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  D e s e r t   E x p o s u r e  September 2010


The Top 15 Outdoor Inventions

From duct tape to the trusty bow and arrow, here are inventions that make getting out and about easier.


There it was: The sole of my very best waterproof boots had separated from the body for about four inches right under the toe. Drat!

The shoe repairman said that it could not be fixed, but if I wanted to try, I could use some Liquid Nails to bond it back; it might work.

And so I did, and the dad-blamed thing was still holding after a mile trial walk. But would it hold for deer season and inclement weather? What if the bond let go when I was far from camp?

That's when I decided that I would carry some duct tape, just in case, and that's also when my thoughts drifted to what a wonderful invention duct tape was (or, as some would call it, "duck tape").

After all, duct tape can be used for all kinds of repairs: a rip in a tent or dining tarp; a tear in clothing; to repair and bind up a broken rifle stock; to stop a leak in a radiator hose; even as a binding for a splint if a limb is injured or broken. The list could be endless.

Those thoughts, in turn got me to cogitatin' about other great outdoor inventions, and I came up with 14 others to make my all-time 15 greatest. One is a product of God; the others are products of man:

  1. Fire — Probably the greatest outdoor boon to man; it's gotta be number one. Why, we can cook with it, defend ourselves with it, keep warm, and just sit in front of it and be soothed and mesmerized. We can use it to signal for help and keep mosquitoes away in the evening.
  2. Matches and propane lighters — Take a few of these along and you don't have to much fret about not having fire. These could very well save a person's life! Add a can of sterno and you've got instant fire anywhere!
  3. Goretex — What a miracle product! From hats to footwear, we can now be bone-dry, no matter how wet or bad the weather gets. And since it "breathes," our sweat no longer can make us wetter than the rain!
  4. Nylon — This material is/has almost replaced leather, vinyl, wool and cotton as outerwear. It is way more enduring than all of the above, as well as lighter in weight, and can be used in tents, ground cloths, dining canopies, hiking shoes, jackets, backpacks and on and on and on.
  5. Plastic — Like nylon, this is a petroleum byproduct. There are simply too many plastic products to name, but two that come to mind that I use are water purifier bottles and common garbage bags.
  6. The bow and arrow — What a great tool! These have been around in one form or the other since the dawn of man, and they are just as useful today as long ago. They can be used to collect food as well as for protection, and today, their most popular use is in competitive shooting.
  7. The Gun — What any bow and arrow can do, the hand-held firearm can do a hundred times better. Did you know that far more guns are used for recreational shooting than for killing? Think about that. Ever since they were first invented, mankind has been shooting them to see who was the very best.
  8. Velcro — Another wonder invention! So long to safety pins, buttons and other fasteners. Velcro is quickly adjustable, strong, pliable and suitable for a variety of chores. A one-inch-wide roll of it could be used as a sling, as a splint for an injury, to tie off pant legs against crawlies, etc.
  9. The knife — What self-respecting outdoors-person doesn't carry some sort of knife? And in today's outdoors, a utility/combination tool is even better! I'm never without one of each when I go a-trekkin'.
  10. Ziploc bags — This invention has saved my bacon more than once. Anytime I think I'm gonna encounter water of any kind, my valuables are safely tucked away in a baggie. Twice my wallet stayed nice and dry as I took dunks in river waters.
  11. Topo maps — These guys have saved me a time or two from getting lost. I also use them at home to scout out any area that I plan to be in.
  12. Global Positioning Surveyor — The good ol' GPS unit. My outdoor world changed when I bought my first one. If I've got one of these and a trusty topo, I can go almost anywhere and get back. It tells me within one yard, exactly where I am at, be it hiking, hunting or on my ATV.
  13. Rope — Almost forgot this one. It's probably as old as the bow and arrow, if not older. Whether it be eighth-inch parachute cord, or half-inch poly, this item is an outdoor necessity. I've used it to tow out my stuck truck, to tie down my tents and dining tarps, to tie deer onto my truck, to hoist both food and garbage into trees away from bears and such, and as an emergency leash for my dogs. A rope is among the "critical three" — rope, fire and a knife.
  14. Thinsulate — Last but not least is this wonder material; it is my first choice in insulation for my feet, my hands and my torso. It's in those hunting boots that I mentioned in the beginning. What makes it so special is that it is light, thin and will work when wet. It is far warmer and lighter in weight, ounce for ounce, than the old outdoor champ — wool.

Except for fire, the firearm and the bow, all of these items can easily be carried in a daypack and a person would be prepared for almost anything the outdoors could throw at him/her. Come to think of it, if one had a takedown bow or gun, he/she could even get that onto the pack!

Or, we do have such a thing as a handgun and a hand-crossbow. Strapped to our hip, we'd have complete mobility. Why, I've even watched the latest survival shows and they've even carried live fire along with them as they trekked. So I guess a body could carry all 15 inventions along!

Well, that's my 15 (counting duct tape); I'm sure you've already taken exception and come up with your own add-ons. I'd like to hear from you and see if they're worthy of the title of greatest outdoor inventions.

As always, keep the sun forever at your back, the wind forever in your face, and may The Forever God bless you too!

When not ramblin' outdoors, Larry Lightner stores his gear in Silver City.



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