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Alternative Energy Backpacking

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Alternative Energy Backpacking

Postby Kris » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:07 pm

Being a low impact group of people (for most of us i'm hoping), how many of us incorporate things like the small folding solar chargers for gps, mp3, etc? How about something even more fundamentally sound like a magnifying glass for those evening campfires? I decided this year throw a small lense into my emergency kit as a 'just in case'. Any other ideas on how we can lighten our footprints?
~We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started... and know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot



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Re: Alternative Energy Backpacking

Postby cmon4day » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:18 pm

Leave those items at home and you wont need solar power. Having GPS, MP3, et al, on a backpack trip ruins the wilderness experience.
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Re: Alternative Energy Backpacking

Postby hikerduane » Thu Apr 30, 2009 5:44 pm

Too! I listen to Mother Nature, use a wet finger as a compass.

On the Lost Coast trip last week, about three or so in our Nobo group had the ole IPod a going. I took in the sites and yelled at them, trying to be heard once in awhile.
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Re: Alternative Energy Backpacking

Postby BSquared » Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:37 pm

cmon4day wrote:Leave those items at home and you wont need solar power. Having GPS, MP3, et al, on a backpack trip ruins the wilderness experience.

Well, now. An MP3, yes, I agree -- I go to the wilderness largely for the silence. I'll never forget getting up to Bishop Pass from the east side (pant, pant) and seeing a large group descending toward me, mostly teenagers with a couple of adults. A couple of teenagers actually had boom boxes pressed to their ears (I know: I'm dating myself)! I asked them what sort of group they were, and the reply was "Boy Scouts, cancha tell?!?" :crybaby:

But a GPS, well, your mileage may vary, but I actually think the GPS enhances my wilderness experience. Kind of like a map: what's the name of that peak? Can we get to the next pass some other way? Are we looking toward San Francisco, or more towards Monterey out there?
Last edited by BSquared on Fri May 01, 2009 3:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alternative Energy Backpacking

Postby trav867 » Thu Apr 30, 2009 8:24 pm

I sometimes bring an ipod shuffle with headphones (1.25oz)- I enjoy listening to music before bed (come on I was a music major!). This is a little off topic though-environmentally, the single biggest thing I do is take my girlfriend's Mini Cooper (40+ mpg hwy) instead of my Jeep Cherokee (20mpg) to the trail head.

I keep up with recycled/green gear but I'll admit that I'm more concerned with finding gear that has the features and weight I need than its carbon footprint. I have considered using an alcohol stove as opposed to my usual fossil fuel powered canister stove but have never actually done it.

For fire, I use a Light My Fire firesteel, but again that's due to its functionality rather than its greenness. Rather than a lens over a lighter, I would say skip the campfire altogether if you're concerned about carbon.
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Re: Alternative Energy Backpacking

Postby LMBSGV » Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:11 pm

Carrying an MP3 player is one of those "unclear on the concept" desecrations. Experiencing the wilderness means using all our senses. Hearing the wind in the pines, the splashing and trickle of creeks, and lap of the water on lakes is as integral to wilderness as the views.

As for my carbon footprint in wilderness, the one thing I'd love to find an alternative for is ziploc plastic bags.
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Re: Alternative Energy Backpacking

Postby BSquared » Fri May 01, 2009 3:16 am

LMBSGV wrote:Carrying an MP3 player is one of those "unclear on the concept" desecrations. Experiencing the wilderness means using all our senses. Hearing the wind in the pines, the splashing and trickle of creeks, and lap of the water on lakes is as integral to wilderness as the views.

As for my carbon footprint in wilderness, the one thing I'd love to find an alternative for is ziploc plastic bags.


Amen to both, although I can certainly see why other people like to listen to music in the backcountry; just not my earful of tea. And of course, for me, the one thingI'd love to find a low-carbon alternative to is the airplane ride to California. :rolleyes: I did look into Amtrak for this coming summer ... three days and several thousand dollars later... :thumbsdown:

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Re: Alternative Energy Backpacking

Postby TehipiteTom » Fri May 01, 2009 7:47 am

I don't own a GPS and would never bring my iPod into the wilderness...but I'm surprised nobody has commented on the highest-impact item of all: the "evening campfire". There are very good reasons why campfires are banned in much of the high country.
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Re: Alternative Energy Backpacking

Postby gdurkee » Fri May 01, 2009 9:53 am

MP3 --- aaaarrgggh! In the privacy of one's own tent OK, but way up on my list of irritations is people shouting questions at me while plugged into their gizmo. I'm gonna start cutting their wires before I answer them in the future.

And I agree with others here -- no fires for a variety of good reasons, a reduced carbon footprint among them.

Another small quibble: How much technology/transportation/manufacturing materials goes into that "small folding" solar panel vs. not having the thing and assorted gizmos in the first place?

Still, a minor issue and negligible impact (but, I have to say, a strange question as far as bringing and supporting technology into wilderness). One of the unique experiences we can gain only from wilderness is the chance to totally unplug from the world. I'd consider that as a better approach.

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Re: Alternative Energy Backpacking

Postby Kris » Fri May 01, 2009 11:08 am

This isn't necessarily technology specific. Simply to get the ideas rolling. Carpooling (if possible) and using the 4 cylinder are definitely a couple big ones. Buying food in bulk, dehydrating your own meals, recylcing items when you can, etc. I personally carry neither an mp3 or gps, and very rarely have campfires even when allowed. I don't mind if people do, however. Everyone's mountain experience is different, and should be honored as such. Why get frustrated and take away from my own experience because of what somelse is doing (assuming the music can only be heard by the one playing it, etc). Like many of you, the music of the mountains for me is always far more satisfying. The issue of 'greening' all of our gear is a big one. It's easy to point the finger at an mp3, solar charger, or a campfire, but what we should all try to address is the petrol riding on our backs (and the externalized costs involved with all of our gear). Like shaving pack weight, you should start with the biggest items first.
~We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started... and know the place for the first time.

T.S. Eliot
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