There aren’t too many things that can give you the same sense of accomplishment as completing a long ass backpacking trip, that is, except for also using some of the backpacking gear you made on your own on said backpacking trip.
Now, let me say this right up front, making your own backpacking gear is not for everyone. You have to actually enjoy making things. That is the biggest appeal here, sometimes, making your own gear may save you a few dollars, but honestly, sometimes it will cost almost just as much to get the supplies as it is to just buy the name brand item!
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I don’t want that to deter you though, just keep in mind the cost of supplies + the cost of your time versus the cost of buying an item from a retailer before you fully commit and dive into making your own gear.
Luckily for you, my goal here is to share a few (relatively) easy and inexpensive projects just to get your started and get your feet wet with making your own gear. Quite a few of these are on my wish list as well to make one, just for fun!
Make your own ground cloth for backpacking
Quite possibly the easiest of easy MYOG projects. Whether you’re using a tarp for shelter and just want a small ground cloth under your sleeping pad, or you want a larger foot print for your whole tent, you can easily cut your own ground cloth out of Tyvek or a painters tarp. This will also probably be quite a bit cheaper than the ground cloth that you could purchase along with your tent. For more details on making your own ground cloth, go here.
Make your own backpacking tarp tent or hammock rain fly
A backpacking tarp is arguably the most minimal backpacking shelter you can use. And luckily, they’re pretty easy to make yourself. In addition to making the tarp itself, you’ll need trekking poles to actually set it up, but you should have those already anyway because of all the other benefits they bring to hiker life 😉 For more detailed instructions on how to make your own tarp or rain fly, go here.
Make your own underquilt for a hammock
You could go super easy here and buy a synthetic blanket from Costco and just make a few small adjustments. Or if you’re feeling a little more crafty you can make your own underquilt from scratch. Or if you’re looking for a happy you can try out one of these DIY quilt kits.
Make your own bug bivy
If you don’t sleep in a traditionally enclosed shelter, you’re probably going to want a bug bivy to protect your from mosquitoes and creepy crawlies! This project is great for you if you sleep under a tarp, in open sided shelters along the AT, or like to cowboy camp. You can find instructions and tips on sewing your own bug bivy here.
Make your own ultralight backpacking stove
Making your own cat food can stove is an easy, classic alternative to canister stoves sold at retailers. Why a cat food can and not a soda can? One of the biggest deal breakers for me is that most hikers need to either build or buy a pot stand/support to go along with the soda can stoves. The cat food can uses the same principles and almost the same design as the soda can stove, but is sturdy enough to hold up your pot full of water. Cat food can stoves are great for you if most of your backcountry meals consist of heating up water, adding your food to the hot water and letting it soak. They aren’t so good for actual cooking or simmering. You can find more details on how to make a cat food can stove here.
Make your own pot cozy
This may fall into the category of things you never you needed, but seriously, if you’ll be doing any freezer bag cooking or any sort of let-your-food-soak-in-hot-water kind of cooking, you’re going to need one of these to keep your water hot longer and help your food absorb that water better. Check out how to make a pot cozy here or if you’re strictly freezer bag kind of hiker, you can make a bag cozy instead.
I hope this post shows you how easy making your own backpacking gear can be. After you get a few of these projects under your belt you’ll be ready to move on to more advanced projects like making a traditional tent or even making your own backpack one day!
Please tell us about what gear you’ve made in the comments below.
For more backpacking gear tips, check out these posts:
- The ultimate guide to backpacking tents
- How to choose a backpacking pack
- How to find cheap(er) backpacking gear
- How to make your backpacking gear last longer