When it comes to getting out into the great outdoors, a lot of people will say they want to “unplug.” While yes, getting out in the wild and experiencing it up close and personal without the distractions of emails, news alerts and push notifications is a blessing and can be very helpful for decompressing and unwinding, with all the new, exciting developments in the outdoor technology world, it’d be foolhardy to head out in the the great unknown without a couple gadgets to enhance the experience, or at the very least keep you safe.
Big Advancements in Outdoor Gear
A lot has changed in the outdoor world in the past few decades. Many outdoor hobbies and activities that were once extremely niche have exploded in popularity and into the mainstream. Activities like backcountry skiing, rock climbing and mountaineering were once only for an intrepid few who were unfazed by the sheer level of danger involved. However, thanks to the advancements in clothing and gear technology, the high barriers of entry into these extreme sports have been somewhat lifted and allowed for new initiates into these adrenaline-junkie activities.
Dangers such as avalanches, mud slides, extreme temperatures, or low oxygen levels that were once very present and very deadly possibilities now can be combated with the help of new tech. Not to say they are completely mitigated, there’s always a level of risk involved when venturing out beyond the realms of society and cell service. But, at the very least, we now have devices that can track and predict extreme weather conditions or trackers that can GPS-locate survivors in the wake of an avalanche.
Clothing for Extreme Temperatures
One of the biggest advancements in outdoor tech has been in textiles. There is now clothing for public use that can withstand blistering cold temperatures thanks to advancement in the clothing and textile industries. Before, many cold-weather clothes were made from animal furs or wool. Though these clothes are extremely warm, they also pose a troubling environmental issue. Many of the animals used to make coats made out of animal materials such as fur and leather have been hunted or farmed into endangerment. Instead, scientists have engineered synthetic materials such as nylon and polyester to clothing that allows for inner moisture to be released while ensuring no water liquid enters the material.
Better Lighting Technology
Another great advancement in outdoor gear has been in the way of lighting. You might consider lighting to be the original technological advancement in the way of discovering fire. Thankfully, we are no longer in the era of carrying around a big fire torch or candlestick like we’re a 17th century explorer or a Charles Dickens character any longer. Even still, lighting technology has gone from chemical (i.e. burning something to create chemical reaction for light) to electrical (i.e. batteries). Today, we have very technically advanced flashlights at our disposal. Some flashlights, like Fenix flashlights, actually have rechargeable lithium ion batteries. They also can do more than just shine one level of light. Many new, high-quality flashlights have multiple lumen output levels and lighting settings such as red light or strobe mode. This way, users can get repeated uses out of their gear without needing to worry about battery life. This can be a life saver for outdoor enthusiasts who might find themselves out past dark or even get lost and need to signal for help using strobe or SOS features embedded into the flashlights software.
Advancements in Safety
Another big advancement in outdoor technology has been in the safety gear itself. While the rudimentary parts of each outdoor activity still exist; we still have skis, backpacks, ropes, etc. they have now been reengineered and fortified with new materials and designs to make them infinitely more safe and comfortable to use. Large overnight backpacking bags now have been ergonomically restructured to allow for more comfortable long term wear without hurting or straining the wearer’s back from the weight of the pack, which can sometimes weigh half as much as the person themselves, allowing them to carry more and go further. Climbing ropes and gear used to be just simply that, made of regular rope. Now, ropes are made with nylon fibers which can withstand 2,400kg, essentially the weight of a midsize car. That’s a lot of weight! Definitely much stronger and heavier than any person might weigh the rope with.
All of these new advancements in outdoor gear technology have been wonderful to help advance outdoor sports and make them more accessible to people from all walks of life. Making experiencing the outdoors safer allows for more people to be able to get out of the cities and do so and endowing them with a new-found excitement and respect for the outdoors in a way that they never would have from simply watching or reading about it. This way, we can create more advocates and defenders of wild spaces.