DIY: How To Make An Ultralight “Trail Chess Set”
A game of chess is a fun way to unwind after a long day of hiking, but even travel chess sets are too heavy for lightweight backpacking. Here’s how you can make your own “Ultralight Trail Chess Set” that weighs less than an ounce…
Materials & Tools:
- Chess Pieces Template (PDF)
- 12″ x 12″ piece of Tyvek*
- 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of card stock
- Quart sized ziplock baggy
- Sharpie permanent marker
- Computer printer
- Velcro Dots (optional)
* Tyvek is a synthetic fabric used in home construction and by ultralight backpackers for a ground cloth (and other things). The benefit of using Tyvek for your chess board over paper or cardboard is it can be folded without leaving creases (so your board will lie flat) and it’s tear proof and water resistant. The best source for a small piece of Tyvek like you will need for this project is from a Tyvek mailing envelope. You can get these free at the Post Office (though they are only supposed to be used for mailing stuff) or purchase at an office supply store.
1. Download my Chess Pieces Template (PDF) and print it out on the card stock. Cut the pieces out with scissors.
2. Cut a 12″ x 12″ piece of Tyvek from your mailing envelope. Draw an 8″ x 8″ grid in the center with a Sharpie.
3. Color in the black squares (starting in the top right corner).
4. Store it in a ziplock baggy.
Note about wind: This chess set works best in calm conditions. When it’s windy your board and pieces can blow away. The 2″ border around the board gives you room to anchor it with rocks or other objects. To make it even more wind-proof, use Velcro Sticky-Back Hook & Loop Dot Fasteners to the attach the pieces to the board.
Trail Chess is fun for those long afternoon rest breaks
Here’s a picture from when I first made one of these while hiking the PCT. I drew the board on the bottom of my ground cloth and cut the pieces from the cover of my notebook.