I would like to share with everyone something I have in my Bug out Bag (BOB) that I have yet to see mentioned in any post or forum on the subject. I stole the idea fair and square from survival expert Les Stroud (of Survivorman television series fame) and modified it to suit my needs and budget. This simple addition weighs very little, costs very little, and makes so much sense I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it for so many years.
In Les’s treks through the Canadian wilderness, he would often be seen wearing what looked like a tail. What Les had was a waterproof ‘flap’ that hung off of his belt which he tucked underneath his backside whenever he wanted to sit down. What this allowed him to do was sit on any wet fallen tree, rock or anything else that was hard but damp. While he was dressed in layers with his outer layer being water proof, Les regularly removed layers to avoid sweating. The effect was always having a dry place to sit, rest, or work.
Without any details on the construction, I looked around for a suitable alternative which would perform the same function and still be affordable on my budget. My answer was a common, everyday car floor mat. A simple, rectangular rubber mat with ‘carpet’ on the top was all I needed. Both the rubber and the carpet are extremely durable materials.
For a few dollars new and even less if you get one from the junk yard or ‘you-pull-it’ lot, all you need to do is poke a few holes along one of the short ends and tie it around your waist or through a few belt loops. The rubber underside is waterproof while the carpet side affords some level of comfort and warmth. This will not feel like your lazy-boy, but if you have ever had your shorts ride up on you because some part of them has soaked through, then this will be a welcome, light, and cheap luxury.
My original design was a rectangular mat that I picked up from Wal-Mart for about $10. I poked four holes along one of the short edges and wove a small rope through each hole so that the majority of the rope was behind the mat and not against my back. Unfortunately, this arrangement did not work out well because the mat was too small. The mat was designed for the back seat floor boards. I did not correctly account for the length of the L-shaped that would form between my lower back and the beginnings of the back of my legs.
My current version was more difficult to find: A longer rectangular mat that was designed to be used for the front seat floor boards. I was able to find it at K-Mart. (Nothing succeeds like success so it doesn’t matter where it comes from as long as it works.) I also replaced the rope with a ribbon style belt. Instead of cutting holes in the mat, I cut four slits and wove the belt through the slits. This keeps the mat closer to my body, is easier to put on and take off, and is generally more comfortable. Now the mat reaches from my lower back to just below my lower legs. This is more than enough length to give me a large footprint to sit on if a log or rock is especially large. The shorter version one only worked when the diameter of the log was small or the rock was about the same size as my backside. The new version lets me sit down in wet grass and leaves to rest or to sit on the bumper of my dew-covered car to adjust my boots.
You will need to size the mat for your height and the size of your backside and length of your legs. Remember to check that the mat will bend into an L- or Z-shape. You can get away with an irregularly shaped mat if you would like, I just thought that a rectangle would give the most coverage for the least amount of weight. An irregular mat may give you more dry space to put things down next to you.
The mat may tap you in the back of the legs as you walk (especially when walking up or down hill). You will either need to get use to that or, after attaching it around your waist, roll the map up and put a rubber band on one or both ends. The rubber bands allow for a quick unrolling before sitting. However, if you roll the mat up after you have used it, you may transfer some moisture to the carpeted side Personally, I just got use to it tapping me in the back of legs. Given the movement of my pack while I walk, it is hardly noticeable.