Backpacking Stocking Stuffers

Heat Shrink Tubing

It’s been a slow week, not much going on outside and no hiking trips to speak of, so I thought I’d share some photos of a few funny little backpacking-related stocking stuffers that my wife bought for me this year. It’s always fun to put things on my Christmas list that seem to make no sense at all. For example..

Heat Shrink Tubing – Not something I would normally want for day-to-day DIY projects and I’m not much of an electrician, but heat shrink tubing has dozens of uses for outdoors and backpacking. You can use short lengths of it on the ends of cord or rope to help seal the ends and the bright yellow or white tubing is perfect for making your titanium tent stakes high-viz without adding a lot of weight.

Bic Mini Lighters – What really needs to be said about these? Smaller and easier to pack than the standard size, reliable, brightly colored, and still relatively long lasting. Definitely something I like to stock up on when I see them on sale or for Christmas stocking stuffer suggestions for family.

Bic Minis

Mini Jars – If you haven’t checked out Lawson Equipment yet then you need to. Lawson only stocks a handful of items on his website, but those that he does are all of very high quality, made in the U.S., and perfect for UL backpackers.

Lawson Mini Jars

These mini jars for example are very hard to find anywhere else, that I know of. They come as a set of four (1/4oz, 1/2oz, 1oz, 2oz) and are food grade and dishwasher safe. I like to use these for thick creams of lotions that I want to dip my finger into to apply to my skin, perfect for foot creams and better than dropper bottles for those types of things.

Mini Dropper Bottles – they may not be good for thicker lotions or creams, but mini dropper bottles will always have their place in the ultralight backpacker’s arsenal. I’ve ordered several types of these over the years, but have never found them in these sizes (check out the tiny one on the right) or of this quality.

Mini Dropper Bottles

Another Lawson Equipment exclusive as far as I know, these mini dropper bottles are BPA free and dishwasher safe, although I would not recommend you put them in a dishwasher! They come in a set of four (3m, 6ml, 10ml and 15ml) and the smallest one is perfect for your AquaMira mix! Unlike other cheaper dropper bottles that I have bought in bulk, these have tight fitting dropper heads and lids – these will last a very long time.

Mini Vials – When you need to store small, dry items like medicines (tablets), lead shot for fishing, or sharp items, these mini vials are perfect. These are good for liquids too, I particularly like to use them for carrying olive oil or hot sauce for my meals because they seal/screw a little tighter than all of the other bottles and are incredibly strong. They each hold .25oz and come as a pair.

Mini Vials

Line Locks – I have several small sewing projects planned for 2012 which will require these small line locks for them. These are pretty small and designed for use with 2mm or 3mm cord and 1/2″ webbing for attaching to the material. These were $1.50 for a pack of four, so I ordered four sets to make sure I had plenty. I added these to my Christmas stocking myself (wink).

Line Locks

So there you have it. A couple of different small backpacking-related stocking fillers that I got this year. It’s too late for them to be any use for you to use this year, but maybe these will give you some ideas for next year. I’m looking forward to 2012 and getting outside as much as possible. Happy New Year to all or my readers and happy trails!

Disclosure: The author either bought all of the items with their own funds or was given them as gifts by family members. These were not provided for free by any vendors..

(Visited 913 times, 1 visits today)
Be Sociable, Share!
  • Jim Shireman

    I actually love picking out my Christmas presents like these. Sometimes even buy them and have the better half wrap them up for my stocking. Best part is acting surprised Christmas morning when I unwrap them… She does the same thing. We have a lot of fun with it.

    • Jim, my wife and I do exactly the same thing – that’s too funny! We even buy ourselves small silly things that we know we want and wrap them to ourselves from “Santa” and act surprised for those too :)

  • Jim Shireman

    I actually love picking out my Christmas presents like these. Sometimes even buy them and have the better half wrap them up for my stocking. Best part is acting surprised Christmas morning when I unwrap them… She does the same thing. We have a lot of fun with it.

  • Jim, my wife and I do exactly the same thing – that’s too funny! We even buy ourselves small silly things that we know we want and wrap them to ourselves from “Santa” and act surprised for those too :)

  • Nice, thanks for the tip on where to purchase the bottles.  My stocking stuffers this year included a titanium spork and a box of hand warmers.  Happy new year!

    • John, hand warmers are another one of my faves. Happy New Year to you too!

