While in Bed, Bath, & Beyond getting a new coffee maker, I grabbed a couple of inexpensive items for backpacking.
A flexible cutting board. These cost $4 for a pack of two 12″x15″ sheets of tough plastic. I might cut one to a smaller size for easier packing. I think we’ll keep the other one for car camping. How do you cut a cutting board? I’m betting on my compound metal shears.
A roll of grabby rubber drawer lining, the kind that is soft with a sort of honeycomb of holes. Wrap a length of this around your sleeping pad, and it will stay put in your tent. Your sleeping bag will also stay on your pad. I chose the dark brown color so it won’t show as much dirt. This was $10 for a 20′ roll. Six or seven feet should be enough for one wrap around the pad with a bit of overlap, so this will supply three people.
Both of these ideas are from a backpacking colleague (and fellow Scoutmaster). They are lightweight and cheap, and address serious backcountry issues: food cleanliness and good sleep. Your mind and attitude are critical safety equipment, so you must keep them in good shape. If your trek leader is sleep-deprived and throwing up, they probably aren’t making the best decisions.
Hmm, sounds like another Scoutmaster Minute, if I can find a hook to something that matters to the boys.