Backcountry Gear To Save Your Life, And The World

Clean water, light, and cooked meals all with almost no resources

Camping Gear for the greater good

Camping gear for the greater good

Photograph by Jarren Vink

Cooking burgers, purifying water, and lighting a campsite all require cleverly designed gear. But that doesn’t have to be exclusive to the backcountry. Similar conditions exist all over the developing world. Now the gear that outdoor companies have spent years developing for adventurers and survivalists are playing important roles in low-resource areas.

1. GoSun Sport

GoSun's portable solar stove was designed for car camping and barbecues. Para­bolic reflectors surround and heat a borosilicate glass tube--which holds your food of choice--up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. In full sun, it can cook a hot dog in less than 10 minutes. Last winter the company brought a less-expensive model of the stove to Guatemala, where it reduced cooking costs significantly. $249

2. MSR SE200 Community Chlorine Maker

For 25 years MSR has made lightweight, portable water filters for backpackers and U.S. soldiers. It has now employed that expertise to create the SE200. It's a chlorinator that uses table salt, water, and a 12-volt car battery to make enough chlorine to kill waterborne pathogens, turning a 55-gallon drum of tainted water drinkable. Health workers will use it to supply remote villages with clean water. $239

3. GravityLight

Kerosene lanterns are standard in developing countries. But they're expensive and emit deadly fumes. The World Bank estimates that for the 780 million women and children who breathe them in, it's like smoking 40 cigarettes a day. To clear the air, GravityLight's upcoming GL02 powers lanterns with kinetic energy. A 12-kilogram weight hanging from the lantern drops 6 feet on a high-torque drive sprocket, which connects to a DC generator. A three-second drop powers an LED for 20 minutes. The company has tested it in more than 1,300 off-grid households. Price not set

This article was originally published in the August 2015 issue of Popular Science, under the title "Backcountry Gear To Save Your Life--And The World."

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