A reader contacted me about the survey at the top of this page with precisely that question.

Since I had never heard of geotextile before using it on a trip two years ago, she’s likely not the only one out there with this question. So I figured I’d share the short answer with the rest of you – and include a few pictures of geotextile in action.

According to the Society for Engineering in Agricultural, Food, and Biological Systems (ASAE), geotextile is a “fabric or synthetic material placed between the soil and a pipe, gabion, or retaining wall to enhance water movement and retard soil movement, and as a blanket to add reinforcement and separation.”

What does that have to do with Wilderness Volunteers work projects?

With a little resourcefulness, a whole lot. You see, the fabric is extremely strong and highly resistant to tearing.

In other words: 4 volunteers + 1 geotextile = move big rocks far no problem.

Take a look:

Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness, CO (2008)

Impressive…and not a single tear.

Better yet, true to the ASAE’s definition, geotextile can be used as a “blanket” – of sorts.

That’s ingenuity for you…and a heckuva tool. Not to mention a whole lot lighter to carry than a rock bar or a pulaski!