“I never thought of that…” – New ideas for old gear

Gear Guide — By Alexi Ueltzen on March 5, 2009 at 1:15 pm

If you’re a true gear-aficionado, you’ve probably accumulated a lot of awesome (and maybe some not-so-awesome) travel products over time. As we travel, we learn what we truly need and use; some purchases are put to use while others collect dust in the back of the closet.

Below is a list of alternate uses for travel gear, whether it’s a different way to use an old favorite or a new function for something that has been taking up space ever since you bought it.

1. Water bottles = carrying cases

A wide-mouth Nalgene is a great way to carry sunglasses, rolled up maps, toiletries, even food – its hard exterior protects breakables from, well, breaking and paper from wrinkling, and its screw top means that if small bottles of sunscreen or pens inside burst mid-flight, they won’t ruin the contents of your suitcase.

Photo courtesy of wmshc_kiwi

Photo courtesy of wmshc_kiwi

2. Old maps = wrapping paper, journal covers

Maps are hard to throw away, whether because they’re a memento from an epic vacation, or because you tell yourself that you might need it again someday. If you’re in the latter group, here’s a hint: you won’t.

Unless said map is popular enough to live in your car, it’ll either be out of date or forgotten if the time ever comes to pull it out again. Use old maps as a journal cover or funky wrapping paper (yes, guys can do this and still make it look manly. Tie it with twine. Or duct tape).

3. Duct Tape = patches, moleskin, post-its, wallet, ANYTHING

As versatility goes, it’s hard to beat Duct Tape. Used by eco-adventurers to prevent blisters and thrifty types to hold their car’s bumper in place, duct tape is one of the most useful things you can add to your packing list. Worried about adding the bulk of a whole roll? No worries – it comes in a variety of sizes (and colors…oooooh).

4. Travel Toothbrush = cleaning brush

Everyone has, I guarantee, an old travel-toothbrush. The kind with a holder. The kind that you probably got from your grandma when she heard you were going to Europe a few summers ago. And if yours is anything like mine, it’s about 6 years old, frayed and never going anywhere near my mouth.

So take it further south, and use it to clean your hiking boots. Or your camping dishes. Or anything really, as long as its not your teeth.

Photo courtesy of tomsaint11

Photo courtesy of tomsaint11

5. Corks = earring/safety pin holders, home decor

Saving a cork as a memento is the wine version of collecting a rock from a lava flow. Only it’s usually not illegal to take the corks. Corks can be re-used, even as you travel: stick your earrings or safety pins in, toss them into your bag and never worry about losing or bending those little wires again.

If you’re a serious cork-collector (and/or a wino) you can make an entire corkboard out your keepsakes. If you don’t have enough corks yet, but think this sounds like a pretty cool idea, let me know. Always happy to help out a friend.

Photo courtesy of Will Foster

Photo courtesy of Will Foster

6. Bandana = tissue, cool headband, sling, tourniquet

Getting a cold while traveling is supremely annoying, but using toilet paper, napkins and big leaves (hey, we’ve all been there) with which to blow your nose is worse. Enter the best travel accessory ever: the bandanna. It’s there for you when you’re sick, cools you off when you’re hot, turns you into a train robber when you’re feeling spunky and acts as a makeshift tourniquet when you try to show off your bowie-knife skills to the other cute backpackers at your hostel.

And if you’re lame you can put one on your dog.

7. Chapstick = shoelace-coating

(Okay, stay with me on this one…) Use an old tube of chapstick – one that went through the washer, one of those terrible, rock-hard, cherry-flavored ones, a tube that you bought at a gas station 10 years ago but can’t throw away because it’s not used up yet – and use it to coat your shoelaces where you tie the knot. Sounds gross, sounds weird, but it will keep the dang things tied all day. Especially helpful if you’re traveling with young ones who need their laces tied for them. Unless you like showing off your mad tying skills, of course.

Any new uses for old travel gear that we left off the list? Leave us a comment and let us know. We’re always looking for innovation.

Alexi is a resident gear junkie at NileGuide. Have a question about travel gear? Shoot the gear junkies an email at gearjunkies@nileguide.com.

Tags: bandana, ChapStick, cork, duct tape, gear, gear junkie, map, Nalgene, toothbrush, travel

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