Josh Steele | Fall Obsidian Collection

Josh Steele 


 Seattle, WA



"...My dad took me on my first backpacking trip when I was six. To this day, I have vivid memories of the two of us going on that trip. Because of that, I always told myself that when I had kids, I’d take them backpacking once they turned six."



 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.


10 Questions:

History, Tips, and Inspiration


1. What's your life look like outside of Instagram, and how do you fit in your adventures?

Most of my time is spent running my construction company. I also do portrait, real estate, and wedding photography and that takes up a lot of my extra time. I fit in as many adventures as my wife will allow (ha!). She knows that come July and August, that’s my go time. I love getting out that time of year. Now as my two kids get older, I like to get them involved, too.


2. Tell us about an adventure you’ve taken with the kids?

I took my six-year-old daughter backpacking for her first time this summer. The two of us, plus a good buddy of mine and his six-year-old son, hiked an easy two-miles to a beautiful lake. She carried her own little pack with her own water, some snacks, and her own clothes. The kids had a great time hiking together. She loved it!

I grew up in California and my dad took me on my first backpacking trip when I was six. To this day, I have vivid memories of the two of us going on that trip. Because of that, I always told myself that when I had kids, I’d take them backpacking once they turned six. It was such an awesome memory for me.


3. What’s the key to keeping six-year-olds happy on a backpacking trip?

I made sure to check off all the necessities for the kids: s’mores, hot chocolate and my little pack raft. We had a good, full evening out there. It was packed solid full of all the fun things I could think of!


4. How has spending time outdoors become an important part your life?

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to really dislike being in a city or around lots of crowds. Going to the mountains for me completely clears my mind. It doesn’t matter what’s going on in my life, the second I hit the trail, it’s like instant relief. It’s like a reset button for me. After a weekend in the mountains, I feel totally rejuvenated.


5. How did Instagram become part of your outdoor experience?

My account has definitely evolved over time. As I started posting more outdoor photography, I got a different kind of engagement with people. The biggest inspiration for me has become the occasional message from someone - usually a retiree or someone that can’t physically get to the places I’m posting about. They’ll say thank you for all the effort you go to getting to these places because, if it weren’t for people like you doing this, I would never get to see these beautiful places.

Those messages keep me inspired and keep me going. That’s where my name @outofthewoods came from. My whole goal is not to impress people with my photography, it’s to inspire. I like getting into places where people can’t (whether because of geography or otherwise), and bringing those experiences and pictures out of the woods to other people.


6. The Pacific Northwest has a pretty strong presence in your pictures. How did you end up here?

I was born in California and grew up just outside of Yosemite. We moved to the Seattle area when I was in junior high. The Pacific Northwest is so cool. You can go from the coast to incredible mountains to the desert in a matter of a few hours. I love that!

I’ve moved away at different points throughout my life, but I always end up coming back. When I lived in Dallas I missed the mountains so much that one day while I was driving on the highway, I could have sworn that I saw mountains off in the distance. Then I realized they were clouds. Just way too flat there for me. I can’t really see myself living anywhere else but here, honestly.


7. Adventures – solo or with a sidekick?

I very rarely go solo. I really enjoy talking to people as I hike. So for the most part, I go with at least one other person; but usually, I’ve got about four people with me. There are around 12 people that I instantly text when I’m planning a trip. Most of them I’ve actually met through Instagram. They share similar interests and we’ve eventually met up one way or another. Now I’ve got this great group of people that I can get out there with on a regular basis.


8. How have you figured out the right gear for you over time?

My buddy and I joke about this a lot. He moved here from Florida right about the time that I moved back from Texas. When I lived in Seattle in my teens, the climate was so different than what I was used to in California, that I never really hiked here. It wasn’t until I was away in Texas that I realized what I’d been missing out on.

So when I moved back and met my friend from Florida, we both just kind of stumbled into the mountains having no idea what we were doing. We went through a lot of trial and error together. On one of our first trips together, my friend, who worked at Eddie Bauer at the time, rented a six-person four-season tent to go backpacking. We just didn’t know any better!

We slowly learned through trial and error, research, and just getting to know people who actually knew what they were doing. That buddy ended up working at REI and, through him, I met a bunch of people that worked there and taught me a ton. I keep learning and lightening my pack as I go.


 9. How do you keep your gear organized for get-up-and-go adventures?

Well, I used to be much less organized. I had a huge crate that I just threw everything in. So every time I got ready for a trip, I’d have to dig through everything. I’d always forget something…usually my toothbrush or a spoon! Forgetting a spoon kind of sucks, but the most annoying thing I’ve forgotten is a memory card for my camera.

I’ve learned! In my office now, I have specific gear bins set up: one for food and snacks; one with my hammock, sleeping pad, etc.; one for my camera gear; and one with all of the larger stuff. When it’s time to pack, I can just pull out each bin, easily see everything I need, and be ready to go.


10. Tell us about where you took the Marmot Featherless Hoody.

My friends and I do a Taco Tuesday every couple of weeks throughout the summer. We bring our camping stoves and basically do a potluck in a cool outdoor location. The jacket was really useful for our Taco Tuesday at the spire lookout at Rainier. I’ve also used it on a number of backpacking trips. I love how comfy it is and how small it packs up. It's definitely been useful!


 Marmot - Lagunitas Brewing


Taco Tuesday - Rainier

Hiking Marmot Featherless