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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Backpacking Tips: 7 Uses for the Lowly Trash Bag

The term “trash bag” is likely to evoke an image of something of rather lowly status. But, a large heavy-duty trash bag can be very useful in the wilderness. Even though it is designed to be disposable, it is really quite durable and it weighs mere ounces.

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Below I will give some uses for heavy-duty trash bags, you know, the big black lawn and leaf, 42 gallon models.

Use #1: Emergency Rain Poncho: Just cut a hole for your head and two more for your arms. If you cut the hole slightly smaller than the diameter of your head and of your arms and force your head and arms into the holes, you’ll get a snug fit.
Use #2: Emergency Windbreaker Coat: If you need to add one more layer to avoid hypothermia, you can make a windbreaker coat with the same simple instructions for making a rain poncho. It won’t have any sleeves, but it can help keep your torso warm by blocking the wind.
Use #3: Moisture Barrier: You can use a heavy-duty trash bag as a moisture barrier when sitting on wet ground. Or you can use it between your sleeping bag and the damp ground. To double the length of the barrier, just slit the seams on both sides, but not on the bottom.

Use #4: Dry Sack: Store, in the bag, items that you want to make sure will stay dry in a downpour or in a tricky stream crossing.
Use #5: Emergency Backpack Rain Cover: Of course, a rain cover that is made specifically for your backpack will fit best. But, the trash bag will work in a pinch to keep things dry.

Use #6: Makeshift Patches: Using cutouts from a trash bag in combination with duct tape, you can temporarily patch almost anything from a sleeping bag to a tent.
Use #7: Firewood Protector: Store in the bag the precious firewood that you have collected in case the ground is wet or you expect rain. It will be much easier to light an emergency fire if the firewood is kept dry.
There you have seven useful applications for a heavy-duty trash bag in a backpacking setting. I’m sure you could think of more uses to add to the list. With that, I hope the trash bag will see a bit less trashy and somewhat more classy.
by Richard Davidian, Ph.D.

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