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Meet Jeff: Texas Climber, Adventure Traveler, Engineer

by Alicia MacLeay
April 10, 2015

Congratulations to Jeff (snigjs)Trailspace's newest Reviewer of the Month! 

Each month we recognize and get to know a different member of the Trailspace community. This month it's Jeff, who can be found climbing and traveling from Texas to Thailand when he's not at his Houston engineering job.

Congratulations, Jeff! Thanks for sharing eight helpful gear reviews with us in your first month as a member, including ones of the CAMP Photon Wire Gate Carabiner and the Patagonia Black Hole Pack 25.

For his contributions, Jeff wins this month's featured Reviewer of the Month prize, a pair of innovative Keen Uneek sandals ($100 value) for relaxing in camp after his next climb.

Plus, we're sending him a pack of goodies including a Vapur flask and wine carrier, Sugru moldable glue, energy chews from Clif and Honey Stinger, and a Trailspace Trail Runner Cap.*


Meet Jeff

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Jeff and I live in Houston, Texas. I love climbing, backpacking, and traveling. If you’ve ever been to Houston, you know it’s about as mountainous as a pancake, but there are plenty of beautiful places in the state within driving distance.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m active and outdoorsy and when I’m not at my engineering job, I’m climbing, exercising, or playing sports. I have relatively little to contribute to a Game of Thrones or Mad Men conversation, but I could talk you ear off about locking carabiner mechanisms.

I’ve got a good group of climbing buddies that I travel with to climb, either day trips to Austin or longer trips to places like Red Rock Canyon in Nevada, El Potrero Chico in Mexico, and Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in Arkansas. 

Jeff climbing at Enchanted Rock, Texas.

What do you like to do outdoors?

Everything! Climbing, camping, hiking, backpacking, skiing, snowboarding, wake boarding, mountain biking (slowly), kayaking. 

How did you get started exploring outdoors?

My parents started taking us car camping when I was in middle school. I was introduced to rectangular sleeping bags and leaky Walmart tents, which makes me appreciate the advances in modern outdoor gear.

In college I did more outdoor fun and when I started working, I made it a priority to travel and get outside. 

Any favorite stories?

I’ve got a group of buddies from high school that get together do the occasional trip. One year we decided to go backpacking in Yosemite.

After a few hours of nonstop uphill hiking, my one buddy says to me in an exhausted tone, “Jeff, we’re working professionals now. We can’t do stuff like this anymore.”

Another time a buddy and I went “scrambling” up a peak in Banff National Park. On the way, I’m explaining to him the grades for hiking and climbing, 2nd class, 3rd class, etc. We end up getting a little lost and after a fair amount of traversing over scree, climbing up and over rocks, we finally get back to the trail and he says to me, “F* you, Jeff, that wasn’t scrambling, that was climbing”. 

What’s your favorite outdoor place?

Railay/Tonsai beach in Thailand. You can’t beat sport climbing right on the beach with delicious local food. 

Describe your happiest moment outdoors.

Some of my best memories being outdoors have been when I’ve been enjoying the scenery and I am joined by an unexpected guest, or rather I am the guest. I’ve come across a desert tortoise while climbing, a few marmots and a scruffy mountain goat while hiking.

Do you have any outdoor regrets?

None. Sure, there have been trails uncompleted, climbs unfinished for various reasons like inclement weather, slow pace, being weak and fluffy, but being outdoors with a good group of people is always fulfilling. 

Jeff at Bryce Canyon in Utah.

Do you have any outdoor plans/goals/dreams you want to share?

Do you have a word limit? Because I could go on forever. My bucket list is more bathtub sized, but here are a few: Trek in the Himalayas (will check this off in May), climb in Squamish, visit Son Doong Cave in Vietnam, Petra in Jordan, climb in Acadia National Park.

Describe your ideal day outdoors.

A day in the 50s-70s, no rain, lots of climbing, campfire, and a Sonic slushie.

What motivated you to share your reviews with Trailspace? 

I just love gear and have been called a “gear whore” more than once. Being an engineer, I like seeing well designed gear and innovative new designs. I also find it hard to find detailed pictures of gear, so I figured I might as well help generate content.

What’s your favorite piece of outdoor gear? Why?

My sentimental favorite is my first backpack, the REI Talus 35. It’s lasted 10 years and has been with me on adventures all over the world. When climbing, my favorite is whatever piece of climbing gear I just placed for protection.

Got any good, bad, funny, or epic gear stories?

I was multi-pitch sport climbing with a friend in El Potrero Chico, Mexico. It was her first time climbing a multi-pitch so she was a little nervous when we started up the first climb. I linked the first two pitches and then belayed her up to the top of the second pitch.

As we were rearranging gear, she takes off her climbing shoe to give her feet a break. She promptly drops her shoe 200 feet back to the base of the climb. We had plenty of time to complete the climb, so I rappelled down to retrieve her shoe and climbed back up to pitch 2.

To commemorate the moment, I pull out my camera to take a picture of us with her shoes. As we’re positioning ourselves for the picture, she drops the shoe again and a loud explicative is heard throughout the canyon. At this point, we decided that must be a sign and we rapped down and did single pitch the rest of the day. The next day however, we did 12 pitches with no shoe mishaps.

What’s in your backpack right now?

Two weeks ago, my climbing pack was full of trad climbing gear and my duffel had a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad for a weekend climbing trip.

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your life?

My group of climbing friends, which we affectionately call “the climbing family.” It’s a group of upbeat, motivated and encouraging friends that have stuck together through, relocation, graduate schools, kids, and just plain getting old. 


Keen Uneek: Featured Reviewer Prize
Jeff wins this month's featured Reviewer of the Month prize, a pair of Uneek sandals ($100 value), thanks to Keen, along with other great prizes.


Congratulations and thank you, Jeff!

* Besides Trailspace appreciation, Jeff wins this month's featured Reviewer of the Month prize, a pair of Keen Uneek sandals, thanks to our friends at Keen.  

Plus, we're sending him a pack of goodies including a Vapur Incognito Flexible Flask and Vintage Wine CarrierSugru moldable glue, Clif Shot BloksHoney Stinger Organic Energy Chewsand a Trailspace Trail Runner Cap and stickers.

Write your own helpful gear reviews and you could be our next Reviewer of the Month.

Wide photo captions from top: 1) Jeff on Seneca Rock in West Virginia. 2) Jeff on Sentinel Pass Trail in Banff National Park, Canada.