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General Gear Discussion The General Gear Discussion forum is for the discussion of traditional and lightweight (ultralight) backpacking gear that is not covered in other Practical Backpacking™ forums. [Please post about Backpacks, Shelters, Sleeping Gear, Backcountry Kitchen (Food, Stoves) in those respective forum areas.]

View Poll Results: Does Gear Color Matter?
Yes, it matters 106 42.06%
Somewhat 128 50.79%
No, not at all 18 7.14%
Voters: 252. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-28-2013, 12:36 AM
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Bushwalker Bushwalker is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Associate Member
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: New South Wales
Posts: 275

Down in one of the southern states of Australia a couple of years ago (it was either Victoria or South Australia), a "professional" hunter shot another (who was wearing his proper blaze orange colours at the time..) from a couple of hundred feet away, because he thought he was looking at a deer...

Just goes to show that that you need not only some brightly coloured clothes, but also have to trust that all those hunters have reasonably good eyesight..
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Old 07-06-2013, 01:02 AM
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Flyingyetiman Flyingyetiman is offline
Practical Backpacking™ Regular Member
Backpack: Mountainsmith Circuit 3.0
Sleeping Gear: Western Mountaineering Ultralite bag, Prolite 3 Short pad, Sea to Summit Reactor liner
Shelter: Tarptent Sublite Sil
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Just South of Yosemite
Posts: 89
Function and price are more important to me than color, but sometimes the color is part of the function. Others in this thread have already covered the usefulness of bright colors for small items (to prevent loss) or bright colors for things like climbing helmets (to aid in being found and rescued if necessary). I like the fact that my Therm-a-Rest Prolite 3 Short sleeping pad is orange on top, because it's big enough to be useful to wave around as a signal device if necessary, but it's generally contained in a shelter where it won't bother anyone else.

When possible, I choose muted earthy colors to blend in, but I also consider temperature. I prefer light khaki for sun protection, because it reflects heat better than darker colors and hides dirt better (and is easier on the eyes) than white. Conversely, I prefer darker colors for insulating layers, because they absorb more heat from the sun. But I've found recently that I've overdone it. I'm really sick of digging around in a stuff sack, trying to distinguish between half a dozen clothing items that are all black! (Can't tell my glove liners from my base layer bottoms from my zip turtleneck, etc.) I've also found that a lighter colored pack or stuff sacks/dry bags makes it easier to see items inside.

I'm torn on the shelter and backpack issue. I like to respect other people's desire for solitude and have my tent blend in, but I'm a bit concerned about going on a water run or potty trip and not being able to find my way back to my tent! I like my Tarptent's compromise of using a drab grey-green fabric but also using reflective cordage. My pack is a similar scheme of forest green with large grey panels, so it's not obnoxious but can be found when really looking. But if I was stuck in a tent for an extended period during a storm, I'd prefer that it be a more cheery color, like yellow. Can't have everything, I guess.

My loudest item is my Helly Hanson Mars "jacket" (wind shirt, really), but it has fabulous functionality and I got it for a great price. It's in my pack most of the time, but again, could be used as a signal device if necessary. I think it's important to have at least a couple of fairly large items for that purpose, because you never know...
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Old 07-07-2013, 11:24 PM
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GGervin GGervin is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Forums Moderator
Backpack: Gregory Shasta, Deuter ACT Lite 65+10
Sleeping Gear: REI ThermoPod +0 mummy, MH 3D +40 mummy
Shelter: SD Superflash, GoLite Hut 1
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: California
Posts: 436
I've already weighed in with the opinion "natural" color is best, and "bright" is offensive though occasionally useful safetywise. It just occurred to me I did see one instance of "natural" being taken too far.

Some years ago, The North Face issued an anniversary version of it's famous VE-25. The rainfly was speckled light grey - exactly the color of granite. I saw one in a catalog. This was interesting, because the geodesic dome shape sort of resembled a big granite boulder in the first place. I thought it was very cool, and really wanted one. I figured living inside a tent that looked like a boulder would be the ultimate in stealth camping.

It was removed from sale pretty fast. I asked someone why, and supposedly there were complaints the tent blended in too well with fields of granite boulders. The claim was some hikers lost their campsites after hiking away for the day. On return, they couldn't tell which were boulders and which was the tent...

So I guess the natural color/camo thing can be taken too far. (Even though I personally would still really like a tent that looks like a boulder.)
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Old 07-09-2013, 08:06 PM
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richwads richwads is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Associate Member
Shelter: Tarp
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: California
Posts: 483
I used to be picky - wanting earth tones mostly. It seems color choices are less available now, with bright colors and pastels the only choice, so I rationalize those colors as OK, considering that visibility is sometimes a virtue.

If I don't want to stand out, I pick appropriately colored gear from my stockpile.
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Old 08-03-2013, 07:35 PM
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steady steady is offline
Practical Backpacking™ New Member
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 4
With so many good comments I may be repeating since I haven't read all, sorry if so. Color is a matter of preference, so go with what makes you happy, remember... . On the practical side, during hunting season being seen is vitally important to ones safety. Another practical consideration is when the flowers are out bees follow scent, when the flowers go bees are attracted by bright colors since there is little pollen to attract. That means you may be tested with a stinger to see if you are useful to them. Not a good thing in the wild, especially if there is a swarm of bees. When it comes to items inside the pack, color codes are great and brightness means things are not over looked when packing in the morning. I've lost and found gear that was stored in green bags that disappeared in plain sight.
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Old 02-19-2014, 05:44 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
PBF Administrator & PB Podcast Host
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Oregon
Posts: 4,954
Originally Posted by GGervin
So I guess the natural color/camo thing can be taken too far. (Even though I personally would still really like a tent that looks like a boulder.)
For me, it depends on the application. If I want to blend in, it works. If I want to stand out, then I'd pass on it.

Here's an example of one of my personal practices for accomplishing both covert and overt:

In the past, I've used a bright orange groundsheet under my tent that could be pulled out and fastened over the top of my shelter (or spread nearby in a clearing) if and when I wanted to reveal my location.

The groundsheet was completely hidden by the shelter, but could easily be used for getting attention.

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Old 12-19-2014, 01:23 PM
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RedSoxFan RedSoxFan is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 15
Matter, No, but I do have a preference

I like natural greens/browns which blend in. I do not like simulating a neon sign when in the woods. If it is hunting season, I will put on orange, though.
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Old 12-20-2014, 11:05 AM
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Haclil Haclil is offline
Practical Backpacking™ Regular Member
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Posts: 150
Here are my reasons for preferring camo gear or at least gear whose colors blend in with the landscape:

~ Sometimes I make ad hoc gear caches when I want to do a little loop hike without carrying much weight.

~ I stalk animals with my camera occasionally and don't want to get into the debate whether or not they can see colors.

~ There are times when I don't know whether the local bedouin are trustworthy, so I want to be relatively invisible. (At those times I also make a demi-camp before nightfall and then move to a different location after dark! And no campfire of course.)

For emergencies where I would want to attract attention, say from a rescue helicopter, I usually carry an emergency blanket.
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