I spend part of my time working for Productiv, a business dedicated to industrialising pioneering improvements in Low Carbon technologies for the car industry. I became involved following my work on autonomous vehicles that use location data to drive themselves.
An area of technology that is gathering pace to counter all other trends in the motor industry is “lightweighting”. Over the past decade advances in comfort and automation within the car have limited the benefits of more efficient engines by increasing the weight of the car. It seems the more automated the auto becomes, the more cabling it needs, the more electrical motors it needs and the more robust housing is needed to contain all these new gizmos. So we may gain from more efficient engines, but we lose a lot of that gain in just carting around more stuff.
The the hot topic that now covers materials and motors alike is “lightweighting”.
In the car industry it seems logical that a 10% reduction in the weight you carry will result in almost 10 % improvement in performance of the vehicle.
So why don’t we apply the same to our sports and leisure activities? Here are three things we can apply to improve our REALoutdoor adventures by lightweighting;
1) Reduce the bulk!
Firstly you can do away with the things you don’t need. Many of my mountain biking friends, for example, are coming to the conclusion that they needn’t upgrade from £500 bike to the £1000 when they could lightweight themselves by getting more exercise and watching what they eat! Why save half a kg by moving to an aluminium seat post if you can just remove the pot.
This may sound like a virtuous circle, but as anyone who tried to cut habits out of life… it’s not necessarily easy to achieve.
There are easier ways to lose bulk. Bulk involves volume. And the bigger and more awkward a thing is, the more material you need in which to house it and the more weight you are adding to your pack. Look at mapping cases often found around a walker’s neck! A SplashMap needs no case or any other additional support. Just leave that bulk behind!
2) Why carry products that do only one thing?
In some cars the breaking system now doubles-up as a regenerative dynamo, capturing lost energy from braking and putting this into a battery to use later. Increasingly components are finding second uses and subsequently other components can be dropped or reduced in weight. The same goes for our kit. Take a SplashMap; it’s not only a map, but it’s your protection against the weather, it’s a bandana or scraf for your comfort, it’s a planning took that carries your itinerary with you and is always on-hand. So why carry any additional material when the SplashMap has all this covered?
3) Just use lighter weight alternatives.
In the motor industry the revolution of moving from Steel to Aluminium and then Carbon fibre has translated into significant performance improvements, and we see the same in bikes now. But for maps, things have just got heavier! Paper maps were bad enough. An Ordnance Survey New Forest map weighs 130grams. The laminate map was created to make these pulpy maps slightly more damp tolerant. But the weight gain is enormous… doubling the weight of a paper map. Then came GPS devices with their modest sized screens which addressed the problem of keeping you centred, but these weigh over 220 grams!
A SplashMap covers the same area as the other printed maps, yet it weighs just 60g!
So with SplashMaps you’ve halved your mapping weight and you’ve replaced your bandana for something more useful. You literally cannot get a better lightweighting solution for navigation 😉