“Free and Found”… The Art of the Scrounge #31

Because my funds are so limited, a great deal of my time and effort around this project has gone into figuring out what I could scrounge up and “make do” with. This is why love the dollar store, yard sales and The-Fell-Off-A-Truck-Stop. Scrounging around with the stuff I have, could find, or could make myself without spending much, meant that I could save my funds for use on more important items like the army bivy sack that covers ground cloth, tent, tarp, and part of the function of a sleeping bag all in one item. 

Another one of the things that I found kicking around was this set of assorted bags. I’m pretty sure that I bought them at a Walmart for around $6. They also included a garment bag which was my purpose at the time. I needed to be able to carry clothes to my daughters wedding and have them arrive still looking reasonably sharp. This wasn’t going to happen in my duffel bag. My suit, tie and dress shirt are probably still hanging in the garment bag.


The rest of the bags got tossed on a closet shelf and forgotten. They are made out of the same olefin-type fabric as a recyclable grocery bag. So they are wicked lightweight, but also very tough and abrasion resistant. They are perfect for stuff sacks. Not waterproof of course, but that’s why we’ve got garbage bags. [actually, that’s why we’re going camping in good weather… We don’t really have to worry about getting wet.]

The one thing on it’s own that I actually like the most is the hanging pocket bag. I can just loop it over a branch by my sleeping bag and have a place to stash all my pocket junk, flashlight, and phone, at night. I never would’ve actually done anything similar. I would’ve just dropped everything in a shoe. But here, for free, and weighing in maybe a eighth of an ounce, I’ve got the perfect solution.

The little three-dimensional “shoe” bag will work great for a couple of pairs of socks and an extra tee shirt. And the shopping bag style one can get a rope tied to the handles, tossed over a limb and used as a food stash for overnight to keep the critters away. I’m figuring on the 5 L drawstring bag to be big enough to pack all of our food in.


Blue Lights and Red Dots

The old “Blue Light Special” may be long gone from Kmart, but if you keep your eyes open over at WallyWorld you can find a variety of things marked with a red tag. I guess these must be items that are either old or over-stock, missing their tags, or perhaps returns.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I was able to find a nice little Outdoor Products “Mist” backpacking bag that was red-tagged down to $20. I also got a 1liter Vapur Anti-Bottle collapsible water pouch that usually costs around $7 or $8 for $4.99.

I have not had an actual backpack for a very long time. All of my carry needs have been satisfied with a “range-bag” or messenger bag that just hangs over one shoulder.  For trips, I have a couple of nice cordura “Gladstone”-style bags from Kiva. However, I knew that if I wanted to actually do some trail walking, I was probably going to need something in the way of a real backpack. Since I am trying desperately not to sink a lot of money into this project, picking up a decent pack that was red tagged at $20 was a pretty good deal. [it “retails” for about $50, and still would have cost me at least $29-$36 online]

The “Mist” is only a 8 L capacity, but it has a lot of the bells and whistles that the larger, and more expensive packs have. This includes a 2 L Camelback-style,”water bladder” that fits in an interior pocket. Because I am not considering any kind of serious, multi-day hikes, the relatively small, 8 L volume seemed to be a good idea. It will force me into being very selective about what I actually choose to take along. For my old, cripped-up back, lighter is going to be far better.Image


In the picture above you can get a sense of scale from the bottles. The whole pack is only about 16″ or 18″ tall. And I liked the bright color… I am not particularly interested in going all Special Ops and camo out there.

Image  Image  Image


As you can see in the second set of photos, there is a mesh pouch on each side to hold water bottles. Both the compression webbing and the buckles are sturdy, it is well sewn throughout and it uses decent SPS zippers with nylon teeth and a metal pull tab. Out across the web there seem to be a lot of people who don’t like metal tabs because they think they jingle and make too much noise in the wood. …BFD… $20 was the determining factor here at Moosenut Falls Outfitters. The squirrels, and the moose and the beavers are just going to have to use earplugs. They’ll want some once I start snoring anyways.

Inside, there are three full-height pockets, two zipped and one open-top slot. There is also an elasticized slot pocket in the back of the main compartment to hold the water bladder. The shoulder straps have about a half an inch of foam padding and have some nice ventilating mesh on the back side. There’s a sternum strap to secure it across your chest, and a decent, but unpadded, waistbelt. While there are no pouches on the waistbelt, the straps are certainly large enough and long enough to thread through some type of belt-looped pouch. Additionally, each shoulder strap has two elastic bands. These are there for you to secure the sip tube from the water bladder. But I chose to snap my “bug zapper” into a pair of them.

I will get around to showing you the “camelback” for water at some other point. It was a nice addition, especially at this price point, but it’s not terribly important to me. Most places I would be intending to go here in the beginning of my adventures have reasonable sources of water. Outside of that I’m happy just slip a couple of water bottles into the side pouches.

OK… Just what all will fit in only 8 L ?


I just grabbed a bunch of stuff that was laying around and crammed it all in. This is what I ended up with:

Two water bottles

Two “snak-paks, which include stuff like jerky singles, Slim-Jims, energy bars, candy and a couple beverage mixes.

A full MRE re-pack dinner -with main meal, side dish, bread, dessert, snacks, beverage, TP, flameless heater bag, and condiments.

5’x7′ nylon tarp

A bag of miscellaneous crap… If I was actually going anywhere this would of course include that most important item for any trip out into the woods: the mini boombox speaker! Geezers got to have their tunes.

The entirety of my cook kit… Because I was just grabbing stuff this is far more cooking gear than I would actually carry on any individual hike. As shown, it includes:  cookpot, cook cup, small stainless-steel thermal bowl, my ALOCS alcohol stove and wind-sceen/pot support, 4oz. HEET fuel, spoon, knife, and a small insulated beverage cup. Like I said, pretty much overkill for what I would actually take along all at once.

3’x’7 typar ground cloth

Ultra-mini sleeping bag…  don’t get all horny here. It is actually so small and lightweight that I’m not certain how useful it will really be. But it was dirt cheap out of China. My thought is to combine it with one of the SOL Adventure bivvy bags for a cheap all-weather, summer bag.

And a windbreaker/rain jacket in the little two-tone stuff sack


Since I just wanted to grab a couple of photos, I didn’t take time to make any particular effort to pack snuggly or efficiently, the whole pile of stuff fit in with a little room to spare. And the weight was certainly no more than I would be quite willing to carry.

All in all, I think that the Mist is going to work out to be a very suitable pack for my needs. As I mentioned before, that limited 8 L capacity certainly will make me consider very seriously just want all I want to take along.

I am no different from most people. I always overpack. Too much food, too many clothes, too much “too much” that never gets touched the whole time you’re gone and would never be missed. It all adds to the weight you have to carry and cuts down on the enjoyment of the journey.

Now… If it would just stop raining here. It certainly seems that we’re going to  start off into the month of June with 10 days  showers and thunderstorms. Blech…