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Field Notes: The Latest Word from Our Testers

The green truth behind bamboo, a hyper-efficient cookpot, and a bargain three-person tent.
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Tech4o Traileader | Under Armour Cold Gear Base 2.0 | Crazy Creek Backpacker Lite AIR | Bridgedale Ventum Light Hiker | Primus EtaPower 1.7L Pot | High Sierra Explorer 55 | ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 3 | Green Scene

GREEN SCENE
Lightening your planetary load

Bamboo has generated a lot of buzz as a sustainable material for performance fabrics. It’s a weed that grows remarkably fast–up to three feet a day–without irrigation, fertilizers, or pesticides. It also regenerates quickly, reaches maturity in four years, doesn’t require replanting, and when spun into rayon (the most common form of bamboo used in fabrics), it feels silky, resists odor, wicks well, and breathes. But while bamboo itself is inarguably green, the process of turning plant into fabric is far from benign. To make rayon, bamboo pith (found in the center of the plant) and leaves are cooked with toxic chemical solvents, including sodium hydroxide (caustic soda or lye) and carbon disulfide.

The good news: Though the treatment described above is currently the most common in the industry, new bamboo processing techniques are in the works. One relies on alcohol and hydrogen (which are less harmful) in a closed-loop system, which means that virtually all of the chemicals used in the process are reclaimed or reused, and hence kept out of the environment. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find anyone in the outdoor biz using this new process. Until it’s widely adopted, bamboo won’t be quite as green as it looks.

Tech4o Traileader | Under Armour Cold Gear Base 2.0 | Crazy Creek Backpacker Lite AIR | Bridgedale Ventum Light Hiker | Primus EtaPower 1.7L Pot | High Sierra Explorer 55 | ALPS Mountaineering Zephyr 3 | Green Scene

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