Cairn and Marmot asked some of our longtime Cairn subscribers and inspirational Instagrammers to take the new Marmot Featherless Hoody, featured in the Cairn Fall Obsidian Trailgating Collection, with them on their recent adventures. We hope that their stories inspire you to make a little more room in your life for adventure.
History, Tips, and Inspiration
1. What's your life look like outside of Instagram, and how do you fit in your adventures?
It took me a long time to get to the point that I am now, and it wasn’t easy. I stopped working in retail in 2011 and started running a recording studio full-time. I’ve been working as a recording engineer since 2001, but it took me some time before I could make that a full-time career. With photography, I’ve always done it as a hobby. The more photography I shared, the more people saw it and seemed to enjoy; and I eventually started taking on some photography work. In the last few years, photography has become a much larger part of how I make my living.
Now I’m able to kind of make my own schedule, balancing photography and time in the studio. I make sure to give myself the time to enjoy the outdoors. My schedule is kind of random…I might have a jam-packed day one day, then have a couple of days open where I can head off for a camping trip. It definitely took me time to get to a place where I could work for myself and have the flexibility that I have now, and I feel fortunate to have gotten to this point.
2. Why has spending time outdoors become important in your life?
My mom would always take us hiking as a kid. For a long time as an adult, I was working a lot and not able to spend much time outside at all. It was a pretty dark period in my life. When I walk outside, I pretty much instantly feel happy…it feels like nothing else really matters at that point. The activeness of hiking, surrounded by nature, is extremely calming, too…it’s like therapy for me. And now being able to capture those feelings and those experiences with my camera is awesome.
3. How did photography and Instagram become part of your outdoor experience?
I took photography in high school and my mom did photography as a hobby. She gave me her old Canon, so I was shooting on film at first. I was playing around with nighttime photography a lot at the time and trying to capture things like lightning. I loved that thrill of seeing what you were able to catch when you finally got to take your film into the darkroom and develop it.
As I got older, and Instagram and Facebook came around, I’d post photography from my time outside on my personal page. Friends and family were really engaged with it and would tell me they were waiting for the next picture I’d post. Seeing how people were reacting to it, I decided to create a dedicated account specifically for my outdoor photography, partially in hopes of helping to grow my photography business.
I just always loved shooting the power of nature. Being out in the middle of all of that, and actually make a living from it, is so gratifying.
4. You seem to find the coolest cabins wherever you go. How did that start?
My girlfriend, Pam, and I were planning a trip to the Catskills in 2015 and wanted to be totally surrounded by the wilderness – no traffic, no lights, just nature. We found an off-the-grid cabin on Airbnb and it was perfect. Wood stove, no electric, surrounded by the woods, and basically waking up with deer all around you. We stayed there a couple of nights and were hooked.
Now we seek out unique cabins wherever we go. Our retirement plan is definitely a cabin in the woods somewhere. We live in a somewhat busy area, so getting away to a little remote spot is ideal. I also love to shoot cabins, so that adds to the fun.
5. Adventures - solo or with a sidekick?
In the past, outdoor activities were a solo thing. When I was going through a tough period in my life, I lived at the base of a mountain. Every morning I got up and would see the sun was coming up over the mountain. I’d just go out and hike and hike and hike for hours. I explored every part of the mountain that I could, and those hikes helped me a lot.
When I met Pam, we really bonded over our passion for the outdoors - our first date was a hike! Meeting her was kind of a catalyst to focus on spending more time outside and working towards becoming self-employed. Now, Pam and I spend our time outside together. She’s a pastry chef who goes into work at 2:30 in the morning and is out by 11; so when she gets home, we head out for a hike or a kayak trip. Since we both have flexible schedules, we’re lucky that we can just get up and go. So now my adventures are usually with a sidekick!
6. Adventures - spontaneous or planned?
Most of our activities aren’t planned. We’re really lucky to be so close to so many great spots. The Holyoke Range is right down the street and there are so many trails just right here; so we spend a lot of time hiking basically in our backyard. Being in New England, we also get to spend a lot of time exploring New Hampshire, especially the White Mountains, and Vermont. It’s all right here.
7. What’s your favorite gear purchase lately?
We invested in our own kayaks about a year ago, and it was one of the best things we’ve ever done. We’ve got a river nearby, and we’ve traveled on it to a lot of locations that are so different than where we are. It’s a fun change of pace from our typical hiking. I’ve purchased a waterproof housing for my camera, so underwater photography is a fun new thing I’ve been trying out. Unfortunately, our sea kayaking trip in Ireland claimed the lens cap of the waterproof case, but the camera survived!
8. What’s the next big adventure on the horizon?
I was in a band right out of high school, and got to tour the United States quite a few times. I got to see a lot of the country, but not enjoy it. So next spring, Pam and I are planning a US road trip, hopefully hitting a lot of the National Parks.
9. Tell us about the couple of pieces of Fall Obsidian Collection gear that you got to test out on your adventures.
We used the [Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter] Compression Cube Set on our recent trip to Ireland. I had some old packing cubes that I usually use when I’m headed out on a trip, and these were such an upgrade. I was able to pack so much into them, and the compression zippers were so strong…there wasn’t a chance they were busting open.
I also took the [Marmot Featherless] Hoody to Ireland. We did an amazing hike just outside of Dingle, and it was so windy up there. I was really happy to have all my heat sealed inside that jacket. I’ve also worn it out locally camping in the White Mountains and out at the end of the day at a local pub. It’s like wearing a super comfortable sleeping bag. It was the warmest, lightest layer I think I’ve ever worn. Awesome.
10. You were a Cairn subscriber for a long time. What’s some of the gear from a monthly Cairn Collection that you’re always putting to use?
Actually, in Ireland, we realized how much of the gear we use on every trip is from Cairn. I would never have thought to buy (because I never knew it existed) the [Epiphany Outdoor Gear] Pocket Bellows. It has saved me in so many situations when wood is damp or the weather isn’t great. I never leave without it. The Power Practical Lithium 4400 Charger + Lantern always comes with me. Sometimes I even use the lantern portion for nighttime photography. And the [Colter Co.] Cabin Fever Bandana always comes with us. It’s awesome to pack up and play chess when you’re hanging out in a cabin.
Cheers to more adventures together, Chris!