Camping equipment manufacturer Big Agnes has announced that it is now offering several of its tents with solution-dyed fabric, making them more environmentally friendly, and supposedly increasing their durability.
What exactly is solution dying? To explain it in the crudest of terms: When melting plastic for conversion into a textile, the manufacturer dyes it at at that point, instead of later dying the fabric itself. Other outdoor manufacturers are also experimenting with this technology, but it’s probably best-known from the world of carpet manufacturing. Obviously, the process is aimed at synthetics, not natural fibers like wool.
Why exactly does this matter? First of all, solution dying is supposed to be better for the environment. Big Agnes says the new process will “drastically reduce water and energy consumption during manufacturing.” Patagonia also uses solution dying on some of its products, and its website says “This process can result in up to 90% water use reduction and 96% CO2e savings overall compared to a conventional batch dyeing process (using synthetic dyes), with considerably less chemicals released from the overall process.”
If you aren’t concerned about emissions and water usage, there’s also a more practical benefit to Big Agnes’ customers. The new solution-dyed tents are supposed to have “high UV resistance.” That means your tent should last longer. This probably won’t be noticeable if you’re the kind of person who only uses their gear a few nights a year, and keeps it packed away otherwise. But if your camping is measured in weeks or months, not days, then this is a welcome feature.
Currently, Big Agnes offers solution dyeing for its Ultralight Fly Creek and Tiger Wall backpacking and bikepacking tents. For more details, head over to Big Agnes’ website to see its lineup. These tents are more expensive than the stuff you’ll find at Wal-Mart, for sure, but if you know your way around eBay and other second-hand sales sites, you can probably get a deal on one eventually, if you’re determined. As they’re new-for-2021, it might take them a while to trickle down through the network, though.