outdoors 101

Table of Contents

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Climbing
By Lisa Jennings

 

“In diversity, there is beauty and there is strength” -I forget but it’s damn good.

 

Disclaimer: I don’t have the answers; this is just how I’ve learned to contemplate, navigate, explore, gain strength, stumble, heal, cry, and laugh in climbing and other outdoor spaces. 

OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

Climbing is a feeling. It’s this innate and primal pull and curiosity to explore. I love that it can be as simple as you and a rock (or tree!). I also love that it can include complex anchor and rope systems that challenge our limits of organization, foresight, and trust. Arriving to a place, both mentally and physically, where I feel comfortable calling myself a climber and feeling at ease in climbing environments has been the greatest challenge of all though. 

climbing OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

LGBTQ+ and BIPOC in the Climbing World

 

The world of climbing is changing rapidly, but I argue, is still hetero-white-male centered/dominated. Yes, when I go to the gym these days, I increasingly see people of all shapes and colors. My local gyms host Queer Climb nights and give out stickers with rainbows professing to be yourself. It’s an honest effort to be more inclusive, but where does equity fit in? I think it has start with introspection on the part of the dominant culture. As a community, climbers (white and mostly male) need to reflect on their relative positions of power and their ability to create more welcoming atmospheres. It won’t be a comfortable process but is critical for more BIPOC, LGTBQ+, and other minoritized populations to feel as though they belong, specifically in rock climbing, and more generally, in the outdoors. 

 

So, how could this look in real life? It’s a tall order to ask anyone to look introspectively without any guidance, so gyms, climbing brands, and pros need to aid this effort. Nothing like consumer buy-in when people see a person, brand, or organization that they already respect taking part in or guiding an initiative. Thankfully, there are more professional climbers of color, who are part of the LGTBQ+ community, and/or are people with cognitive and/or physical disabilities. Yes, they can advocate and mentor; however, we also need allyship from those in the dominant culture. If the white-bro culture of climbing begins to shift fundamentally from within to be more inclusive, I believe more marginalized people will not only participate, but also thrive in climbing pursuits. 

climbing OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

What Can And Should We Do?

 

I’m not quiet, for one. I’ve learned to speak intelligently about the whats, whys, and hows of bigotry in the outdoors. This includes talking about the importance of changing derogatory route names and how stereotype threat is not reserved for academia. On the inside, I may be raging, but outwardly I try to calmly explain how these seemingly small occurrences can have long-term and devastating consequences for people who have historically been excluded from the outdoors. I submit suggested revisions for route names on Mountain Project and I write emails when I see microaggressions occurring at the gym. Recently, a group friends and I wrote emails addressing the increase in gym fees, as this practice will continue to create gaps in who has access to these spaces. 

Secondly, I travel in groups with people from similarly, or other minoritized, communities. Growing up in Virginia, I quickly learned there are places that I’m not welcome. Unfortunately, many of these remote and rural areas and nearby towns, are where some of the best climbing is. So, I remain aware of my surroundings, and travel with others. Thankfully, climbing typically requires a partner, so this generally isn’t an issue. Over the years, I’ve cultivated my “power stance” which is really just good posture, but it helps remind myself that I belong in these spaces. It looks like this- shoulders up and back, head and neck long, and I look forward. I actively tell myself not to be intimidated at gas stations, small cafes and bars, and markets. I belong.

 

Thirdly, and possibly in contrast to guideline #2, I’ve also learned to be as self-sufficient

 

as possible. This also aligns with how I travel in general as well as leave no trace principles, but it’s a safety mechanism. If I can avoid having to visit establishments in small, rural towns I will. I bring the necessary food, drinks, water, fuel, equipment, and other gear. Camping can be an issue as the best spots are often off the beaten path, leaving you in areas frequented by locals. I have yet to run into an issue camping in these types of places, but again, I remain aware of my surroundings, travel in groups, and do as much research about the area and nearby town as I can. 

climbing OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

Concluding Thoughts

Over the years, I’ve witnessed a shift in the climate of some small towns near crags toward a more welcoming atmosphere, but its slow and not universal. I fell in love with climbing over 10 years ago during a time when I was often the only women of color at a crag. 

climbing OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

Today, I cherish the experience of climbing with or near groups of all women, groups of color, and groups with people who don’t fit the 0% body fat category

Intro to Hiking & Camping
By Kimberly Lajoi

 

There is something special about being immersed in nature. Something physically, mentally, and emotionally rewarding about hiking to the top of a mountain. Or drinking water straight from a natural source. The air is cleaner. The views are better. It’s something spiritual. To those who have had little exposure to the outdoors but have been craving it on the inside “for some reason” – this guide is designed to get you started.

OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

SO YOU WANT TO GO ON A HIKE...

Almost anyone can hike! If you think you’ve never been hiking before, I’m sure you have and you just didn’t know it. A hike is a long walk…to anywhere. That’s it. Sounds simple, right? It is – to a degree.

Of course, it depends on where you want to go and what you’ll have to do to get there. Hiking down the street to your neighborhood park will be different from hiking a trail in a national park. Will you have to walk up a mountain? Will you have to walk through water? What will the weather be like? Will you be in the presence of wild animals? What are the rules of the land? These are some things you’ll need to think about. In some cases, you’ll have to travel prepared to survive. 

OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

Planning

To someone who has never hiked or camped off the beaten track, the thought of taking on either or both for the first time can be overwhelming. Some questions you might ask yourself are:  

1. Where will I go?  

2. What equipment will I need?  

3. Will I be safe?  

Preparation is key when venturing into the outdoors. Don’t stress! This guide will help you approach these questions with more confidence. Here are a few things to consider before you take on your first hike: 

OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

Are you in good physical health? Are you physically able?

  • Find appropriate trails for your fitness level. You may be able to walk around town without issue, but that doesn’t mean you can tackle a 10-mile trail up and down a mountain without preparation. While hiking is as simple as a long walk, in practice it can indeed be a strenuous physical activity.
  • Many local, state, and national parks throughout the globe have facilities and trails accessible for individuals with disabilities. Visit https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/accessibility.htm to learn more about the accessibility efforts of the U.S. National Parks Service. 

Who will you go with?

  • Solo – many solo hikers will tell you that enjoying nature on your own is very rewarding. You get an opportunity to reflect, be with yourself, and disconnect to reconnect.
    • Although with the right preparation you can safely and happily hike anywhere solo, if you are venturing out into bear country (or any other region where wildlife may be a concern), think safety in numbers. It is advisable to take a friend – not only for safety but also for the company!
  • Friends/Family – there’s nothing like exploring new places with the people we know and love! Hiking is a great bonding activity that could strengthen (or test) any relationship
  • Hiking Club – we’ve seen an abundance of hiking clubs that encourage certain groups of people to recreate outdoors emerge and flourish over the last few years. Chances are your home state has several local groups that you may align with. Hiking with a group is fun and allows you to embrace community in the outdoors. 

OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

Where will you go?

Type of Hikes:

  • Out & back – just like it sounds; you hike from A to B and back out to A.
  • Loop/Circuit – brings you back to your starting point without retracing your  steps; you hike from A to A
  • Thru/Through (End to End) – you hike from A and end at B, or C, or D and so on.
Geographic location:
 
  • Do you want to be in the mountains, forest, on an island, or on a paved trail? Identifying this preference helps you determine what gear you will need.
  • Other things to think about are length of trail, duration of hike, altitude and elevation gain

What will you need?

  • Clothing/GearPlan for variable weather (See Sample Packing List below)
    • Note that accessories like hiking boots and backpacks are not one size fits all accessories. What might be good for a friend might not work for you. Our bodies are made differently so equipment fits us differently.
      • Spend time walking around, comparing and testing out different gear. Make sure your backpack fits well around your waist and shoulders so that the weight in your pack is evenly distributed and not causing unnecessary strain. Being in the outdoors is a physical activity – there is no need to put extra wear and tear on our bodies due to the wrong equipment.
  • Solo Wanderer Tip: Be sure to take advantage of the experts at your local outdoor outfitter!
  • Dress in layers – you can experience both warm and cool temperatures on the same day.
  • Moisture wicking gear helps keep us dry, and Merino wool is great for staying warm in cold temperatures.
 
  • Water – You always need access to fresh drinking water in order to stay hydrated on the trail. Plan to have about two cups of water per hour during a moderate hike. Roughly two liters for a typical day hike.
    • Typical signs of dehydration include dry mouth, dark urine, headache and muscle cramps.
  • For longer hikes, you’ll need to find other ways to replenish water along the trail. Drinking mountain water tastes like life, but before you go drinking water straight from backcountry sources, most times you’ll need to purify it first. The last thing you want is to get sick from harmful bacteria and parasites lurking in the water. Drinking contaminated water can cause symptoms like dizziness, nausea, stomachache, vomiting, and more
    • When sourcing water, remember:
      • If it stinks, don’t drink!
      • If it’s still, don’t drink!
      • Look for clear, running water

Water Purification Methods

If you’re unsure of the quality of your water, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

  • Boil It
    • This is a simple, but lengthy method as it takes time for the water to boil and cool down
    • Bring water to a rolling boil to kill off the nastiest bacteria
  • Filtration
    • Filters are handy for overnight or multiple day hikes, when
      you’re unable to carry in all the water you’ll need. They come in
      many different sizes, from pocket filters to filters large enough
      to accommodate a family. 
  • Chemical Treatment
    • Using purification tablets to treat your water (e.g., chlorine tablets, iodine, etc.)

