Accomplished digital marketer and blogger Kyle Snarr grew up near the Appalachian Trail, slept under a family of four bears and can’t go camping without bacon. Here he talks about the importance of unplugging from technology, five outdoor essentials everyone should have and the two things you need to be successful in life.
What’s the most important thing to learn how to do before going camping?
These days, it’s how to unplug, especially for a family. When we’re camping with our kids, it’s a no device deal. Often times we’re in places with next-to-no coverage anyway, but we really leave the tablets home and when we arrive at our destination. The iPhones get left in the glove box.
We take pictures with a Canon DSLR that we know is gonna get way hammered. After the trip, I’ll sort through the best images and upload to my social streams. Better to be in the moment than trying to post or Pin something in the middle of it all.
What are the five things you’d never go camping without?
Bandanas are super functional. They’re great to tie things up. Soak ’em with water and they’ll cool you down. And they look stylish too. I just found one from Penham Supply Co. recently and got if for my wife since we just moved to New York.
I’m a watch guy, but definitely do not want to take a nicer watch camping, especially with kids. So I rely on a basic Timex Weekender watch with a nylon strap when camping. They’re great looking watches that are inexpensive, so who cares if it gets scratched. It even has an Indiglo face when you need to quickly check the time in the middle of the night without firing up a flashlight.
I’ve hiked in some sort of sport sandals for years and have never ever had any issues. When I do need hiking boots, I use a pair I got decades ago. Sandals are perfect for scrambling over red rock or diving in a lake. And you can wear them nearly year round. Just add some wool socks—trust me, it’s okay.
It doesn’t matter where you are or what time of year it is. Pack yourself a beanie. You’ll definitely use it. They look cool and they’re awesome for pulling down over your eyes in the morning when the sun starts blasting through your tent wall.
Everything is better with bacon, especially camping. Hey, I like ready-to-eat stuff, it’s all good. But I’m smuggling bacon along for the ride whenever possible. Waking up in a sleeping bag to the smell of boiling bacon is pure bliss.
Latest camping gadget you love?
Recently, I’ve been geeking out on Opinel pocketknives. These knives have been made almost the exact same way in the Savoire region of France for over a hundred years. They’re simple, solid, very inexpensive and just plain beautiful. They’re great for whittling, as well as cooking and eating. And they have some cool, kid-friendly models too. Folks will often paint, decorate or customize their wooden handles as well.
Best camping hack you’ve learned?
One thing we’ve learned over the years of camping with a brood of kids is: bring a broom! When you’re backpacking, you’ve generally got a lightweight, two-man tent that you can pick up and shake out before packing it. When your family doesn’t fit in anything less than a six-man tent, you need to sweep out all that red dirt dust before you roll it up.
Oh yeah, be sure to toss some kitchen shears into your camping crates too. We use them constantly.
Most memorable camping trip?
A few years ago in Tahoe, my wife and I were awakened by a bear who’d climbed a tree directly above our tent—along with her three cubs. No joke.
Favorite place to camp with kids?
We’ve fallen in love with desert camping in Southern Utah. Places like Goblin Valley State Park are perfect because we would inevitably end up playing hide and seek in the hoodoos with our kids all day long. I can honestly say they’d rather go there than Disneyland… but don’t ask themthat!
Where did you grow up?
Just an hour north of NYC, right near where the Appalachian Trail crosses the Hudson River. That location really provided an amazing balance between access to both culture and camping.
Both my wife and I come from serious camping families. Growing up, I don’t remember ever going on a single vacation that didn’t involve sleeping in a tent at some point. My wife grew up similarly in the Bay Area, spending her summers in Yosemite. So both of us are really committed to providing that sort of balance to our kids today. We’ve made it a point to take our kids to at least three national or state parks every year.
You recently moved from Salt Lake City to New York City. What do you think?
SLC has this amazing feeling of being on the verge of something big. The creative, technical and even foodie culture there is bubbling into some real awesomeness and I already miss it. My favorite hangout was Guzzi’s Vintage Burgers and Fries—affectionately referred to simply as Guzzi Burger. They have insanely good grub. And if you ever have the chance to go there, always say “yes” to the grilled onions. Always.
It’s also fantastic to be in New York where it seems like everyone is just excited to be part of building this new dynamic, interconnected world we’re now living in. And now I’m on the hunt for a burger joint in NYC to call my own. Suggestions welcome!
How do you discover new things?
I’m definitely an iPhone power user. I’m constantly bouncing back and forth between Pinterest and Flipboard. I’m plugged into some really great feeds via Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Instagram that I’ll quickly consume in Flipboard. When I see something I dig, I copy the link from there and immediately Pin it with the Pinterest iPhone app.
When you get an idea, how do you capture it?
I use digital tools like Pinterest to get inspired and organize those pieces of inspiration. When those then give me a new idea, I actually take that idea to a very analog place. I’ve got a pile of small notebooks, usually with graph paper, where I jot down my original ideas in a very journalistic way. I try to be sure to write in my journal at least once a week.
How do you use Pinterest?
I use Pinterest as a hyper-curated expression of the things I’m inspired by and that really represent my personal aesthetic. I actually have certain rules and criteria that anything I want to Pin has to fit into. I feel like if you set up some pretty strict rules for yourself, it’s easier to know what not to Pin and people begin to learn what to expect from you. This increases the chances of meeting folks online who are cut from the same cloth as you—and that’s just cool.
What’s your mantra?
I feel like there are really only two things you need in life to be successful. You just need to work hard and be cool. You can work as hard as possible, but if you’re not cool to folks, you’ll fail. On the other hand, you can be cooler than cool and if you just float around and never do anything, you’ll eventually fail too. You need both and when you have them, you’re golden.
What’s your Pinterest story? Don’t be shy—we’d love to hear from you.