Jake spent his formative years exploring the backcountry of the Southwest. Now he owns and operates New Mexico Backroads, one of the premier overland guiding and training outfits in the U.S.
A New Mexico native, Jake spent much of his childhood looking for the next adventure. Whether that meant riding shotgun in his dad’s Bronco while exploring the Great Divide Trail or sleeping under the stars in Denali National Park. He is passionate about exploring raw and remote territories, so it only made sense when he launched New Mexico Backroads to guide overland tours across challenging terrain. One of his most popular trips is the five-day Gila Legends Expedition, where Jake and his clients traverse the Gila National Forest, from ponderosa pine forests to high grassland plains.
Each of his clients gets a 40-page overland training manual to help them “quickly” learn the ropes. Jake prioritizes training and hands-on experience to enable his clients to plan and execute their own overlanding trips. With over a decade of guiding experience, special use permitting on public lands, and longstanding relationships with government agencies, Jake organizes experiences that are safe, well-planned, and environmentally responsible. A key takeaway for each participant is learning how to travel smart and stay safe when they are far off the beaten path.
One of the biggest game-changers for Jake was switching to a Dometic CFX 40W. “In terms of comfort, energy efficiency, and helping me work effectively; that cooler is the most important thing in my rig,” says Jake. “The cooler changed everything... I was able to double my trip time and increase the storage capacity of my Jeep — it was a giant leap forward.” He can’t imagine still hauling an ordinary ice cooler. “Ice is an Achilles heel. You’re constantly worried about it. Rough roads, all that ice sloshing, it can destroy your food when a market is over 100 miles away.”
On the trips where he acts as not only guide, but also chef, Jake depends on his Dometic CFX to feed his clients. The fridge-freezer provides him the durability and reliability he needs on the trail. “It sounds like a luxury,” he says, “but once you have it, you’re never going back. Supporting a crew of eight for four days — without this fridge, I couldn’t do it.” Jake’s CFX allows him to transform the campsite into a four-star restaurant. One of his favorite dishes to share with clients after a day on the trail, is his famous Angus steak and Hatch green chile. It’s a hearty combination of marinated steak and seasoned peppers grilled to perfection under the stars.
“Any overlander who doesn’t have a powered cooler has to be leaning toward one,” says Jake. It’s even allowed him to take longer personal trips, exploring new backroads for his clients, and trails he’s never been on. “That’s the real joy of it, you know,” he says. “This isn’t just my job, it’s what I love to do. Every few months, I gather a stack of old paper maps, pack the Jeep, load my mountain bike, and hit the road with my dog Buddy. The goal is to ‘get lost’ in the sense of a new adventure. It recharges me and makes my client trips and fieldwork feel fresher.”