Outdoor Gear Reviews, Tips & Adventure Stories to Inspire an Outdoor Life

Paddle Your Way to Adventure: Where to Go Stand Up Paddleboarding

Where to go Stand Up Paddleboarding

Stand up paddleboarding (SUP) is a popular water sport that has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. It’s a fun and exciting way to explore the water while getting a full-body workout. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, there’s a SUP destination out there for everyone.

In this article, we’ll explore some of the best places to go stand up paddleboarding. From serene lakes to rushing rivers to beautiful coastal areas, we’ll highlight some of the most scenic and exciting locations for SUP. Additionally, we’ll provide some tips for choosing a destination and staying safe while out on the water.

So grab your paddle and let’s dive in!

Best Places for SUP

When it comes to stand up paddleboarding, there are plenty of destinations to choose from. Here are some of the best places to go for an unforgettable SUP experience:

Where to go stand Up Paddleboarding
Lakes typically offer calm water that is great for both beginners and experienced SUPers alike

Lakes typically offer calm water that is great for both beginners and experienced SUPers alike. Exploring the shoreline or paddling the length of a lake are incredible ways to experience these bodies of water. With no currents or waves, lakes provide a more laid-back paddleboard experience.  Fishing, yoga, or dog passengers are all possible while stand up paddleboarding on a lake.

Here are a few of the best lakes to SUP:

  • Lake Tahoe, California
  • Lake Powell, Arizona/Utah
  • Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

Rivers present the challenge of moving water to SUPers.  With a good flow of water beneath you, rivers allow stand up paddleboarders to move down river without even paddling if they choose. Strong currents can affect stability and can make it difficult to paddle upstream.  Be careful of shallow areas and rocks in smaller rivers.  Overall, most rivers are best suited for intermediate and advanced stand up paddleboarders.

Here are a few of the best rivers to SUP:

  • Snake River, Wyoming
  • Deschutes River, Oregon
  • Colorado River, Arizona
Coastal areas

Coastal areas can present diverse opportunities for stand up paddleboarding.  Beaches and shorelines offer amazing SUP experiences to paddle just beyond the break of waves.  The ride out through the waves can be tricky, but once calmers waters are reached, paddleboarding along the coastline is a unique adventure. Bays, coves, and marinas can provide protection from the wind and waves leading to calmer waters to explore.

Here are a few of the best coastal areas to SUP:

  • Maui, Hawaii
  • Santa Barbara, California
  • Gulf Shores, Alabama

Each of these destinations offers a unique experience, from the crystal clear waters of Lake Tahoe to the rugged coastlines of Maui. While some locations may be more challenging than others, there’s a destination for all skill levels. When identifying an SUP location to fit your skill level, stability should be your first concern.  If you are new to SUPing and still finding your balance, stick to the calmer waters of lakes and protected coastal areas.

How to Choose a SUP Destination

Where to go stand up paddleboarding
Strong river currents can affect stability and can make it difficult to paddle upstream.

Choosing the right destination for your stand up paddleboarding adventure can make all the difference. Here are some factors to consider when deciding where to go:

Water Conditions
  • Consider the type of water you prefer to paddle in (e.g., calm lakes vs. rough ocean waves).
  • Check weather and water conditions beforehand to ensure it’s safe to paddle.
  • Make sure to wear clothing that matches your skill level and the water conditions.  Beginners get wet more often than experienced SUPers.
Scenery and Wildlife
  • Do you prefer a peaceful, natural setting or a more urban one?
  • Are there any unique features or wildlife you’d like to see?
Amenities and Accommodations
  • Consider whether there are public restrooms, parking, and picnic areas available.
  • Look for nearby accommodations if you plan to stay overnight.
Accessibility and Parking
  • Look for easy access to the water, such as boat ramps or docks.
  • Consider parking availability and costs.

Researching potential locations and asking locals for recommendations can also be helpful.

Planning ahead is key to ensuring a successful SUP trip. Once you’ve chosen your destination, make sure to bring appropriate equipment and attire, including a personal floatation device, leash, and proper clothing.

Remember to always practice safety guidelines, such as checking weather and water conditions before heading out, and avoiding paddling alone in unfamiliar waters.

Safety Tips for SUP

Where to go stand up paddleboarding
In coastal areas, bays, coves, and marinas can provide protection from the wind and waves leading to calmer waters to explore.

While stand up paddleboarding can be a fun and exciting activity, it’s important to practice safety guidelines to avoid accidents and injuries. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Proper Equipment and Attire
  • Always wear a personal floatation device (PFD) and use a leash to keep your board attached to you.
  • Wear appropriate clothing for the weather and water conditions, such as a wetsuit or drysuit in cold water.
Check Weather and Water Conditions
  • Check weather forecasts and water conditions before heading out.
  • Avoid paddling in severe weather conditions or strong currents.
Buddy System and Guided Tours
  • Never paddle alone. Always bring a friend or join a guided tour.
  • Be sure to let someone know your itinerary and expected return time.
Be Aware of Surroundings
  • Watch out for other watercraft, swimmers, and wildlife.
  • Be mindful of hazards such as rocks, logs, and submerged objects.
Practice Self-Rescue Techniques
  • Learn self-rescue techniques such as how to climb back onto your board.
  • Carry a whistle or other signaling device in case of emergency.

By following these safety tips, you can enjoy your SUP adventure with peace of mind. Remember to always prioritize safety and be prepared for unexpected situations.

Stand up paddleboarding is a great way to explore the water and stay active. From serene lakes to rushing rivers to beautiful coastal areas, there are plenty of destinations to choose from for your next SUP adventure.

When choosing a destination, consider factors such as water conditions, scenery, amenities, and accessibility. Always prioritize safety by wearing proper equipment, checking weather and water conditions, and practicing self-rescue techniques.

Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, there’s a SUP destination out there for everyone. So grab your paddle, choose a destination, and paddle your way to adventure!

Don’t have a Stand Up Paddleboard? Below are some of the best-selling inflatable SUPs on Amazon:

Don’t Freeze on Your Next Camping Trip: How Many Tent Heaters Do You Need?

Buddy Tent Heater

When you’re camping, staying warm is crucial to your comfort, safety, and overall enjoyment of the trip. Whether you’re camping in the mountains or the desert, temperatures can drop significantly at night, making it difficult to sleep or even stay awake. This is where tent heaters come in handy – they can provide warmth and comfort, and help you get a good night’s rest, so you can wake up refreshed and ready to explore.

However, choosing the right number of tent heaters can be challenging, especially if you’re not familiar with the different types of heaters and their features. In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of determining how many tent heaters you need for your next camping trip. We’ll explore the various factors you should consider when choosing heaters, and provide tips on how to stay warm and safe while camping. So, let’s get started!

Factors to consider when choosing tent heaters

Before you choose a tent heater, it’s important to consider several factors that can affect the effectiveness and safety of the heater. These include:

Tent size and shape

The size and shape of your tent will affect the amount of heat that’s needed to warm it up. A larger tent will require more heat than a smaller one, while a tent with high ceilings will need more heat than one with lower ceilings.

Weather conditions

The weather conditions you’ll be camping in will also affect your heater needs. If you’ll be camping in colder temperatures or in windy conditions, you may need a heater with a higher BTU rating.

Insulation and ventilation

The insulation and ventilation of your tent can affect the efficiency of your heater. A well-insulated tent will retain heat better, while proper ventilation will prevent condensation and reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Personal preferences and needs

Finally, your personal preferences and needs will also play a role in your heater choice. For example, you may prefer a certain type of heater, such as an electric heater over a propane heater, or you may have specific requirements, such as a heater that’s quiet or easy to set up.

By considering these factors, you can choose a tent heater that’s appropriate for your specific camping needs, ensuring that you stay warm, comfortable, and safe throughout your trip.

Calculating the number of tent heaters needed

To determine how many tent heaters you need, you’ll need to consider several factors, including the recommended BTUs per tent size, weather conditions, and other factors that affect your heater needs.

Here’s a breakdown of how to calculate the number of heaters needed:

Recommended BTUs per tent size

The recommended BTUs per tent size can vary depending on the source, but generally, a rule of thumb is that 2,500 BTUs of heating power will heat 600 cubic feet (length x width x height) of tent space 30 degrees.

To calculate how many BTUs you need, use this formula: tent volume (length x width x height) x temperature difference (current outside air temperature – desired inside temperature) x 0.133 = required BTU/hour.

For example, a 10x10x6 tent (600 cubic feet) would need a heater with 2,500 BTUs of heating power to raise the temperature inside the tent 30 degrees.

Adjusting BTU requirements based on weather conditions

The recommended BTUs can be adjusted based on the weather conditions you’ll be camping in. For example, if you’ll be camping in temperatures below freezing, you may need to add 20% to 30% to the recommended BTUs. If you’ll be camping in windy conditions, you may need to add another 10% to 20%.

Considering multiple smaller heaters vs. one larger heater

You may also want to consider whether to use multiple smaller heaters or one larger heater. Multiple smaller heaters can be more effective at evenly distributing heat throughout the tent, while a larger heater may be more convenient to set up and use.

Other factors to consider when calculating the number of heaters needed

Other factors to consider include your personal preferences and needs, such as the type of heater you prefer, the noise level, and the ease of use.

By taking these factors into account, you can calculate the number of tent heaters you need for your camping trip, ensuring that you have enough heat to stay warm and comfortable throughout your adventure.

Types of tent heaters and their pros and cons

When choosing a tent heater, you’ll also need to consider the different types of heaters available, each with their own pros and cons. Here are some of the most common types of tent heaters:

Propane heaters

Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Propane HeaterPropane heaters are popular among campers because they’re portable and can provide a lot of heat quickly. They’re also relatively inexpensive to operate, as propane is cheaper than electricity. However, propane heaters can be dangerous if not used properly, and they require proper ventilation to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide.

A popular propane tent heater is the Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Propane Heater. The Buddy is a 9,000 BTU heater that uses small 1lb propane bottles. It’s a popular choice due to its simplicity and flexibility.

