Readers' Best Advice: Gear Tips

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Double-duty Items

Padded Tyvek envelopes, like those you get from UPS, have multiple uses: padded stuffsack, freezer-bag cooking cozy, sit pad, and tent doormat. 

T. Dale Stewart, Greensboro, GA

Drip coffee filters. They’re tough and weigh nothing, so I always keep a couple in my pack. Use them as prefilters for water filter tubes or pot scrubbers—I even used one as a bandage once. 


I always carry plastic zip ties—they weigh practically nothing and can be used as a shoelace, a replacement grommet for your tent, or to hold a section of your pack together if a strap breaks. 

Jackie “Krazi B” Rubenacker, Hawthorne, NJ

For trash, we carry one of those heavy-duty, zip-style bags that are made for long-term clothing storage. We’re able to pack all of our garbage (plus some extra) without the worry of anything leaking. The bags typically have a valve that allows you to purge the remaining air, compressing it down even further. The bags we use can be found at dollar stores and are about the size of a gallon zip-top bag. 

Jeremy “Sheepdog” Barnes, Hickory, NC 


I carry a canvas-sewing needle and some waxed dental floss in my repair kit. I’ve used it on packs, pants, tents, and boots. Always wanted to try it on a hiking partner… 

Chuck “Chuck D” Devier, Houston, TX 

My survival kit always contains a glow stick and a chemical heat packet. No batteries to worry about, and if you’re cold and alone, a little heat and light go a long way. 

Joel Nyquist, South Riding, VA

I carry IV needles for their lightweight cutting ability, and wound-sewing needles because they’re great for field repairs.

Tomer Ullmann, Kibbutz Ma’abarot, Israel