IndefinitelyWild Turns Two
Here's a look back at our favorite stories from Outside's new outdoor lifestyle column
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A little over two years ago, I stumbled across a Native American worship group out in the desert, they took a liking to my dog, and invited me to join their ayahuasca ceremony. Eight hours later, I walked out of it, quit my soul-sucking, abusive job making a motorcycle website, and set about trying to figure out what would be next. A few days later, Brian Lam came by for a wild pig dinner, and told me to do adventure/outdoors stuff. He said to call Joel Johnson, who was running Gawker Media editorial at the time, and that he’d set me up with a new website. I fished around on my bookshelf for good quotes, settled on one by Henry David Thoreau, and IndefinitelyWild was born. Two years later, we’re now a part of the most respected outdoor publication on the planet. Here’s a look back at some of our favorite stories, in no particular order.
One of the basic premises we’re working off over here is that going outdoors is good for people, and that by breaking down the barriers to entry and making outdoor recreation more accessible to normal people, we can help more people have more fun and thereby do some good for the world. I think this article is one of the better examples of that. Yeah, the concept might seem remedial to experienced types, but for the vast legions of people who aren’t, knowledge like this presented in a non-condescending, easily followed way, is incredibly powerful. Read our explainers on base layers and rain jackets for more.
I won’t bore you with the whole story here, but I made some new friends, those new friends are weird, and after learning firsthand that killing people doesn’t solve terrorism, they decided to take on that cause with the much more effective solution of providing economic opportunity and education for women in war zones. Our original story on them helped them get on Shark Tank, the investment from that show helped make their company viable, and we’ve had a bunch of other good times together since, and plan even more. Plus, we put 61 women in Afghanistan in school for a year, which feels pretty damn good.
I know it flies in the face of the Internet outrage machine, and lions aren’t something I’d personally go pay $50,000 to shoot while they sleep under a tree, but it turns out that, in reality, threatening people over social media actually does less for animal conservation than trophy hunting does. I know, I know, you’re already red in the face with anger after reading that sentence and are flying down to the comments section to tell me what a horrible excuse for a human being I am for telling the truth about a cause I care deeply about—animal conservation. But if you take the time to educate yourself, you’ll actually find that the significant economic incentive provided by trophy hunting turns private lands that would otherwise be cattle farms into prime, protected habitat for vulnerable species like lions. No, that’s not done out of the goodness of anyone’s heart, and no, poor people don’t benefit an awful lot from the practice (many hunters donate meat to poor villages). But it is the reason lions still call Africa home in the 21st century.
I like cooking good food. I like simple good times with good friends. I like showing off. Making this article involved all three of those things.
Continuing the theme of that first paragraph, about two years ago I was approached by this super enthusiastic kid with the world’s most impressive beard. He had a plan to find a way to quit his day job in advertising and find a way to go explore the world. All he needed was a little help. I’m incredibly proud not only that I was able to do that, but by how much the experience helped Chris Brinlee Jr. grow not only as a journalist and photographer, but as a person too. He’s an incredibly important part of IndefinitelyWild; I’m not sure I could have made it without him. This article sort of sums all that up.
A lot of interesting stuff takes place in the outdoors, but it’s not often communicated to the rest of the world in ways that people can understand and appreciate. I think that’s what makes this article successful. Plus, the illustration is fantastic, and hopefully the message helps more bears avoid human conflict.
Regular readers will no doubt be familiar with how important my dog, Wiley, is to me. This is where I explain why.
Hopefully, making outdoor content doesn’t mean we have to be incredibly serious all the time. This is a fun piece that empowers people like us to have more successful dating lives. We’ll be following up with guidance on online dating for women soon.
Chris Mills came to me with this idea, and I obviously loved it immediately, but made him submit a full risk analysis and abatement plan before giving him the green light. It's a fun, compelling test of a new technology, but the story is remembered even more fondly because Chris’ beguiling, feminine eyes generated a commenting frenzy.
We’ve all heard the old adage, “cotton kills.” But why does it kill? We asked.
I don’t think anyone else has ever done a more comprehensive or in-depth test of sleeping pads than this one. And I don’t think enough people realize how good the latest generation of pads is, how important they are for both warmth and a good nights sleep, or what the variables are between brands and models. Hopefully we fixed that. My biggest frustration working for Gawker was the lack of support coupled with high expectations. Given the budget, we weren't able to repeat this test with other product categories. Now that we’re at Outside, we will.
Nothing but an awesome old Land Rover, a cool dog, a pretty girl, and a weekend on the beach having a good time. You can, and should, do the same thing. We show you how.
Pure Chris, pure genius. This one won the Internet.
Talk about an honor. Only a few months into making a new outdoors site, I was invited to come camping with Bear Grylls. We had a great time, remain friends, and he gave me a totally candid interview.
You’re not going to grow if you don’t make mistakes. And Chris made a big one here, venturing out into unknown terrain with our friend Daniel, during bad weather. They paid the price, but are more knowledgeable, careful, and cautious adventurers as a result.
Addressing controversial, heavy, real-world issues like this with effective advice is the kind of thing big organizations should be doing. But it’s also the stuff they’re most nervous to publish. I barely squeezed this one through Gawker’s editors, but it ended up both performing well, and being widely imitated, so they considered it a win. Me? Hearing the experiences of the investigator I interviewed left me depressed for days after, and made me do something I never thought I’d do: go out and buy a handgun.
This one was just a fantastic trip. A bunch of us paddled kayaks out to a remote beach on Catalina Island and spent the weekend slaying fish in the kelp beds, then turning them into fish tacos. Good times with good friends, I wish every weekend could be like that.
One thing legacy media outlets do well is large trend pieces. The New York Times interviewed me for a story about dudes who carry pocket knives. One thing legacy media outlets don’t do well is provide depth, expertise, and perspective. So we fixed that for them.
Another great camping trip. My buddy Ty and I along with our two dogs drove up to Northern California for an awesome winter backpacking trip somewhere neat, and a little dangerous. I made a new friend for life when some weirdo waded across chest deep whitewater to bring me a really good steak. We cooked it over a campfire on the beach, along with mussels we pulled out of the ocean, right there. Then we nearly killed Matt, which was stupid.
Who else is going to give you an article like this, with this level of level-headed guidance, and with solid first-hand experience from smart, responsible people?
Another new writer I’m enormously proud of publishing is Corey Hass. He has a big-boy day job, and just had a daughter, so he’s on a bit of a hiatus, but when he’s back, I’m sure he’ll give you more great pieces like this one. I’m also proud that every single person who contributes to IndefinitelyWild is a real life hero; the kind of person who will always be the first to dive into action, and who will do so with the knowledge and physical ability to render it safe. Our little media outlet could kick yours media outlet's butt.
I’m also proud that our little team is open-minded, and that our content is inclusive. Everyone and anyone can and should be having a good time outdoors. And doing so in comfort. Especially during sex.
I rode motorcycles largely off-road through the absolutely stunning mountains of coastal British Columbia, with a bunch of cool dudes. It was an amazing experience, and one that helped me rediscover my love of motorcycling. Here's the video.