The WildeBeat

The audio journal about getting into the wilderness.


The WildeBeat edition 145: Stealth Gear

This is a supplementary transcript of our audio program. CLICK HERE to listen to the original program, and see the associated show notes.

If you want to tread lightly on your favorite wild places, we'll tell you about gear that will help leave no trace. This week on The WildeBeat; Stealth Gear

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News from the Wildebeat, the audio journal about getting into the wilderness.

This is program number one forty five.

I'm Steve Sergeant.

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STEVE: Let's assume that you want to leave the wild places you visit as good or better than you found them. That's what the basic philosophy of Leave No Trace is all about. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics sends several teams of traveling trainers out on the road each year, to teach people the practical side of Leave No Trace, not just the philosophy.

STEVE: Several weeks ago, in our edition number one forty, we heard from senior traveling trainers Emily Resler, and J.D. Tanner. They're back to tell us about gear we can take on our wilderness adventures that will make it easier to leave no trace.

STEVE: J.D., welcome to the WildeBeat.

J.D. TANNER: Hi, Steve, thanks for having us.

STEVE: And Emily, welcome.


STEVE: I guess the first leave no trace principle is plan ahead and prepare, and I don't really see anything here for that, but we're out in a camp ground and that's not the kind of stuff we'd bring with us. Well, some of the things I use are guide books and maps, but more importantly the computer to look at information about places online, and most importantly I suppose is the telephone to call up land management agencies for the places I haven't been before, or haven't been for a long time and talk to somebody who actually knows the place and can tell me the rules and the conditions I'm about to get myself into. So the second Leave No Trace principle is travel and camp on durable surfaces. What kind of gear can we use to do that better?

JD TANNER: Number one is a great pair of boots. You know, if you're gonna go out and spend a couple hundred dollars on a good pair of boots, you may as well use them and just tromp on right through those puddles in the middle of the trail. Uh, another thing to help you do that is a good pair of gaiters. Get uh, get some gaiters, get 'em on, and keep that water and mud from sloshing in the top of your boots. Once you make it to your camp, a good pair of soft-soled shoes is great to walk around and try to, you know, minimize your tromping of all the vegetation in your campsite.

JD TANNER: Next is a good free-standing tent. Some kind of a tent that you don't have to rig up, uh, a rope or any cord to a tree or bushes is a great way to minimize your impact. Uh, second, uh to go along with that, actually, um, are some type of a sleeping pad or a sitting pad. It's going to encourage you to set up your tent and sit on those more durable surfaces by having that padding underneath you. And the last thing to use to help you minimize your impact while traveling and camping is some type of a bag to carry, uh, or a bucket, to carry water back and forth from your water sources. So it keeps you from walking back and forth and creating those social trails, or what we like to call undesignated trails.

STEVE: Emily, you have a collection of gear here that will help with the principle, dispose of waste properly.

EMILY RESSLER: One thing I have for human waste, I have a couple of these bags that have been pre-made. Restop, WAG Bag are two examples of bags that can help you dispose of your human waste outdoors.

EMILY RESSLER: Another item we recommend for packing out human waste is a "poop tube", and that's something you would just make at home out of either PVC pipe or some other hard-sided container.

EMILY RESSLER: Um, for packing out your toilet paper it's as easy as bringing a Ziplock bag with you, and then if you're gonna dig a cat hole while you're in the backcountry, there are several kinds of trowels on the market, and even some that you can make at home.

EMILY RESSLER: For, um disposing of food, again, easy as carrying a Ziplock bag to carry out your food waste, and using something that we call a scrim cloth to catch any of the micro litter that you're dropping during camping.

EMILY RESSLER: And then for washing your dishes, a common kitchen strainer and some good biodegradable soap with hot water is really all you need to help you minimize your impact when you're out washing your dishes.

STEVE: J.D., what do you have for the fourth principle of leave what you find.

JD TANNER: A digital camera, or if you're one of those old film users, there's nothing wrong with that, too. A good camera to take pictures of the wildlife, to take pictures of the flowers and the plants you see and want to remember. And if you're an artist, another couple of great things to bring is a sketchbook, maybe just a regular pencil, or maybe a package of colored pencils if you're going to spend a little bit of time and sit there and actually draw the pictures of the things that you want to remember from your trip.