Other Needs

  • Snacks/FoodWhat you might pack in terms of food and snacks will depend on how  long of a hike you do. For the average day hike, light trail snacks are sufficient. For  longer hikes, you’ll want to pack in more food and/or dehydrated meals.
  • Sun Protection – The sun is a very powerful star. No matter what season you’re hiking or  camping in, you need to have sun protection. Items like hats, caps, visors, sunglasses,  and sunscreen are a must when we are exposed outdoors.
  • Light – No matter how long a hike, always take a light source with you. Be it a headlamp  or a flashlight, you’ll want to be prepared for situations where you may not have  daylight to rely on. Getting stuck out in the dark in an outdoor setting isn’t the same as  getting stuck out at night within city limits. 
OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

Safety

  • Communication – Always let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to return
  • Hike In Numbers
  • Be kind to others but Always be Cautious of Strangers
    • It’s awesome making friends on the trail. However, be wary about telling random people your plans, especially if traveling alone.
    • If you feel uncomfortable in a certain situation, leave.
  • Avoid Getting Lost
    • Do not rely on your phone to navigate you. Always carry a backup navigational device, like a map or compass.
    • Do not go off trail
    • Pay attention to trail markers – trails are usually marked and identified by color
OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure
  • Be Bear Aware
    • Always check reports for wildlife activity in the area. Nine times out of ten, unfortunate animal encounters happen when animals are startled or when they feel threatened.
    • Noise – Make noise to alert animals of your presence and to reduce the risk of an unwanted encounter. Talk, sing, play music (respectfully), or use bear bells
  • Pack out trash. Store food away from campsites and not in your tent trash.
  • If you encounter bear:
    • Stop and evaluate. Do not run! Identify yourself calmly so the bear is aware of your presence. Make yourself big. Back away slowly, do not turn your back. If you get attacked, keep your pack on.
    • Bear Spray – releases a strong pepper-spray like chemical to deter the animal in a self-defense situation
  • Solo Wanderer tip:
    • I carry a satellite GPS messenger in case of emergencies. I’m able to track myself and send basic messages to certain contacts and an SOS to emergency personnel as long as I’m in an open air environment. I can also get accurate time and weather data
OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

Packing Checklist For A Day Hike

*this list is non-exhaustive.

  1. Backpack – big enough for a water bottle, light jacket, snacks, phone 
  2. Water – the water that you carry in and any water you source 
  3. First Aid kit – basic supplies to treat injuries and mild illnesses 
  4. Snacks – salty things are great for hot environments because salt helps us retain water. When  you’re hiking in the desert, for example, you sweat at a higher rate, which means you lose salt at  a higher rate aiding in dehydration. So keep your salt levels up. 
  5. Lighting (e.g., headlamp, flashlight)
  6. Toilet articles (e.g. toilet paper/antimicrobial pee cloth, pee funnel, shovel and bags to carry out and dispose of waste properly)
  7. Fire source (e.g., matches, lighter, fire-starter) – you may need to start a fire in an emergency to  keep warm, ward off animals, or send a signal for help
  8. Clothing (including hats, gloves, sun protection) 
  9. Rain Gear – includes rain protective clothing and cases or covers for bags and any sensitive  equipment
  10. Safety gear (e.g., compass, GPS device, map) – Don’t rely solely on your phone. Our phones are  great for taking pictures and doing some simple navigation, but they have batteries that will die.  Or you might lose or break it. 
  11. Insect repellent and Sunscreen 
  12. Knife/Hatchet – can be used for cutting rope, wood, or in self-defense, if necessary
  13. Trekking poles – accessory that can be very useful when going downhill by taking pressure off  your knees
 
OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

HIKING WISHLIST

Use this worksheet to jot down places you want to see, both local, domestic, and foreign. Be as  specific or as broad as you like. This will help direct you to specific hikes.

What do you want to see? (E.g., waterfalls, giant trees, wildlife, bridges, sweeping views, lakes,  etc.)

o . 

Where do you want to go? (E.g., Canada, Yosemite, Iceland, Appalachian trail, the mountains,  the desert, local trails/sites, etc.)

o . 

