Here at UpaDowna we are all about making a little bit of money go a long way. One of the best examples of spreading your dollar and improvising gear is the trash bag. This over looked unsung hero is great for more than just taking the trash out. The trash bag forever has been used as an improvised poncho in rainstorms everywhere. For those that have never done this you simply wear the trash bag over you with the opening at your waist. Before doing so though, cut arm holes on each side along with a hole for your face. Like magic you now have an extremely efficient rain repelling poncho that's also great for holding your body heat in! Pictured below, they work great on dogs too!
But this awesome item does so much more! Trash bags are great for water stills! Either by trapping morning dew or sweating precipitation out of plants by placing bags over flora is a great way to get a little water in a pinch without expending unnecessary energy. Simply place the bag over the leaves and secure the open side of the bag. The more leaves, the better and the greener the plant better, no just wait. This doesn't do you a whole lot of good in the Winter time since you are depending on the UV Rays of the Sun and the heat to extract the water from the plants, but it does work in the cold too, just not as well. This also depends on the climate you are in and the types of flora involved.
Stilling water is all about patience, but if you need a more direct route and there is a water source nearby the trash bag can also be used as a water filter. All you need to do is poke a hole in the bag near one of the bottom corners. The smaller the hole the better! Dip your bag in the water capturing as much of it as possible and let it now trickle through the hole. This is a great way to clean water from larger debris and sediments, but it does absolutely nothing for micro-organisms and bacteria.
Now that we've turned the bag into a makeshift filter, poncho, and water still, let's go a little further. The trash bag I carry is a 43"x 47" 2 mil, lined low-density polyethylene, and bright orange. What that means to you, it's big and durable! It's not big enough for me to stretch out in, but if I ball up enough, I could most likely get in it or most of me in it to use as an emergency blanket, or an improvised shelter. When the elements are the enemy it is important to do whatever you can to get out of them. If you are already in a shelter or have one the bag is great for a floor liner, a wind break, as well as a blanket, either inside of it or with it on top of you. But it is key to have something between you and the ground to stop heat loss through heat convection. The colder ground will suck the heat right out of you! Put it between your body and the surface to slow this process down.
Above I mention that the bag I carry is a bright orange bag. This could be used to my advantage as well for signaling. Someone is going to notice a bright orange bag contrasting against most environments. Another quick use is making it into a pack cover. It's raining out and your have the proper rain gear on your body but your pack and the rest of your gear is getting drenched! Wrap it up B!!! Put that pack inside of the bag with the opening towards the straps and keep on without weighing yourself down and soaking your gear. A lot of packs come with a cover but for those that don't, this can save you a few bucks.
The good old trash bag can be pretty versatile. I got mine from the Colorado Division of Transportation (CDOT) for about $3 or $4 per bag. So now that you have a few different ideas on how much you can get out of a common trash bag, throw one in your pack for your next adventure. Hopefully you'll never have to use it for most of these scenarios, but if you do, you'll be glad to have it. If it doesn't get any use you can always bust it out for a little trail cleaning session on your way out.