STEVE: Emily has some gear to help minimize campfire impacts. That's the fifth principle of Leave No Trace.

EMILY RESSLER: One of the things we use campfires for when we're outside is just to see, so there's tons of lanterns, both big and small that we can use. Electric or propane to help us see, as well as candle lanterns, which provide great ambiance and kind of give you that campfire feel, even though it's in a really small package.

EMILY RESSLER: Also headlamps are one of the handiest things to have on you, whether you're just going for a day hike or setting up your camp.

EMILY RESSLER: Another thing we use fires for commonly is cooking. And so here I have a, just a portable camp stove. it can [lighting stove] It can, uh, it'll cook your meals faster and more steadily than a campfire will, and you don't have to worry if it's been raining or not.

EMILY RESSLER: Now campfires are a very enjoyable thing, and so sometimes, if the regulations are such that you can build a campfire, that might be something you'll want to do. And two items that we have that can help you minimize your campfire impact in the backcountry is a fire pan, and this is a collapsible fire pan that you can purchase. You can also make fire pans just out of old kitchen skillets by drilling holes in the bottom of them and that help keep your fire off the ground. [rattling gear]

EMILY RESSLER: And then another piece of, uh, gear that I have here is an old fire blanket that you can use to make what we call a mound fire. Um and this will help keep your sparks off the ground and it will also help protect the vegetation underneath your fire.

JD TANNER: There's a few pieces of gear that you can... take with you when respecting wildlife. And one of those is a bear canister. A bear canister is a great piece of equipment big enough to hold, [canister sounds] you know, quite a few days worth of food in it, and it's got a couple little locks on it, and then a little pushbutton, and the top pops right off, and you can put all your food in and out of there, and, uh, bears, uh, pretty much can't get to your food that way.

JD TANNER: Other than that, if you wanted to go the, the older route and take some rope with you, and a good, preferably a waterproof sack, that way, uh, you know, whenever you do an actual bear hang, your food won't be getting wet if it does decide to rain.

JD TANNER: And then, uh, the last piece of gear that, uh, we would recommend is a good pair of binoculars. That way, you know, instead of throwing the, the idea of that stalking motion out there that sometimes scares animals, you can stand from a distance and just view them through your binoculars.

EMILY RESSLER: So there's even a couple pieces of gear that we have here that can help you be considerate of other visitors. And one of those is a walkie talkie. If you're planning on being with a group and maybe being far enough apart that you'd have to yell at your, uh, other members of your group, a walkie talkie might be one way that you can get around having to yell. [/walkie talkie static.] So great for climbers, hikers, or if you have kids, they're just kind of fun to bring along.

EMILY RESSLER: And while a lot of us like to go outdoors and just hear nature sounds, a lot of us like to go outdoors and listen to music. So one thing that you can bring with you is a good pair of headphones. You can still bring your music source with you and enjoy music while you're out enjoying nature at the same time.

STEVE: J.D. and Emily are the Leave No Trace traveling trainers... thank you guys for appearing on the show.

EMILY RESSLER: Thank you, Steve.

J.D. TANNER: Thank you Steve.

STEVE: We'd like to hear your ideas for gear that can help you leave no trace, and we always like to hear anything else that's on your mind about our show. You can call our toll free comment line at 866-590-7373, or send e-mail to comments at WildeBeat dot net. You can find links to the Leave No Trace principles, a complete transcript, and download a high-quality stereo version on our web site.

STEVE: As a free, listener-supported service, we depend on you to help support our work. You can help by making a tax-deductible annual membership donation to our project. Membership levels start at sixteen dollars a year, and full membership is forty eight. For a limited time, become a WildeBeat member and get a weekend's worth of meals from Alpine Aire foods, books from Wilderness Press, access to bonus audio content, and more, as thank you gifts.

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Our official website is WWW dot WILDEBEAT (that's W-I-L-D-E-B-E-A-T) dot NET. If we helped you get into the wilderness, could you help us do the same for others? Just click on our support link and become a member. The WildeBeat is produced by Steve Sergeant, with help from Jean Higham and Kate Taylor, as a nonprofit educational project of Earth Island Institute.

This has been The WildeBeat, program number one forty five. Thank you for listening.

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Next time -- basic fire.

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