Electric heaters

Isiler 1500W portable electric tent heaterElectric heaters are a safer option than propane heaters, as they don’t produce carbon monoxide. They’re also quieter and more efficient than propane heaters, as they don’t require fuel tanks or constant refilling. However, electric heaters require access to electricity, which may not be available in remote camping locations.

The Isiler 1500W Ceramic Indoor Space Heater is a popular example of an electric heater that can be used to heat your tent. It’s expensive and has tip-over protection – if it gets knocked over while in your tent, it will shut off automatically.

Catalytic heaters

Camco Olympian RV Wave-3 LP Gas Catalytic Safety HeaterCatalytic heaters are a type of propane heater that uses a chemical reaction to produce heat. They’re generally safe and efficient, as they don’t produce open flames or carbon monoxide. However, they’re not as powerful as other types of heaters and may not be suitable for very cold temperatures.

Camco’s Olympian RV Wave-3 is a portable catalytic heater that uses propane to efficiently and safely heat your space.

Wood-burning stoves

Wood-burning stoves are a popular option for winter camping, as they can provide a lot of heat and create a cozy atmosphere. They also don’t require access to electricity or fuel, as they burn wood. However, wood-burning stoves can be heavy and difficult to transport, and they require a lot of effort to set up and maintain.

By understanding the pros and cons of each type of tent heater, you can choose the one that’s best suited to your camping needs and preferences. Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and take proper safety precautions when using any type of heater in your tent.

Safety considerations

When using a tent heater, safety should always be your top priority. Here are some safety considerations to keep in mind:

Proper ventilation

Whether you’re using a propane or electric heater, you’ll need to ensure that your tent is properly ventilated to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide. This means leaving a window or vent open and avoiding completely sealing the tent.

Placement of the heater

You’ll also need to be careful about where you place your heater. It should be placed on a stable surface away from any flammable materials, such as clothing, bedding, or the tent walls. Never leave a heater unattended, and always turn it off when you’re sleeping or leaving the tent.

Fire safety

In addition to proper placement, it’s important to have fire safety equipment on hand, such as a fire extinguisher or a bucket of water. You should also avoid smoking inside the tent or using any open flames.

Emergency plans

It’s a good idea to have an emergency plan in place in case something goes wrong with the heater or there’s a sudden change in weather conditions. Make sure you have a way to contact emergency services and a backup plan for staying warm if the heater malfunctions or runs out of fuel.

By following these safety considerations, you can ensure that your camping trip stays safe and enjoyable, without any accidents or emergencies caused by your tent heater.

Tips for maximizing heat and minimizing energy usage

Once you’ve chosen the right tent heater and taken all necessary safety precautions, you’ll want to maximize its effectiveness and minimize its energy usage. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

Insulate your tent

Insulating your tent with blankets, sleeping bags, or foam pads can help to trap heat inside and prevent it from escaping through the walls or floor.

Use a tent with a smaller capacity

Choosing a smaller tent can help to reduce the amount of space that needs to be heated, which can in turn reduce the amount of energy used.

Layer up

Dressing in layers and wearing warm clothing can help to keep you warm and reduce the need for the heater to work as hard.

Use a reflective blanket

Placing a reflective blanket over your tent can help to reflect heat back into the tent, rather than letting it escape.

Use a timer

Setting a timer on your heater can help to regulate its usage and prevent it from running unnecessarily, which can save energy and fuel.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your tent heater is working efficiently and effectively and that you’re staying warm without using excessive energy.


Camping in cold weather can be a great way to enjoy the great outdoors, but it’s important to stay warm and safe while doing so. Choosing the right tent heater and using it correctly can make all the difference. By considering the factors we discussed, calculating the number of heaters needed, and taking safety precautions, you can ensure a comfortable and safe camping trip.

Remember to choose the right type of tent heater for your needs, consider the size of your tent and how many people will be using it, and take steps to maximize heat and minimize energy usage. And above all, always prioritize safety when using a tent heater.

By following these guidelines and using your tent heater responsibly, you can have a great camping trip even in cold weather. Stay warm and stay safe!

The Birth of Seafaring: Uncovering the Roots of Sailing

when was sailing invented
While the basic principles of sailing have remained largely unchanged for thousands of years, modern sailboats are to be faster and more efficient than their ancient counterparts.

The history of human civilization is intertwined with the history of sailing. For thousands of years, humans have been using the power of the wind to explore new lands, expand trade networks, and establish empires. From the earliest rafts made of reeds to the sleek racing yachts of today, sailing has undergone many changes and adaptations, yet its basic principles remain the same.

In this article, we will take a closer look at the birth of seafaring and the roots of sailing. We will examine the earliest evidence of human navigation and the development of watercrafts, the invention of the sail, and the spread of sailing technology. We will also explore ancient sailing techniques and their impact on human civilization, as well as the evolution of sailing in modern times. Join us on a journey through time as we uncover the fascinating history of sailing and its enduring legacy.

The Origins of Seafaring

The origins of seafaring can be traced back to the earliest times of human history. While experts are unsure exactly when sailing was invented, archaeological evidence suggests that humans have been using boats to travel across bodies of water for at least 50,000 years. Some of the earliest vessels were simple rafts made of reeds or logs, while others were dugout canoes carved from tree trunks.

As humans became more skilled at making boats, they were able to venture further out to sea and explore new lands. The development of fishing techniques and the discovery of new resources in the water, such as shells and pearls, also played a role in the growth of seafaring.

Seafaring was particularly important in regions with extensive coastlines, such as the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf, and the Pacific Islands. In these areas, seafaring became a way of life, enabling humans to travel, trade, and exchange ideas with other cultures.

The significance of seafaring for human civilization cannot be overstated. Without seafaring, many of the world’s greatest empires would not have risen to power, and the exchange of goods and ideas across continents would have been severely limited. The origins of seafaring represent a crucial moment in human history, marking the beginning of a new era of exploration and discovery.

The Birth of Sailing

Greek Trireme Sailboat
The Greeks used triremes to explore the Mediterranean Sea

The invention of the sail revolutionized seafaring and enabled humans to travel further and faster across the seas. The origins of the sail can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where reed boats were equipped with simple sails made of woven flax. These sails were rectangular in shape and were attached to a single mast. The sails were angled to catch the wind, and the boat could be steered by adjusting the sail’s position.

The use of sails spread rapidly throughout the ancient world. In Mesopotamia, ships were equipped with square sails made of woven wool or linen. In the Mediterranean, the Greeks and Phoenicians developed sophisticated triremes and galleys that were equipped with multiple sails and banks of oars.

Sailing technology continued to evolve over time. The development of the lateen sail, which was triangular in shape and allowed boats to sail closer to the wind, was a major innovation. The Vikings, in particular, were skilled sailors who used a combination of square and lateen sails to travel long distances across the North Atlantic.

Ship with lateen sails
The triangular lateen sail allowed ancient boats to sail close to the wind.

The invention of the sail had a profound impact on human civilization. It made long-distance trade and exploration possible, and it allowed cultures to exchange goods and ideas across vast distances. It also enabled the rise of great empires, such as those of the Greeks and the Romans, who used their naval power to expand their territories and influence.

The birth of sailing represents a critical moment in human history, marking the beginning of a new era of maritime exploration and innovation.

Ancient Sailing Techniques

ancient compass
The invention of the compass made it possible to determine a heading when the sky was overcast or foggy, and when landmarks were not in sight.

Ancient sailors developed a range of techniques to navigate the seas and harness the power of the wind. One of the most important techniques was celestial navigation, which involved using the stars to determine the position of the ship. This technique was first developed by the Phoenicians in the Mediterranean and was later refined by the Greeks and the Romans.

Another important technique was the use of the compass. While the first magnetic compasses were invented in China during the Han dynasty, they were not widely used in the West until the Middle Ages. Prior to the invention of the compass, sailors used a variety of other methods to determine their position, including the position of the sun and the stars, the direction of the wind, and the behavior of birds and marine life.

Sailing sextant
A sextant allowed sailors to calculate a position line on a nautical chart by measuring the angular distance between two visible objects.

Sailors also developed a range of tactics for navigating different wind conditions. For example, when sailing upwind, sailors would tack back and forth, zigzagging their way towards their destination. When sailing downwind, sailors would use a technique called running before the wind, where they would steer the ship downwind and adjust the sail to catch as much wind as possible.

In addition to these techniques, ancient sailors also developed a range of tools and instruments to aid in navigation. These included the astrolabe, a device used to measure the altitude of the stars; the sextant, a device used to measure the angle between the horizon and the sun or stars; and the cross-staff, a device used to measure the height of a distant object, such as a landmark or another ship.

The development of these techniques and tools was critical to the success of ancient seafaring. By mastering the art of navigation and harnessing the power of the wind, ancient sailors were able to explore new lands, trade with other cultures, and establish great empires.

The Impact of Sailing on Human Civilization

Human civilization was profoundly impacted by the invention of sailing. It allowed humans to travel further and faster across the seas, opening up new trade routes and enabling the exchange of goods and ideas between different cultures. This had a significant impact on the development of human civilization, facilitating the spread of technology, language, and religion.

Phoenician Alphabet stone
An example of the Phoenician alphabet used to keep records of trade transactions

The development of seafaring also had a major impact on the economy. The ability to transport goods over long distances by sea allowed merchants to trade goods at a much larger scale than was previously possible. This led to the growth of cities and the emergence of powerful trading empires such as the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans.

In addition to facilitating trade and commerce, sailing also played a critical role in the spread of ideas and knowledge. The Phoenicians, for example, are believed to have developed the first alphabet, which they used to keep records of their trade transactions. This alphabet was later adopted by the Greeks and Romans, and became the basis for many modern alphabets.

Sailing also played a significant role in exploration and the expansion of human knowledge. The voyages of explorers such as Marco Polo, Vasco da Gama, and Christopher Columbus opened up new trade routes and led to the discovery of new lands, cultures, and natural resources.

