You Want Cheap and Easy?
Here are a few ideas we've picked up over the years that simply work. Simply. And they are cheap.
Water bottles: We've used old soda bottles. They are lighter than anything commercially on the market, and they are really tough to break. And if they break, we go out and buy another bottle of tonic water. Total cost? Zero, if you don't count the tonic water. That beats $20 or more for a really nice metal water bottle that weighs more...
Cutting board: This one costs a bit more money. We bought one of those indestructible thin plastic cutting boards at a local grocery store, then cut it down to size so that it fits in our bear canister. It weighs just about nothing, and we had enough left over to make a couple more for the future. And it sure beats cutting up your salami on a log, a rock, or your left leg!
Camp chairs: We love these--just a small piece of an old an worn out closed-cell foam sleeping pad. We cut them down to about 8 x 16 inches, and use them as seats on the trail and in camp. We carry them on the outside of our packs, slipped into the bungie cords on the back. That allows us to pull them out on the trail, and rest our weary bones on hard granite rocks...cushioned luxuriously by foam rubber. We've even used them as a windbreak for the stove, and P uses them as his pillow at night.
Clothes: Almost all of P's hiking clothes have been purchased at thrift shops. His shirt is a retired US Navy khaki uniform that looks clean and ironed after a week on the trail. It is simply the best shirt he has ever found. His fleece is a nice used one, much lighter than new, that he picked up for $2. It's amazing what you can find in these shops if you are patient and just keep checking. you can check our his style in the photo above.
Cook Kit: Another cheapie--we use an old aluminum cook pot with a lid. It cost a dollar about 25 years ago. It's still going strong. Yes, you can buy titanium. But unless you can show how you are going to wear out the aluminum, we think you are just wasting money. Only then we got an even better deal. We found a newer aluminum pot at a campsite on a recent trip. Someone just left it behind. It's a bit smaller, and took a bit of cleaning up---but it is even better than the last one! Now we have two!
Fly Rod Tube: You can't get much simpler than this--a section of the clear plastic tubes they sell in hardware stores to protect Fluorescent lights. Cost is under $5, and they are lighter than anything else you can buy. P switched to this from a piece of PVC pipe, and saved about ten ounces in his pack weight. For end caps, he visited a local pharmacy and asked to try a bunch of medicine bottle caps, until he found a size that fit--for no charge.
And don't forget a tiny hotel sewing kit: we've used these to repair two tents, a backpack, and just about anything else we take on the trail. Forget pliers, saws, hammers, etc. When you are backpacking, if it gets broken, it can probably be repaired best with needle and thread.