"The Power of Gear," from The Atlantic.

8:46 p.m. on April 29, 2013 (EDT)
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An interesting in-depth look at outdoor gear design, primarily about climbing and alpinism, but this low-altitude walker certainly enjoyed reading it.

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/04/the-power-of-gear-how-technical-equipment-redefines-our-relationship-with-extreme-environments/275177/

1:45 a.m. on April 30, 2013 (EDT)
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"was beyond generous with his time and expertise, happily answering our questions as the sun set over Mono Lake in the distance."

Um, isn't Mono Lake east of Lee Vining?

9:52 a.m. on April 30, 2013 (EDT)
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Yes it is.

Equipment evolution is over-rated somewhat.  In extreme environments it matters the most.  A lot of innovation like down clothing, portable brass stoves and dome tents has been around a long time.  Materials continue to improve slightly, but the basic function of most outdoor gear is unchanged in the last 40 years.

9:39 p.m. on April 30, 2013 (EDT)
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BigRed said:

"was beyond generous with his time and expertise, happily answering our questions as the sun set over Mono Lake in the distance."

Um, isn't Mono Lake east of Lee Vining?

 Yes i have been to see both places from east to west in this case :-)

He must have been east of Mono Lake eh? Other wise one might have to call it artistic license no?

DRTL ;-)

5:30 a.m. on May 1, 2013 (EDT)
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2,295 forum posts

BigRed said:

"was beyond generous with his time and expertise, happily answering our questions as the sun set over Mono Lake in the distance."

Um, isn't Mono Lake east of Lee Vining?

It's all in how you position the smoke and mirrors...

-------------

Hmm…

Scott seems a bit self conscious if I may say so.  But that is often the case when you get us creative types reflecting on what we do.

Scott comments how architects do not give the same consideration to the ergonomic consequences of their designs as a tent designer.  He sights for example that architects do not address how being right or left handed is affected by a kitchen design.  As someone who has endured many poor tent and kitchen layouts, as well as designs that are a joy to use, I can attest that all designers who good at their trade DO take minute ergonomic factors into consideration.  If such nuances go unappreciated by the typical home dweller, do consider the “amazing” similarities in designs, such as counter heights door knob diameters and toilet seat elevations, then note how these vary among short and tall societies. 

Despite all the talk about ergonomics, I find today’s pack designs somewhat less utilitarian.  Or why even today are most tents too short, resulting in one's sleeping bag rubbing against a wall dripping with condenasation?  Perhaps it is a sign of my age, but I preferred the old school method of using leather lash points to affix tools to my pack.  And I can certainly do without hydration bladder and electronics storage pockets on my pack.  The modern idea of carrying your crampons and tools in their own little bags and stowing those in the haul sack may suffice, but there are very very few packs on the market nowadays that are designed to carry skis.  What’s that about?

Another difference between old school and contemporary soft equipment designs are the number of nonessential seams one finds on gear today.  For example a fabric panel consisting of three separate colored sections sewn together, whereas the same panel could have been done with a single, less esthetic but more rugged, single piece of fabric.  But then this is to attract the “average” end user.  That mindset is another problem.  The topic is mainly mountaineering gear, yet the designer admits that there is a conscious effort to also appeal to the lifestyle wannabe consumer.  Ergo why I cannot find a back country mountaineering day pack that has good ski haul capabilities, but plenty that accommodate a laptop or tablet.

But in a lighter vein, I think this article has introduced me to my perfect career match.  Scott refers to an environmental test:  “Or you'll have jerk tests on handles...”  Scott PM me if you need an expert jerk.

Ed

2:35 p.m. on May 2, 2013 (EDT)
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Interesting article. A lot more thought going into modern design than in the past. The more specialized gear gets, the more important that becomes. 

Thanks for sharing, Islandess,

2:37 p.m. on May 2, 2013 (EDT)
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843 forum posts

the guy's a consultant and his job lets him live out in the middle of nowhere. I envy him.

September 30, 2014
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