Joseph Renow (jrenow)

Reviewer of the Month: September 2013

1,619 reviewer rep
671 forum posts
joined Aug 8, 2013

Full Name: Joseph Renow
41-year-old man
Occupation: Adjunct Professor
Email: private



I would describe myself as someone who likes to go to remote places and stay there for days...sometimes weeks at a time. Typically my adventures involve a backpack…a kayak…or a canoe…but I sometimes stay in one place and focus on an activity like fishing…or perhaps camping itself. I would say I have a lot of solo backpacking and paddling experience…but this is due to the fact that I like to sleep outdoors more than most of my friends. So while I can certainly speak to the needs and concerns of soloing…I would say that my perspective privileges what it takes to get others to come along on a week-long 100 mile adventure more than it does the demands of successfully thru-hiking the AT.


A significant part of my philosophy is less work and cheaper > more work and expensive. I do what I do for fun...and lots of work and expensive gear seem inherently less fun.

I like to keep things light...I am not a half toothbrush and polycro-tarp kinda guy...but having a light pack is lots of fun (1. less pain 2. more energy). My concern for weight extends beyond I have found that keeping things light while kayaking and canoeing is more fun.

I try to learn from the folks who do what I do outdoors...but also the folks who do very different things than I do outdoors. So while it is unlikely that you will catch me building a primitive shelter...wood-processing and fire-working are very useful skills to have.

Big Closet

I do not consider myself a gear-head...I research and discuss gear because it is the rational thing to do...not because I particularly enjoy it. Over the years I have (self-consciously) accumulated a lot of stuff...but I have a lot of gear because of what it allows me to do...not because I like having it like a museum. When purchasing or considering gear to add to my collection I always try to think big picture...what additional capacity does the item add and how synergistic is it with the gear I already have?


Though I have slept outdoors in many places…I very much have what I would call a home-region. Familiar terrain for me stretches roughly from Missouri in the West + Tennessee in the South + Virginia in the East + Wisconsin in the North. Though not perfectly accurate...I would say I primarily spend my time in and around heavy woodland. For me...trees and water tend to be readily available and plentiful...but so much so...that they can become serious problems.

Finally...I really do not like to sleep outdoors when the temp is below least not without an external heat-source. I still know a lot about cold weather...but not the snow-cover for months at a time and 20-30 degrees below freezing expertise is more in the area of near freezing sleet with high for me fleece is still cool.