In addition to its economic and cultural impact, sailing also had a significant impact on warfare. Naval power played a critical role in many of the great conflicts of human history, from the battles of ancient Greece and Rome to the naval battles of World War II.

In conclusion, the invention of sailing had a far-reaching impact on human civilization, facilitating the growth of trade and commerce, the spread of ideas and knowledge, and the exploration and expansion of human knowledge. The legacy of sailing can be seen in many aspects of modern society, from the shipping industry to the global economy, and it continues to play a critical role in shaping the course of human history.

Modern Sailing

Modern sailboat
The use of synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, and Kevlar in modern sail construction are stronger, lighter, and more durable than traditional materials such as cotton and canvas.

While the basic principles of sailing have remained largely unchanged for thousands of years, modern sailing has seen a number of important innovations and developments. One of the most significant of these is the use of synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, and Kevlar in sail construction. These materials are stronger, lighter, and more durable than traditional materials such as cotton and canvas, allowing modern sailboats to be faster and more efficient than their ancient counterparts.

Another important development in modern sailing is the use of technology to aid in navigation and communication. Global Positioning System (GPS) technology allows sailors to determine their precise position on the globe, while radio and satellite communications make it possible to stay in touch with shore-based support teams and other sailors on the water.

Modern sailing has also seen the development of a number of specialized sailing classes and events, such as the America’s Cup, which has been held since 1851 and is widely regarded as the oldest and most prestigious sailing race in the world. Other popular sailing events include the Volvo Ocean Race, the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, and the Transpacific Yacht Race.

America's Cup Boat "flying"
The America’s Cup AC72 class of boats use foils to sail faster than the speed of the wind.

In addition to these developments, modern sailing has also seen the emergence of a number of environmental and sustainability initiatives. The use of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power is becoming increasingly common in modern sailboats, and many sailors are actively working to reduce their environmental impact by using sustainable materials and reducing waste and pollution.

Overall, modern sailing continues to be a popular and important activity, with a rich history and a bright future. Whether for sport, recreation, or commerce, sailing remains a testament to the ingenuity and resourcefulness of human beings and a testament to the enduring power and beauty of the sea.

Sailing is Amazing

The birth of seafaring and the invention of sailing represent a critical turning point in human history, marking the moment when humans first began to explore and exploit the vast resources of the world’s oceans. The origins of sailing are shrouded in mystery and myth, but archaeological evidence suggests that humans have been using boats and rafts to navigate the seas for tens of thousands of years.

Despite its ancient roots, sailing continues to play a vital role in modern society, facilitating trade and commerce, enabling exploration and discovery, and providing a source of recreation and pleasure for millions of people around the world. From the early seafarers who braved the dangers of the open ocean in search of new lands and resources to the modern sailors who use cutting-edge technology and innovative materials to push the limits of what is possible on the water, the legacy of sailing continues to inspire and amaze us.

As we continue to explore and exploit the oceans of the world, it is important that we do so in a responsible and sustainable manner, recognizing the importance of these fragile ecosystems and the critical role they play in maintaining the health and well-being of our planet. Whether as sailors, scientists, or simply concerned citizens, we all have a role to play in protecting and preserving the world’s oceans for future generations.

Off the Beaten Path: A Beginner’s Guide to Overlanding

What's Overlanding?
What’s Overlanding? We like to think of overlanding as car camping without the campgrounds.

Have you ever wanted to experience the freedom of the open road and explore the world on your own terms? If so, overlanding may be the perfect way for you to do it. What’s overlanding? Overlanding is a type of travel that involves self-reliant, off-road adventure in a vehicle, usually a four-wheel drive. This type of travel allows you to experience remote and untouched destinations, away from the typical tourist crowds.

Overlanding has been gaining popularity in recent years, and for good reason. It offers an opportunity to explore new places, meet new people, and challenge yourself in ways you never thought possible. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll take a closer look at what overlanding is, what it involves, and how to get started. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or someone looking for a new adventure, this guide will give you the information you need to plan your own overlanding trip. So buckle up and let’s hit the road!

Understanding Overlanding

What’s overlanding? Overlanding is a form of outdoor exploration that involves self-reliant, off-road adventure in a vehicle. Unlike traditional road trips, overlanding often involves remote and challenging terrains that require a certain level of skill and experience. The goal of overlanding is to explore new and untouched destinations, away from the typical tourist crowds.

We like to think of overlanding as car camping without the campgrounds. How far off the beaten path you travel to get to your camping destination is up to you and the ability of your vehicle. While similar in many ways to car camping, there are some key characteristics of overlanding that differentiate it from other forms of outdoor exploration:


Overlanding requires you to be self-sufficient, meaning you need to carry all the supplies and equipment you’ll need for the journey. This includes everything from food and water to shelter and tools. Another aspect you’ll need to consider when overlanding is how you’ll use the bathroom while in remote spaces. For more information, check out our article on bathroom off-grid options.

Overlanding in remote places
Overlanding allows you to enjoy the outdoors in remote spaces not often visited
Off-road travel

Overlanding often involves traveling on unpaved roads and rugged terrains that require a four-wheel drive or other specialized vehicle. All-terrain tires are also a good idea.  But even if you don’t plan to tackle difficult terrain while overlanding, a vehicle with high ground clearance is a good idea.

Remote destinations

Overlanding is all about exploring new and untouched destinations that are far away from the typical tourist hotspots. This often means traveling to remote areas that are difficult to access. The difficulty in accessing these areas is what makes overlanding so special – being able to enjoy wild spaces that not many others have.

Adventure and challenge

Overlanding is not for the faint of heart. It requires specialized equipment, a certain level of skill and experience, and a willingness to take on challenges and overcome obstacles. The adventure lies in getting to your remote destination and learning to appreciate your ability to be self-sufficient.

While overlanding has gained popularity in recent years, it’s not a new concept. In fact, overlanding has been around for centuries, with early explorers and pioneers traveling across vast distances in search of new lands and opportunities.

Planning an Overlanding Trip

Planning an overlanding trip requires careful consideration of several key factors. Here are some important things to keep in mind when planning your trip:

  1. Choosing a destination: The first step in planning an overlanding trip is to choose a destination. Consider what type of terrain and scenery you’re interested in exploring, and whether you want to stay close to home or venture further afield. We like to use Campendium to find free camping areas on public lands in the US.
  2. Deciding on the route: Once you’ve chosen a destination, it’s time to decide on the route you’ll take. Consider factors such as the terrain, the time of year, and the availability of fuel and supplies. It’s a good idea to also consider a backup route or two in case your primary route choice is closed or unpassable.
  3. Considering the time of year: The time of year you plan to travel can have a big impact on your overlanding trip. For example, if you plan to travel during the rainy season, you’ll need to take extra precautions to ensure your vehicle is equipped to handle muddy roads. Overlanding during the winter season can provide amazing opportunities to experience nature in rugged isolation, but you’ll need extra preparation to make sure you stay warm enough.
  4. Planning for fuel, food, and water: You’ll need to carry all the supplies you’ll need for the journey, including fuel, food, and water. Make sure to plan ahead and carry enough supplies to last the duration of your trip.
  5. Preparing the vehicle: Overlanding requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle that’s equipped to handle rough terrain and challenging conditions. Make sure your vehicle is in good condition and properly equipped with the necessary gear, such as all-terrain tires, a winch, and recovery equipment.

By carefully planning your overlanding trip, you can ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable experience. Proper preparation is key whenever you travel away from the security of stores, gas stations, and emergency services.

Overlanding rooftop tent ona jeep
Whether you choose to equip your vehicle with a rooftop tent or prefer to pitch a traditional tent once you arrive at your destination, a weath of overlanding equipment options are available.

Essential Gear for Overlanding

When embarking on an overlanding trip, it’s essential to have the right gear to ensure your safety and comfort. Here are some essential items you should consider bringing on your trip:

  1. Navigation tools: When traveling off-road, it’s important to have reliable navigation tools, such as a GPS device or map and compass.
  2. Communication devices: In case of emergencies, it’s important to have a reliable means of communication, such as a satellite phone or radio. We recommend carrying a satellite communicator when traveling to remote places without cell phone coverage.
  3. Recovery gear: Overlanding often involves traversing rugged terrain, so it’s important to have recovery gear, such as a winch, recovery straps, and a shovel, to help you get unstuck if you get stuck in mud, sand, or snow. The level of recovery gear you’ll need will be related to how deep into the wild you plan to go. What’s overlanding without getting stuck from time to time? When it happens, make sure you have the tools and equipment you’ll need to get back on the trail.
  4. Camping equipment: When overlanding, you’ll need to carry all the equipment you’ll need for camping, such as a tent, sleeping bag, and camping stove. The overlanding industry has exploded in recent years with a variety of tools and equipment made for overland camping. Whether you choose to equip your vehicle with a rooftop tent or prefer to pitch a traditional tent once you arrive at your destination, a myriad of options are available to fit your preferences. We’ve purchased a lot of great and affordable overlanding gear from Overland Vehicle Systems in the past.
  5. Tools and spare parts: It’s important to carry a basic toolkit and spare parts for your vehicle, such as spare tires, oil, and fuses, in case of mechanical issues.
  6. First aid kit: Accidents can happen, so it’s important to carry a well-stocked first aid kit that includes essentials like bandages, antiseptic, and pain relievers. We like the carry the Mountain Series Explorer Medical Kit along on our trips overland.
  7. Water and food storage: Overlanding often takes you to remote areas, so it’s important to carry enough food and water for the duration of your trip, as well as storage containers to keep them fresh.

By packing these essential items, you’ll be well-prepared for your overlanding trip and can focus on enjoying the adventure. Making sure you have the right gear can save you from disaster while off the grid.

