Free Kit

I just thought I’d list some of the free/very cheap bits of kit that it can be worth taking with you when you go camping, that make things a little easier and/or more comfortable in the field.

1 – a 1tlr ice cream tub lid – wierd but true. You can use it to fan the flames of a camp fire to get it properly going, as long as you have lots of hot coals. These are about the most effective tool for firelighting available, and are essentially free. Oddly, the cheaper the ice cream, the better the lid. you need something that wont snap if you fold it in half. Then stick it down the frame pocket of your rucsack, and forget about it…until you need it!

2 – a couple of firelighters. Sure you can get with lighting your fires with flint and steel, or firesteels, but for truly awful weather, it is certainly better to be prepared. The cheap white supermarket ones are best and seem to just get the job done. They come in packets of 24 or so for a few pounds, but as a backup they are unbeatable!

3 – a boot polish stove. The wonderful thing about these are that they are made from recycled materials and are inert and completly safe until lit. To make one, do the following:

  • take an empty boot polish tin, making sure you have removed all the polish
  • take long strips of corrugated cardboard, less in thickness than the height of the lower half of the tin and insert them into the lower half, so that they form a tight spiral of carboard that fills the tin.
  • Melt 1 and a half standard candles (broken up into thirds – melted one peice at a time) in the lid of the tin and pour evenly over the cardboard in the lower half, until the wax reaches the rim of the lower part of the tin.
  • To make it easier to light, you can wedge the wick from the candles, cut into short lengths at various places in the carboard (make sure that the wick is cut long enough that half of it can lie flat on the tin bottom, with the remainiong portion sticking up through the card board.

When the wax has become cool and solid, you have a multi purpose stove that will cook up to 2 meals, or light a fire. To use it for cooking, take two flat topped rocks and place either side of the stove (the rocks should be about an inch taller than the stove ). Place your mess tin / sauce pan on the rocks so that the middle is over the stove. Then light the stove, cook your food / boil your water etc. Extinguish the flames when finished by simply placing the lid back on the lower part. The only down side is that you will get a lot of soot over the base of your pan. You can also use these stoves as a base for lighting a camp fire

4- seating pad – really easy – if you have an old foam-type mat, cut off an A2 size section and store down the back of your pack, so you have something dry to sit on. It’s always good to have something relitavely dry so sit on, either on the ground, tree stump or rocks.

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