Interviewing David Brandenberg, owner of Simple Outdoor Solutions, was a real treat. I do not know if it is because he helps bring to life the amazing, enchanted and for the unprepared, deadly terrain of Arizona or if it is his enthusiasm and innovation for outdoors recreation and outdoor business. Even more than an enjoyable read, this interview may change your thinking on several myths of dangers that await in Arizona and help get your feet on the trail!
How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?
First exposure was family camping trips, then the cub scouts. The most influential moments for me and the outdoors was a trip to Yellowstone when I was 9 or 10 years old. It was the most magnificent experience seeing this expanse of wilderness. I had never seen mountains, wildlife, and the wide open spaces that I experienced in Yellowstone that summer.
What has been your favourite hiking trail or outdoor area?
Wyoming is up there, but my favorite place to go is Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness in AZ. Wildlife oh plenty and seclusion. They limit the number of people in the canyon on any given day, which ensures a very peaceful wilderness experience. There are numerous side canyons as well. The only downside is there is a 3 day limit. Don’t go during Monsoon season, it can get kind of dicey back there in a big storm. While in Aravaipa please carry an OutsakTM. You can get one at http://www.simpleoutdoorstore.com . It’s great defense against rodents. These critters will jump from trees, and climb down the line from your hung food.
Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.
Aravaipa Canyon has loads of wildlife. My favorite AZ animal is the Coati. It is a very elusive little critter that runs around in troops. These little buggers are all over Aravaipa. Aravaipa is consistently the best wildlife viewing trip I do in Arizona. A year round stream, no established trail system makes for a great wildlife experience.
Have you ever been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.
I’ve never been lost, only momentarily misplaced. A couple of times I have been a bit over-excited to get to a particular destination. Looking back over my shoulder a couple of times would have done the trick.
Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?
I know Arizona is perceived to be infested with little critters that can do harm, like Scorpions, snakes, spiders….I’ve had several rattlesnakes that have caused me to do some interesting dance moves on a few occasions. Been targeted by a couple, but haven’t been tagged by one…yet. The thing I like about Rattlesnakes is they generally give you a very distinct warning before they get grumpy.
If not previously mentioned, have you ever completed a thru-hike or multi-day backpacking trip and what nuggets of wisdom did you glean from it?
As far as multi day trips; my best advice is be active in the planning stages of your group trips. The worst thing you can do is let somebody else make all the preparations. Do your research, know what to expect, and plan for the unexpected. Know what you are going to do if that worst case scenario presents itself, and discuss that plan with your group before you start your trip.
What is your favourite outdoor website?
I don’t go to a lot of outdoor websites. I have two kids, I run a business and try to hike as much as possible. I just don’t have the time to spend behind the computer. I learn from seeing others do. I think we have a pretty good website. We offer a lot of info on Low Impact hiking, backcountry food storage and a lot of links to help plan your next trip to Grand Canyon.
What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?
I have a favorite store everywhere I go in AZ.
In Tucson you can’t beat Summit Hut.
Sedona has Canyon Outfitters
Phoenix has Arizona Hiking Shack
Flagstaff has Babbitt’s, Four Seasons, and Aspen Sports.
I can’t possibly pick one.
Of course, all of these stores sell our product. We are proud to be associated with each one. Check us out at http://www.simpleoutdoorstore.com .
I think this is the best book for backpackers and hikers in general, particularly those who will venture off trail. It extensively covers use of map and compass; and goes on to briefly but cogently discuss the more expensive gadgets- altimeter, and GPS. And it warns you not to become too dependent on these more expensive gadgets. Your most important tools for wilderness navigation will be a good compass, along with a proper map. Buy a good compass with adjustable declination and mirror, as the authors suggest. Read their recommendations for this essential tool before you shop, and then go to the USGS website and get a downloadable topo map for your residence. Take book, compass, and map out into your neighborhood and practice in your own backyard before heading off into the boonies. Only a fool would go into the wilderness without a map. For most, a good map and compass are all you really need. I would add one thing that is only mentioned briefly in this fine text: If you go hiking abroad or in the Southern Hemisphere, you need to buy a Global compass. Mine is the Suunto MC-2 Global, but it has a drawback: inches on the rulers and not centimeters. Most foreign topos are in meters. Buy a good global compass with both inches and centimeters, study this book, and you are prepared for navigating just about anywhere.