Safety Precautions

Overlanding can be an exciting and rewarding adventure, but it’s important to take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety. Here are some important safety considerations for overlanding:

  1. Vehicle maintenance: Before embarking on your trip, make sure your vehicle is in good condition and has been properly maintained. Check the tires, brakes, and fluids, and make any necessary repairs or adjustments.
  2. Driving cautiously: When overlanding, it’s important to drive cautiously and be aware of your surroundings. Stay alert for hazards like rocks, mud, or water crossings, and take your time when navigating difficult terrain.
  3. Packing essential safety gear: Make sure to pack essential safety gear, such as a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, and emergency communication devices, to help you stay safe in case of emergencies.
  4. Knowing the local laws and customs: When traveling in a foreign country or unfamiliar territory, it’s important to understand the local laws and customs to avoid any legal or cultural misunderstandings.
  5. Being aware of wildlife: When traveling in remote areas, it’s important to be aware of the local wildlife and take necessary precautions to avoid any dangerous encounters. Be careful not to disturb the habitats of the local wildlife as you’re passing through.
  6. Keeping in touch with others: Make sure to keep in touch with family or friends back home and let them know your itinerary and expected return date. This way, they can check in on you and alert authorities if necessary.

By taking these safety precautions, you can help ensure that your overlanding trip ends with a successful return home and many memorable moments.

Overlanding Etiquette

Beautiful view above the clouds while overlanding.
Overlanding provides unique opportunities to experience nature in its fullest beauty.

Overlanding is a unique way of exploring the outdoors, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a free-for-all. Here are some important overlanding etiquette tips to keep in mind:

  1. Stay on designated trails: It’s important to stay on designated trails to avoid damaging the environment and preserve the natural beauty of the area.
  2. Leave no trace: When camping, make sure to pack out all your trash and leave the campsite as you found it. This helps preserve the natural environment for others to enjoy.
  3. Respect private property: Make sure to respect private property and obtain permission from landowners before entering their property.
  4. Be mindful of noise: When camping in remote areas, it’s important to be mindful of noise levels and avoid disturbing the peace and quiet of the area.
  5. Yield to other vehicles: When encountering other vehicles on the trail, yield to the vehicle going uphill, as they have the right of way.
  6. Be considerate of other campers: When camping near others, be considerate of other campers and keep noise levels down, especially at night.

By following these overlanding etiquette tips, you can help preserve the natural environment and ensure a positive experience for all.

Get Out There and Overland

Overlanding is a unique and exciting way to explore the outdoors, but it’s important to approach it with the right mindset and be prepared for the challenges it may present. By understanding the basics of overlanding, planning your trip carefully, and bringing the right gear, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Remember to take necessary safety precautions, follow overlanding etiquette, and be respectful of the natural environment. With the right approach, overlanding can be an unforgettable adventure that allows you to connect with nature and explore the world off the beaten path.

Why Boondocking is the Ultimate Adventure for Nature Lovers

Dispersed Campsites in the Valley of the Gods
The Valley of the Gods in Southern Utah is a breathtaking location with plenty of dispersed camping.

Boondocking, also known as dispersed camping, is the act of camping outside of designated campgrounds or RV parks. It involves finding a spot in a remote area, away from the hustle and bustle of civilization, and setting up camp. Boondocking offers a unique and unforgettable experience for nature lovers who want to explore the great outdoors and immerse themselves in the beauty of the natural world.

Boondocking is a different experience than traditional camping, as it allows you to truly disconnect from the stresses of everyday life and reconnect with nature. In this article, we’ll explore why boondocking is the ultimate adventure for nature lovers, and why you should consider it for your next camping trip. Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a newbie, boondocking offers a range of benefits that you won’t find in traditional campgrounds or RV parks.

So, pack your bags, grab your gear, and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime. In the following sections, we’ll discuss the advantages of boondocking, the freedom it offers, and the best ways to prepare for your next boondocking trip. Whether you want to camp in a national park or explore remote areas, boondocking is the perfect way to experience the natural world up close and personal.

Boondocking vs. Traditional Camping

While traditional camping involves staying in designated campgrounds or RV parks, boondocking is all about getting off the beaten path and finding your own spot to camp. Here are some of the key differences between boondocking and traditional camping:

Location: Boondocking offers the opportunity to camp in remote areas that are not accessible by traditional campgrounds or RV parks. This means you can experience the beauty of untouched wilderness and enjoy stunning views that are not available to those who stay in traditional campgrounds.

Cost: Traditional campgrounds and RV parks often charge fees for camping, while boondocking is usually free of charge. This means that boondocking can be a great way to save money on your camping trip, especially if you plan on camping for an extended period.

Amenities: Traditional campgrounds and RV parks often offer amenities such as electricity, water, and sewage hookups, as well as showers, bathrooms, and laundry facilities. Boondocking, on the other hand, requires you to be self-sufficient, meaning you’ll need to bring your own water, power, and waste management systems. This can be a challenge for some, but it’s also an opportunity to disconnect from modern conveniences and reconnect with nature.

Regulations: Traditional campgrounds and RV parks are subject to regulations and rules, while boondocking offers more freedom in terms of where and how you camp. However, it’s important to remember that there are still rules and regulations that you must follow when boondocking, such as respecting private property and leaving no trace.

While traditional camping can be a great option for some, boondocking offers a unique and adventurous experience for nature lovers who want to explore the wilderness on their own terms. In the following sections, we’ll discuss the advantages of boondocking in more detail, and provide tips for a successful boondocking trip.

The Freedom of Boondocking

Dispersed Camping in Marble Canyon near Lee's Ferry in Arizona
Dispersed Camping in Marble Canyon near Lee’s Ferry in Arizona

One of the biggest draws of boondocking is the freedom it offers. Unlike traditional camping, which requires you to stay in designated campgrounds or RV parks, boondocking allows you to camp wherever you want (within legal limits). This means you can truly explore and experience the wilderness on your own terms.

Here are some of the key benefits of the freedom of boondocking:

Flexibility: With boondocking, you have the flexibility to choose where and when you camp. You can explore remote areas that are not accessible by traditional campgrounds or RV parks, and you can stay for as long as you want. This allows you to fully immerse yourself in nature and take your time to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings.

Privacy: Boondocking also offers more privacy than traditional camping. Instead of being packed into a crowded campground or RV park, you can choose a secluded spot and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature. This can be especially appealing for those who want to escape the noise and stress of everyday life.

Adventure: Boondocking is an adventure in itself. You never know what you’ll find when you venture off the beaten path, and the thrill of exploration can be exhilarating. Whether you’re hiking to a hidden waterfall, spotting wildlife in their natural habitat, or simply enjoying the stunning views, boondocking offers endless opportunities for adventure and discovery.

Of course, with this freedom comes responsibility. It’s important to respect the environment and follow the rules and regulations of the area you’re camping in. In the following sections, we’ll discuss the best ways to find the perfect spot for boondocking, as well as tips for staying safe and comfortable while camping off the grid.

Boondocking in Remote Areas

One of the greatest benefits of boondocking is the ability to camp in remote areas that are not accessible by traditional campgrounds or RV parks. However, camping in remote areas also comes with its own set of challenges and considerations.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re interested in boondocking in a remote area:

Research the area: Before heading out, make sure to research the area where you plan to camp. Look for information on road conditions, weather patterns, and potential hazards. Additionally, make sure you have a map or GPS device to help you navigate.

Be prepared: Camping in remote areas means you won’t have access to amenities like running water, electricity, or cell service. Make sure you have enough food, water, and supplies for your trip, and bring appropriate camping gear for the weather and terrain.

Practice Leave No Trace: It’s important to leave the area as you found it when boondocking in remote areas. Pack out all of your trash, avoid damaging the natural landscape, and be mindful of wildlife in the area.

Stay safe: Boondocking in remote areas can be a wonderful adventure, but it’s important to stay safe. Be aware of wildlife in the area, and make sure to follow all safety guidelines provided by the park or forest service. Additionally, make sure someone knows your itinerary and expected return time.

Boondocking in remote areas can be an incredible way to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and truly immerse yourself in nature. Just remember to do your research, be prepared, and stay safe.

Finding Areas to Boondock

Google Maps: You can often find dispersed camping spots by zooming into your target locations and looking for clearly established areas where people have camped in the past.  Dispersed camping areas often exist near established campgrounds – so start your Google maps searches there.

Word of Mouth: Talking with other dispersed campers is often the best way to find new boondocking areas.  Some of the most interesting dispersed sites we have experienced have been discovered from the advice of friends.

Campendium: Our favorite online resource to find free dispersed campsites is Campendium – a website and mobile app with listings of campgrounds and RV parks.  Campendium is a community-driven site where users upload and review campsites they’ve visited. Campendium’s search functionality is particularly useful in searching for free camping spots as is their “Free Camping” section. User feedback and reviews of dispersed camping spots often provide useful information about getting to the locations along with details about the destinations.

Preparing for Boondocking

Dispersed Camping in the Coconino National Forest near Williams, AZ
Camping with the Outward Overland Trailer in the Coconino National Forest near Williams, AZ

Boondocking can be an amazing adventure, but it requires more preparation and self-sufficiency than traditional camping. Here are some tips to help you prepare for a successful boondocking trip:

Choose the right vehicle: The vehicle you choose for boondocking will depend on your personal preferences and needs. A four-wheel drive truck or SUV with high clearance is often preferred, but some people choose to camp in smaller vehicles like vans or even cars. Make sure your vehicle is reliable and has enough storage space for your gear and supplies.

Invest in solar power: Since boondocking means camping without access to electricity, many people choose to invest in solar power. Solar panels can be mounted on the roof of your vehicle or on portable devices, providing you with enough power to charge your devices and run small appliances like a refrigerator or fan. If you’re interested in adding solar to your boondocking setup, check out our Off Grid Solar System series for details on how to setup your system.

Bring enough supplies: When boondocking, you’ll need to bring enough supplies to last for the duration of your trip. This includes food, water, fuel, and any other supplies you’ll need for cooking, cleaning, and staying comfortable. For the best boondocking options, check out our recent article about using the bathroom while camping.

