your water reservoir or water bottle to prevent it from leaking.
Plastic Spice Bottles and Prescription Bottles – These are great for carrying small quantities of olive oil, DEET, liquid soap, or hand cleanser so you don’t have to carry more than you need. You can also use them to carry spices and pills.
Duct Tape – So many uses ranging from first aid and blister prevention to gear repair.
Vaseline Soaked Cotton Balls – Makes a long-lasting and inexpensive fire starter with a very long shelf life.