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#203354 - 08/20/19 11:48 AM Flame Wars of the Orange Persuasion
balzaccom Offline

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2001
Loc: Napa, CA
OK, it's true. When I started backpacking, I used a bright orange tube tent, and it served its purpose. And there's a reason that alpine shelters are bright orange. When you need a rescue in the snow, that orange color can help get you seen, found, and rescued.

But what does that have to do with backpackers today? Not much. And frankly, I've grown a little tired of seeing bright orange and yellow blobs of color decorating so many photogenic sites, as if they are posing for the cover of a magazine.

If we really subscribe to Leave No Trace principles, shouldn't that also apply to leaving the landscape views unmarred by glaringly unnatural colors? It's a little like those hikers in the Southwest who insist upon climbing up into the rock arches, and then staying there for hours, ruining every other hiker's hope for a more natural photo.

So when was the last time you saw a magazine photo of a backpacking camp that didn't feature day-glo colors blobbed onto the wilderness? That's hardly the epitome of the natural world. We hope that tent manufacturers will take note: stop polluting the views with your logoed eyesores.

Epic campsites? They should be quietly hidden in among the trees, where they can't be seen (and where you can also enjoy some shade during the day), not plopped into the view of every other hiker who makes the effort to enjoy the wilderness.

When I started making my own tents, I began with a neutral slate blue material. And then later on, I used an even lighter pale granite color. This was so successful that we once found that another group had set up their camp within 25 feet of ours, because they didn't realize that our tent was a tent, not a granite boulder among the trees.

And today, I have to give kudos to our Tarptent. I'm delighted with the performance of the tent. And I'm delighted that it fades nicely into the landscape with its soft grey color. LNT indeed.

check out our website and blog:

#203356 - 08/20/19 01:14 PM Re: Flame Wars of the Orange Persuasion [Re: balzaccom]
grit Offline

Registered: 01/11/02
Posts: 213
Loc: Happy Jack, AZ
I've used the original Tarptent Cloudburst for years and I concur. It's muted, grayish tone helps me to feel as part of the forest/wilderness rather than as an intrusion.

#203358 - 08/20/19 02:26 PM Re: Flame Wars of the Orange Persuasion [Re: balzaccom]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6728
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
The Seven Principles of Leave No Trace

#7 Be Considerate of Other Visitors This has been a part of LNT principles ever since I can remember!

"Bright clothing and equipment, such as tents, that can be seen for long distances, are discouraged. Especially in open natural areas, colors such as day-glow yellow may contribute to a crowded feeling; consider earth-toned colors (i.e., browns and greens) to lessen visual impacts."

Kudos to Tarptent and other "cottage" firms whose tents are "silnylon gray" or the nearest equivalent in cuben fiber!

I do recommend reflective guy lines (Tarptent already uses them) as they do aid considerably in finding the tent at night!

Finding outdoor clothing--or even city clothing--in "earth toned colors" is difficult if not impossible.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#203361 - 08/21/19 03:33 AM Re: Flame Wars of the Orange Persuasion [Re: balzaccom]
Bill Kennedy Offline

Registered: 02/27/18
Posts: 269
Loc: Portland, Oregon
This bugs me, too.

Years ago, my first high-quality tent was a North Face Tuolumne, quite different from the one that currently bears that name. It was an A-frame, double-wall tent (this was before they started using lots of mesh) and it was just about perfect, though heavy by today's standards. The floor and fly were "taupe," sort of brownish, and the inner canopy was gold, which made for a nice sunny feel. It also had a tunnel entrance, so no zipper to worry about. It weighed about six pounds (2-person), but made with modern materials could probably be reduced to four or less. I wish they would.

The clothing thing bugs me less from the LNT perspective than from simple taste. I've often seen things in stores that I might've bought if they hadn't been so gaudy.

I can't decide if I've achieved the wisdom that comes with age, or if I'm just an old fuddy-duddy.
Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everybody else. -Margaret Mead

#203449 - 09/10/19 08:56 PM Re: Flame Wars of the Orange Persuasion [Re: OregonMouse]
wgiles Offline

Registered: 05/19/14
Posts: 180
Loc: Central Illinois near Springfi...
If Geraldine Largay had had a bright orange tent, would she be alive today? I don't know the answer, but it is difficult to predict when you will want to be found.