Have a backup plan: Even the most well-planned trips can experience unexpected challenges. Make sure you have a backup plan in case of inclement weather, vehicle breakdowns, or other emergencies. We recommend mapping out a few dispersed camping locations in the area you are traveling to beforehand.  If your primary area is closed or unreachable, it’s great to have a backup location planned.

Practice Leave No Trace: It’s important to leave the area as you found it when boondocking. Pack out all of your trash, avoid damaging the natural landscape, and be mindful of wildlife in the area.

Preparing for boondocking takes time and effort, but it’s well worth it for the freedom and adventure that come with camping off the grid. By choosing the right vehicle, investing in solar power, and bringing enough supplies, you can enjoy a safe and comfortable boondocking trip.

Leave No Trace

One of the most important principles of boondocking is to leave the area as you found it. This means practicing Leave No Trace principles, which help minimize your impact on the environment and preserve the natural beauty of the wilderness. Here are some key Leave No Trace principles to keep in mind when boondocking:

Plan ahead and prepare: Before heading out, research the area and make sure you have enough supplies and gear to minimize your impact on the environment.

Travel and camp on durable surfaces: When driving and setting up camp, stick to established roads and campsites to avoid damaging the natural landscape.

Dispose of waste properly: Pack out all of your trash and waste, including food scraps and toilet paper. If you need to use the bathroom, bury your waste at least six inches deep and at least 200 feet from water sources and campsites.

Leave what you find: Don’t disturb the natural environment by taking rocks, plants, or other natural objects as souvenirs.

Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance and avoid feeding or disturbing them.

Be considerate of other visitors: Keep noise levels down and respect other visitors’ privacy and space.

By practicing Leave No Trace principles, you can help preserve the natural beauty of the wilderness for future generations to enjoy. Remember, it’s up to all of us to protect the environment and ensure that these wild places remain pristine and beautiful for years to come.


Boondocking is a unique and rewarding way to experience the beauty of the natural world. With the right preparation, you can enjoy the freedom and adventure of camping off the grid, while minimizing your impact on the environment. By choosing the right vehicle, investing in solar power, and bringing enough supplies, you can explore remote areas and national parks with ease.

Remember to always practice Leave No Trace principles and respect the natural environment. With a little effort and mindfulness, you can enjoy the ultimate adventure for nature lovers. So, grab your gear, hit the road, and get ready to experience the wonders of boondocking!

Desert Dispersed Camping near Phoenix, AZ
Dispersed camping in the desert near Phoenix, AZ

How to Poop Properly….While Camping

Pooping while camping
For most people, “dropping a deuce” in the great outdoors can be an intimidating and uncomfortable experience.

Camping is one of the best ways to connect with nature, spend quality time with friends and family, and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. However, as enjoyable as camping can be, it also comes with its fair share of challenges, and one of the biggest can be going to the bathroom. While it may not be the most glamorous aspect of camping, knowing how to poop properly outdoors is crucial for keeping your trips enjoyable.

For most people, “dropping a deuce” in the great outdoors can be an intimidating and uncomfortable experience. But with the right knowledge and preparation, it doesn’t have to be. In this post, we’ll provide you with some options and advice on how to poop properly when camping.

So, whether you’re an experienced camper or a first-timer, read on to learn how to create your own campsite bathroom in the great outdoors.

Camping without a Restroom Nearby

Most state and federal campgrounds have bathrooms available onsite.  If you are just getting into camping, we recommend starting your camping experience at these types of campgrounds.  Campground bathrooms are not luxurious, but they usually have a toilet to sit on and toilet paper nearby. Pooping in these locations, while usually not particularly pleasurable, is pretty easy.

Some of our best experiences camping, however, have been at dispersed camping sites outside of a designated campground.  These “boondocking” sites typically have no services or facilities. Dispersed campsites are free, private, and offer the freedom to camp on your own terms.  But you’ll have to poop “on your own terms” as well. With some planning and preparation, you can create your own perfect campsite bathroom.

Here are Some of the Best Campsite Bathroom Options

Option 1: Dig a Hole

Humans have been “busting a grumpy” outdoors since the beginning of time. While the modern man is used to his porcelain throne, animals (humans and otherwise) have always been able to take care of their business with a simple hole. If this is your chosen method, here’s how it’s done:

Step 1: Find the Right Spot

Finding the right spot to relieve yourself when camping is essential for both your privacy and the environment. The following are some guidelines to follow when looking for a suitable location:

  • Choose an area at least 200 feet away from water sources. You don’t want to contaminate nearby lakes, rivers, or streams.
  • Find a private area away from campsites and hiking trails. Look for a place that’s hidden from view to ensure privacy.
Step 2: Dig a Hole

A hole allows you to bury your poop once you’re done – keeping smells down and preserving the environment for others.  Here are some tips for digging your hole:

  • Dig a hole that is at least 6-8 inches deep and 4-6 inches wide. This depth will help to ensure that the waste is fully covered and won’t attract any animals or insects.
  • Pack a shovel along with your camping gear. Digging can be tricky without the right gear. We recommend a folding camping shovel like this one.
Step 3: Squat & Clean

Squatting is the most natural and hygienic position for relieving yourself. We go into the details of why in this article, but I’m sure you can do the math. Here are some guidelines to follow for the proper squatting and cleaning technique:

  • Squat with the right posture. Find a stable position with your feet shoulder-width apart, and squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Make sure your weight is balanced and your knees are slightly bent. Use your thighs and lower body to support your weight and maintain balance.
  • Use a rock or a log as a prop if you prefer. If you find it difficult to balance, you can use props such as rocks or logs to support your feet. This will help you to maintain a comfortable and stable position.
  • Wipe with toilet paper or biodegradable wipes. Make sure to pack your toilet paper or wipes out with you to keep the environment as pristine as possible.
Step 4: Bury your Business

When you’re done, make sure to bury your business properly.  Covering it up properly will prevent humans from accidentally stumbling into it and animals from digging it up. It also adheres to a “Leave No Trace” mentality.

If you choose the “Dig a Hole” option, make sure to bring along a camping shovel.  Camping shovels fold up when not in use to pack and store more easily. Here’s one that can be purchased on Amazon that we recommend:

Option 2: Poop in a Bucket

Luggable Loo
The Luggable Loo is a bucket and seat lid that seals tightly when not in use and when traveling.

If you are looking for a slightly more civilized campsite bathroom option, a 5-gallon bucket toilet might be the choice for you. A bucket toilet allows you to bring a dedicated toilet to your campsite that when you’re done can be emptied into a trash can – allowing you to safely dispose of your waste.

The idea is simple, the bucket is lined with a plastic bag (or two for double protection) and sawdust is added to the bucket.  Each time the bucket is used, a handful of sawdust is sprinkled on top keeping smells to a minimum. When the bucket is full, the bags can be removed and disposed of. The bucket is relined with bags and sawdust for more use.

The bucket toilet method is simple and easy to maintain. With the sawdust (or your absorbent, odor-reducing material of choice), smells really are kept under control. At the end of your trip, the plastic bag can be thrown away – keeping maintenance to a minimum.

You can create your own bucket toilet with any 5-gallon bucket, but to make it more comfortable during use, we recommend picking up a toilet seat lid to attach to the top – making your bucket into a proper (and comfortable) toilet.

If you are looking for an entire bucket toilet solution, we highly recommend the Luggable Loo – a bucket and seat lid that seals tightly when not in use and when traveling. In our experience, we’ve found the pluggable loo to be comfortable and we appreciate having a dedicated bucket for camping-only use.

For privacy, a small toilet tent (like this one) can be used to create a dedicated “bathroom” at your campsite and to allow people to “pinch a loaf” without worrying about others seeing. Adding a privacy tent to your bucket toilet setup really makes pooping at your dispersed campsite easier and more enjoyable.

Option 3: Bring along a Chemical Toilet

Chemical toilets have been around for years and they basically have the same design.  Flushing water is held along with the seat and bowl in the upper compartment of the two-part unit. When flushed, the toilet empties the water along with your waste into the storage containing the lower part of the unit.

When full, the lower storage tank can be detached, drained, and rinsed.  Chemical waste storage solutions are used in the storage compartment to minimize odors and to help dissolve the waste for disposal.

Of the options above, a chemical toilet is the closest experience to a home toilet.  It uses water like your bowl at home and is flushed when done using it.  The chemical additives provide the ability to store your waste without odors for the duration of your trip.

The cons of this method are the following:

  • Chemical toilets are expensive.
  • For them to work properly you need to also purchase chemicals.
  • They can leak over time – creating a mess.
  • They are a lot to lug around.
  • They are often low to the ground and uncomfortable.
  • You need to find a dump station to properly dispose of your waste and the chemicals involved.

We know of boondocking campers who swear by their chemical toilets and others that just see them as an unnecessary hassle.  The biggest drawback to this option is the find a proper dump station to dispose of the waste. Chemical toilets should NEVER be emptied into the ground or down a standard drain.

If you prefer a chemical toilet for your camp pooping, here’s a good option to consider:

What about Peeing?

For the half of the population with aiming capabilities, peeing outdoors is easy. Find a nice private spot away from water sources, campsites, and trails and get it done.

For the other half of the population, there is a great little device that can make peeing outdoors much easier and more comfortable. A pee funnel can be used to control your stream and can even be used while standing if desired.  While it seems silly at first, those on our camping trips who have used a pee funnel have had great experiences with it.


Camping is all about enjoying the beauty of nature, and it’s essential to preserve the environment for future generations to enjoy. However you prefer to poop in nature, please remember the following:

  • Leave no trace: Always pack out your trash and dispose of it properly. Do not leave any waste behind, including toilet paper, wipes, or plastic bags.
  • Respect wildlife: Do not disturb wildlife. Keep your distance from animals and don’t use the bathroom near their homes.
  • Respect water sources: Help keep water sources uncontaminated by doing your business away from water sources.

Camping is a great way to enjoy nature and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. By planning how you’ll poop and being properly prepared, you’ll create a campsite bathroom that not only ensures a pleasant camping experience for yourself but also will help to preserve the environment for future generations. Happy camping!




