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Macgyver Moment
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Sunny Waller
(dancer) - M

Locale: Southeast USA
Macgyver Moment on 03/02/2013 12:20:11 MST Print View

Please tell me about one of your Macgyver Moment...a situation where you had to improvise to solve a problem using your gear... here is mine (if you have already heard this story please feel free to laugh at me again)

I volunteer at the LenFoote Hike Inn. To get there you traverse a 5 mile trail that parallels the AT Approach Trail in the North Georgia mountains. I teach a backpacking program called "Light Is Nice" so I hike up the trail with my backpack and all my gear to use in the class. One day I was running late and forgot to eat lunch on the drive up. I also forgot to bring trail snacks. When I reached the halfway point I was starving and I ran into a family having a fantastic picnic with all kinds of goodies. I scored an instant yogi and was invited to dine. When I started back up the trail I realized I had set my pack down on the bite valve of my hydration hose..all my water had drained out. I did not say anything to the family because that evening I would be teaching the class and I was embarrassed. When I got to the next creek there was a large snake sunning itself on the big rock at the access point. I was very thirsty and the snake was not interested in moving. I tied my AntiGravityGear water sack to my trekking pole using a long cord. I moved uphill and upstream from the snake and cast my water sac into the water to fill it up..leaving myself plenty of room to run away if required. I bagged about half a liter on the first try so I reeled it in and dashed up the trail a bit before I stopped and refilled my platy bottle. That evening I told the story during the program and it got a big laugh from the family at the picnic.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

My McGuyver Story on 03/02/2013 13:14:54 MST Print View

I lose everything. I'm the worst. On my 2012 bike tour, I left my phone in the rain (it lived!) and then later left it plugged into the wall outside a supermarket in VT (I eventually drove back and got it after the tour!). I also lost a pair of sunglasses, and a helmet (you heard right...).

I also left both of my hammock straps hanging on the trees. My friend Jim, who at the beginning of the tour got teased by me for bringing too much stuff, had extras. Bless him!

Sadly, two weeks later, I lost HIS the same way.

My stuff was in a dry-sack strapped to the rack of my bike with two Rok Straps (for motorcycles) and I found that I could rig up those as hammock straps. I never lost another one, since I couldn't leave camp without the Rok Straps holding my gear on my bike. Problem delightfully solved!

Edited by mdilthey on 03/02/2013 13:15:30 MST.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Macgyver Moment on 03/02/2013 13:41:10 MST Print View

My small repair kit is aimed at Macguyver improvisations, with sewing kit, light wire, braided nylon line, zip ties, Superglue and duct tape.

I've almost done the tree strap thing a couple times. I use carabiners, so I always leave the tree straps attached at one end and stuff the carabiners and straps in the bishop bag with the hammock.

I did have a tree strap that was too short and made do by using my spare Zing-It guy line, making multiple passes from eye to eye on the tree strap which was wrapped around 2/3 of the tree. That still protected the tree and kept the line off the rough bark. I ended up with about 8 sections of line and clipped my carabiner into that. I sat on the hammock and gave it a couple test bounces--- worked great.

Edited by dwambaugh on 03/03/2013 12:46:22 MST.

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: Re: Macgyver Moment on 03/02/2013 13:54:28 MST Print View

Haha, some good ones so far.

This was a car camping trip so may not qualify, but last year my brother forgot his tent poles and stakes...

Had some extra cord, so i Used my knife to cut some tent pegs, and poles to try and pitch it like a tarp. Well, worked good enough for 3 days...

If I get a chance I'll try to find pics later. It was very Charlie Brown esque.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Re: Re: Macgyver Moment on 03/02/2013 14:58:08 MST Print View

I've got another hammock strap improv story. A guy I was hiking with forgot his straps and didn't find out until we were making camp. The only spare rope anyone had was my little tarp guylines. He was a pretty big guy (well over 6' tall and over 225 lbs) and I wasn't even sure the lines would hold his weight but somehow they managed to keep him hanging all night. I still use that guyline for it intended purpose on one of my small tarps.

