Eco Camping

By Camper Dale.

It seems that a lot of people are looking for eco-friendly alternatives for traditional camping gear. There’s a lot of new technology out there that makes camping green even easier. Here’s some ideas we’ve developed over the years that were green before green was in vogue. The way I see it, we’ve done nothing but eco camping from day one. Obvious “tricks” include many no-brainers like “Don’t leave anything behind”. Pack it in, pack it out. Simple. I’ve been reading and heeding those signs for years.  Another — minimize plastic and food packaging. Don’t burn plastic or treated wood or anything else that could leave chemicals in or around the fire pit.  Be careful with waste water. Dump it in the outhouse, not in the woods or lake. Use eco-friendly soaps and detergents and don’t wash in the lake or stream. Don’t trample plants, stay on the trails. Don’t put nails into trees or cut branches for marshmallow sticks. All good tips.

So, maybe we should go beyond the behavior related eco tips and delve into some of the new technologies.


I was looking for a replacement for my old old Coleman liquid-fueled lantern. I almost went with a propane or a traditional dual fuel Coleman lantern. I saw some interesting LED models that had solar cells and cranks. These, if they have a similar lifetime to traditional fueled lanterns, could be a very green solution to an old-style lantern. One advantage is that they are silent (except when you’re cranking). I’ve always disliked the constant gurgle and hiss of fueled lanterns. Too noisy. And when you finally turn them off, what a wonderful silence. I’d like that silence all the time. I think I’m going to try solar and LED. I’ll let you know how durable they are. I get 20 or more years out of a fueled lantern — We’ll see how these new-fangled ones match up.

UPDATE: LED lanterns have a long way to go before they’ll be replacing my old lantern. They put out anywhere from 150 to 300 lumens. Takes some getting used to. If you have poor night vision they become almost unusable. My old dual-mantel Coleman lantern puts out about 1700 lumens. Also, the LED lanterns are very light and made of plastic. They blow over easily in a breeze and crack if you pack them too tight. So if you think you can get by on one tenth the light output, are careful about handling and packing, and don’t mind chasing your lantern around in a windy woods, LED is a good alternative.

On a brighter note, my LED headlamp and CREE flashlight are awesome. The flashlight puts out a focusable spot over 200 lumens and it runs on 1 AA battery. Amazing flashlight. And for cooking, and other two-hands type activity, the headlamp puts the light right where you need it. Great addition to your camp gear.


Batteries and Solar Alternatives

It seems like the gear we carry with biggest environmental impact is batteries. Many of the things we take along with us are run by batteries. Recently I’ve noticed some rechargeable battery packs with solar chargers. Sounds like a winner. Less weight to carry and these can keep my camera, cell phone, flashlight and other devices topped off and available on a camping trip that doesn’t include electricity. So, I bought a solar battery charger and battery set at Costco to try it out. It seems to work at my house, but I’ve not tested it in the field. I’ll report back as soon as I have some results.


More on these later:

> Food packaging

> The incredible shrinking food box.

> Camp Kitchens

> Sleeping Bags and Tents

> Other gear

Speak Your Mind