Multitasking camping gear: 5 items that can serve more than one purpose

Why buy separate gear items when things already in your backpack or trunk can pull double (or triple) duty?

A Scout is thrifty, after all.

So here, courtesy of our friends at Thermacell, you’ll find a list of 5 camping items that can serve purposes beyond the obvious.

Keep reading for ways to get additional uses out of your hiking poles, sleeping bag, neckerchief and more.

1. Hiking poles

When you arrive at your campsite (or return from a day hike), don’t just prop your hiking stick against a tree.

Put it to work. Whether it’s a wooden staff or a high-tech trekking pole, it can be quite the workhorse in camp. If you hike with two? Even better.

  • Pair two hiking poles with a tarp to form a breezy makeshift tent.
  • Make a clothes-drying rack, dishwashing station, chair or any number of camp gadgets. (Find several examples here.)
  • Use it to fish in a pond or stream.
  • Use it to gauge the depth of a stream before crossing.
  • Use it in a water rescue (the first step in “reach, throw, row, go”).
  • With certain metallic hiking poles, screw off the top to reveal a camera attachment and use as a monopod.
  • See which Scout can go the lowest in an impromptu game of limbo.

2. Bandana or neckerchief

A bandana is a wearable multitool that’s way more than just a fashion accessory.

Everyone knows you can wear a bandana for protection from sun, wind and cold. It’s also a great way to tie back long hair.

But this wondercloth has other functions:

  • Dip it in a cold lake or river and place on your neck to cool yourself on a hot day.
  • Use it as a sling for a broken arm.
  • Wrap it around your hand to make a hot mitt for cooking.
  • Perform camp cleanup tasks, like wiping condensation off your tent. It’s far more sustainable than paper towels.
  • Clean glasses and sunglasses.
  • Hang a bear bag or clothesline by tying a rock inside the bandana and throwing it over a branch.

3. Sleeping bag

Poor sleeping bag. For its entire life, it’s either crammed into a stuff sack or zipped inside a tent.

Let that sleeping bag free by extending its life beyond its intended purpose.

  • Fully unzip it and use it as a blanket when stargazing, hanging out at camp or relaxing by the fire. (Please check the bag’s flammability warnings first.)
  • Hang it over some tree branches to create shade during the day. (Sorry, tarp. You’ve been replaced.)
  • Use it as padding when traveling to or from camp to prevent items from rolling around in your car’s trunk or SUV’s storage area.
  • Spread it out over grass or dirt as a picnic blanket. (Just get rid of all those crumbs before taking it back in the tent.)

4. Flying disc

It’s the ultimate (see what I did there?) piece of sporting equipment, but the flying disc has practical uses beyond tossing it around among friends.

Whether yours is a Frisbee-brand disc or any other brand, try these additional uses:

  • Use it as a small cutting board — the rounded edges keep the food from rolling away.
  • Make it your plate or shallow bowl — one less thing you have to pack in your backpack.
  • Bail water from your canoe or kayak.
  • Fan embers as you’re trying to start a fire.
  • Sit on it when the ground’s wet or snowy.
  • Add a big X in fluorescent or reflective duct tape to use it as a signaling device in an emergency.

5. Isobutane gas canister


You already know your isobutane gas canister powers your ultralight backpacking stove.

But now you can give that canister a new life’s purpose by pairing it with the Thermacell Backpacker Mosquito Repeller. One four-ounce canister gives you a 15-by-15-foot zone of protection for up to 90 hours and weighs just 114 grams — that’s 35 grams lighter than a regulation baseball.

The best part? Directions of use can be summarized in just five words: “Turn it on … mosquitoes gone.”

BONUS: Our friends at Thermacell are offering a Scouts-only discount on the Backpacker Mosquito Repeller, which normally retails for $39.99. Redeem yours today by going to and typing the code SCOUTSBP at checkout for 20 percent off now through June 16, 2017.

About Bryan Wendell 3055 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.