What kind of hike do you want to have? What are your parameters? (E.g., easy stroll, “I want a  challenge,” shaded trails, no steps, etc.)

o . 

SO YOU WANT TO GO CAMPING...

What does it mean to camp? Camping is the temporary occupation of a place, usually outdoors and usually for enjoyment.
Here are a few different ways to camp – each type has pros and cons:
OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

Types & Styles Of Camping

  • Tent/Hammock – sleeping in a tent or a hammock.
  • Frontcountry Camping camping within designated campgrounds that are accessible by vehicle; these sites usually have toilets/showers, trash disposal options, and running water. Also provides the option for car camping.
    • What’s great about it? – You’re able to bring more items since you’ll have your car close by – no sacrificing X for Y!
    • What’s Not So Great?  – Some campgrounds host a lot of campers so you may not  get that “wild” and “serene” outdoor experience you’re craving
  • Backcountry Campingcamping either on designated or undesignated grounds that are not accessible by vehicle. These sites typically require some hiking in, do not have running water, there may or may not be toilet facilities (think outhouse), and usually have no other amenities. This is the kind of camping we often think about as being  authentic.
    • What’s great about it?You’re able get away from the crowds and wake up  each day with nature surrounding you
    • What’s Not So Great? You can’t bring as much gear because you have to  consider the weight of your pack
  • “Wild”/Dispersed Camping also falls under backcountry camping with similar pros and cons, but usually refers to  camping on public lands outside of designated grounds; there are no services here.
    • Remember that while it can be a great idea to have a potentially more authentic experience of nature, consider how you are impacting the land. What animals and plants are you displacing for your experience? The goal is to minimize your impact and to leave camp spots better than you found them whenever possible.
  • RV/Camper/Campervan – Lodging solution on wheels, in between a hotel and sleeping on the ground
    • Frontcountry & Backcountry Camping – Usually the journey for your vehicle stops in the  frontcountry. However, if you’re lucky enough to have a 4×4 vehicle you can easily access many off-road backcountry spots too.
      • What’s Great About It? – More freedom than staying in hotels because you can essentially stop and camp whenever. You also have the comfort and safety of traveling and sleeping in a vehicle, which typically has a bed, as well as cooking, toilet and/or shower amenities. Great for those who are not too keen on sleeping outside in a tent.
      • What’s Not So Great? Limited access to certain sites and maintenance costs. If you’re traveling with a mate(s), things can sometimes get dicey in such a small space
The key to a safe and enjoyable camping experience is preparedness. Imagine getting to your campsite  or hiking miles into the backcountry only to realize you forgot an important item (although this will happen at times no matter how prepared you are). What you need and bring will ultimately depend on your style of camping, the length of time, location, and weather. See Packing List below.

Sourcing Water

Sometimes you won’t be able to carry in all the water you’ll need for your camping trip so you must consider how you will source clean water. See Purification methods above.

Using The Bathroom

Many of you are probably wondering how you go to the bathroom if there are no toilet facilities around.  Get ready to pop a squat! Sustainably of course.

  • Toilet Articles:
    • Toilet Paper
      • In lieu of toilet paper, there are companies that make reusable antimicrobial pee cloths
    • Trowel (tiny shovel) – for scooping any waste that needs to be packed out, or for  burying waste in the ground (at least six inches deep!)
    • Plastic bag – for storing used tissue or waste
Find a private spot off trail and away from your campsite.
Avoid peeing in water sources unless you are in a large body of water like a river, and away from  any campsites.
Personal Hygiene – make sure to sanitize your hands and any equipment you use after using the bathroom.
 
Solo Wanderer Tip: I like to bring a gallon-sized plastic zip bag and some toilet paper, and store the used  toilet paper in the bag until I get to a place to properly dispose of the trash. And if it applies to you, consider a pee funnel for peeing while standing up.
OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure
OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

Getting Clean

Showers can sometimes be hard to come by when you’re adventuring outdoors. Take them when you  can get them. Many frontcountry campgrounds have showers, but backcountry sites do not. Here are a  few ways to keep clean:

1. Take a Swim  if you’re close to a safe body of water, simply taking a quick dip will help to wash  off dirt and give you that clean feeling. Do not use soap in bodies of water as it can harm marine life.

2. Use water to bathe out of a camp sink or container – do not dispose of dirty water on plants.

3. Use biodegradable body sanitizing wipes (and pack them out with you).

4. Find a facility offering showers for a small fee – places like these are abundant among popular camping routes

 

Food

Camp food can be as simple as hot dogs over the fire or dehydrated meals that you boil in minutes with  water. Or it can be more involved. More…gourmet! I once made salmon, shrimp, and shish kabob  veggies. There’s nothing like eating good food in an outdoor setting. It’s all about your preparation. 