Another time I forgot to pack my spork for a solo overnight trip. Luckily I had packed ramen noodles for dinner and was able to whittle a couple of chopsticks.


David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Macgyver Moment on 03/02/2013 16:31:57 MST Print View

Being MacGyver is my day job. Well, part of it. I design and oversee the installation of systems to clean up contaminated waste sites, so there are circuits, pumps, pipes, sensors, and various chemicals involved. I've shown up on an Aleutian Island when my baggage didn't but completed the job with what could be had from the local grocery store. My co-worker's parody of me is that I design these systems in the aisles of Radio Shack, Grand Auto, and Home Depot and there is a lot of truth to that.

My most international version was on a Land-Cruiser-supported walking safari in Zimbabwe. The guide had his gear, but not any access to spare parts so everything got less functional over time. I fabricated Toyota door handles and tent parts from scraps and thread. My best was fixing a coffee percolator that lacked the glass bulb on top that needs to (1) be air tight, but (2) let you visualize the tint of the coffee. I used the neck of a liquor bottle, reformed it with some melting the campfire, plus a cork to seal the hole with a transparent and high-temperature plug.

My best while camping was on a NSS caving trip in Great Basin NP. I upsized the BPing hot tub to car-camping proportions so that a dozen naked cavers could soak their battered bodies each evening under the stars. Notably, I up-sized the burner from 6 x 10,000 BTU/hour MSR stoves to a single 150,000 BTU/hour burner which was a MUCH more localized heat source. I dug a footwell, set up the plywood perimeter panels, lined it with 20-mill HDPE sheeting, connected the 12-volt pump to my Corolla, filled it with stream water, set up the Cadillac radiator over the burner, and turned it on. Within a minute, the very high flame had melted the nearest radiator core tubes and it was leaking badly. Everyone was very sympathetic saying, "good try, very good try", but I couldn't let it go. I fluxed the leaks with acidic orange juice, and used lead from wheel-balancing weights to solder the leaks closed. Then I used a large flat rock as a flame spreader and dialed down the flame. It was at 104F two hours later and everyone had a good soak. I later used the same setup in Kings Canyon NP (more caves than any NP units except Lava Beds) and saw one of the two most spectacular meteors of my life while in a hot tub, in a remote campsite, on a mountainside, in a National Park.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Macgyver Moment on 03/02/2013 16:38:00 MST Print View

I vote for David as one of the coolest fricking guys I know (or know of, at least), nerd or not....

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Re: Macgyver Moment on 03/02/2013 16:42:19 MST Print View

Nerd, defintely nerd.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Macgyver Moment on 03/02/2013 16:42:34 MST Print View

My riding buddy Thomi is the real Macgyver, he's bailed me out on a number of trips. Perhaps the most memorable for me, we were riding the south island of New Zealand, and were some miles from the nearest town when my front tire sprung a leak. Unfortunately, neither of us had a spare tube (we had used the last one earlier and were planning on buying more in the next town). And, for some unfathomable reason, neither of us had a patch kit. But we did have a couple of spare tires.

Thomi thought about it for a bit, then decided we'd stuff a couple of useless tubes inside one of the spare tires, and then cram that under the tire on the bike to provide enough 'tire' to get us to the next town (a long time ago, but if I recall correctly, about nine miles away). It worked.

It was hell getting all that off the rim though!

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Re: Macgyver Moment on 03/02/2013 17:01:28 MST Print View

Nice tire trick. Creating an almost solid-rubber tire from materials at hand.

Seeing as we all drive a lot of dirt roads - an Alaskan Highway trick from pre-paved days (and how Subaru shipped Brats from the factory in 1979): put tubes inside of tubeless tires. Belt and suspenders. If the rims get bent so much the tubeless tire doesn't hold air (say, from flying at 60 mph over a 6-foot-diameter pothole and impacted the other side after losing some altitude), the inner tube inside will still hold the air.

Edited by DavidinKenai on 03/02/2013 17:32:20 MST.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Bike Maintenance on 03/02/2013 18:18:33 MST Print View

If we're counting bike maintenance, I've macguyvered a million scenarios.

