excellent report on modern kit.
thank you dave for another interesting contribution to this fantastic website.
Um, err, nitpicking perhaps, but the article talks about the last 20 years, in which case.... breathable membranes and lightweight fabrics???
To be fair Dave does say Goretex was invented in 1980. I know I bought my first goretex waterproof in 1982. I'd say by the mid 80s Goretex was commonplace and a whole host of competing breathable coatings had hit the market in force. I can't remember quite when Sympatex first appeared.
Likewise tents and clothing. Robert Saunders and others were making lightweight nylon tents in the 70s. I can't remember the name of the tent Hamish Brown used on his continuous Munros round but it was about 1.5kg and it wasn't cotton!My first tent was a 2-person 2kg Saunders Backpacker 2 bought in 1981. What changed was the advent of flexibles poles enabling much more spacious designs - I got my first Quasar (weighing around 4kg for a 2-man, 4-pole geodesic) in 1982 - it's still a classic design (although admittedly I'm happier carrying the 2.4kg Superlite version now!)
Likewise, Rohan began the lightweight clothing revolution with polycotton classics like Bags trousers and the Pampas windproof jacket around 1980 or so - I was certainly buying their stuff by 1982, and others like Mountain Equipment soon followed suit. Also from the early 80s Rohan produced excellent breeches(!!) and salopettes in stretch Multiflex fabric - in many ways the forerunner of the recent softshell bandwagon. Helly Hansen Lifa thermal underwear was the de facto standard for baselayers (ooh, the pong! ), also de rigeur were their fibrepile jackets, and fleece appeared by about 84 or 85, including really light weight offerings like ME Ultrafleece. And Karrimor KSBs started the trend to lightweight fabric/suede/Goretex lined footwear around 83 or 84.
I guess technology moves ever onwards, but maybe for some of those 10 items the article needs to be looking back 25 or 30 years, not 20.
Btw, it obviously depends what aspect of the outdoors you consider, but how about
Friends (back in '77)
oh, and climbing walls
Edit: and the Thermarest / inflatable mattress
We had silicon nylon foul weather gear in the RN in the early 70s. My first nylon tent was a Lichfield (a fairly good make back then) 2 man asymetrical ridge tent and that too was about 3.5 lbs including optional ridge pole. I had a navy blue/grey Arctic Fleece (fibre pile), not very compressible and overwarm for the time of year..
Chris, thanks for that. I thought much of what I referred to happened earlier than I started using it, but I wasn't sure of the exact dates. I'm sure your info is more exact than mine.
Trevor D Gamble wrote (see)
Cannot fit more than ten things into a chosen top ten though sadly Matt!
True enough, Trev, so, as a list of " the ten most important developments" I guess I'm suggesting that some alternatives have more of a case than some of those that are in the list.....
"Ten most important developments" anyway??!! Judged by.... what???
Don't get me wrong - as a fun article it's fine, just not really as a proper evaluation of changes (imo).
Perhaps Dave was practicing writing pieces that can be published in Trail....!!!
are the bits you add actually technology changing the outdoors matt? mountain bike - it's a bike. polycotton lightweight fabric? not really new. is using a thinner version of something already being produced technology?
sticky rubber? applying something to a new market?
climbing wall - so you didn't have to go outside?
was a thermarest a technological breakthrough?
these things have certainly made our lives subjectively "easier" but are just extensions of what was already availiable.
the gps is probably the most important tool. mobile phone - mm, a nice "emergency" comfort but changed the outdoors?
Chris Townsend wrote (see)
For synthetic and breathable fabrics the real decade of innovation was the 1970s. I bought my first nylon tent in 1973 - it weighed 1.5kg. Gore-Tex was invented in 1976. I first wore a Gore-Tex jacket the next year and was impressed by the breathability - this was before the PU layer was applied to prevent contamination (and after two years the jacket failed drastically, leaving me soaked and frozen at Styhead). Rohan began in 1976 too and I wore Rohan clothing on a Land's End to John O'Groats walk in 1978, along with Gore-Tex waterproofs. Fibre-pile (which became fleece), synthetic wicking base layers (Helly Hansen Lifa) and synthetic insulation like Polarguard also all first appeared in the 1970s. Even silicone nylon goes back to that decade, when it was introduced by Hilleberg.
Although Robert Gore was granted a U.S Patent (no 3,953,566) on April 27, 1976, for a porous form of PTFE with a micro-structure characterized by interconnected nodes it was March 18th 1980 before the first patent for a "waterproof laminate was granted to Robert Gore, Rowena Taylor, and Samuel Allen were granted U.S. Patent (4,194,041).For its invention, Robert W. Gore was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2006.
Matt C wrote (see)
Um, err, nitpicking perhaps, but the article talks about the last 20 years, in which case.... breathable membranes and lightweight fabrics??? I guess technology moves ever onwards, but maybe for some of those 10 items the article needs to be looking back 25 or 30 years, not 20.
