“There is one advantage to having nothing, it never needs repair” Frank Howard Clark

water_bottle_repairWhen I started off roading in the jungles of Malaysia I was impressed by the ‘bush mechanic’ abilities of the local 4×4 enthusiasts.  These guys would find ingenious ways to fix a car when no parts were available and seemed to be able to do most of this with nothing more than a multi-tool. A useful skill indeed.

Part of the appeal of bushcraft is the idea that we can fashion what we need from the natural world around us, or repair what is broken.  But often people forget that the natural world is now a giant dustbin for plastic products of which bags and bottles make up an alarming proportion….plastic has, unfortunately, become a resource in the natural world!

Putting aside the shamefulness of our disposable culture (that is clogging the seas with plastics bags and creating mountains of plastic bottles) plastics themselves are tremendously useful in the jungle.  A plastic tarp will make shelter building easy and the Orang Asli were quick to add these to the equipment they themselves take in.  Plastic bags are waterproof and can protect your mobile phone or other water sensitive devices, food, kit, clothes etc.

Almost all the plastics we find around us are thermoplastics and this means we can heat them up and mould them (I’ve met a number of Orang Asli who use moulded PVC piping for a parang sheath) or, in same manner as welding, we can melt plastic onto a crack and form a bond.

So, in this video, I look at repairs and improvements you can make to a cheap plastic bottle for use in the jungle.  One thing I didn’t mention was that a bit of superglue is another and to go (but you do, of course, have to have some superglue!).  Super glue may seem like an odd thing to carry in the jungle but its use as a quick seal to cuts gives it a well earned place in your first aid kit.  Saying that, I find it easier to form a bond by melting the plastic and the seal seems to be stronger.

So, with a bit of knowledge you can really get the most out of even very basic and cheap pieces of kit and, should they break, fix them up again…. bush mechanics for the jungle trekker!

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