A Healthier Way to Camp: A Look at Fire Retardant Materials

 In Camp Notes

A healthier way to camp: A closer look at flame-retardant materials

Many of us go into the mountains to escape the city, to fill our lungs with the cleansing air of the forests. We set up our tents and sleep amongst the trees and beneath the stars, in order to be closer to nature, to leave feeling renewed by its comforting silence and pristine beauty. It may come as a surprise for many to learn that most industry-made shelters we bring into our forests may actually be causing some harm. Most backpacking tents on the market are coated with chemicals and include additives that can have potentially negative effects on not only ourselves but also the habitats we bring them into.  

Harmful chemicals? Tell me more.

You may be wondering why tents are even made with a chemical coating, to begin with, and what that means for us campers. Well, it turns out that flame retardant chemicals are applied to almost every tent in North America in order to meet flammability standards that were created in 1976. Although the standards were revised in 1995, they are still years behind the game and greatly in need of another revision. During the 70s, highly flammable paraffin coated materials were used, much different from the synthetic materials used in modern tent designs. Simply put, these flammability standards were at one time necessary, protecting the unwitting campers from losing their highly flammable tents to a stray spark. So what does this mean for you today? Although your tent will still be less likely to go up in smoke if you pitch it a bit too close to the flames, we now know that you are risking exposure to flame retardant chemicals which have been linked to several negative health effects. In a recent study from Duke University, exposure to high levels of organophosphate flame retardants occurred during the setup and break down of tents, as well as during inhalation while inside of the tents. This means that the fresh air you came to the woods in search of, might not be so fresh after all.

What is being done to change the game?

Diamond Brand, along with several other leaders in the outdoor industry, is making big moves to use current knowledge and updated fabrics to build eco-friendly tents without the use of any flame retardant chemicals. Why is Diamond Brand choosing to build a non-flame retardant tent? Simply to give you and your family a choice in how you camp! One small step you can take towards creating a healthier camping experience is taking shelter in a non-flame retardant tent, like the Freedome 2 1/2. An environmentally friendly option, built in the Carolina mountains, that benefits you and your family, as well as the great outdoors!