Tag Archives: make your own gear

Create your own ‘Olivia Bag’ (aka Survival Kit)

Olivia Bag /uh-LIV-ee-uh • ˈbāg/: a flexible container of random items compiled by Olivia for jimmy rigging anything (and just about any body) that breaks while out on an adventure.

The idea behind the Olivia bag (known to some as a ‘survival kit’) is that whether you’re hiking, backpacking, river-rafting, biking, or doing some other outdoor activity, the emergencies will generally fall into three categories:

1) Your equipment breaks.
2) You hurt yourself.
3) Something is inconvenient and annoying and needs an inventive remedy.

In all categories, the point is to fix the problem as best you can on the spot, making something that is ‘good enough’, and will get you back to the real world for a proper fix. I know it seems crazy, but I’ve used darned near every item in these bags at one time or another!

Make your own survival kit

I assure you that all these items fit into a small (5×6 or so) zipper pouch. You can use a make-up bag (found at most stores in the beauty isle, or at thrift stores), or something like a Pack-It Sac available at most outdoor stores.  You can even put all the small items into their own little baggies, purchased in the hobby section of your favorite “mart”.

My Olivia bag is actually divided up into two bags (pictured above). The first (larger bag) has all the non-medical essentials (known as the “Olivia Essentials” below). The second is smaller and fits snugly inside the first. This bag has all the first aid supplies (listed below as the “Olivia Medical”). (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.)


    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

    I don't blog alone! Meet outsidemom contributer Olivia