I'll happily go with 25 years, but there's a big difference between when something was invented and when it became commonplace enough to have changed the outdoors for the majority of people. I had a mobile phone in 1987, but I don't think you could say they made a difference to the majority of people until the early to mid 90s.
In the same way ARPANET, which implemented packet switching invented back in 1961, first demonstrated Host-to-Host protocol called the Network Control Protocol (NCP) in October 1982 - but it didn't change life for most people until the mid 90s.
There's a time delay between when technology was invented, or even introduced to the market, and when it became popular enough to change the outdoors for the majority of people.
Don't get me wrong - as a fun article it's fine, just not really as a proper evaluation of changes (imo). Perhaps Dave was practicing writing pieces that can be published in Trail....!!!
Dont you listen to the narsty men Dave - I liked your article
1980 was a year of the cagoule and colmaster external framed rucksacks for me. 1986 saw my first pair of Hitec Trail boots and my first Goretex wasnt until 1989.
Things have moved on a bit
Digital photography and spreadsheets have changed the outdoors too, mostly for the worse! Save Kodachrome!
Btw, it obviously depends what aspect of the outdoors you consider, but how aboutFriends (back in '77)Sticky rubberMountain bikes oh, and climbing walls Edit: and the Thermarest / inflatable mattress
Friends - developed in '77 as you say
Sticky rubber -
In the 1960s, Frenchmen Rene Desmaison and Pierre Allain re-invented smooth-soled climbing shoes with a friction rubber that quickly made the lugged soles of alpine boots obsolete for pure rock climbing. These shoes were dubbed RDs and PAs respectively; beginning the tradition of naming climbing shoes after their designer’s initials. The hightop PAs became the most popular climbing shoe until the famous American climber Royal Robbins designed a shoe (RRs, naturally) to rival, if not surpass PAs. By the end of the 1960s, Edouard Bourdineau invented shoes with a softer composition sole that was superior to the hard composition of previous rock shoes. EBs dominated the market for more than a decade, and pointed the way toward the next design breakthrough. - so much earlier than the last 20 years
Mountain bikes - people were using bikes off road decades ago
Thermarest self inflating mattress - Invented in the early '70s
Hey, Dave, I'm not arguing to drop Green & Blacks from the list!!
Parky, my thinking was:
Friends (back in '77) - camming protection radically changed the nature of routes that could be climbed, first by the elite and then the majority
Sticky rubber: Similar thinking (although maybe i'm less sure....)
Mountain bikes - it's a bike, like a Land rover is a car. Some people went into the mountains on bikes using 'standard' bikes beforehand, but the advent of the mountain bike broadened it out to become a mass participation activity. You didn't meet hoards of cyclists on the mountains back in the 70s and 80s, and you didn't have constructed downhill bike routes on Aonach Mor and Cairngorm (or the summer usage of Alpine downhill ski resorts).
Oh, and climbing walls - helped to create a generation of climbers who could train and push the boundaries further. Also a ggeneration of climbers who come to climbing as an athletic / physical activity, and an 'urban' one rather than from the 'mountaineering tradition'. Also saw the genesis of competition climbing, which has changed much of the perception of what climbing is about and the focusof bodies like the BMC. (I took part in a major survey a few weeks ago on account of being a BMC member, by Sport England, looking at the 'development' of the sport - it's entire focus was about 'the facilities, the coaching, the competition, your 'performance', disabled access etc. I'm not saying it's all bad but it's a world away from what got me into the outdoors).
Edit: and the Thermarest / inflatable mattress : purely a comfort thing here, but I'm speculating that more people camp and backpack as the comfort attainable increases?
As for your "the gps is probably the most important tool" - has it really made that much difference, yet? How many walkers have them? How many use them? They haven't exactly been taken on board yet by bodies like the MLTB etc. in their training (mind, neither have trail shoes, lol! ). I suspect they've had a bigger impact in other areas like marine use than in the outdoors.....
As for your "the gps is probably the most important tool" - has it really made that much difference, yet? How many walkers have them? How many use them? They haven't exactly been taken on board yet by
Ghastly things designed to denude a walker of his map skills
As for your "the gps is probably the most important tool" - has it really made that much difference, yet? How many walkers have them? How many use them? They haven't exactly been taken on board yet by bodies like the MLTB etc. in their training
MCoS run GPS training days
From the BMC's Hill Skills:Winter navigation advice: Q. My navigation is poor- but I know I’ll rely on my GPS in a white out, so is that really a problem? A. The only thing I’d say is don’t just rely on one technique. The worse the conditions, the more techniques you’ll need to apply. In this case the GPS will help you identify where you are
From Mountain Leader Training England (formerly MLTB):Training events such as a winter seminars, GPS training and child protection will be arranged at venues around Britain. Other training events can be set up in response to member requests.
Perhaps Matt is practising his research and writing for publication in the Daily Mail
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