  • Nice, thanks for the tip on where to purchase the bottles.  My stocking stuffers this year included a titanium spork and a box of hand warmers.  Happy new year!

  • snctool

    Brian,

    I find so many uses for the heat shrink tubing. If you look at the picture of the fishing floats made from Wild Turkeys and Canadian Geese feathers you will notice the wire loop ends for to guide the line thru are attached with heat shrink tubing.

    As for the miniature jars and bottles…you can’t have too many.

    • I never noticed that before, but after taking another look at the photos you sent me I can see it. Is it hard to not set light to the feathers as you heat the tubing? I also wish I could find heat shrink tubing in long, spooled lengths instead of these little pieces. A spool of yellow or bright orange would be fantastic. If anyone has any suggestions let me know!

      • snctool

        Brian,

        The feather part peels right off the quill. The wire loop is stainless (will not rust) and comes from an industrial wire brush used to brush oxidation before welding aluminum. The loop is already formed and is in the bottom of the brush hole. You can take a pair of vice grips and pull a wad out at one time. You can heat shrink a loop on each end for a slip float rig or just one end and use a short piece of rubber tubing to run the line thru on the other end and slide the tubing down over the quill to lock the line to the quill for another setup. I use traffic orange paint on one end to make it easier to see in the water. The quill does not readily burn. I use charcoal grey heat shrink tubing but colored tubing would have an advantage and not use the paint. Years ago they used to make this type of float out of porcupine quills but are no longer available so I came up with the turkey and goose feathers. If you know of a lake with Canadian geese in residence you can take the kids hiking around the lake and there will be plenty of feathers there and you can recycle. FYI

      • snctool

        http://cableorganizer.com/heat-shrink/economical-2-1-heat-shrink/

        Brian you can get rolls of different colors at the above link.

        • I knew you’d be the right person to know where to get this. Gonna order me some of this tonight :)

  • snctool

    Brian,

    I find so many uses for the heat shrink tubing. If you look at the picture of the fishing floats made from Wild Turkeys and Canadian Geese feathers you will notice the wire loop ends for to guide the line thru are attached with heat shrink tubing.

    As for the miniature jars and bottles…you can’t have too many.

  • I love this post! As well as being useful and informative it was lighthearted and fun, something that seems to have been missing around the backpacking net lately! Happy New Year!

  • John, hand warmers are another one of my faves. Happy New Year to you too!

  • I never noticed that before, but after taking another look at the photos you sent me I can see it. Is it hard to not set light to the feathers as you heat the tubing? I also wish I could find heat shrink tubing in long, spooled lengths instead of these little pieces. A spool of yellow or bright orange would be fantastic. If anyone has any suggestions let me know!

  • Rob

    Thank You for the Lawson link.  Mini Vials are hard to find.  Nalgene makes them as well, but pretty much no one stocks it.

    • I’m not 100% sure, but I believe that the ones Lawson sells are made by Nalgene – I’ll try and confirm.

      • Rob Lewis

        They are made by Boston.  Im pretty sure that Gossamer gear sells the same ones.

  • Rob

    Thank You for the Lawson link.  Mini Vials are hard to find.  Nalgene makes them as well, but pretty much no one stocks it.

  • Rob Lewis

    Check out U.S Plastics (http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=25040&catid=750&clickid=searchresults)
    for the Boston dropper bottles.  They also sell many Nalgene bottles, balm jars and all kinds of useful products. They are very cheap and you can buy them in bulk.  I use the 10ml for my Auquamira, Bronnes, Bug juice, and contact lens solutions, as well as the 6 ml, and the little 3ml for an Aquamira pre mix bottle as well.  You can get an arsenal of these for little cash.

    • Nice link Rob, thanks for sharing! That’s what I love about my readers, if I don’t have an answer of link to share, I can rely on you to collectively find it. The power of community!

      • Rob Lewis

        Anytime, I love supporting our favorite cottage manufacturers, but this is most likely the place they get the dropper bottles, and in interest of saving some money I get them at cost of what the shops get them for.  Just trying to save some $$$ in this day and age!

        Happy New Years and to another great yer of backpacking adventures!

    • Matt Dewitt

      do you have to order the natural ones to see through them?