Cooking outdoors also comes with certain responsibilities like clearing your trash, packing out what you  brought in, keeping your food properly and safely stored away from animal access and camp, and  extinguishing fires completely. Never bring food in your tent. This can dangerously attract wildlife.

 

Safety

Here are some tips for safe camping:  

  • Be aware of your surroundings and remain alert
  • Keep safe distances from wild animals
  • Be cautious of strangers
  • Avoid drinking unpurified water
  • Stay hydrated
  • Stay up to date on weather conditions – weather can change abruptly and for the worse
  • Pack food adequately; Store food safely
  • Keep someone informed of your whereabouts
  • Always have a way to direct yourself, using a map or compass. 

Caring For Our Land/Low Impact

Everywhere you step is a home for something. At all times when you are recreating outdoors, be  conscious and respectful of the land. The goal is to explore and heal as much as possible while  disturbing the plants, animals, and land as little as possible. This is accomplished by:
 
1. Acknowledging Indigenous land and those who came before us 
2. Increasing your footprint – going beyond leave no trace and actually leaving places better than you found them wherever possible 
3. Not feeding or harming the animals and plants  
4. Completely Extinguishing Fires 
5. Using eco-friendly gear 
OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

Packing Checklist For Camping

1. Backpack/Camping bag – big enough for your clothing, gear, food, water and shelter 
2. Shelter (tent, hammock, tarp, etc.) — Solo Wanderer Tip: A lightweight hammock is a great investment. Not only are they  great for lounging, they can be slept in under the right conditions and can be setup almost anywhere you can find two tall anchors 
3. Bedding: Sleeping bag, Sleeping bag liner (optional), Sleeping pad, inflatable pillow (optional)
4. Lighting: lanterns, headlamps, flashlights 
5. Toilet articles 
6. Fire Source: lighter, matches, starter, camp stove, etc. 
7. First aid kit: basic supplies to treat injuries and mild illnesses 
8. Electronics: cell phone, camera, battery chargers 
9. Camp chair
10. Hatchet/Pocket knife – for cooking, chopping wood, self-defense 
11. Clothing – dress in layers  
12. Cooler/Bear Storage 
13. Food/Snacks/Beverages 
14. Safety Gear: compass, gps device, map(s), satellite messenger 
15. Water: the water that you carry in and any water you source 
16. Insect repellent 
17. Sunscreen 
18. Cooking utensils and Food storage 
19. Towel 
 
*This list is non-exhaustive.
 
OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

Conclusion

The best thing about camping is disconnecting from society and connecting with nature. Getting back to the basics. Checking in with yourself. And enjoying what was naturally put here for us ALL to enjoy and protect. Remember: you are a steward of this land.

Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) should feel safe, welcome, and represented outdoors. Let’s get away from the notion that Black and Brown people don’t do certain things. Black and Brown people do hike. Black and Brown people do camp. We do all the things. This guide is for everyone! But especially we want to inspire and prepare those who look like us and are wondering about the Outdoors.

So go ahead – get out there!

Find Kimberly on Instagram @k.lajoi, and support her travel company @solowanderers (www.thesolowanderer.com)!

Photos courtesy of Kimberly Lajoi.

OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road modern bipoc nomads off-grid Campervans Homeonwheels vanliferivals vanlove vandwelling vanlifeculture vanlifedreams vanlifejournal vanlifemovement diy vanlifecommunity exploremore vanderlust vanclan vanconversion vanlifediaries veganvanlife hippieclothes hippievibes hippiegirl hippiesoul hippielove hippieclothing crystals gypsysoul gypsy nature vwcamper Mercedes sprinter vwbus ourvanventure

Boondocking: A How-To Guide

Sponsored by GoPower! (Find their message of support at the bottom of this Guide.)

Self-Sufficiency and Privacy
By Kartk and Sim

 

 We are Kartik, Sim and Everest, a couple of Indians from Toronto, Canada. We started our vanlife journey in Toronto, Canada and started making our way down south towards Patagonia in August 2020.

Our journey began from a need to experience long-term travel, a change in pace of life, and to escape the traditional path set out for south asian adults. We bought a 1977 Dodge camper back in 2018 and slowly started working on restoring our old lady, which took two years.

The first time we boondocked was on crown lands (public lands in Canada) in an area called Pancake Bay in Ontario, Canada. This was within the first couple weeks of our vanlife journey back in August 2020. The most beautiful spot, by Lake Superior, has had us chasing beautiful boondocking spots ever since then!

