Friday, January 17, 2014

Garbage bags prove beneficial as extra item in backpack

Pack a small roll of garbage bags for
your day hike. Illustration courtesy of
King County, Washington.
One of the most useful items to bring on a long day hiking trip is a roll of garbage bags. No, we’re not talking about picking up litter along the trail (Though they can be used for that purpose, and it’s much appreciated, by the way!) but as a useful item in case you get lost and are forced to spend the night in the wilds.

Garbage bags can be cut up and used as makeshift tent walls or tarp to keep you dry or to keep the wind off you. The ends of long sticks can be used as tent poles inserted into tiny holes cut into the garbage bags; you probably have a small scissors in your first-aid kit or multi-purpose tool to cut the holes. The bags also can keep you off the wet, cold ground by acting as flooring in your shelter.

They also can provide a modicum of comfort. Partially fill the garbage bags with leaves and tie off the ends to create a mattress or pillow. You’ll probably need two or three bags to make a large enough mattress for an adult. Filling the mattress with leaves also can give children something constructive to do, helping take their minds of worrying about being lost.

Heavy duty garbage bags work best; the low-cost ones tend to be made of thin plastic that’ll easily rip in a heavy wind or driving rain. Bring a whole roll with you, as you’ll need several bags to construct tents, mattresses and pillows.

Find out about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.