Choosing the Right Solar Panels for Your Off Grid Solar System

Off Grid Solar Panels

Solar technology really is amazing science. We can harness the energy potential in the sun’s rays to power our life – without the need to be connected to the electrical grid. For those who venture outdoors often, solar systems provide the ability to venture further from civilization without compromising on electrical luxuries. At Outward Spaces, we are advocates for removing any barriers that keep people from exploring the outdoors. Properly installed RV solar panels can help make your RV, van, or boat trips more comfortable for longer – and we’re here for it. Our “Off-Grid Solar Series” gives you the tools to design and build your own solar system for your off-grid needs.

Before purchasing any components for your off-grid solar system, it’s important to plan the design of your system. To help design your system, check out Part 1 of our Off-Grid Solar Series, “Designing a DIY Off Grid Solar System.” Once you have a general design plan for your system, we recommend conducting an energy audit to determine how much power your system will use – and thus how much power you’ll need to recharge your batteries.  In Part 2 of our series, “Conducting an Energy Audit on a Recreational Vehicle”, we walk you through how to run an energy audit on your planned (or existing) electrical system.

Now that you’ve got a general system design in mind and you know how much big your system will need to be, it’s time to choose the best solar panels for your project. In this post, we’ll highlight some of the considerations to keep in mind when shopping for the perfect solar panels for your project.

How Many Solar Panels do you need?

Determining how many solar panels to add to your system can be a complex decision that deserves some careful thought.

If you are building a solar system for an RV, van, or boat, you most likely don’t need a solar system that will allow you to remain off-grid indefinitely.  You’ll probably want to design your solar system to recharge a portion of your battery usage each day, thus allowing you to extend your trip when you’re away from the grid.

If you are designing a solar system for an off-grid cabin, you’ll want your solar system to be able to fully recharge your batteries each day.  These types of systems typically include a larger number of solar panels and produce more watts of power each day than mobile systems.

How many Watts do Solar Panels Really Produce?

Solar panels are rated in watts. A 100-watt solar panel produces 100w of power from the sun… in perfect conditions. Solar panel manufacturers test and rate their solar panels in ideal conditions – full sunlight, optimal temperature, etc. The rating of a solar panel is what the panel CAN produce.  In real-world conditions, most solar panels won’t reach this rating. When planning a solar system, we recommend expecting to get 75% of the watt rating of your solar panel.  While you may often see more watts coming in from your panel (ie. 85 watts from a 100 watts panel), you’ll often see less.  75% is a conservative number that helps project how much power your solar panels will actually produce.

Your location in the world and time of year is also important to consider when calculating how much power a solar panel will generate.  Different locations and different times of year differ in the number of “Peak Sun Hours” they provide. You can calculate your Peak Sun Hours online using this Peak Sun Hours Calculator. Your annual average peak sun hours should be added to your calculations when determining how many solar panels your system needs.

When designing our solar systems, we use the following formula to determine how many watts will our solar panels really produce:

RV Solar Panel Production Formula

As an example, if we were looking at adding 2 100-watt solar panels to an RV, we would start by taking the total panel rated watts (200w) and multiplying by .75 to determine. With a real-world projected rating of 150 watts, we then multiply that by the annual average of Peak Sun Hours in our location, Phoenix, AZ. So we multiply 150 by 5.78 (Peak Sun Hours in Phoenix) to get a total of 867 watts of projected daily solar production.

To convert this number to amp hours (Ah) to compare against your energy audit calculations, simply divide your projected daily solar production (in watts) by the voltage of your system – typically 12 volts. So if we divide 867 by 12, we learn that our 200w solar system should generate 72.25 Ah of power each day.

Formula to convert your projected solar wattage into amp hours - RV solar panels

Define Your Solar Objectives

It’s important to decide the goals you have for your solar system.  Will your solar panels need to recharge your batteries fully each day? Or will they just give you a day or two extra while boondocking?

For most RV, van, and boat applications, we recommend a solar system size that replenishes the amount of daily power you use on average. The data from an energy audit should tell you how much daily power you will use on average. Adding a solar system that matches this amount allows you to tailor your power usage to meet your needs.  Need to make your batteries last for weeks? Reduce your daily power consumption by 20-30%. Only staying off-grid for 48 hours? Enjoy all of your electrical luxuries without worrying about running out of juice.

When sizing your solar system, defining your solar objectives will ensure you build the right solar system the first time – saving you time and money.

Consider Your Install Location
Solarland SLP080-12M Multicrystalline 80 Watt 12 Volt Solar Panel - RV solar panel
Our 80w slim solar panel sits just above our electrical compartment on the front of our trailer

Your solar panels will need to be securely fastened to your RV, van, or boat to protect them from the elements and to make sure they will hold up over the years. The design of your vehicle’s or off-grid cabin’s roof may be a limiting factor on how many solar panels you can safely install.  Before purchasing your solar panels, it’s important to measure and inspect your potential mounting locations to determine what type, size, and number of panels your vehicle can support.

Flat surfaces are best for installing solar panels as they give you the best variety of solar panels (both rigid & flexible) to choose from. Curved or round surfaces (think the top of an Airstream trailer) can also serve as great mounting locations for solar panels, but you’ll probably want to focus on flexible solar panels that adapt to the curve of your structure.

Some Examples

Our Outward Overland Trailer has a wealth of flat rooftop, but most of the area is shaded by our roof rack and roof rack accessories.  As for viable solar panel mounting locations, the trailer only had a thin rectangular space that sits in front of the roof rack.  This area, about 13in by 60in, didn’t give us enough room to place a typical 100w solar panel (20in by 40in).  We found and purchased a “slim” 80w solar panel made by Solarland that measured 13.5″ by 58″.  While it’s not a perfect fit, it’s the best option we can find to get as many solar watts into our system as possible. To add more solar, we purchased a portable 100w solar suitcase from Renogy that we can connect when needed and can “aim” as the sun moves throughout the day.

We recently added solar panels to a 46ft sailboat that was running out of power when away from the dock for a few days.  Having no hard roof structures to mount solar panels to, we decided to add 4 100w flexible solar panels to the canvas bimini cover over the cockpit area.  The bimini roof is made of soft canvas and its structure curves across the width of the boat.  Rigid solar panels weren’t an option for us, but flexible solar panels handle the bends of the bimini perfectly.

Mounting Your Solar Panels?

When researching which solar panels to purchase, make sure to consider how you’ll mount your solar panels. Your RV solar panels won’t stay put when traveling or during high winds unless they are securely mounted to your rooftop. Planning how you will mount your solar panels will help better estimate your project cost and ensure your panels stay put for a long time.

If you are mounting rigid panels to a flat roof, aluminum mounting brackets like these are a perfect and easy addition to your project. The brackets connect to the underside of your panel and provide a flat surface with holes to mount to your vehicle’s roof. Brackets like these give you a low-profile look while also allowing for some airflow underneath the panel – something that most panel manufacturers recommend for cooling purposes.

If you are designing a system for an off-grid cabin, you may want to consider not mounting your solar array on your roof, but on a nearby pole mount instead. Mounting solar panels via a pole mount gives you the flexibility to have more panels than your roof may allow and they can be set at optimized sun angles that your roof may not provide.

You May Need to Get Creative With Your Mounting
Renogy 100w flexible panels installed on boat bimini
Adding solar panels to an off-grid electrical system can help extend trips to the outdoors.

With limited solar panel installation locations on our overland trailer, we chose to mount our single 80-watt panel using a Renogy tiltable mount which lets us adjust the angle of the panel to maximize our solar production. We keep our panel locked down flat when traveling allowing it to produce power while we’re on the road, but we tilt the angle once we get to our destination to get the most out of our panel.

When it comes to flexible solar panels that typically have 6-8 grommets around the edges for mounting, things can be trickier.  The grommets can be used to screw down the solar panel directly to your roof, but without the recommended airflow underneath the panel.  We’ve also heard about a lot of people gluing their panels down with RV roof adhesive to a round roof surface with success.  For our sailboat bimini solar addition, we decided to try high-power magnets to keep our panels secure to the roof of our bimini.  With 6 magnets (100ld holding strength) on each panel, our panels stay put even in high winds.

Rigid vs Flexible

When choosing whether to add rigid or flexible solar panels to your system, we recommend going with rigid panels whenever possible.  Flexible panels should be considered when rigid panels can’t be mounted properly or when weight is a concern.

Rigid Solar Panels

Overall, rigid solar panels will give you the best performance.  Rigid panels have been on the market for decades and have served as tried and true power-generating devices.  They last longer than flexible panels, and are less expensive but are also heavier than flexible panels. Rigid panels are perfect for flat mounting areas but can be difficult to mount on surfaces that aren’t flat or can’t support the additional weight.

Flexible Solar Panels

Flexible RV Solar Panels shine when traditional rigid panels aren’t an option.  Flexible panels can bend allowing them to curve around round roofs.  They are also lighter making them better for installations where weight is a concern.  Historically, flexible panels haven’t lasted as long as rigid panels and don’t perform on average as well, though as technology advances, flexible panels are getting better. In our experience, flexible panels have performed better than we expected, and believe that performance concerns are often more due to the creative installations of many flexible panels rather than their quality.

Choosing the right solar panels for your RV, van, boat, or off-grid home can produce power for your adventures for years to come.  With planning and careful consideration, adding RV solar panels to your system can be done easily and relatively inexpensively.  Make sure to do your homework before buying your panels though.  Make sure you are getting the right number of panels and have a secure location to mount them. Once you install the right panels for your system, you’ll enjoy sitting back and letting the sun provide free power day after day – allowing you to enjoy the outdoors in comfort and extend your trips away from the grid.