Pros of Boondocking

• Freedom is a key benefit of boondock camping. You can get to a point where you are self-sufficient.

• Boondocking can also serve as a great way to test out your build to find out what may be missing, and then go back and implement the changes.

• Furthermore, boondock camping spots – though sometimes hard to get to – often turn out to be less crowded and way more scenic.

Potential Downsides of Boondocking

As early vanlifers without a built-in toilet feature, we struggled to find a private space at one particular camping spot to be able to do our business. The next day, however, we fixed this “con”: we drove back into town and bought a pop-up changing tent to solve our privacy issue.

Another downside of boondock camping for some is that you have to leave the spot at some point to resupply on food, water and any other supplies (as opposed to an established campground where hookups and amenities can be present). Also, finding and keeping cell service can potentially be an issue, for example if digital remote work has to be done, or if you run into any emergencies.

Tips for First-Time Boondocking

  • Use apps and resources out there that have marked spots to try out first before exploring new locations yourself. These apps will give you specific reviews on what is available there and what is not, so as to better prepare your experience.
  • If you are worried about strangers finding you, we can assure you this is most likely not going to happen as these places are typically hard to find in the first place. Most people don’t want to bother others, so you will have your privacy regardless.
  • It will feel liberating to boondock, and once you have a few successful experiences under your belt, and you and camper become self-sufficient, you won’t want to pay for campsites again unless it’s an absolute necessity.  

Final Thoughts on Boondocking In Your Rig

Please understand that the vanlife experience or camping out is not meant to evoke the same physical state as being inside a traditional home. We advise that you not always try to figure out ways to feel like you are living inside a traditional house, because simply put, you are not – and that is fine. This is a conscious decision you have made because of the other advantages vanlife has to offer.

Be prepared to get addicted to this lifestyle, as it will be hard to come back to more traditional ways of living.

Find Smriti and Kartik on Instagram @thebrownvanlife!

Photos courtesy of Smriti Bhadauria and Kartik Vasan.

The True Freedom of Boondocking
By Rocio and Gabe Rivero

We started van-life in the summer of 2020, as the pandemic was in full swing. We had already been fulltime RVers for two and a half years, but we were stationary in our fifth-wheel for a long time at that point.

 With no place to really go on weekends during the pandemic in the 5th wheel, Rocio suggested trying a van for weekend trips. After searching for a month, we found our perfect van in New Mexico. We put a down payment on the van from almost 1,000 miles away with only a handful of pictures via text to go on.

That next weekend we set off on a road trip from southern California to pick him up. His name is Vincent Van-Go or Vinnie for short. On the way back to SoCal, we did a mini trip through parts of Utah, Arizona, and Colorado, and we were immediately hooked!

We boondocked the entire trip back from New Mexico, and every spot was awesome. Our favorite place to boondock camp on the initial trip was just north of Flagstaff Arizona, in the middle of a national forest. It was amazing how easy finding a spot to park the van was, and the sense of freedom we had will remain with us forever.

Benefits of Boondocking

For us, boondocking is what this life is all about. To begin with, it’s either free or a few bucks to stay in an amazing, beautiful place. The freedom and oneness with nature while boondocking can never be replicated with a paid campsite or city spot.

Boondocking has routinely given us the most gorgeous places to call home for a few nights – and for $0. Those spots also come with no check-in or check-out times, few if any neighbors for miles, and ample opportunity to let the dogs have a great time in nature.

Challenges Faced While Boondocking

We’ve had several challenges while boondocking. From getting stuck, to breaking down and having to get towed over 100 miles, to propane leaks and more.

But you know what? It’s life, and things will inevitably happen. You can’t get around it, but you can learn to breathe and try to be as calm as possible. That is the main thing. Just take a second to relax, and then figure out your next move.

What we can say is that for every headache and setback like what we just mentioned, there are hundreds of amazing memories we wouldn’t trade for anything.

Drawbacks of Boondocking?

Drawbacks really depend on the person and what each individual looks for in a campsite and adventure.

For us, the only drawback is the limited time we can spend in a location, because tank size and supplies are limited. When you are in a campsite, there are usually hookups and stores that you can take advantage of on a constant basis.

Final Advice For Those Interested In Boondocking

Honestly, just go for it and trust your gut. You know your comfort level better than anyone. So, if you don’t feel comfortable somewhere, you can always move.
If you are unsure or nervous, then you may want to start with some easy trips like a state park or national park, so you can get a taste of the boondocking experience in a more controlled and safer environment. Once you realize how amazing it is and you feel comfortable, then you can take that next step.
This life is what you make it, so try not to stress. And if you do get out there, you will find not only some of the most gorgeous places, but also some of the most amazing people, as this community is awesome.

