I laughed out loud today at reports of how the summer Outdoor Retailer (OR) trade show is going. Somehow the Hummer marketing folks slipped in a test drive of the Hummer H3 sport utility vehicle. Tread Lightly was there as well (the powersport version of Leave no Trace.)
The powers that be at OR (as well as many of the show’s participants) like to think they’re involved in some kind of green revolution, what with the human powered sports much of their industry supports. I mean, where else can you follow green painted footsteps to find someone who makes jackets out of recycled plastic? Thus, the fact OR hosted a Hummer promo raised a few eyebrows.
But reality, as they say, bites. Fact is you don’t see that many Prius hybrids at backcountry trailheads. From what I’ve seen parked in the backcountry (and at the OR show), the OR type of person’s vehicle of choice is either a boxy Subaru type of all-wheel-drive car, or yes Lord forbid an SUV (including pickup trucks)! In fact, lots of SUVs…
Yep, people who hike, climb and backpack also drive. And many drive SUVs and trucks. Perhaps the enviro-whiners at OR don’t know their motorhead Ps and Qs? The Hummer H3 promoted at OR is little more than another roomy SUV with enough undercarriage clearance for rough roads leading to the trailheads (where our incredibly green recreation begins). It’s not the Hummer of yore, which was basically a consumerized military vehicle that gulped fuel like a dry horse at a desert stock tank. H3 still likes gas, but of similar thirst to most other SUV’s of its size — like the ones you see at the trailheads and parked at the OR show.
As for OR, if they really want to save the world, what better way then working with the automobile industry and associated outfits such as Tread Lightly? By being involved rather than turning up their collective noses (as they turn their steering wheels anyway) the outdoor industry can show the auto industry that the human powered crowd likes capable backcountry automobiles, but wants them as eco friendly as possible.
Influence is a collective thing. No one outfit, neither the 1,000 pound gorilla Sierra Club nor less weighty OR, is going to cause auto makers to give us off-pavement ready but vastly greener autos. Yet each vote counts. Thus, I consider it bold and forward thinking for OR to allow more automotive content at their show. Yep, perhaps we’ll see that Prius lift kit sooner rather than later.