You can fix flats with densly packed soil, leaves, dollar bills, duct tape (obviously)... the list goes on. My bike is my car, and right this minute, I have a rubber band keeping salt out of my tube at the valve stem.

We reattached my buddy's back rack using paracord, which we kept from unravelling with superglue. The knot was the size of a golf ball. Held for 1200 miles under 35lbs of weight. Actually.... it's still on there.

I've fixed more difficult mid-winter flats with Gold Bond. It lets you take the cold, frozen rubber and slip it over the rim.

We used wooden dowels to keep some panniers from banging into the wheel on Jim's bike. Yeah, tied those on with paracord too.

I duct tape spare spokes and a spare derailleur cable to my frame for emergencies, and I keep toilet paper in a bag underneath my seat. I keep spare tubes strapped to my front forks. I cover my bike in stickers to make it look like junk so I'm not a target for theft, and you end up with a true Macguyver-looking cycle.


David Thomas, somehow every one of your stories involves naked hikers...

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Bike Maintenance on 03/02/2013 18:39:58 MST Print View

Max: I married one of them, so I could argue that my intentions were honorable.

Mike R
(redpoint) - F

Locale: British Columbia
My most recent one ... on 03/02/2013 23:45:02 MST Print View

When I pack for a trip, my 2 and 4 yo children are constantly asking questions and fiddling with my gear as I collect it all and begin to pack. I've been doing this for a long time so I just have an order in my mind. Sometimes, my children throw-off my mental packing rhythm when I stop to answer their questions and show them how something works.

3 weeks ago, my ski partner and I have been skinning-up the side of a mountain for the majority of the day, we're tired and thirsty - I had long since run-out of water. We arrive at our camp spot, just above tree line. He starts setting-up the tent, I start gathering the cooking gear to get some snow melted. "Wow - I'm really struggling with trying to connect my MSR XGK EX with the fuel bottle ..." Then it dons on me; I inadvertently grabbed my MSR Dragonfly fuel bottle/pump - the one pump that is only compatible with the Dragonfly. The fuel line fits in the pump, but it's not snug and fuel spills everywhere. "Oh crap, this is bad..." I'm well beyond dehydrated, my friend is close behind. Not a great chance for a fire, we're on about 15' of snow and there are only a few wet [and green] trees around. Running water is about a 2 hr ski below us ... and then you have to get back. After about 3-5 minutes, I break the bad news to my friend. My mind is churning.

I decide to make a gasket around the fuel line that will seal inside the pump fitting. A bit of duct tape and two prototypes later, the XGK was blasting away at about 90%. Worked like a charm with a small amount of fiddling. We had hot dinners, morning coffee, and plenty of drinking water.

When I got home I made some serious markings on the almost indistinguishably different pumps!

Edited by redpoint on 03/02/2013 23:53:40 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Macgyver Moment on 03/03/2013 02:48:24 MST Print View

GR10 walk across the Pyrenees. My 1st gen (orange) double skin tunnel tent with fairly new Easton 7168 alloy poles. That's right, not the 7075 T9 stuff. Eventually I think Easton withdrew this alloy as it was too brittle.

So there we are, at about 2,500 m, and the middle segment in an end pole snaps. Over-stress and fatigue. MYOG tent, so no emergency pole sleeve for repairs. Now what?

Found a dead aluminium sardine tin nearby (the GR10 is quite popular). Chopped the base section out to get some flat Al sheet and wrapped it tightly around the broken bit of the pole and secured it with nylon string and adhesive nylon fabric from the repair kit. It lasted the rest of the trip.

Repaired pole

I still have it of course.