Find Rocio and Gabe on Instagram @ourmixedjourney! All photos courtesy of Rocio and Gabe Rivero.

Boondocking my way through the States
By Navod

My name is Navod the Nomad, and I am a 28 year old vanlifer traveling the country in my self-converted 2018 Ford Transit Hi Roof.

OUTDOORSY BLACK WOMEN (BIPOC) Diversify Van Life Off-road the modern bipoc nomads off-grid wandering American streets nomadic adventure sports black community supporting people of color rock climbing adventure short movie diversify vanlife

I’ve been on the road now for a year and a half now on a nearly full time basis, with the goal of visiting all 50 states.

My first road trip was from Rocky Mount, North Carolina to Pensacola, Florida in 2020. My latest road trip was the experience of a lifetime: journeying from Rocky Mount, North Carolina to San Diego, California. During both of these trips, I boondocked the entire journey to my destination.

Benefits of Boondocking

Boondocking puts “life being your oyster” into perspective, as it opens up opportunities for you to move throughout the world more freely.

You have fewer rules (i.e. city ordinances) to follow and you don’t have to deal with the check-in or check-out process of campgrounds.

Pro Tip:

I prefer to travel early in the morning or mid-day when there is less traffic on the road. Boondocking makes this process easier, as I can just start the van and go.


(Minor) Drawbacks of Boondocking

The bulk of my van build runs on solar, so in the winter – when there is less direct sunlight – my batteries drain quicker.

I upgraded my build to include battery operated appliances to cut down on power consumption and shifted to doing higher power-consuming activities, like watching TV, during the day.

Running out of supplies is a possible drawback – but this is where being prepared with ample water and food on board comes in handy to circumvent potential issues.

Top Tips for Boondocking

  • Consider sharing your location with a few people you trust.
  • Have multiple power sources.
  • Have a roadside assistance plan to ease your anxiety while on the road – especially when traveling solo.
  • The phone application “Boondocking” in the Apple app store is a great resource for finding overnight parking.
 

Final Thoughts

Don’t box yourself into feeling that you must camp a certain way all of the time.

Boondocking provides a level of solitude that you can’t find in other styles of camping. However, weather constraints can arise, and in these cases, other camping methods, like staying at established campgrounds, just make sense. Stay safe out there!

Find Navod on Instagram @navodthenomad! All photos courtesy of Navod (@navodthenomad).

The first time I boondocked was at Frenchmen Coulee, over in Vantage, Washington. I had never been to that location nor been camping at that point. So, a friend – who goes often to climb there – and I went, so that I had someone who had experience with me.

It was amazing! That area is in the desert part of Washington, so seeing the sun set and rise was gorgeous. I learned so much about camping while with her. After that, I would go to places on my own and camp out either in my tent or car.

Overcoming those Challenges of Parking on BLM
By Shanice Sol

Most of my road tripping has happened within the state I live in: Washington. I’ve driven in all directions and up to 5 hours (one way) just to get somewhere to hike or camp. I did my first out-of-state road trip last year from Washington, hitting up Idaho, Utah and Arizona.

Nothing really spectacular happened to start me off road tripping. I just started doing it. It was the only way for me to see more beyond my home town.

Personal Experience Boondocking: Challenges

I took a solo trip up to the North Cascade National Park to do a couple of hikes up there. It’s a four hour drive for me so I knew I would want to camp up there. I didn’t want to pay for a campsite, so I would use the app iOverlander to see where other people have stayed.

I was going to stay at an overlook parking lot, but once I was the only car there, I only stayed for about 20 minutes before I started to feel scared being out there alone. It was my first time being out so far, and that felt so remote during that moment. 

So I packed everything up, drove out of the park and stayed at the closest rest stop because I knew other people would be there. I kicked myself in the butt for being so scared, knowing that if I wanted to keep camping out like this I needed to get over the fear. So I worked on it, and pushed myself to camp in my car more so I would feel more comfortable.

Benefits vs. Drawbacks of Boondocking

Boondocking provides better views! There are so many spots on these apps where you can have a mountain range as your front yard.

Also, who doesn’t like saving money by not paying for some of those expensive camp spots?

The only drawback I really face personally is due to the type of car I have. I have a Sedan so I don’t get the high clearance that many of the forest roads require to get to some of these amazing spots. I hope to change that in the future.

