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Tag Archives: do it yourself gear

Making the perfect, transportable rope swing

We’ve started  packing our homemade hammock and our rope swing on every campout and day trip. EVERY trip. In fact I tried to get my husband to leave it home a few months ago when we were packing for a trip to the Nevada desert. “Why are you packing these? You’re never going to hang a hammock, let alone a swing in the middle of nowhere.”

I was plesantly proven wrong on both accounts.

Joe has found places for hammocks and swings in just about every campsite we’ve been in this past year. It’s been a blast for the kids, so I asked him to write up a little tutorial on how to make and hang a rope swing.

MAKING YOUR SWING:

We use a disc swing as opposed to a traditional swing because it’s easier to hang. Only having one rope to hang means you don’t have to mess around with getting ropes even.

You can use pretty much any type of wood, as long as it will hold up to having someone sit on it. We’ve used 3/4 inch plywood or 3/4 inch particle board, both worked equally well.

Step 1: Trace the seat onto the wood, a 5 gallon bucket lid is the perfect size. Just set the bucket lid onto the wood and trace a circle around it

Step 2: Using a jig saw or something similar cut out the circle you just traced.

Step 3: Drill a hole in the center. There is probably a good way to find the center of the circle so you can drill a hole exactly centered in the swing but we always just eyeball it and it turns out fine. We use a 1 inch drill bit but a slightly smaller bit would probably work too, depending on the diameter of the rope you plan on using.

Step 4: (Optional) Seal the swing seat with some polyurethane or something like that.

Step 5: Attach a rope. There are two different way to do this pictured to the right.

Swing 1: Using about 6 feet of rope fold it in half, put the ends through the hole and tie a big knot.

Swing 2: Attach a short section of rope (about 3 feet) to the swing by stringing one end of the rope through the hole you just drilled.  Tie a large knot at each end of the rope. Be sure to tie a good knot that will not slip like a figure 8 or similar.

Step 6: On the other end of the rope tie a loop in the rope using a figure 8 or overhand knot (this loop will allow you to attach the swing to a fixed rope with a carabiner).

HANGING YOUR SWING:

I’ve used several types of rope and most work equally well. Static rope (without stretch) is better than dynamic rope (with stretch). In our yard we often use 1 inch tubular webbing because there is very little stretch and it sits flat against the branch so it rubbs less than most ropes.

There are several ways you can get your rope up in a tree:

Method 1 (photo to the right): Our preferred way to hang a rope is to climb the tree and tie the rope to a branch. Tie a loop in one end of the rope with an overhand knot, hang the loop on one side of the branch with the long tail hanging on the other side. Then underneath the branch thread the long tail through the loop and pull it tight. This method seems to secure the swing and minimizes the rubbing of the rope against the branch because the pivot point of the rope is against the loop rather than against the bark of the tree.

Method 2: If you can’t climb the tree, throw one end of a long rope over a branch (photo 1 below) and secure the other end to the base of the tree (photo 2 below).  The downside of this method is you have very little control over the exact location the rope hangs on the branch, and often this method leads to a lot of rubbing of the rope on the tree. Still, it work out fine in a pinch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you have your rope up take the dangling end of the rope and tie another loop with an overhand knot and secure your swing to that loop with a carabiner. Depending on how permanent you want your swing to be, you can cut the rope to a desired length or simply tie up any extra rope above the swing.

We often tie several loops at the end of our rope at various heights (like this), the highest one for adults with long legs, a lower loop for middle sized kids, and a low loop for little kids. Then we use a carabiner to attach the swing to the desired loop.

Enjoy!

DIY: Convert your bike trailer into a ski trailer

We’re pretty cheap, or rather, ‘thrifty’. So when winter came around a few years ago and we wanted to pull our chariot around in the snow, we opted not to buy the official conversion kit, but rather build our own.

First, we rented the official version, skied around for a day, then came up with our own plan. To be honest, we actually like our version better than the real deal. Why? Allow me illustrate.

1. If you leave the wheels on you have a bigger range of motion and can go over stuff like this (photo below). 2. If you make your own you can use fatter skis, that means better performance in powder (photo below).

 

 

 

 

 

Or maybe we’re just trying to make ourselves feel better about being ‘thrifty’?

At any rate, here is a step by step guide on how we converted our chariot into a skiing machine. Note: Hold your mouse over the photos for explanations. (more…)

Three ideas for building your own bike rack

After a month of living in our new home we finally took the weekend to unpack and organize the garage. The biggest problem we faced was the number of bikes we own: 4 kid bikes, 4 adult bikes, 1 bike trailer and 1 trail-a-bike. After careful consideration 2 kid bikes we’re booted out to the shed but the remaining 8 contraptions needed to be accessible.

With all of us bike commuting every day and mountain biking whenever we get the chance we were in a constant state of bike piles. The garage looked like this, on a good day…

We wanted to build a bike rack, but had a few criteria. It needed to be 1. Cheap. 2. Easy to assemble. 3. Sturdy. 4. Adjustable. We found three viable options online (click links below for photos and instructions). Option 1 and 2 can even be made to fit in your truck bed.

  1. Rack made from PVC pipe.
  2. Rack made from 2×4’s and other assorted wood pieces.
  3. Rack made from pallets.

We chose option #1, the PVC pipe, but made the following modifications: (more…)

Be road-trip prepared: Assemble a Car Kit

I got to thinking the other day that I needed to update our ‘car kit’. I started making a list of all the things I would need if stranded in/near my car with my family (in any season). After pondering the list I quickly realized I should consult Olivia.

As I read her list I had to laugh.

Why? Because being that I’ve spent a lot of time in the backcountry and on the road with Olivia I’ve personally seen nearly every one of these items in use. I can also recall several personal experiences where I wish I had this stuff (see stuck on beach photo below).

It may seem like a lot, but Olivia assures me she has all her emergency stuff shoved into one box that always rides in the back of her car.  In the winter she also tosses in the duffle bag full of extra clothes and warmish things (her duffle bag, by the way, has a shoulder strap, so if she had to walk , she could use it to carry stuff).

It’s all great info, so I thought I’d share the list with other travelers. (more…)

Camping and the art of kid cleanliness

Keeping kids clean while camping.

It’s been said that one of the major obstacles of camping with kids is how to clean them up at the end of the day. While I don’t have any magic formula for keeping kids from getting dirty when camping (since playing in the dirt is kind of the point) I have learned a thing or two about cleaning them up so you don’t have to put a filthy kid to bed in the tent.

Usually you can get away with a simple wash down, #1 or #4. But then there are those occasions when your child’s skin color has changed dramatically, they stink, and/or they have sand and poofy dirt in places that just seem uncomfortable. This may or may not take a few days to accumulate. For those occasions you may need to bust out #2 , #3 or #4. (more…)

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    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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