Gear Up Like MacGyver: 5 Simple Travel Items

Published on 11/16/2012

By Andrew Behrendt

MacGyver Gear

The rule is simple: the less you bring with you, the less you’ll have to lug around as you go. It sounds so easy, so understandable, but how many times have you picked up your pack at an airport or tried to heft it into your car and said, “What the hell is all this stuff?” Gear adds up, in travel and in adventure, so minimizing its impact on you by reducing space and clutter and doubling down on multi-use items will always improve your experience. So to help in that respect, here are 5 great ways to minimize what you bring on your next adventure, without losing anything you need.


Duct-Taped Anything

What can’t you fix with duct tape? Really… It’s a serious question. I’ve seen cars held together by the stuff (my own), pets walked by it (collar and leash), boots seamed and waterproofed with strips of the silver goodness.  Surely NASA has storerooms full of rolls of it. Duct tape is the miracle cure for all other gear problems, the ultimate multi-tool, but a full roll takes up space and can get cumbersome to bring along. Instead of bringing a roll, wrap duct tape around anything else you’re bringing – chapstick, a water bottle, ski poles, your kid sister – to save a full sphere of space and still have enough tape to get you out of a jam. You’ll find it just as sticky the second time around, and useful in the most precarious of situations.


A Multi-Tool You’ll Actually UseGerber Flik

It might be fun to have a cocktail stirrer, laser pointer and garage door opener all on one device, but chances are you’ll never need those three things at the same time. Or in any rational situation, for that matter. Figure out what combinations of functions a multi-tool needs to fit your adventurous life, and find one accordingly. I recently tried out the Gerber Flik – a one-handed set of pliers with two easy-access knives (one serrated), a saw, a few simple drill bits, scissors, and individual can and bottle openers, and in just a few weeks have already found use for everything on it. If you’re stuck in the woods, you can go another day without a plastic toothpick, but you may actually need something strong and sharp to cut your duct tape with.



Because sometimes a spork simply isn’t enough. This spoon/fork/knife hybrid may not actually make a whole lot of sense (you would need two of them just to use the knife feature), but it sure is a lot of fun to say, fun to eat with, and really can cut down on small-item-clutter and cleaning. Light My Fire makes a durable lightweight titanium sporf for travel or the outdoors, or, if you love them as much as I do, for everyday use. 


Dream Liner

Sleeping bag liner

Whether you’re crashing in hostels, sleeper cars or the cold mountain ground, add comfort, warmth and cleanliness with a lightweight sleeping bag liner, which won’t take up much room or add much weight but can add hours of comfort to your nightlife. Machine-washable 100% silk liners such as those from Sea To Summit weigh less than 5oz., but can add 10 degrees of warmth, protect your sleeping bag from dirt and oil, and provide an additional silken layer of comfort to your sleep. Unfortunately, they won’t stop you from snoring.



Ex-Officio Undies

There are two ways to travel comfortably for weeks at a time with only one or two pairs of boxers (or underpants, assuming you wear them). The first option: Just wear ‘em. Just do it. Embrace your inner hippy, go all in, get back to nature and rock out your jocks for as long as you possibly can, days or even weeks at a time. Avoid all sniffing, and wash and change them whenever you can. Flip them inside out for extra usage. Who cares! The second option, if you have any decency and self-respect, is to pick up a pair or two made of quick dry fabric, such as the ExOfficio Give-N-Go for Men or Women, which uses a quick-drying nylon/spandex and claims to have antimicrobial treatment to help control odors. With some easy hand detergent, you can wash your interiors in any sink or basin wherever you go, and have them ready in no time. Or at least fast enough to escape the guy who chose option one.


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