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Low-Tech Gear Retains Its Enduring Appeal in a High-Tech World

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), a showcase for lust-inducing gizmos soon to be on store shelves, is wrapping up today in Las Vegas.

Some outdoor gadgets are on display at CES, and a handful of them are surveyed in this report from outdoor website Gear Junkie. A team of REI product managers is prowling the aisles in search of best-in-show do-dads for outdoor types.

fire starterAll well and good, but I notice my stash of must-carry gear includes lots of things that never need a battery, plug or charging cable. That's a good deal when exploring many miles off the grid. A few of my basics follow. What other low-tech items would you add to this list?

Fire starter: Steel + flint + friction = a fire-starting spark. The equation works with magnesium shavings, too. Maybe bring along a few clumps of dryer lint as well, possibly smudged with a little petroleum jelly. In damp conditions, that can help set flames a-flyin'.

multitoolMatches: Lighters can sometimes be fickle, so I like matches. REI Stormproof Matches have attained near-legendary status on the web, thanks to this fan's much-circulated homemade video.

Map: One of the most essential of The Ten Essentials. I prefer the battery-free paper variety.

Compass: Some speculate its roots reach back all the way to 200 B.C. A nonelectric version is one that never fails you.

Sea to Summit mugKnife: The contemporary term is "multitool," knife included. Beyond straight knife blades, I personally find a pair of scissors equally indispensable.

sporkCup: Measuring instrument. Water transporter. Impromptu wine goblet. Rainwater collector. Tiny-item organizer/repository. Raise a toast to the humble, utilitarian mug.

Spork: To some, the mutated spook/form combo might qualify as an technologically advanced utensil; I still think of it as a very basic, almost primitive tool, just one cleverly modified.

whistleWhistle: You've fallen and you can't get up. This 1-oz. piece of plastic will outlast your larynx by many hours.

trowelTrowel and toilet paper: These days the trusty trowel comes in plastic, nylon or dirt-busting stainless steel. If you're not using leaves, TP is still tissue paper with a purpose.

REI Flash 18Rucksack: Before daypacks and backpacks got tricked out with frame innovations and space age materials, there was the basic rucksack: a bag with 2 shoulder straps. I've been won over by REI's retro Flash 18 pack series; light and crunchable, and so handy for day trips from a backcountry base camp.

Duct tape: Its backcountry do-it-all variant is Tenacious Tape.

That's a dozen low-tech items and I haven't even gotten to Moleskin yet. Which of these low-tech items do you find most useful on your backcountry jaunts, and what other items would you add to this list?

Posted on at 2:03 PM

Tagged: Gear, high-tech and low-tech

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Forget the Moleskin. Give Leukotape a try and you'll never use anything else.

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Jens of Denmark

Toilet paper, you will never appreciate the value of it until you have done without for some days.

And remember to pack it dry


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