Outdoor Equipment

NCOAE’s 2024 Camping and Outdoor Adventure Gear Improvement Guide

By Stephen Mullaney January 5, 2024

Outdoor Equipment

From November 1st to the end of the year, you’ll be bombarded with advertising, discounts, and announcements of “shopping holidays.” In the winter months, you’ll find all sorts of sales on camping and backcountry clothing and gear, as retailers clear out their 2023 stock and announce new products for the spring and summer. 

And if you’re looking for the perfect gift for yourself or your loved ones who spend lots of time outdoors, you can find plenty of Shopper’s and Buyer’s Guides to consult for ideas.

This is not any of that.

Collection of outdoor gear, including jackets, medical equipment, and backpacks, for 2024

In this post, we do not steer you toward specific camping or outdoor adventure products or brands. In fact, depending on your situation, our advice may inspire you to shed some gear. The ultimate objective is to accumulate gear that makes your human-powered outdoor experiences more awesome than ever without spending so much money that you can’t afford to go anywhere!

Gear Up with a Leave No Trace Mindset

Leaving no trace in the backcountry doesn’t only apply to the seven principles of Leave No Trace (LNT). It begins with how we buy, use, and consume only what we need when engaging with the outdoors. Buying the latest, greatest outdoor clothing and gear each year runs counter to that philosophy. In addition, if you’re on a limited budget, it reduces the funds you have available to take (more…)

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Dyneema: A Lightweight Fabric for Your Outdoor Gear

By NCOAE Headquarters September 25, 2021

Outdoor Equipment

Every now and then, we like to introduce — or expand upon — a new product or material that outdoor educators might be interested in. By keeping our ear to the ground and paying attention to what’s impacting the outdoor industry, our peers in the adventure-based, outdoor education community can continue to be informed about what’s next.

Today, we’re pleased to shed some light on an ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fiber named Dyneema.

What is Dyneema and why should I care? 

Dyneema is a new age fiber that stops bullets in law enforcement gear, provides lighter weight jibs and thus faster speeds on sailboats, and gives tents and backpacks incredible strength while dramatically reducing weight. Oh, and it floats in water.

Dyneema is solely manufactured by Royal DSM, a Netherlands-based firm that’s recognized as one of the oldest players in the European chemical industry. Dyneema itself is a superlight fiber that’s up to 15 times stronger than steel by weight. Its base — the ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene — makes it the strongest of any thermoplastic.

And while it’s been used in climbing gear for quite some time — often referred to as Spectra or Dynex — you would have been hard pressed to find Dyneema products like tents and backpacks until just a few years ago. But today, there are entire companies that use only Dyneema, building their product lines around this highly touted, lightweight fabric.

What are the benefits of Dyneema in the backcountry?

In the outdoor adventure segment, manufacturers using Dyneema have made great strides in several product areas, including tents and tarps. Due to its strength-to-weight ratio, it offers the lightest weight in the industry with the added bonus of being completely waterproof with no water absorption.

In active apparel and footwear, the ultralight category is coming up with a variety of strength-added offerings, including hiking boots. Other advantages include: (more…)

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When It Comes to Program Backpacks, NCOAE Opts for Osprey

By NCOAE Headquarters May 31, 2018

Outdoor Equipment

Here at The National Center for Outdoor & Adventure Education (NCOAE) we’re not very big on endorsing products or brands. In fact, if you were to research our blog all the way back to the first entry at the end of 2013, you probably won’t find more than two or three posts chatting up products that we heartily support (most notably among them, our June 2014 endorsement of Banks Fry-Bake Pan).

But NCOAE is a super big fan — and customer — of Osprey Packs, a company that has been making some of the best expedition-style backpacks available in the outdoor recreation marketplace for the past four and a half decades. In particular, we’ve been hugely pleased with the Escalante 75 +10 backpack and the Kiva 70 +5 backpack — both available for our outdoor programs only.

Osprey Program Backpacks

As an Association for Experiential Education (AEE) accredited provider of guided outdoor trips and training in the realm of outdoor education and training, our organization qualifies for wholesale pricing for 100 or so manufacturers of expedition-style backpacks. But over the years, when it comes to program packs, we continue to work almost exclusively with Osprey. Why? (more…)

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Making Sense of the New Norm in Outdoor Equipment

By Stephen Mullaney March 12, 2018

Outdoor Equipment

When shopping for human-outdoor equipment, keeping up with the Joneses used to be the norm. New skis, boots, boards, kayaks, apparel, bikes, wetsuits and more. Whatever your sport or pursuit of choice, you had to have the latest technical outdoor gear, whether that be the freshest technology, the most wicked new design, or equipment that’s sleek and half the weight of last year’s model.

Photo © by Lukas Robertson. | Used with permission – sourced from Unsplash.

But that was then, and this is now. And good luck discovering what’s the norm in today’s adventure sports world. Stroll into your favorite outdoor store, surfshop, bicycle store or paddleboard purveyor and your head will spin at the options available to outdoor recreation enthusiasts today.

And while the manufacturing side of the outdoor industry might try to sell us on the notion of a new norm, the participants themselves hold the upper hand. That’s because this is the best time to be an outdoor recreation enthusiast. The offerings are endless and the manufacturers in the field are treating us to new equipment that was unimaginable just a few (more…)

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