#203450 - 09/11/19 05:40 AM Re: Flame Wars of the Orange Persuasion [Re: wgiles]
PerryMK Offline

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1225
Loc: Florida panhandle
I admit to using an orange pack cover and wearing an orange t-shirt while hiking. My excuse is I live and hike in Florida where hiking season/areas and hunting season/areas overlap. I've actually had a hunter thank me for my abundance of orange.

#203451 - 09/11/19 12:57 PM Re: Flame Wars of the Orange Persuasion [Re: PerryMK]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6728
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Yes, during hunting seasons, at least firearm hunting seasons, blaze orange for us hikers is a must. Bow hunters have to get close enough that they can tell a human from a game animal, so I don't worry much about them.

When I found out that cougar season here is year-around, I made sure the late Hysson (my avatar), too much like a cougar in color, was always in bright colors.

I was able to find a couple of blaze orange vests on sale at 2 for $5. (Note--that was 15 years ago, so probably at least double that now.) They were big enough to fit over me and my pack. I wore one and cut down the other for Hysson.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#203453 - 09/12/19 02:32 PM Re: Flame Wars of the Orange Persuasion [Re: OregonMouse]
tramp Offline

Registered: 01/24/12
Posts: 98
Loc: WV
I like a green or tan tent. Unless hunting I stay out of the woods around here during hunting season.

#203454 - 09/12/19 04:20 PM Re: Flame Wars of the Orange Persuasion [Re: balzaccom]
Glenn Roberts Offline

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1896
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Well, when I first started backpacking, I had 2 little kids and a mortgage - so I couldn't afford to be a "color snob." smile Sure, my preference was always muted colors (except for an orange hat in hunting season) - but I wasn't going to stay home because the only pack I could afford was bright red.

Later, with the kids and the mortgage gone, I did give more weight to choosing subtler colors. (At one point, I was threatened with the trail name "Amish" because of my predominantly black and grey clothing and gear. The best compliment I ever got was when I stepped off the trail and startled an oncoming hiker when I said hello - she didn't see me because I blended into the brush and trees, and I wasn't even wearing camo.) However, I still used my red Hubba tent with the grey fly, just because it was such a great tent; I'd have used it if it was striped purple and yellow. (I did replace it with green, when that option became available.)

Now, I've found my own version of Nirvana: really good gear, all of which is subdued: green tent with grey fly, grey pack, gray and subtle blue clothing, gray pad and sleeping bag, etc. I far prefer it, and think that the manufacturers are getting the message - although Osprey still manages to come up with creatively colorful packs that make me wonder, and MSR is back to red body as the only Hubba option...

#203455 - 09/13/19 11:35 AM Re: Flame Wars of the Orange Persuasion [Re: balzaccom]
4evrplan Offline

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 839
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
I'm constantly surprised by what other people don't like. The brightly colored camping gear never bothered me, neither mine nor others. It brings to mind an online rant I read about wagon tracks someone found worn into the bedrock in the mountains near LA (sorry, can't remember where I read it - it was years ago). The writer was clearly angry about the scar humans had left on the landscape, but to me it just adds to the charming history. The notion of a completely untouched pristine wilderness is fantasy.

EDIT: Having said that, I don't like noise pollution like when people listen to music out loud on their phones in public.

Edited by 4evrplan (09/13/19 11:36 AM)
The journey is more important than the destination.

#203456 - 09/13/19 12:42 PM Re: Flame Wars of the Orange Persuasion [Re: balzaccom]
GrumpyGord Offline

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 926
Loc: Michigan
If I remember correctly Ray Jardine devoted some time to the subject of using whatever was serviceable and cheap. He talked about weird colors which he used just because they were cheap and available. Folks are out there to enjoy the outdoors and should not be out there to make a fashion statement. For me and most other folks there is a limit to how weird our choices can be and also what our budget can stand. Obviously given a choice between chartreuse pants and neutral colors at a reasonable price break most of us will go for the neutral color but if it is a difference between wearing weird colors or staying home the better choice is to just ignore the fashion police.

#203457 - 09/13/19 01:04 PM Re: Flame Wars of the Orange Persuasion [Re: GrumpyGord]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6728
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
It's true that the weird, garish colors are the ones that go on sale and become affordable at the end of the season. That explains why my Montbell wind shirt is the color of wine vomit--discontinued color at half the original price. It's one of my favorite garments because of its versatility, but I try very hard not to look at it!

It's the "fashion police" who promote the latest in those awful colors!

Edited by OregonMouse (09/13/19 01:12 PM)
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey


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