Utility: useful, especially through being able to perform several functions.
This belt was a concept I began thinking about after finding a few different items I had seen online on various websites and thinking "Hey, I wonder if I could make that?" (which I'm sure is a thought many of you on this site have had once or twice). I wanted to make a few practical items that could be used regularly and with ease. And although another definition of Utility is "functional rather than attractive", I thought, "I'm gonna have my cake and eat it too!", I'm gonna make it look good...
This Instructable is not so much about leather craft or sewing or survival skills. It is about thinking outside the box, challenging yourself to create something to be proud of and using your talents and skills to create a tangible thing you or others can enjoy.
Welcome to my Instructable of the Ultimate Outdoor Utility Belt!
Step 1: What Does My Utility Belt Need?
One of the first steps I took in making the Ultimate Outdoor Utility Belt, was actually determining what kind of items I wanted to put on the belt, and what kind of materials I wanted to use to make the items, and of course the belt itself.
I haven't been into leather craft for very long, and many of the items listed below were very trial and error. Having said that, I knew leather would be the perfect material to use. It is very versatile, malleable, and it's got a great look and feel. In addition to leather, I also used: canvas, paracord, cotton webbing, and various hardware such as rivets, eyelets, spring clips, d-rings, snaps, etc.
But what will I make?
So I put together a list of things that should be on a belt that an individual like myself may need while camping, hiking, or in any outdoor or even survival situation I may find myself in. So here it is:
- Knife (of course)
- Fire starter
- First Aid
- Personal items (I.D., cash, etc.)
- And means for gathering.
So... I got started...
Step 2: Knives, Multi-tools, and Fire Starters
Oh my! Of course, the best way to carry a knife, is in a sheath. With this sheath, I started to think about designing all the items in this Instructable to be as versatile and interchangeable as possible. I did this using eyelets and the oh so glorious Chicago screws!
Chicago screws make the interchangeable system I am using the easiest and most effective. As you can see in pictures 4, 5 and 6, the Chicago screws are flat head screws on one end and smooth on the other. As you can see, I use these screws to be able to attach additions like my multi-tool and fire-starter holster easily, while still being able to use them when taken off and slid onto my belt. Versatilityis key with this belt. I spaced the eyelets on the sheath exactly one inch apart (from center to center) allowing them to be used with multiple attachments.
When making this attachment for my belt, things got a little tricky, especially with the sheath for the multi-tool. One thing I would highly suggest when using leather, or any material for that matter, is the necessity for making patterns! (See picture #7) When making the multi-tool holder, there were a lot of folds, and I had to figure out exactly how the sheath was going to go together, where the stitches were going to be, and most importantly, the size. I did not want any type of strap or snap holding the multi-tool in place because I wanted to allow it to be accessible fast and easy. In order to do this, the measurements needed to be exact so that the multi-tool would fit snugly inside without falling out when walking, running or jumping. The only way I was able to do this first time around was because I made a pattern ahead of time.
Step 3: Personal Effects
One very important thing to remember when traveling outdoors is to have a few items such as cash, debit cards and especially photo I.D. in case of emergency. Having these things easy to access on my belt just seemed like a great idea. But not any old wallet would do, they had to fit the look and feel of the rest of the items on my utility belt. So I grabbed some leather, a handful of rivets and a neat compass emblem I grabbed from a craft store and threw it all together. This is item is more aesthetics than anything, but I do have to stress the importance of having things like these readily available.
Step 4: Get Some!
Also very important when outdoors and/or in a survival situation, Means for Gathering. I went with two different methods here.
First, bags. A simple canvas sack was the ideal for being able to gather small items such as berries, herbs, fire kindling, etc. I came across this bag design on Pinterest and traced it to the Etsy shop of PNWBuchcraft which you can find at this link:
So I decided to make some of my own with a few touches of personalization. Firstly, I made two different size bags for gethering different sized objects. Also, you can see picture number 2 that I added a belt loop to the single piece of leather as well as paracord draw strings at the top of the bags.
The second thing I found to be useful was a simple spring clip attached to a belt loop. This is very simple but can be very handy in attaching various objects to your person with ease.
Step 5: Medic!
One of the most important items on the utility belt, First Aid. This item is mostly concept at this point and can be easily customized to suit the needs of the user. But i'll walk you through what is in my Roll-Up Medicine Bag. The leather exterior is very simple, as you can see in picture #2, I used a single sheet of leather with belt loops cut out and holes punched for rivets that will be used to attach the canvas roll-up. The leather is practical for holding everything together and protecting the items rolled up, but it's what's on the inside that counts! (Or at least thats what my mom tells me...)
The canvas portion of this piece is fairly simple. I used a rectangular piece of a scrap of canvas I got for free, I folded and sewed the edges to prevent fraying, and on the very bottom of the rectangle I sewed a small loop and placed a wooden dowel inside to add a little weight to make accessing the items easier when unrolled (pic #'s 3 & 4)
Inside the roll-up, I wanted to have a few basic items such as band-aids, prep pads, tweezers, sewing kit and some simple meds like acetaminophen, ibuprofen and stomach relief. One of the first things I thought of was sewing in elastic on the inside of the canvas (pic #5) with loops of different sizes to hold various sized items.
I really liked another Instructable I saw by MichaelRoss about packing small fire starter kits into plastic straws, then crimping and melting the ends of the straws to seal a nice small waterproof container. You can find that Instructable here:
I liked the idea initially and started thinking about what else I could pack into these sealable straws. Although fire starters are a great idea, and certainly could be stashed inside this roll-up as well, I also decided I could pack small amounts of medication in different doses into these straws to keep them protected and easily accessible. I also ended up packing other things inside the straws that could be used in more of a survival situation like small amounts of sugar, salt and pepper. Of course any other herbs or anything else you can think of can be added into these containers, and I have plenty more ideas for future use.
Step 6: Conclusion
I had a lot of fun with the making of my Ultimate Outdoor Utility Belt, and furthermore, I learned a lot! I was pretty happy with the way this turned out, but I also learned a few things along the way that I might do differently if I were to make another. Like I said previously, trial and error. But thats what this is all about, right? Challenge yourself, think of new ways to use old skills or alternative ways to use new skills, find out what works, fix what doesn't, but whatever you do, don't stop creating!