  • Rob Lewis

    Check out U.S Plastics (http://www.usplastic.com/catalog/item.aspx?itemid=25040&catid=750&clickid=searchresults)
    for the Boston dropper bottles.  They also sell many Nalgene bottles, balm jars and all kinds of useful products. They are very cheap and you can buy them in bulk.  I use the 10ml for my Auquamira, Bronnes, Bug juice, and contact lens solutions, as well as the 6 ml, and the little 3ml for an Aquamira pre mix bottle as well.  You can get an arsenal of these for little cash.

  • snctool

    Brian,

    The feather part peels right off the quill. The wire loop is stainless (will not rust) and comes from an industrial wire brush used to brush oxidation before welding aluminum. The loop is already formed and is in the bottom of the brush hole. You can take a pair of vice grips and pull a wad out at one time. You can heat shrink a loop on each end for a slip float rig or just one end and use a short piece of rubber tubing to run the line thru on the other end and slide the tubing down over the quill to lock the line to the quill for another setup. I use traffic orange paint on one end to make it easier to see in the water. The quill does not readily burn. I use charcoal grey heat shrink tubing but colored tubing would have an advantage and not use the paint. Years ago they used to make this type of float out of porcupine quills but are no longer available so I came up with the turkey and goose feathers. If you know of a lake with Canadian geese in residence you can take the kids hiking around the lake and there will be plenty of feathers there and you can recycle. FYI

  • snctool

    http://cableorganizer.com/heat-shrink/economical-2-1-heat-shrink/

    Brian you can get rolls of different colors at the above link.

  • I have got to find some of that heat shrink…where do you find it at?

    Also, I want to wrap my Ti stakes I got from Lawson. I believe they are 3mm/1/8″ in diameter. Would the 3/16″ tubing work well enough for these? Any other sizes?

    Thanks

    • You can find heat shrink at Walmart in the automotive electronics section or at most auto stores, but they sell it in short lengths. 3/16 sems to be the ideal size for most of my uses, cord, cup handles and tent stakes.

  • I have got to find some of that heat shrink…where do you find it at?

  • snctool

    Here are closer view pictures of the 2 different style floats and different ends using heat shrink tubing.

    • What width heat shrink are you using? Thanks for the better pictures and for sharing :)

      • snctool

        Brian, for the quill floats I use 3/16 and 1/4″. I also keep 3/8″ around for other projects. If I were to buy one size for the floats it would be the 1/4.” I trim the quills to 6″ long. They are so light if a fish even breathes on the bait they go under. They look so natural, like a stick on the water, they never spook the fish.

        • The 3/16 size looks about perfect for almost all of the applications I would need it for. Considering by a 50′ spool of the 3/16 in yellow :-)

          • Matt Dewitt

            3/16 will work on Ti -shepards hooks? Great idea. I have to repaint mine from time to time. I seen a video of a guy using  orange power for fishing lures and heating up the stake and dipping it in the orange powder. He swears by it.

  • snctool

    Here are closer view pictures of the 2 different style floats and different ends using heat shrink tubing.

  • I just love that your wife actually gave you all these very thoughtful hiker gifts. That is very unique. This year I was happy to receive from my husband small packets of Nutella and Tabasco, a waterproof journal, and Coconut Chocolate Chip Cliff Bars (my favorite). 

    • Well to be fair my wife wouldn’t know exactly what to get me, I was very specific, but still acted surprised – that’s the fun part of this. “I can’t believe you got me these, they’re exactly what I wanted..” :)

  • I just love that your wife actually gave you all these very thoughtful hiker gifts. That is very unique. This year I was happy to receive from my husband small packets of Nutella and Tabasco, a waterproof journal, and Coconut Chocolate Chip Cliff Bars (my favorite). 

  • snctool

    Brian, for the quill floats I use 3/16 and 1/4″. I also keep 3/8″ around for other projects. If I were to buy one size for the floats it would be the 1/4.” I trim the quills to 6″ long. They are so light if a fish even breathes on the bait they go under. They look so natural, like a stick on the water, they never spook the fish.

  • Rob Lewis

    Anytime, I love supporting our favorite cottage manufacturers, but this is most likely the place they get the dropper bottles, and in interest of saving some money I get them at cost of what the shops get them for.  Just trying to save some $$$ in this day and age!

    Happy New Years and to another great yer of backpacking adventures!

  • Rob Lewis

    They are made by Boston.  Im pretty sure that Gossamer gear sells the same ones.

