Do-it-yourself enthusiasts are found in the realm of camping gear and equipment, as they are in many other fields these days. Campers can have gear that is "right," at lower cost, by making their own. Satisfactions and learnings are an important part of equipment-making activity, which calls for ingenuity, resourcefulness, and good craftsmanship in the use of many craft techniques. Leatherworking, woodworking, and metalworking skills are put to good use as equipment is developed. Planning the article, making a pattern, adding an individualized symbol, creating just the right features to make it a one-of-a-kind object-all these mark equipment making as a good craft for campers.
Some gear is individual; some is for groups. When a group works together to make a food box or a tent, good teamwork results, and there is real anticipation for the outings ahead. A group project is often a progressive step toward making individual or family gear. Progression, too, will come in making more complicated articles, and also in the use of heavier materials or new tools, and in the use of different techniques.
Material used in making cloth gear is usually firmly woven, such as unbleached muslin, denim, awning cloth, duck, or lightweight canvas, or very finely woven material such as balloon cloth, Egyptian cotton, or a type of material known as "typewriter ribbon cloth." The finer the weave, the better the cloth is for lightweight articles, but the more expensive it is, too. Plastics, waterproofed materials, and nylon may also be used. Denim comes in two weights. The lighter denim, which may be had in many plain colors, and also in stripes and plaids, is especially good for beginners' projects. Remnants of denim or awning cloth are often obtainable at little or no cost.
Tools used in making equipment with cloth are the sewing tools, such as needles, and waxed or other heavy thread. Curved needles for canvas, square needles for leather, a sailor's palm, and an awl with thread in the handle and an eye in the point all help to simplify the stitching. A sewing machine is a "must" for big equipment, such as a tarp or tent, but many articles can be stitched by hand, using leather or canvas stitching methods (Fig. XVI-1).