Category Archives: Do It Yourself Gear

Silence is golden, duct tape is silver


What do MacGyver, astronauts, and writers have in common?

We all keep rolls of duct tape in our backpacks, our cars, our boats, our spaceships, and our homes.

Ah, the sticky stuff.  That super-adhesive, water-repellant, ultra-durable, handyman-staple:  Duct tape.  I love the sound it makes coming off the role.  The slightly synthetic smell.  But mostly I love the many ways it can be used.  Is there anything in the universe more versatile?  I imagine aliens in every galaxy find it as useful as we do…

Today, we celebrate duct tape and its many uses.  Here’s just a handful of the ways this substance can improve your life.  Did we miss one?  Tell us about it at the end!

Fix Something

1. You can use duct tape to patch darn near anything!

  • Backpacks, tents, shoes, hats, or any other leaky piece of equipment.  Duct tape sticks to itself as well as it sticks to anything else.  Put a piece on the inside of the hole, and another on the outside, and stick the pieces together through the hole!  Problem solved.
  • Also, ski pants.  I fall a lot on my skis.  I use duct tape at the hems to patch up the rips caused by my edges cutting into the sides of my ski pants every time I tumble.
  • Bathtub leaking?  My aunt’s tub has a crack in the floor.  She just taped it over with a strip o the sticky stuff.  That tube probably has another ten years of good use now. (more…)

The Unofficial Double Decker Chariot

My friend Suz posted this on her blog the other day. I laughed and laughed. Then I laughed some more.

Her Rational:
I needed a way to transport two babies to the UPS store, about a half mile away, within an hour’s time. I didn’t really want to carry one and push the other in the stroller, which is what I have done in the past to get to the park. These kids are getting too heavy for that! But I knew if we all walked it would probably take three hours, if we made it at all. So I channeled my grandpa and my mom’s creative spirit and I rigged the Chariot into a double-decker bus. Abby (on top) was thrilled with the whole thing and we made it there and back without incident (unless you count a few cheers out the window of passing vehicles).

Thanks Suz for reminding us that sometimes getting out of the house takes a little… creativity.

Turn your Minivan into an RV. Sort of.

We actually sleep in our minivan quite often. Over the past 5 months I’d say we’ve slept in the van at least 6 times. There are occasions when a tent just isn’t practical. Wind storms, unseasonably cold weather, precipitation, sleeping right off the side of the highway, etc.

Check it out! Looks cozy right?


A couple of tips for sleeping 2 adults, 2 kids and a dog in a minivan: (more…)

Make Your Own Hammock

Hammocks are great for the backyard, camping, backpacking, when your pregnant and on bed rest, or for turning your large capacity vehicle (in our case our minivan) into a camping vessel, more on that in this post.

We make our own hammocks because:

  1. It’s cheap (i.e we can’t afford an ENO).
  2. You can customize the size.
  3. It’s easy!

There are two different methods we have used for making our own hammocks. Hammock 1 involves a sewing machine, Hammock 2 does not. I’ll cover both. No matter which method you choose, both types of hammocks require: (more…)

The Power of the Balance Bike

Ari learned to ride a bike at age 3. I could attribute this to his stellar athletic ability and make all sorts of assumptions about him being the next Lance Armstrong, but the truth of the matter is that it’s all in the method. Our friends got their daughter a balance bike, i.e a bike with no pedals, this one to be exact. The idea is that kids learn how to balance first, then incorporate pedals. Ari caught onto the balance thing almost immediately and loved his friends balance bike.

We couldn’t afford a ‘real’ balance bike so we made our own using this two step process:

Step 1: Buy a small kids bike (one your child can reach the ground on).

Step 2: Get a wrench, take the pedals off. (If you want to get more advanced you can take the cranks off too, but it takes a little more know how and a few extra tools)

Works like a charm. We put the pedals back on after about a month or two of balance training, Ari took off riding on the first try, he was even making skid marks on the sidewalk! (Kudos also go to our dog K-So who has put in some time dragging Ari around the block on his bike so he could practice his balancing technique.)

Hike with Kids in Winter – Get a Sled

Hiking and snowshoeing in winter when you have young kids is tough; or at least I use to think it was, before we were introduced to sled hiking, or extreme sledding, or whatever you want to call it. After our first run we were hooked, and it’s not too gear intensive. All you need is:

  • Winter clothing for all
  • A sled build for 2 (or 4)
  • A trail with a little steepness (preferably not one that’s too popular or too steep)
  • Some upper leg (thigh and butt) muscles. (Don’t worry, if you don’t have those now, you will.)

You drag your kids up the trail as far as you can, or until those leg muscles are about to give out, or until your 1 year old starts to hurl himself out of the sled. Stop for awhile, play in the snow, eat snacks, hang out, etc. Then you turn around, secure everyones winter gear and enjoy the ride down. Sometimes we barley make it a half mile up the trail (especially if it’s just me and the kids), other times we make it several miles.

If you want to get fancy there are a coupe other items of gear you might want to consider. (more…)


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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