Edited by rcaffin on 03/03/2013 02:50:21 MST.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Preparing them for Macgyver Moments on 03/03/2013 11:36:53 MST Print View

Roger's lashing job reminds me, How many of our children could lash two sticks together (or build a signal tower) like we did as kids in Scouts? I've kicked around doing a skills camps for our kids and their friends with all the fun stuff from jamborees - fire starting contests, compass courses, monkey bridges, knot tying, tin foil cookery, etc. Every parent I mention this to seems to have the same, "Holy crap, how did we forget to ever expose them to that?" and "What a great idea!" reactions.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

That's Me! on 03/03/2013 11:48:15 MST Print View

I'm a city kid, born in Chicago and raised in Westchester, NY, 20 minutes outside of NYC. My dad can build an interior wall, re-plumb our kitchen sink, and wire up the living room light switches. I can't do any of that. He took us camping and fishing and everything, but at the end of the day, he's a music theory professor. We were never boy scouts.

(Don't get me wrong, my Dad is my hero and provides in spades, but in Westchester, NY there's no need for a survival clinic).

When I got into camping, I was 21 years old. It was February 2012. I went on a camping trip and forgot a spoon and bowl. I slept outside with no shelter and it went to 10ºF.

I was hooked.

Since then, I've read books and articles and blogs and how-to's, participated in these forums, worked my way up to a leadership role in my college's outing club, and I've spent months living outside. I can light a fire, fix most gear issues (I taught myself how to sew), find a few edible plants, break firewood using two tree trunks, diagnose most overuse injuries, pitch camp out of the wind, etc. I can cook using a camp stove. I can tie a dozen knots now. It's the little things.

As a "kid" who never had those things, It's NEVER, ever too late to learn.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
re: Preparing them for Macgyver Moments on 03/03/2013 12:30:51 MST Print View

David, we did those things with our kids, and now on our yearly family (car) camping trip, we get to watch them teaching their kids! It's great to see the young ones excited about learning old skills!

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Macgyver Moment on 03/06/2013 17:33:20 MST Print View

Does 4 weeks of SERE training count?

Never had the need to anything "MacGyver-ish." Besides he always used a Victronix Tinker model knife, much heavier and sophisticated than my Classic.

However, I always enjoyed the TV series.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Forgotten tent fly on 03/06/2013 22:51:12 MST Print View

I took my senior history class of tech school students canoeing on the Allegheny Reservoir ont day in late May.

Turns out two boys brought a tent - but forgot the fly. I loaned them the smaller of the two tarps I had brought for a dining fly.

That night it rained like hell and they were nice and dry, thanks to Mr. Blumensaadt's rigging an emergency tent fly for them.

Yeah, they didn't know any knots either.

>I've loaned a passing backpacker in Yosemite some Gorilla duct tape I store on my hiking pole so he could patch his mattress.

>Patched up other hikers cuts, blisters and split boots.

>Whittled a spoon B/C I forgot mine.

Mike W
(skopeo) - F

Locale: British Columbia
Monkey Business... on 03/07/2013 01:06:11 MST Print View

When I was a teen (just out of school), a group of 5 of us decided to do a cross Canada car camping tour (poorly timed in the shoulder season). The old Ford was pretty cramped with five of us inside so our gear went in the trunk and on top of the car in a plywood box covered by a heavy-weight canvas tarp.

We stopped at a place (in Ontario I think) that had an African Safari game park that you could drive through. When we arrived at the gate the guy warned us that the box on top might not be a good idea but we figured it was too much work to remove the box and besides... what could go wrong?

It took the normally lethargic monkeys about 30 seconds to realize that some idiots just drove in with a toy box on the roof of their car and they were on us immediately. Still amazes me that a big chimp could rip that canvas like it was tissue paper and he quickly distributed our gear to his friends. Second most amazing thing was how fast a monkey can climb a tree with a rolled up sleeping bag under his arm!

After the not so happy wardens came in and escorted us out of the fenced compound (large poles in hand), they recovered most of our gear and sent us on our way. Unfortunately, we didn't have room for any gear in the car so we had to figure out what to do with the tarp before we could drive anywhere. The tarp was ripped end to end and sideways and was completely useless.

Sitting on the side of the road with a large roll of dental floss and a needle that somebody had brought turned out to be my first DIY sewing job. After a painfully slow, four hours of sewing we were back on the road. The tarp repair lasted the rest of the trip. You've got to love dental floss!