Compact camping

By Abbe Miller

October 2009 - These days, casual camping can consist of some pretty heavy packing. There are air mattresses to make sleeping under the stars a little more restful, portable TVs to make the outdoors a little more entertaining, and prepackaged and sharpened marshmallow sticks to make enjoying a campfire a little less sticky. With all of the equipment available today, roughing it is hardly the case. The hardest part is lugging all of that gear to the campsite.

For the the true outdoorsman, though, the purpose of camping is to be one with nature. It's not about bringing the conveniences and comforts of home to the forest. You won't find a collapsible love seat in his gear. A tent, on the other hand, is an essential item. And, if there's a hike involved, a lightweight tent is a plus.

To the top of the world
When it comes to the creme-de-la-creme of outdoor extremists, such as those who might climb the likes of K2 and Mount Everest, if it isn't an absolute survival necessity, these individuals won't consider bringing it along. When they're about to embark on a 29,000-foot endeavor, they want the lightest tent available. Easton-Bell Sports, Van Nuys, Calif., the company that has made its name making aluminum baseball bats, also develops advanced carbon and aluminum tent poles. The tubing used is lightweight and durable--so lightweight and durable that according to the Web site for Easton Poles, Salt Lake City, "virtually every Everest expedition relies on Easton tent tubes, and Easton poles are specified for all Marine Corps combat shelters."

For those who consider camping a leisure activity, a tent is simply a place to find shelter from the rain and wildlife. For those who use Easton products, the durability of their tents can be the difference between life and death. With the high winds a climber can experience in what has been dubbed the "death zone" on Mount Everest--above 26,000 feetÑan inferior tent could be turned into kindling, leaving its inhabitants exposed to some of the harshest conditions on Earth.

Extreme expeditions
According to the Easton Poles Web site, "Due to our proprietary processing and precision, Easton 7075-T9 has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any aluminum pole system available. Easton 7075-T9 aluminum poles have higher tensile strength than all 7001-alloy poles--period. Easton Carbon FX poles have a tensile strength more than twice that of Easton aluminum poles."

The company's expedition series poles boast 96,000-pounds-per-square-inch tensile strength for both the insert and main tubing material. The main tubes range in wall thickness from 0.025 inch to 0.026 inch. They have a scratch-resistant, hard-anodized surface and hard-anodized, bonded inserts, and they come in gold, black and silver. Custom colors are also available.

Easton's Web site says the company's quality, precision and strength are what deliver the products' lightweight, optimal performance. It goes on to say that they withstand high-stakes expeditions and extreme weather. And not to exclude the casual camper, Easton also says the tents are well-suited for weekend backpacking. MM






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