What is the meaning to life? Let outdoor guru and innovator, Jeff Walker guide you…

I met Jeff on Twitter and was intrigued by his product that keeps your food stored safe from small animals when in the backcountry.  After speaking with him, I quickly learned that GrubPack is made for the outdoors by a real outdoorsman! His product is great and his stories and outdoor advice is even better. […]

Written By Clayton Kessler

On October 21, 2009

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I met Jeff on Twitter and was intrigued by his product that keeps your food stored safe from small animals when in the backcountry.  After speaking with him, I quickly learned that GrubPack is made for the outdoors by a real outdoorsman! His product is great and his stories and outdoor advice is even better. Enjoy your journey with Jeff Walker…

Q: How and where were you introduced to the outdoors?

A: I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s.  As kids we played outdoors, not by our choice, but by the choice of our parents.  At some point in life, I just started to prefer the freedom of the outdoors over the stale indoors.  That preference stands today.  We road our bikes, played ball, fished, swam, roamed the neighborhood, climbed trees, packed lunches and took hikes.  All of this was done with zero adult supervision and no organized teams or uniforms!  We walked out the door in the morning and were often missing until supper time.  Sadly, parents today might be arrested for such child neglect.

Q: What has been your favourite outdoor recreations area?

A: People not familiar with Iowa think we all run through endless flat corn fields chasing hogs while we wear our straw hats.  In reality this area is perhaps one of America’s best kept secrets.  In our immediate area we kayak, canoe and boat on the Mississippi River and hike in the hilly forests of the upper Mississippi River valley bluffs. It’s beautiful all year ’round, but especially stunning in the fall months.

On a larger geographic scale, I’ve never met a National Park I haven’t liked.  We have visited, hiked and backpacked most every big name park west of the Mississippi, and a few to the East.  I do enjoy the West very much, with a special attraction to the Southwest.  No place on planet Earth can equal the Grand Canyon.

Jeff Walker and his son Tim Walker Near the End of a Rim-to-Rim Grand Canyon Trek

Q: Please share an outdoor story related to one of the above areas.

A: Iowa is a state that feels the full force of all four seasons.  Boating and swimming the Mississippi offers relief from stuffy summer heat and humidity.  In the fall, hiking the river bluffs is a warm walk through endless brilliant colors.  In the dead of winter, when many may sit depressed indoors, we clear a spot of ice on the shallow river backwaters and enjoy playing hockey the way it’s meant to be played, under wide open skies!  When spring comes around, you smell the Earth again and it brings the promise of the beautiful wild flowers, freshly plowed fields, the sounds of lawn mowers and flocks of awakening mosquitoes.

Q: Some outdoor folks are very innovative. Please share your product story for the GrubPack.

A: It was built from necessity I guess.  Protecting backpacking food from wilderness animals is essential, but I can’t take credit for inventing the concept.  There was a well respected similar product available and I attempted to buy one for an upcoming Western backpacking trip.  After leaving unanswered phone messages and  emails with the company, I decided to do some checking around.  At the time, no one else was making a light-weight stainless steel mesh food bag to protect against small rodents, animals and birds.  I visited several on-line hiking and backpacking forums and found others were having problems placing and receiving orders too.

I’ve been self-employed for over 30 years, so I decided to start investigating what it would take to make and distribute such a product.  After much research into various materials and sewing procedures the GrubPack was born.  We added some very innovative improvements and options and started selling on-line. We’ve have since decided to keep our sales on-line only to avoid retail mark-ups.  This keeps the price of our quality GrubPack low.  I invite your readers to visit: www.grubpack.com

Q: Have you ever experienced a wilderness medical emergency or been lost in the wilderness? If so please describe this adventure and any lessons learned.

A: No medical emergencies, but I spend as much time lost as possible.  Being lost and getting yourself un-lost is a great confidence builder.  Being lost makes you feel so stupid.  Getting yourself back in one piece makes you feels like Isaac Newton.

Q: Can you share any unique encounters with wild animals?

A: I have a year-old yellow lab named Rabies.  (He’s the official mascot of GrubPack.com)  He hikes with me daily… or I guess I actually hike with him.  A few weeks ago I noticed him acting strange… jumping around in circles, moving in and out and yelping a weird tune I hadn’t heard before.  I made my way to him only to find he had his nose directly in the face of a coiled rattlesnake.  I’ve met up with rattlesnakes in various parts of the West and Midwest before, but never with a dog.  Staying behind him, I grabbed his collar and pulled him through thorns and thickets to make a wide detour around his new little friend.  I later learned that veterinarians charge upwards of $1500 for rattlesnake treatment.  That’s enough money for a very nice trip to the Grand Canyon!

RABIES Official Mascot of GrubPack

RABIES Official Mascot of GrubPack

Q: 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?

A: I’ve done numerous multi-day trips… Zion, Glacier Park, Grand Canyon, the Ozark Trail, Yosemite and others.  When you are clomping through a multi-day trek you sometimes wonder why the hell you’re doing it, but those thoughts vanish when you reach the end and immediately start planning the next trip in your head.  Many life lessons are learned on seemingly meaningless trails.  I feel sorry for people who just don’t get it.

Ryan and Tim Walker on Zion West Rim

Ryan and Tim Walker on Zion West Rim

Q: What is your favourite outdoor website?

A: I visit many hiking sites, forums and on-line gear stores.  I can’t say I have a single favorite, but I most enjoy the ones that focus on backpacking in the lightest manner possible.  It’s amazing how much “essential” stuff can be left at home.

Q: What is your favourite outdoor hiking gear store?

A: www.GrubPack.com or course! (:    Actually,  I do enjoy walking through any retail outdoor gear store, but almost always buy on-line.  I have visited dozens and dozens of on-line stores and have bought from way too many of them.

Q: Any future journeys planned?

A: You bet.  I have plans for a 4-5 day backpack along the Tonto Trail (Grand Canyon) in 2010.  I’ll be the old guy hawking GrubPacks in the 110 degree heat.  I’d also like to get to the Colorado Rockies for a few days of wilderness gold panning next year.

Q: What is the meaning of life?

A: Life is short.  Every single day is a gift. Your family is your past, present and future.  Spend as much time with them as possible.  The great outdoors is the perfect place to share frivolous fun as well as your deepest thoughts.  You can find many answers to real-life problems in the time you spend exploring and enjoying quiet places together.  Oh, and if you’re searching for God… He’s out there searching for you too.

A few links worth posting:  www.grubpack.com and  www.twitter.com/GrubPack


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How To Light A Fire Without Matches

Step 1.

Fluff the fatwood by scraping the stick with the edge of your striker. If a hunting knife is available, use the BACK of the blade to fluff.

Step 2.

Practice getting a spark to land on the pile of fluffed fatwood by using your ferro rod and the edge of your striker.

Step 3.

Direct the sparks to the top of the pile of fluffed fatwood by using your QUICK-FIRE and the edge of the Striker. (Or use the back of a blade)