View other articles in our Off-Grid Solar System Series:

How to Conduct an Energy Audit on a Recreational Vehicle

RV Energy Audit
An energy audit can help determine the energy efficiency of your electrical system and make sure it’s sized appropriately

When exploring wild spaces in an RV, van, travel trailer, or boat, it’s important for your vehicle to have an electrical system that will keep your systems running for the duration of your trip.  If your vehicle’s electrical system isn’t up to the task or if you want to upgrade your power capabilities, it’s vital to start with an energy audit. A complete energy audit will provide important information about your electrical system to help you make the right choices for your vehicle, usage, and budget.

What is an Energy Audit?

An energy audit is a comprehensive inspection of your energy typically usage used to determine ways to conserve energy or to properly size power systems.  In your home, you may hire a professional to conduct an energy audit to look for opportunities to save energy or to size a solar system.  For an RV, van, travel trailer, or other off-grid outdoor vehicles, an energy audit can help you determine the size of batteries or the number of solar panels you need.

Conducting an energy audit looks at all of your electronic devices, how much you use them, and helps establish a target amount of power you’ll need to power your devices.  For recreational vehicles, this target power number is usually calculated in amp hours per day. For example, you might conduct an energy audit and determine that when you’re boondocking, or camping off-grid, your RV typically uses 50 Ah of power per day.

Benefits of Conducting an Energy Audit on your RV, Van, or Travel Trailer

1. An Energy Audit Determines Your Power Storage and Power Generation Needs

Each of us uses power differently. Some vigilantly turn off lights and other devices when they aren’t in use.  Others prefer to have every electronic luxury all going at the same time.  Conducting an energy audit on your RV, van, travel trailer, or boat based on how you use it will calculate your unique power needs.  Once you know how much power you use, you can ensure your batteries, solar panels, or generator are sized appropriately.

2. An Energy Audit helps you Better Understand your Electrical System

Whether you purchase an RV or build your own electrical system for your van, it’s important to know how your electrical system is designed and how much each device uses.  An energy audit provides you with this information per device.

3. An Energy Audit Identifies What Devices Should be Upgraded to be More Energy Efficient

Knowing what each device in your electrical system consumes lets you make better decisions about your system.  Discovering which devices consume a large percentage of your power will help identify which device upgrades will save the most power and allow you to extend your trips.

How to Conduct an Energy Audit

Step 1: Measure the Current Draw of Each of your Devices

Most RV, van, travel trailer, or boat electrical systems have a battery monitor.  Some smaller or older systems have only a voltage meter (voltmeter) – allowing you to “guess” your battery capacity percentage based on the voltage of your batteries.  To conduct an energy audit, a voltmeter won’t do the trick.  You’ll need a device that can measure the current (in amps) of each device.

Renogy 500A Battery Monitor with Shunt
The Renogy Battery Monitor measures your current draw (in amperage) of your electrical system

If you don’t have a system monitor that can measure amperage draw, we recommend picking up Renogy’s 500A Battery Monitor (Read our full review of the Renogy Battery Monitor). At under $100, Renogy’s battery monitor includes a shunt that you install between all of your devices and your battery.  This shunt measures the amount of current draw coming out of your battery in real time and displays the result on the battery monitor screen.

Turn off all devices in your system

To measure the current draw of each device, start by turning off all devices in your system.  Once all devices have been turned off, your battery monitor should be reading at or near 0 Amps.  If your monitor doesn’t read 0 Amps with all devices turned off, check to make sure you haven’t forgotten any.  If after double-checking, you still have some current draw in your system, don’t worry.  This small amount of power may simply be “parasitic loss” – a small amount of power that your system draws even when off.  If your number is more than zero, simply make note of the amount and subtract it from your measurements of each device.

Measure each device

Once you have all devices off, turn one device on and measure its current draw in amps.  It’s helpful to have a spreadsheet handy for this step to record your measurements.  Make a list of each device in your system and record its current draw in amps next to it.  We’ve created a simple spreadsheet to get you started –download it here. You can add and level each device in the first column and record its current draw in the ‘amperage” column.

Download our Energy Audit Spreadsheet
DIY Energy Audit Spreadsheet
Download our Energy Audit Spreadsheet to record your device readings and to calculate your total system usage.
Step 2: Determine How Much You Use Each Device Per Day

Now that you’ve identified how much power each device in your system uses when it’s on, you’ll need to note how much time you use each device for.

Add your daily usage (in hours) to the spreadsheet under the “hours used per day” column. For devices that are on all the time, like a refrigerator, coming up with these numbers is easy.  For intermittent devices, like a water pump, try to project how many minutes you’re water pump is on per day. If you typically use your water pump 10 times per day for an average of 1 minute, then you use your water pump for 10 minutes per day or .167 hours per day.

Imagine an average day

When determining how many hours per day you use each device, we recommend thinking about an average day. – not a day of heavy use for a particular device. For example, use usage numbers from a typical sunny day where you don’t use your lights during the day as opposed to a dark, stormy day where you might use interior lighting during the day.

Error on the high side

To determine your power needs, don’t cheat these numbers. The end result of your energy audit is the projected daily usage total of your system.  If you typically use lights for 4hrs/day but want to cut back to 2/hrs per day to save power, enter the higher number for this exercise.

An electrical system that is bigger than you need is better than one that is less than you need – provided you have the budget. If you are going to guess on your usage, guess on the higher side.

Step 3: Establish your daily usage numbers

To establish how much power each device in your system uses per day, multiply the amperage of the device by the number of hours it will be used each day.

Amperage X Hours/Day = Total Amp Hours per Day

If you’re using our spreadsheet, it will do the math for you for each device.  In the “Total Ah/day” column, you’ll discover the amount of power each device listed uses in your system.  Because batteries are usually labeled in amp hours (Ah), keeping your energy audit recording in Ah will help more easily determine how your usage stacks up against your storage capacity.

Once you have your daily Ah totals for each device, add them all together to discover your total system needs per day in Ah.  If you are using our spreadsheet, you’ll find this number at the bottom in green and labeled “Total System Ah/day”.

DuFour 460 Grand Large 12V Switch Panel
Using your vehicle’s 12V switch panel, turn on each device individually to measure its current draw

Now That You Know Your Daily Power Needs, You Can Make Better Decisions About the Future of Your System

Now that you know your usage, you can compare that number to your battery capacity.  If you have a 200Ah battery bank, 200Ah of storage divided by 50Ah of daily usage will give you 4 days of power before needing to recharge. If you want to extend the time you can camp off-grid, you may look at adding a solar system.  Let’s say you want to target a camping duration of 7 days with your system. For the 3 additional days, you’ll need to generate an additional 150Ah of power. Having 7 days to generate 150Ah of power means you’ll need a solar system that can generate around 21.5 Ah per day.

Knowing your daily power usage may indicate that you need to add to your battery bank or, if that’s not possible, reduce your power usage by using higher-power devices less each day.  If your current electrical system doesn’t fit your power needs, you only have 2 options:

  1. add more power (storage capacity with batteries, charging capacity with solar, generator, etc)
  2. decrease your power usage (limit your usage, shorten your trip durations, etc)

There are a lot of ways to accomplish either (or both) items above.  In the end, you’ll need to decide what alterations your electrical system needs based on your needs and your budget.  By conducting an energy audit, you’ll now know exactly how much power each device in your system draws, your daily system usage, and how you’re system should be sized.  You’ll have a lot more useful information to make informed decisions to improve your electrical system and to save money in the process.

Download our Energy Audit Spreadsheet

The LGBTQ+ Community’s Complex Relationship with the Outdoors

LGBTQ+ Camping

This article is a part of our Outdoor Inclusivity Series – an exploration into the issues that keep some from more fully experiencing and enjoying the outdoors. Read part 1 of this series, “Why the Outdoors Should Be for Everyone”.

We recently ran across this article on Yahoo News about a couple who decided to sell everything, move into an RV, and hit the road. Their story is like so many currently found across blogs and social media – with one big difference – the article describes how, as a lesbian couple, they face judgment and often feel unsafe as they travel. While the article ends on an encouraging note as the couple found unexpected acceptance and community in a Texas bar, their experiences should be concerning to all who love and enjoy the outdoors.

As highlighted in part 1 of this series, the truth about the outdoor community is that it’s not nearly as accessible as it should be for some communities. No one should worry about facing judgment, feeling unsafe, or having to hide their true self when enjoying the outdoors.

Unfortunately, those in the LGBTQ+ community far too often face these challenges.

The Outdoors Stereotype

LGBTQ+ Outdoors
Breaking the “white, cisgender, and straight” stereotype to be inclusive of those in the LGBTQ+ community is important.

In her article about LGBT people taking on the great outdoors, writer Heather Dockray describes, “an enduring stereotype of ‘outdoorsy’ people: They’re white, cis, straight, and love granola and/or semi-automatic rifles.” If we’re honest, most of us would agree that when we think about outdoor activities like camping, we primarily imagine straight, white people gathered around the campfire.

For LGBTQ+ people, this stereotype creates barriers to enjoying all the outdoors have to offer. Outdoor stereotypes like the one above, serve as a subtle whisper of “this isn’t for you” and “you’re not welcome”.

According to the Momentus Institute, “Stereotypes are the idea that everyone within a certain group shares the same characteristics.” Stereotypes are ways in which we try to categorize others.  But stereotypes fail in their oversimplification.  While they may hold some elements of truth within them, they ignore the individuality and diversity of interests within a group. Stereotypes also ignore the outliers – those who defy traditional stereotypes.  In ignoring these outliers, stereotypes miss out on the full picture and exclude new and diverse voices and contributions.

Because stereotypes don’t include the whole story, they are often harmful to those who don’t neatly fit into them.  In his article, “What the outdoor rec industry doesn’t get about the LGBTQ community”, adventurer Mikah Meyer, writes, “Nature doesn’t care who you are, but people do.” Nature doesn’t care about the sexual orientation or the gender identity of those who trek through its lands.  So why do we?

Regardless of who we are, we all need to challenge the traditional outdoors stereotype.  The outdoors aren’t reserved only for certain types of people.  All people deserve to experience the beauty and benefits of outdoor spaces. Breaking the “white, cisgender, and straight” stereotype to be inclusive of those in the LGBTQ+ community is important.

