MYOG: Ultralight Ground Cloth/Foot Print

Quick and Dirty
Cost: $
Time: 10 minutes
Difficulty (1-10): 1

What You Need
Fabric – Tyvek or Window Film (rip stop, silnylon, cuben fiber is OK too)
Duct tape and/or double sided 3M VHB tape
Paracord, small bungee cord, or guy lines

Sewing Machine
Brass Eyelets
Nylon webbing (I prefer not to use nylon webbing)

Tarptent Squall, Foot print

Continue reading


Affordable 3 Day Backpacking Food Preparation

Louis and I take eating pretty seriously, we love a good meal. When it comes to backpacking, we’ve always had trouble finding the right food. The ideal meal for us are light, affordable and tasty meals. We started out with Mountain House freeze dried food and were pretty happy with the taste, however, at $7-$9 per bag, it was a too expensive for us. For our upcoming three day backpacking trip, I decided to try something different. I decided to dehydrating fresh produce and scavenge through Walmart for cheaper ready made packaging food.

Dehydrating Fresh Produce 

Two nights before we set out for our backpacking trip, I looked through our fridge and pulled out fresh produce that’s likely to spoil during our absence and came up with two green bell peppers, two ears of corn, several Roma tomatoes and a handful of strawberries. After chopping the produce into small pieces, I preheated the oven on the lowest temperature possible, in our case, it was 170 degrees. I laid the fresh produce on a flat sheet and left it in the oven for 6 hours. Depending on the oven, more or less time may be needed to dehydrate fresh produce.

Here’s a daily breakdown of what I packed for both of us:

Friday Night:and Saturday Morning 

To get a head start Saturday morning, we decided to drive to the campsite Friday night and camp at the trail head. With our campsite Friday night so close to our car, we packed fresh fruits, bagels, two boil eggs and Thursday night’s leftover dinner for food.

Sunday and Monday Breakfast:

  • Oatmeal with dried cranberries, dried milk, 1Tbs of sugar and oven dried strawberries at 1 dollar for two days if you buy everything in bulk.
  • Hot chocolate and tea at $0.50 for two days if you buy everything in bulk

Saturday through Monday lunch:

  • PB&J sandwiches and tuna sandwiches. I found dollar pack aluminum packets of tuna at Walmart and decided to give it a try. Total for lunch is approximately 3 dollars.
  • Dried fruits and nuts trail mix at $2 if you buy everything in bulk

Saturday Night Dinner:

  • Two packs of instant Knorr Rice at one dollar each. At 270 calories for 2.5 servings per packet and 29% sodium, this is about the same nutritional value as the Mountain House Spaghetti with Meat Sauce. The only thing lacking from the Knorr Rice dish is protein, there was only 6 grams of protein compared to 11 grams per serving for the Mountain House. We figured our beef jerky and tuna would compensate on the lack of protein. The rice meals does take a little longer to cook, we found they taste the best being cooked on an open flame for 7-10 minutes because dousing it with boil water cooks it unevenly.
  • One pack of Idahoan Loaded Baked Mash Potatoes at one dollar per pack. These mash potatoes are delicious and super easy to make. All you need to do is dump 2 cups of boiling water into serving bowl and let it stand for a couple minutes.

Sunday night dinner:

  • Two packs of instant ramen noodles with oven dried corn, bell peppers and beef jerky at less than a dollar for a pack of ramen noodles
  • One pack of Idahoan Loaded Baked Mash Potatoes at one dollar per pack.

In the end the total cost of food for a 3 day backpacking trip between Louis and I cost less than 15 dollars since we utilized our leftovers.

MYOG: Fire Starters On The Cheap

Quick and Dirty
Cost: $
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty (1-10): 1

Below is a quick and easy tutorial on how to take dryer lint and turn it into an effective fire starter.  We use these on all of our back country trips that allow fires.


What You Need
Lint from a dryer
Old candles, used candles, or residual wax
Heating device (heat gun, candle warmer, fire!)

Step 1

Wash your clothes and throw them in the dryer.  Save the lint that’s collected in your dryer.


Step 2

If using long candles, cut them into bits and pieces for easy melting.


Step 3

Put pieces in a heat resistent bowl that you don’t mind not using ever again.  I made a bowl out of tin foil.


Step 4

Use a candle warmer or some type of heating device to melt some UNSCENTED candles. It’s very important to use unscented candles in the backcountry.


Step 5

Form a ball with the dryer lint.



Step 6

Submerge HALF of the lint ball into the melted wax. The uncovered half of the lint ball acts as a candle wick and will burn faster.


Step 7

Pull them out and let them cool and harden.


Step 8

To correctly light the fire starters, you need to stack small sticks and kindling above the fire starter.  Light the exposed portion of the fire starter.  Making sure there is enough oxygen to feed the fire, allow it to burn and melt portions of the wax until your kindling and sticks catch fire.

These dryer lint balls are easy to make, light weight and cost virtually nothing. On a cold wet morning, a nice warm fire will make a huge difference.  There are other options (newspaper, saw dust, etc.), but lint is FREE and easier to work with.

Final note:  I highly recommend  using unscented candles.  We use whatever we have left over, but we prefer to use unscented, inexpensive stick candles.  They typically cost a dollar for8 at the local dollar store – of if you are like us, you have a bunch of them around the house.