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Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
The Multi Use Mandate: and why it isn't as simple as that on 07/06/2012 11:55:31 MDT Print View

Just thought I would share some thoughts I had on multiuse items from an article that I wrote. The article was on bicycle touring, but I think it worth considering here.

A number of folks mandate that all items must do at least double duty. No single purpose items allowed. At least one of the proponents of this philosophy that I know rejects better options out of hand because they were single use items and would give the item no consideration.

On the face of it the mandate sounds like a good idea. Items serving multiple purposes has to be a good idea, right? Well actually it might not be in many cases. The thing is the following have to be considered:

1. Does the multifunction item actually weigh less than the single purpose items it replaces
2. Does the multifunction item actually do the functions all as well or at least well enough
3. Are all of the functions actually necessary, if not is the item lighter than the single purpose items that it replaces that are actually necessary
4. Are any problems created by the multifunction item? For example do you need it for two different purposes at the same time or will the item be wet or dirty from one use when it is needed for another

After considering all of that, some multipurpose items make sense and others not. Also the answer is not necessarily a simple straight forward one.

Bottom line... Consider multipurpose items but consider everything and only use them when they make sense.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: The Multi Use Mandate: and why it isn't as simple as that on 07/07/2012 11:25:00 MDT Print View

Very good points. I wouldn't use a poncho as a shelter for those reasons, but instead use it as a ground cloth with another tarp as an above head shelter. I want to be able to walk around and not get wet from rain once my shelter is up.

Jim Colten
(jcolten)

Locale: MN
Re: The Multi Use Mandate: and why it isn't as simple as that on 07/07/2012 11:46:03 MDT Print View

I'd suggest another consideration that addresses a common misuse of the term "multi-use":

5) Is it truly multifunction (aka multiuse), not merely multipurpose?

In the context of weight reduction the proper definition of multifunction involves the same gram/ounce/pound of something can serve more than one purpose.

Multipurpose would be the same gearlist item being able to be used for more than one purpose but each use consumes a portion of the packed weight, making that amount of the item no longer available to serve the other purposes. Examples: a) alcohol hand sanitizer also used as fire starter. b) water treatment chemicals also expected to treat water if needed to flush a wound.

Granted, there is value (simplicity) in that multipurpose reduces the number of items packed but it does not reduce weight.

Edited by jcolten on 07/07/2012 11:47:46 MDT.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: The Multi Use Mandate: and why it isn't as simple as that on 07/22/2012 12:59:13 MDT Print View

a clarification of the mandate should be:

Items serving multiple purposes when appropriate.

An example on another thread that bugs me is the:
shelter stakes, stakes in a stove, chopsticks, toothbrush holder stem and trowel poo digger.

The resource is already tasked for a single purpose at that time, and cannot be concurrently used for another purpose.

when the stake is used to hold up/down the shelter, it cannot be used as a trowel, or a stove pot holder, unless you temporarily take down the shelter. Also the stake used in a stove will be weakened by the fire. If used as a chopstick after being a trowel, it's quite gross to use as an eating utensil.

The over riding rule is that in an emergency, one piece of gear can be re-purposed. Example: hiking poles and bandana can be re-purposed as bandage and splint for a broken leg.

Edited by RogerDodger on 07/22/2012 13:05:11 MDT.