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5 Tips for Getting Outdoors More Quickly with @Roamrx
Not everyone has the freedom to overland for weeks on end. That doesn’t mean you find the time for it, however. People like James “Jimmy” Shaw Jr. (@roamrx) fit overlanding into the rest of their lives, becoming “weekend-overlanders.” For them, even a few days off-grid is far better than none.
An Early Love for the Outdoors
Shaw grew up in a family that prioritized time outdoors. “I’m fortunate in that my two younger brothers and I have two loving parents who believe in travel and exposing us to the rest of the world,” says Shaw. They belonged to a family ski club that traveled to different national parks including Mammoth, Big Bear, and Yellowstone to ski, hike, and camp.
“I was raised car camping with a 12-person Coleman tent,” he adds. “It wasn’t overlanding style, but it got us exposed to the outdoors.” In college, he became interested in photography. “I was going out on my own and shooting beaches and sunsets [for example],” he says. “Natural landscapes were always eye-catching, and I started getting more into landscape photography.” He started taking trips with friends to shoot photos, and camping more often, at first locally, and then to locations further away.
A Love for the Outdoors, Cars, and Photography
While Shaw started a degree in mechanical engineering, he’s currently working in sales for the restaurant industry. “I didn’t finish my degree — I always had a technical mindset and have been a gearhead but I didn’t find the design process sitting at a desk that interesting,” he explains. “I love being outdoors.”
He also loves cars and started out with a Subaru that was a “daily driver, go-fast car, and jack-of-trades.” He lowered and modified the car, took it to a lot of car shows, and shot pictures of it frequently. In 2014, he totaled that car (and the video of the accident went viral on YouTube).
“That [the accident] sort of changed how I interact with the world,” he says. “I’m definitely more safe in how I do things now.” He learned proper off-road and trail driving techniques, and has owned several vehicles since then including
his current rig, a Chevrolet Colorado.
Making Time for the Outdoors
“Having a day job makes me more of a weekend overlander,” says Shaw. “I have a Monday-Friday nine-to-five job with not a lot of vacation, so I have to use my weekends as best as I can,” he says. “I get out there a couple of times a month. I like to keep my truck ready so I can hop in and bounce and go and enjoy what I can.”
To make the most of his free time, he uses crates to organize different types of camping gear. “It’s all organized, so it’s easy to pick up and take out,” he says.
He’s been to a lot of destinations in California, and some of his favorites are in the Eastern Sierra Mountain range. “There are so many destinations off of Highway 395 — Mammoth Lakes is a favorite place because there is so much to do every season,” he says. He also lists White Pocket, the Grand Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend as favorites.
For him, it’s all about being outdoors whether he’s hiking, fishing, or shooting photos. “I like to shoot my vehicle with a cool background or just the landscape itself,” he says. “Even if I have work to do, I would much rather work in nature rather than at home. I love disconnecting but I also love being able to stay connected when I’m out in nature. The whole point is to be out in nature.”
Part of the experience is enjoying delicious food; outdoors, he opts for grilling favorite foods over camping staples like hot dogs and dried foods. “I love grilling both at home and while camping,” he says. “I always prefer using charcoal where permitted or a gas grill. I lean toward something that’s flavorful and easy. If I can, I’ll prep at home and have everything ready to go and season it while I’m cooking.” Go-to meals include grilled salmon; carne asada; and Oaxaco-stuffed poblanos.
Tips for Getting Outdoors More Quickly
Shaw’s figured out how to spend more time outdoors. Here are some tips to help you get out there:
- Plan ahead. Decide where you’ll go before the weekend arrives, so you’re not wasting time trying to choose.
- Get organized. Shaw uses crates to organize his camping gear; look for flexible storage that lets you organize and label your gear so it’s easy to store, find, grab, and head out. Having the right gear on hand makes packing easier and makes for a better camping experience as well. “The new GO Hydration Water Faucet is an absolute favorite of mine,” says Shaw. “In the past, I’ve often found myself having to hang a water jug high and pressurize it to dispense water, but the pressure fades and I must do it all over again. With the Hydration Faucet being electric and rechargeable, it will be a game changer for the way I camp and experience the outdoors.”
- Invest in power. Shaw has owned a Dometic CFX3 35 and is going to buy a CFX3 45 for his new truck. “The fridge has been a game changer [as well],” he says. “It’s so nice being able to cool down the fridge, and preload it the night before. You don’t have to take the time to buy ice and you’re ready to go. With the PLB40 [portable battery], I can load the fridge and the battery in the car Thursday night, and I’ll be driving four or five hours the next day and it’ll recharge.”
- Travel with a buddy. If you’re new to camping, it’s okay to learn the ropes from someone more seasoned. You’ll gain the knowledge and confidence to tackle bigger adventures as you go.
- Choose thoughtfully. “Go to an area that’s maintained (instead of public land that is very bare-boned), to have ‘one foot on concrete and one on the dirt,’” says Shaw. “Look for maintained campsites that are in nature, or even better is going to national parks that have campsites and expose you to the beautiful land that is out there. You’ll get a taste of what you can keep exploring in the future when you have more experience.”
Follow Shaw on Instagram.