Andrea Carpio and Kim Wiley
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.
A: We both work regular day jobs. I’m an office manager, and Kim works for an e-commerce company. We’re “weekend warriors”. Our trips are planned around vacation time, holidays and weekends. We fit it in whenever we can, which sometimes means getting out of work on Friday and sitting in awesome LA traffic to get to where we want to go. One benefit of living in Southern California is that we don’t have to go too far to find adventure – there are mountains, snow, deserts, and beaches, all nearby.
A: I wasn’t raised in an “outdoorsy” family, so the outdoor lifestyle has been a more recent discovery. I’m from St. Louis and there just weren’t a ton of options for adventures on my radar. We found places to go outside and play, but not nearly as often as we do now.
A couple of years ago, we had a wild idea to go camping. We had an old $20 tent, we slept on moving blankets with two really cheap sleeping bags. We were camping in the Mojave Desert in January. It’s really freakin’ cold at night in Mojave in January! We went to sleep and the wind kicked up with amazing gusts, and we were freezing cold. I don’t honestly know how we got from that night to “hey, let’s do this again.” We got up in the morning and thought, “This is awesome! We did it! We slept outside!” We’ve been hooked ever since.
K: I had a really different experience growing up… I grew up in India. My brother and I went to boarding school in the foothills of the Himalayas, and we had activity weeks every semester where we went backpacking into the mountains. We didn’t have a road between campus and our dorms, so we had to hike between them every day. After I moved back to the US, it seemed so strange to have to get in a car to go somewhere to hike. It was weird to not just be in a forest surrounded by trails.
Going from growing up there to moving to the midwest, things just seemed so flat. When we moved to California, I knew we needed to get out and explore. We went on that first camping trip, then we went to Joshua Tree National Park, and we fell in love with it. It reminded me of my love for the outdoors and I knew had to keep doing this!
A: It’s given me a different perspective of the world. I was content for most of my life just being where I was. We moved somewhat abruptly to California, right after getting married. I quit my job and hoped it would work out, which in and of itself was kind of mind-blowing. Soon after getting here, we went to the desert for the first time - I literally had never seen a desert - and our first reaction was, ‘There’s so much more to see, and now we need to see it all!’"
K: We are both photographers, and we have personal Instagram accounts where we share our own photos. We wanted to have something more focused on the outdoors, our adventures, and the gear that we love, so we started our joint project - Wandering Always. We started our website (wanderingalways.com) at the same time as our Instagram, so we could share more photos and stories.
A: We started camping and hiking as rookies. When we started trying to find places to go and gear to use, we found some great outdoor-focused sites and Instagram accounts, but some of the content was a bit overwhelming. We thought we couldn’t be the only people new to this outdoorsy world. For us, it’s about sharing photos and stories of some amazing places, sharing what we learn, and continuing to learn from other people.
K: When we were first looking for gear, we’d try to research things online. There were certain things at the beginning, like sleeping bags, that were hard to find good info about. Andrea is super allergic to down/feathers, and it was even harder finding good information about good synthetic bags. We did a lot of research and tried different bags, and we thought we should share what we learned - maybe it would help someone else.
A guy recently reached out to us because he came across our blog about building a bed in our Subaru Crosstrek. He used the blog to help him build his bed, and then came back to us with some ideas that he learned while doing his buildout. Instagram and our blog have become an info share for us, as well as a place to share our adventures.
K: Joshua Tree is our favorite place to getaway. It’s the closest National Park to where we live and we’ve been there dozens of times. It’s one of those places that just feels like “this is my place.”
A: There’s something magical about Joshua Tree. We get there, roll the windows down, smell the trees and desert, and just instantly feel good. We recently made a last minute choice to get in the car after work and get away. What should typically be a 2.5 hour drive took us 4.5 hours in traffic, and then we only spent about 12 hours there. But when we got home, we knew it was totally worth it, and totally improved our perspectives.
K: I’m the one that’s already talking about where we’re going to go next weekend as soon as we get home on a Sunday night. But we also do trips that we plan way ahead because of permits, campsite reservations, or flights. Our most recent trip to Yosemite was a spontaneous one. I was on recreation.gov looking for a campsite a few months out. It automatically loaded to the current month and there was a Saturday open the next weekend. I texted Andrea and said, “I booked a site, we’re going to Yosemite!”
A: I like structure and plans a little more, so when we’re suddenly going to Yosemite next weekend, I’m a little more frenzied about it.
K: Whereas I’m just like, “We’ll figure it out, it’ll be great!”
K: We spent way too much time at REI for the first year. We also went to every REI garage sale! We learned a lot from talking to the people at REI. We also found other people online and on Instagram to learn from. Sleeping bags was one thing that we really had to learn about - do we need the $400 one, or will a $100 one work ok? With Andrea’s down allergy, we had more research to do to figure out how to get the right amount of warmth that’s packable, but doesn’t have feathers.
A: We’ve also subscribed to Cairn for years. We were going back through our gear recently for a blog post and it’s amazing how much Cairn gear has made its way into our packs. I even have Cairn gear at my desk at work! We have been introduced to things that we may never have thought to try for ourselves, and now we find them useful in our daily lives. (She holds up her DrinkTanks Insulated Drinking Vessel).
A: The LuminAID PackLite lanterns. They go everywhere with us. Hiking, backpacking, camping. I even take one when I travel to stay with family, so I can read in bed at night.
K: The Mazama Bladder. We already had other hydration bladders, but this one is so much better! We didn’t even know of the brand prior to receiving it in our box!
A: We’ve got a tub system: a few tubs that stay in the garage where we have all of our regular camping gear, so we can just grab them and go. It helps us to not forget things and makes it easy to head out quickly. If it’s a big trip, I like to have checklists…because I can’t help myself.
We’ve also learned a lot just from making mistakes. For instance, on our trip to Yosemite, we packed cans of chili. We rolled into our campsite after hiking all afternoon, ready for dinner, and realized we didn’t have a can opener. (Thanks, camp neighbor, for loaning us one!) On the way home, as soon as we had a cell signal, we went on online and ordered a can opener. It now has a home in our camping tub!
K: It’s been a little too hot here for me to wear it a lot, but it worked really well for in Yosemite, where it got into the 40s at night. It also went on trips to Crater Lake, Lassen, Mount Rainier, and North Cascades parks, and was perfect for packing down small on the planes. And of course, an evening at our favorite local brewery! It has been great, kept me warm, and is definitely a good choice for us with the down allergy!
Happy sneeze-free adventuring, Andrea & Kim!