  • I think gift giving got more exciting for my guy since I started backpacking. I’m not so practical with my requests but I did get the titanium mug I wanted since those squishy bowls pack well but are too unwieldy to drink hot coffee from. We did buy each other bear vaults (I used the one I bought as a stocking and filled it with ramen, but butter packages and chocolate) but we returned one since he is certain we will only need one for 4 nights in Yosemite. I wish I had thought about new lighters and vials!

  • I think gift giving got more

  • Well to be fair my wife wouldn’t know exactly what to get me, I was very specific, but still acted surprised – that’s the fun part of this. “I can’t believe you got me these, they’re exactly what I wanted..” :)

  • The 3/16 size looks about perfect for almost all of the applications I would need it for. Considering by a 50′ spool of the 3/16 in yellow :-)

  • Can’t believed I missed this post, am off to get me some shrink tubing. I can think of a million reasons why I should keep this handy ha ha. Duct tape , move over.

    • How could you miss a post? Are you not subscribed or something? That’s totally unacceptable :-)

  • Can’t believed I missed this post, am off to get me some shrink tubing. I can think of a million reasons why I should keep this handy ha ha. Duct tape , move over.

  • How could you miss a post? Are you not subscribed or something? That’s totally unacceptable :-)

  • Tim

    Heat shrink tubing on the tents stakes is a super idea! A hint; make it easy on yourself and faster by just putting those stakes in the oven (when the wife’s not looking!) on a cookie sheet or something similar as a batch. The tubing I have says ideal temperature for shrinking is 400 degrees, well within the range of a home oven. No scorch marks from an open flame, an even/smooth shrink and less chance to burn the old fingers. By the way, fastening a retaining cord on your sunglasses with a bit of heat shrink tubing makes a nice, neat, and nearly weightless mod, if you use some of that tiny diameter spectra cord or something similar, that is! Thanks for the idea.

    • Heat shrink for making a sunglasses retainer! Thanks for the suggestion Tim, I’ll add that to my running list of uses for this stuff.

      The heat shrink I have says the working temperature is 203 F (95 C) which is well below your 400. I wonder if you have a higher heat rated version than I do?

      I’d recently used a combination of gutted 550 cord and heat shrink tubing to add really strong zipper pulls to one of my rucksacks, but I would have had to put the whole thing in the oven just to shrink that! =)

      Great tips and feedback, I appreciate you taking the time to leave your comment.

  • Tim

    Heat shrink tubing on the tents stakes is a super idea! A hint; make it easy on yourself and faster by just putting those stakes in the oven (when the wife’s not looking!) on a cookie sheet or something similar as a batch. The tubing I have says ideal temperature for shrinking is 400 degrees, well within the range of a home oven. No scorch marks from an open flame, an even/smooth shrink and less chance to burn the old fingers. By the way, fastening a retaining cord on your sunglasses with a bit of heat shrink tubing makes a nice, neat, and nearly weightless mod, if you use some of that tiny diameter spectra cord or something similar, that is! Thanks for the idea.

  • Heat shrink for making a sunglasses retainer! Thanks for the suggestion Tim, I’ll add that to my running list of uses for this stuff.

    The heat shrink I have says the working temperature is 203 F (95 C) which is well below your 400. I wonder if you have a higher heat rated version than I do?

    I’d recently used a combination of gutted 550 cord and heat shrink tubing to add really strong zipper pulls to one of my rucksacks, but I would have had to put the whole thing in the oven just to shrink that! =)

    Great tips and feedback, I appreciate you taking the time to leave your comment.

  • Nice tips! I love these gift ideas. Thank you so much.

    • There are probably a dozen or so items that every backpacker, hiker, outdoorsman can never have to much of :)

  • Nice tips! I love these gift ideas. Thank you so much.

  • There are probably a dozen or so items that every backpacker, hiker, outdoorsman can never have to much of :)

  • Matt Dewitt

    do you have to order the natural ones to see through them?

  • Matt Dewitt

    3/16 will work on Ti -shepards hooks? Great idea. I have to repaint mine from time to time. I seen a video of a guy using  orange power for fishing lures and heating up the stake and dipping it in the orange powder. He swears by it.

  • Matt Dewitt
  • jkathleen23

    You did it again. I love your ideas. Thank you, Helen

  • Andre Ball

    Any ideas on updated sources for the mini dropper bottles and mini jars? Lawson seems to be out of them or no longer stocks them. Thanks

    • Wow, so he is! You could check out LiteTrail.com. They have several small dropper bottles and I highly recommend their site/store.