In the old days, rugged adventurers had it rough. They slept under the stars on hard ground. They froze in the winter, baked in the summer, and soaked in the rain.
But us modern wimps have an easy time of things in the great outdoors thanks to polymers. Our stuff stays dry thanks to back packs like this one Nick is wearing. It's made of nylon. To keep your shoulders from chafing, its straps are padded with polyurethane foam.
More importantly, WE can stay dry, and we can stay warm thanks to this Gore-Tex jacket. Gore-Tex is made out of polytetrafluoroethylene and polyurethanes. It keeps water out, but lets sweat evaporate. It can do this because it has pores which are too small for liquid water drops to pass through, but big enough for water vapor to evaporate through them. Nifty, huh?
This tent is made of nylon. So is this sleeping bag. If you don't want to put your sleeping bag on hard ground you may want to put down a pad underneath it, like this pad made out of polyurethane foam.
As long as we're getting back to nature, let's take a look at some natural polymers. They're not all synthetic, you know. This hiking boot has a lot of leather in it. Leather is made up of proteins. The soles have many layers, and for cushioning there is natural rubber. This is a polymer that grows on trees, hevea brasilensis trees to be exact. Chemists call it polyisoprene. But this boot also has a lot of synthetic polymers in it, too. The very bottom of the sole is made of a hard synthetic rubber called SBS.
The laces are made of nylon.
In the old days, many Rocky Mountain streams were so clean you could safely drink out of them. Today they're too polluted, so you have to take your own water in this polyethylene water jug. Speaking of water, if you have to walk through it, you might need these polyisoprene waders to keep your feet dry.
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