Ahh trees; sustainers of wildlife, cleaners of the air and really nice places for building forts and hanging hammocks. They also happen to be an amazing, renewable source of material used in construction since the dawn of human civilization. With Arbor Day right around the corner we celebrate the glorious tree, maker of the forest and provider of raw material for these seven outdoor oriented products.
The vast majority of skateboards and longboards are made from wood. A newcomer to the industry, Crescent Moon is known mostly for their work in snowshoes. They’ve begun building longboards using super green techniques in Colorado. There’s lots of fun to be had aboard this short distance commuting option that began life as a tree.
Much like skis, the majority of snowboards have a wood core and sometimes even topsheets and more. What name could be more perfect for Arbor Day than Arbor Collective, a California company that designs Snowboards (and skateboards) using environmentally sound practices since 1995. Yet with boards like their all-mountain rockered Roundhouse RX, environmental savvy does not mean skimping on performance.
Wenger use sustainable Swiss-made walnut in their EvoWood series of knives. The wood is truly rescued in that it would otherwise be waste material, but is instead used for handles. This full line of utility knives ranges from $55 to $159.
Ok, so this one may come as a surprise to may, however several companies are now building not just wooden framed bikes but even wooden wheels for cycling. These are usually not extremely high performance, however completely functional, fun bicycles for a variety of terrain. Check out designs from Calfee, Renovo and Connor Cycles for a start. Many designs are also available for handy individuals who’d like to build one at home.
Most downhill and many cross country skis use wood cores. One company has found a way to use wood that would otherwise be wasted in their cores. I had a chance to test Meier Skis all-mountain ski The Doc this winter and was mighty impressed with their responsiveness, agility and overall fun-factor. The best part though is that Grand Junction-based company uses plentiful beetle-killed pine for their Made in the USA skis, turning potential waste and fire hazard into awesome powder planks for us ski bums.
Yes, fiberglass has become the dominant material in boat building during the last 30 or so years. Still, nothing beats a wood boat for craftsmanship, beauty and warmth. I have personally restored an ocean cruising wooden trimaran and can attest to the strength, workability and performance of a material that has been used in boat building from the beginning.
Bows and Arrows
Humans have hunted with bow and arrow for a long, long time. Modern bows use composite materials and mechanical advantages to increase arrow speed and performance, but for target practice and back-to-basics hunting nothing matches the recurve or longbow. Couple this with some wooden arrows and you’ve got technology that has worked effectively since the days of cavemen. Thank you trees!