I learned to backpack mostly the hard way: by making mistakes. But I was a dirtbag twenty-something, and had more time than money, so it worked out. After cutting my teeth on the Appalachian Trail, I steadily upped the ante, completing the Sea-to-Sea Route (7,775 miles, 11 months), the Great Western Loop (6,875 miles, 7 months) and finally the Alaska-Yukon Expedition (4,700 miles, 6 months by ski, foot, and packraft), with a few shorter trips in between. More trip info.

Life changes, and mine is certainly no exception. Now with a wife, feline fur child, mortgage, and small business, I split my time between shorter personal endeavors like mountain high routes and ultra marathons, and various incarnations of an outdoor educator, like writing and guiding. I also teamed up with Sierra Designs, to consult on product and to help their marketing efforts.

Last year we hosted seven live webinars, SD LIVE, in which we shared tips for backpacking in the rain, sleeping comfortably in the backcountry, and caring for your feet, among other things. Today I’m excited to launch our next educational campaign, an instructional video series on navigating, selecting campsites, fire starting, pooping in the woods, and a few other topics.

Navigation is the single most useful wilderness skill — without it, you can’t safely or competently wander far from from the trailhead. It’s almost an art form, and in the first two videos I address only a small piece of it: how to use a magnetic compass. In this first video, I explain declination and how to orient a map. In the second video I demonstrate how to find and transfer bearings between the map and the field.

Thanks for watching. The other videos will be released every other week, through September.