Feeling Safe While Outdoors

Outdoor spaces inherently possess a certain amount of danger. When we venture into nature, we leave the safety net of paved roads, permanent shelters, and emergency services.  Nature can be ruthless. Severe weather can surprise us. Rugged terrain can punish us. At some level, the risk of the outdoors is what draws us to it.  It forces us to be more self-aware, self-reliant, and thoughtful of our surroundings. A healthy amount of fear of nature helps to keep us safe while we’re outdoors.  But when outdoors, no one should have to fear other people.

Kim Kelley Stamp and her wife fear stirring up “an angry reaction from people who disagree with their ‘lifestyle'” while RVing across the United States. Mikah Meyer faced discriminatory comments upon return from his world-record journey to all 419 National Park Service sites. Elyse Rylander, the Executive Director of Out There Adventures, explains some of the questions the LGBTQ+ community has about going outdoors, “What am I going to experience out there in the backcountry?.. I’d much rather encounter a black or brown bear than somebody whose motives I don’t know.”

Members of the LGBTQ+ community often feel weary of their safety when in outdoor spaces.  While tragic, this truth isn’t surprising when you consider that 15 US states still don’t have laws against hate crimes that expressly address either sexual orientation or gender identity.  Many of these states, including Alaska, Idaho, & Montana, are known for their outdoor offerings. In addition, many RV parks, campgrounds, and managed parks are in rural areas – which can be less accepting of those in the LGBTQ+ community.

No one should have to be fearful when venturing into outdoor spaces. LGBTQ+ people deserve to feel welcome while out on the trail or at RV parks. We all need to be aware of discrimination outdoors –  confronting it when we witness it and working hard to ensure we are welcoming to all.

LGBT+ Safety Outdoors
Members of the LGBTQ+ community often feel weary of their safety when in outdoor spaces.

The Lack of LGBTQ+ Representation in the Outdoor Industry

Browse through the websites of most outdoor-oriented companies and you’ll discover a lot of male-centric images of predominantly white, cisgender, heterosexual people. What you won’t see are members of the LGBTQ+ community being represented.

When adventurer Mikah Meyer began to plan his epic journey to visit all 419 U.S. National Park Service sites he struggled to find sponsors. Meyer recognized that potential sponsors would back out at the critical moment they found out he is gay. One sponsor terminated his contract after working with him for 11 months because he was “doing too much LGBT outreach”.  REI eventually partnered with Meyer to market its OPT outside campaign marking. According to Meyer, “It was the first time in the history of the industry that an openly gay man was ever featured in any outdoor recreation campaign.”

Civil rights activist Marian Wright Edelman once said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” For members of the LGBTQ+ community, the lack of representation in the outdoor industry can leave them struggling to find their place in the outdoors. Thankfully, through social media LGBTQ people are beginning to change the narrative.

“We’re creating our own outdoor narrative,” author and podcaster Jenny Bruso told The Advocate. “One that fits all of us. Through social media communities and hashtags, we’re able to find each other and have our social media feeds represent the broad spectrum of who’s truly recreating outdoors while the traditional platforms and brands represent the same narrow image we’ve grown accustomed to.”

LGBTQ+ Organizations Are Working to Make the Outdoors More Inclusive

LGBTQ+ Outdoors
LGBT Outdoors is building a network of LGBTQ+ outdoors enthusiasts to encourage in-person connections
Photo credit: LGBT Outdoors

Over the past few years, some great LGBTQ+ organizations have taken the lead in breaking stereotypes, creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people, and increasing LGBTQ+ representation in the outdoor industry.  Here’s a list of some of the organizations, websites, and social media accounts we love:

Know of other amazing LGBT+ organizations, websites, or social media accounts we missed?  Let us know in the comments and we’ll add them to our list!

View more articles from our Outdoor Inclusivity Series:

Part 1: The Outdoors Should be for Everyone



Why the Outdoors Should Be for Everyone

Black Women Hiking
People of color often feel uncomfortable and “out-of-place” in outdoor spaces.

Take a walk through a forest and you’ll find yourself in awe of the sheer beauty of the green trees whistling gently in the wind. Camp among hundred-foot-tall red rock faces and you’ll be overwhelmed with the awareness of the smallness of your existence. Listen to the waves crash on a rocky cliff leaving behind a foamy aftermath and you’ll become keenly aware of the power of nature.

Time spent outdoors is full of exhilarating and spiritual experiences that often leave us changed somehow. They are special encounters that can’t seem to be duplicated in the city or in our everyday lives. The outdoors are life-giving – providing both rest and inspiration in a single moment. As I reflect on the love I feel for the outdoors, I consistently return to a single question, “Why don’t more people regularly venture into the outdoors?”.

For many people, the answer to this question is about access. For various reasons, the outdoors are simply not equally accessible to all. For those with disabilities, pathways and trails aren’t often designed with them in mind. Members of the LBGTQ+ community have expressed feeling fearful and unwelcome by others in outdoor spaces. People of color often feel uncomfortable and “out-of-place” in outdoor spaces. Those with limited finances can struggle to find reliable transportation and the ability to purchase outdoor gear.

Wheelchair National Park
National Parks are making changes to help make trails and pathways more accessible to disabled visitors

Outdoor spaces are available to all, but are not always accessible to all.

The reality of the outdoors and of the outdoor recreation industry is that it’s typically been dominated by wealthy, able, straight, white people. For those defined in other terms, accessibility to the outdoors is a major barrier that will only be conquered by all of us thinking differently about outdoor spaces. All people deserve the privilege of enjoying the beauty of the outdoors. They deserve the therapeutic benefits of feeling a fresh mountain breeze across their face, observing the rhythmic crashing of waves against the shore, and taking in a dark sky filled with stars. The outdoors deserve all people as well. As the threat of urban growth and global warming threaten public lands and wild spaces, outdoors spaces depend on a diversity of voices to defend and protect them.

We need to do better. Here’s why:

Public lands are “owned” by us all

The federal government oversees 640 million acres of land in the US. These federally-managed public lands make up just under 30% of all land area in the United States. In addition, countless non-federal public lands including state parks, forests, wildlife areas, parks, forests, greenways, and other units are managed at county and municipal levels. In the US, we have a LOT of outdoor spaces to explore.  The best part about these public lands is that they are available for use by all.

These lands aren’t owned by only specific groups, but by all people.  They are lands reserved and protected for all of our use.  They are the property of those in the disabled, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC communities equally. It’s time that we get better at inviting these groups to enjoy their own lands.

Outdoor spaces are good for us all

More and more research is telling us that time spent outdoors is good for us.  Most people would agree that spending time outdoors is good for our physical health, but research shows that time spent outdoors has a positive effect on our mental health as well. According to the American Psychological Association, time spent in blue and green spaces has cognitive benefits and can lead to increases in happiness, subjective well-being, positive affect, positive social interactions, a sense of meaning, and purpose in life.

Those who spend a lot of time outdoors already know this anecdotally – the time spent outdoors is good for our bodies, minds, and souls.  These important benefits of outdoor experiences should be available (and accessible) to all.  Regardless of a person’s ability, skin color, sexual preference, gender identity, or bank balance, all people deserve the therapeutic advantages of time spent outdoors.  In a world filled with devices, relentless schedules, and unforgiving expectations, we ALL need the outdoors more than ever. Let’s be better at creating equal and equitable spaces for ALL to enjoy the benefits of outdoor spaces.

Lesbian couple camping
While enjoying the outdoors, some members of the LGBTQ+ community have experienced angry reactions from others who disagree with their “lifestyle.”
The outdoors community is better with a diversity of voices

A diversity of voices and perspectives make us smarter and stronger. As we imagine new technology, ways to manage public lands, and ways to be more inclusive, it’s vital that we ensure that many different voices and perspectives are heard.

How can National Parks be more friendly to those who are disabled?  What can we do at campgrounds and state parks to prevent expressions of hate toward those in the LGBTQ+ community? What steps can we take to reverse decades of racial discrimination that people of color have experienced in the outdoors community?  What outdoor gear can be reimagined at lower price points to lower the financial barrier of entry?  How can we make outdoor spaces more accessible for all?  These are all questions that are best answered from within the communities they affect.  Each of us knows our experiences and each of our experiences is different.  Adding in folks who have had different experiences and have different perspectives can only make the outdoors community smart and stronger. It’s time we elevate a diversity of voices in the outdoors community.

The outdoors need us all

When we spend time in outdoor spaces, we become more connected with nature. This connection leads to increased awareness of the environmental challenges we face. With climate change threatening our beloved outdoor spaces (along with the rest of the planet), we need as many people as possible to join the fight.  The outdoors need ALL of us to protect and preserve our public lands. Let’s encourage ALL people to join us in protecting outdoor spaces.

At Outward Spaces, we’re committed to promoting the accessibility of the outdoors for all

As we further explore the challenge of accessibility in outdoor spaces, we’re compiling lists of resources of articles, organizations, and companies that are already tackling this issue head-on. There are so many awesome folks working every day to help those who lack access to outdoor spaces. Their efforts both inspire us and challenge us to be more aware of the experiences of inaccessibility some face.

This article is the first of our “Outdoors Inclusivity Series” we’ll be posting in the coming weeks.  Our hope is to help bring attention to the challenges keeping some from more fully experiencing and enjoying the outdoors.  In this series, we’ll focus on how different communities face accessibility and inclusivity issues in outdoor spaces, suggest ways in which others can help, and point to organizations working with these communities. We’d love your thoughts and feedback throughout this series.  If you have stories to share or know of great organizations we’ve missed, please let us know in the comments.

Remember, the outdoors should be for EVERYONE.


View more articles from our Outdoor Inclusivity Series:

Part 2: The LGBTQ+ Community’s Complex Relatioship With The Outdoors


Looking to get started exploring the outdoors? Check out our Beginner’s Guide to Camping.

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