Congratulations to long-time community member Bill S, author of April's most helpful gear review. The Trailspace community voted Bill's review of the CamelBak All Clear water purifier the most useful review of the month. He wins a Trailspace goodie pack for his efforts.*
Write your own helpful gear reviews with Trailspace's redesigned and enhanced "write a review" form, and you might be next month's most helpful reviewer.
Meet Bill S
Bill horse camping with his mother at age 6 months. (Bill Straka)
When and how did you get interested in going outside?
I’ve been in the outdoors all my life. I grew up mostly in a village on the Akimal O’Odham reservation (Sonora Desert, Central Arizona). You could walk out the door and in 15 minutes be out of sight of any houses or other signs of “civilization.”
How have you stayed active outside at such a high level for so long? Any wisdom on staying active as you age?
Since my family was very much into the outdoors, we were out camping, hunting, and fishing a lot of the time. Even after we moved in to the “Big City” and later to California, our family outings were camping, plus I was active in Boy Scouts from the time I was old enough to become a Cub.
I started technical climbing in 1953, with Mt. Whitney being my first High Point, and, a few days later, Mt. Sill being my first real climb. My father had been a founding Assistant Scoutmaster of Troop 1, Universal, Pennsylvania. It’s in my blood!
Bill climbing near Chamonix. (Bill Straka)
Plus, Barb (my spouse of some 46-plus years) grew up in a family of backpackers. We met through our university climbing club, with our courtship including a 60-mile backpack through Yosemite’s backcountry. Our son was brought up in the outdoors as well. He was snow camping before he could walk. His first backpack (where he carried a bit of his own gear, including the 10 Essentials) was at age 3, in the Canadian Rockies.
Staying active at a high level? It doesn’t seem like a high level. If I had my druthers, I would be out in the hills, climbing every day. The “secret” is just get out there and do it.
Why were you motivated to review the CamelBak All Clear?
Seth, Trailspace’s Chief of Gear Reviews (my title for you), knew that I have long been interested in water safety and gear in general. I had seen UV as a sterilizing technique over the years and used a SteriPen for a number of years.
The CamelBak All Clear appeared to be a very promising new approach. So when Seth asked if I might be interested, I leaped at the chance. And I am glad I did! (Read Bill's All Clear review.)
What are some of your other favorite pieces of equipment?
Those pieces of gear that contribute to a safe and memorable trip:
What is one of your favorite outdoors destinations?
One? That is too limiting! Big mountains with challenging routes, the granite of the Sierra, Cascade glaciers, Alaska Range, European Alps, Peruvian and Chilean Andes, Tanzania.
Anything else you'd like to share with the Trailspace community?
Bill on the summit of Kilimanjaro. (Bill Straka)
When I was growing up, my father had a carving on the wall, quoting an old Pennsylvania Dutch saying, “Ve get too soon oldt, und too late schmart.”
Like most kids, it took me a long time to appreciate that. At some point, I realized that many people in my life had had a significant influence on me, in terms of knowledge, skills, and maybe even some wisdom. Add to that more than a few things learned the hard way. And that told me that I, in turn, have the responsibility to share some of that knowledge, skills, and maybe even some wisdom with others.
I was given a coffee mug that has this quote: “A hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a youth.” That lays an important responsibility on us OGBO (old gray bearded) ones.
Hopefully, in terms of gear, we have gained some insights that help in making meaningful evaluations of all the new gear that seems to appear daily, and sort out the truly useful and genuine improvements from the things that are “just different” with no added utility or dependability. “New! Improved” often is neither.
At the same time, you have to approach gear, and life itself, with a sense of humor. As I often say, “Life is too short to take it seriously.” Hopefully, in reading my reviews and other posts, people will take the factual information seriously and be amused by the humor in the rest.
Great job, Bill!
*Besides Trailspace glory, Bill gets a goodie pack with an Ibex Zepher Skull Cap with Trailspace logo, a Trailspace pint glass (for après-backcountry use), a SealLine iPad case, energy bars from ProBar, and Trailspace stickers.
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