Design of Backpacking Tent Accessories through the Lens of Wilderness Medicine
Baranak, Andrew Stephen
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Wilderness medicine is a practice that focuses on medical incidents such as the cuts, stings, sprains, and bruises can happen at any time when participating in outdoor recreation. While these medical events would often be minor concerns in day-to-day life, they can quickly escalate to very serious situations when out in the wilderness, hence the need for a unique field of medicine. These potential complications are due to the remote nature of these trips – meaning injuries stay untreated longer - and the increased presence of bacteria and viruses, especially when dealing with a cut or laceration. Often times in the wilderness, these medical situations need to be dealt with in a very improvised manner and few pieces of gear are designed specifically for this, meaning that any available supplies or equipment may need to be repurposed. Furthermore, there is a good chance that if a wilderness medical situation occurs, that the individual will have reduced physical abilities in some way, shape, or form. With this knowledge in hand, a thought experiment was devised: what can be learned about tents and tent usage if examined from a non-traditional perspective, such as that of wilderness medicine? Wilderness medicine provides a very interesting and complex “lens” to examine tents through because most of the time it addresses worst-case scenarios – the outliers. Similar to Universal Design, if designs are focused more on these outlying medical situations – things that can result in reduced mobility, strength, and awareness, to name a few – then it follows that accommodation could be improved for all other users. More so, the possibility even exists that the tent, or aspects of the tent, could actually play an active role in addressing wilderness medical scenarios. The goal of this project is just that, to first examine tents and all of the intangibles associated with them through this “lens” of wilderness medicine. Once completed, the second phase is to examine the information gathered and apply this knowledge to the creation of new products or components related to current tent technology. The ideal outcome is a new tent whose refinements and innovations improve a tent’s usability in a wide variety of situations.