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Surplus and renewables for low-impact?
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Phil Simcich
(kb9wfq) - F
Surplus and renewables for low-impact? on 12/06/2007 08:36:56 MST Print View

Many moons ago I posted to a thread about low-impact camping/product development/etc. I mentioned my use of surplus equipment.

Mention surplus equipment and you'll either conjure up images of a down-at-the-heels Boy Scout troop or of nutjob militia. An argument can be made, however, that re-using old gear that's made to last and last has a salutary effect beyond mere thrift.

I'll admit to vanity and allow as how I simply like the classic looks of old Swiss leather-and-canvas packs, for example, as much as I like their sturdiness. My kid will be exploring the backcountry with packs I bought used.

Surplus or used gear dilutes the impact of the item's manufacture among many users. An argument can be made that a backpack that has gone through at least three users--the soldier/s to whom it was issued, myself and, presumably, the person I give it to after I'm done with it--has no less than a third the impact on resources as each of us getting a new item for ourselves. Same goes for shelters, sleeping bags, metal canteens...darn near everything except undergarments (a guy has to have SOME standards!).

Most of my kit is made from canvas, wool, leather or steel/brass. The metals are recyclable and the fabrics are renewable. I don't know where silnylon comes from so I don't know if it's renewable or not. It doesn't sound like it.

It certainly violates the *letter* of lightweight backpacking, yet it could be said that surplus/used/renewables have a "spirit" that is in keeping with treading lightly in a certain sense.

Edited by kb9wfq on 12/06/2007 08:40:31 MST.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
It would be nice if we all lived where we could access surplus on 01/01/2008 08:35:01 MST Print View

It would be nice if we all lived where we could access surplus. It is possible to mix and match items and still keep things light, along with cherry picking household things to fill in. Some of the budget gear lists do a nice job of this.
My favorite all time surplus item is the wool gloves[liners], usually found for a little over a buck,they can be had in grey, navy, and the ever stylish olive drab.
Allow me to take off on tangent .... a few years back I traveled all over the northwest competing in mountain bike races. Every weekend I was hundreds of miles from home so I could make a 20 mile lap on a course. "Geez, I race bikes that's a good thing" but if you included the amount of fossil fuel required to get me there and back it wasn't a very "responsible" picture. There is an similar ethos we could adopt with our equipment, balancing the energy/materials required to make it and transport it.
By definition all of us here are pretty much gear doggies but I still think the most important things are not things, but our immersion into the wild.
Over the next 20 years we will be forced to adopt a much greener path to the backcountry.

Edited by pyeyo on 01/01/2008 08:36:09 MST.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Surplus and renewables for low-impact? on 01/05/2008 18:40:45 MST Print View

Very good point, but hard to manage.

The silnylon (silicone impregnated nylon) is likely not recyclble in any current recycle stream since nylon itself is not recycled to any significant amount, and the silicone would mess up a commercial system. Perhaps a better use would be to reuse it for less critical applications (old tarp becomes several stuff sacks) or as patches for worn gear.