Top Tips for Beginner Boondockers

  • If you can go with a group of people you trust and feel safe around, start off that way.
  • Read, read, and read some more reviews on spots – and if you stay, leave a review.
  • Let someone know where you’ll be staying. Send them the exact coordinates.
  • Carry a weapon with you for safety and if your gut tells you to leave, pack it up and go.

Boondocking will be nerve wracking at first – but once you get the hang of it, you’ll truly enjoy it.

 

 

Find Sol on Instagram @_sol.flower_! 

All photos courtesy of Shanice (Sol) (@_sol.flower_).

 

A Free and Private Way to #Vanlife
By Meghan and Matt

Matt and I started our vanlife journey from Connecticut after a six month van build.

Coming from the East coast, boondocking isn’t really much of an option in the wilderness – mainly because so much of the land is developed. We got to camp out at a state forest in PA but I’d say our first real experience was at “The Wall” in South Dakota, right outside of Badlands National Park.

It was unreal. The first night we got there it was about nine in the evening and totally dark; tons of stars were shining brightly. In the morning, we caught the sunrise over the Badlands and our mouths just dropped for at least an hour.

It was the first moment where we both were like: “wow, this is why we chose this lifestyle”!

Our Favorite Aspects of Boondocking

Boondock camping is free and you get privacy (most of the time). One paid RV park we once stayed at put us in a really dumpy part of the park while the really nice, larger Class A RVs were on the nicer side.

We like city camping because it’s a cool way to experience a city like NYC, but after a while it gets tiring trying to be lowkey all the time. After spending the last two or so months in the East coast cities, we’re ready to get back out West and boondock freely again. 

Challenges of Boondocking

Starting out boondocking, the biggest challenge we faced was figuring out where to go. We had a ton of different apps and they all have different spots and pros and cons to them, but just figuring out what felt right for us took some time.

We need to prioritize having cell service to be able to work, so there were a few times we’d pull up to a spot and have no service, and then had to keep moving to find some signal. Another challenge was learning how to feel comfortable in some of these remote places.

Possible Drawbacks of Boondocking

I would say that the main downside of boondock camping is the lack of showers. It’s fun to be out boondocking, but after a few days you can really start to feel it.

Plus, you can only stay for as long as you have food for. Our fridge is somewhat small, so if we want fresh food, we have to go into town every few days. Also, we’ve gone down some really sketchy roads that may have been questionable for a van like ours (haha)!

Advice For New Boondockers

  • Trust your gut. If someone or something doesn’t feel right or gives you a weird vibe, get out of there.
  • Arrive during the day with plenty of light to scope out the area.
  • Tell someone where you’re gonna be.
  • Plan out a second place nearby that you can go to in case the first place doesn’t work out.

I hope you enjoyed my tips and personal experiences boondocking while vanlifing! We’re grateful for the chance to have a voice on the Diversify Vanlife platform, and really appreciate the work and advocacy for the BIPOC and LGBTQ community that Diversify Vanlife does.

Find Meghan on Instagram @meghanandmatt! All photos courtesy of Meghan (@meghanandmatt).

“Boondocking: A How-To Guide” is sponsored by GoPower!

Go Power! makes it a priority to be ambassadors of inclusivity within the RV/Van Life space.

 It is a part of their mission to offer representation and a safe place for the BIPOC community to share their off-grid stories and adventures. What better way to help spread awareness of that mission and encourage BIPOC engagement than through the support of Diversify Vanlife and the BIPOC Guide to Vanlife & the Outdoors?

 

From their beginnings as a small Canadian distributor of solar energy products, Go Power! has grown to become one of North America’s leading suppliers of mobile solar solutions.

Now a part of the Dometic family of products, Go Power! provides a full range of high-quality solar chargers, inverters, controllers and power accessories — dependable and cost-effective mobile power solutions for off-grid adventures.

Go Power! likes to explore off the grid, and they know their customers do too. Whether you’re an RV owner searching for the perfect remote campsite or a boater planning that extended cruise, Go Power!  has the perfect mobile power solution for you. 

Since 1996, one of Go Power!’s biggest goals has been to educate and inform people from all walks of life about the benefits of solar. 

They believe that access to education about this sometimes-technical subject shouldn’t just be for those in the industry. When people want to go off the grid, they should be able to understand what they need, how to use it, and why it works for them. By sponsoring this section, Go Power! continues to solidify its pledge to make boondocking knowledge more accessible. 

For more information about boondocking, including how to size your solar charging system, visit gpelectric.com/resources.

Learn more about how you can contribute to this section, or any other section of the guide, and be compensated for your writing!

Translate »
Scroll to Top