Finding Home in the Outdoors
For Dometic ambassadors Paulina Dao and Tyler Fox, "adventure" could mean anything from an epic backpacking trip across the Sierra to a quick, close-to-home weekend trip. In any case, it's all about finding community, learning lessons, and, of course, having plenty of fun.
For Dao, a life of adventure began with a simple question.
“Hey- you want to hike Half Dome this weekend?”
The words, a message from a mentor and climbing partner at the gym in Sacramento, flashed across Dao’s phone.
Never mind that she had never hiked anything close to Half Dome’s size, or that she had no idea how to prepare—when she saw the message, she hardly hesitated.
“Sure,” Dao responded. “That sounds kind of cool.”
Now, many years later, Dao laughs about how unsavvy she had been: Thoughts of the Sierra conjured frigid, mountainous landscapes, and so she brought along her old ski jacket—and in the miserable heat of summertime Yosemite, she sweated right through the layer. Then, thirsty, she polished off her water before they were even halfway to the top. Fearing hunger and exhaustion, she hauled up a trove of energy bars and far too much trail mix, which she gobbled continuously to take her mind off the burning in her legs.
Dao felt out of her element, but the pair still reached the top shortly after sunrise. They watched the glowing morning light spread over the statuesque formations of Yosemite Valley.
“After that, I was kind of just hooked,” she said. “It felt like there was this whole other world out there. I had no experience—but I was really excited to learn, and to figure it out.”
Half Dome flung Dao deeper into a full-time relationship with the outdoors, a journey that started at a childhood summer camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains and continues today: she's now an adventure lifestyle photographer and content creator—and she’s set on using her work to encourage others to find, as she did, a sense of belonging in the outdoors.
Long trails and lessons
For hiking blogger Tyler Fox, that sense of belonging didn’t form overnight. But there’s no question that it all began during a single hike—albeit a hike that was thousands of miles long.
Feeling stuck between a bartending job and an uncertain future, Fox decided, rather spontaneously, to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. (It sounded a lot more interesting, at least, than buckling down and getting an office job.) So in 2013, he took his first steps on the 2,650-mile winding path that stretches from the Mexico to Canada.
And when he finished?
He was ready to give it all up.
“I’ve hiked enough for a lifetime,” he said. “I was like, ‘I’m never hiking again.’”
But there was something in the adventure that grabbed him, and his resolve didn’t last long: In the years that followed, he explored mountain trails in Japan and Nepal, rode a bike across the Australian Outback, returned to the PCT, and hiked the Continental Divide Trail—a trail that beats out even the PCT in length.
All the while, Fox shared his adventures on the quickly growing Halfway Anywhere, a blog that stockpiles useful information learned on-trail, so that other hikers may follow in his footsteps.
For those that do, they might pick up on a lesson that's been a constant companion to Fox during many a long, hard day: “The hill won’t go on forever. It’ll end eventually. When I’m out and I'm having a hard time, it’s something I like to remember,” he said. It’s not always easy—and sometimes that’s ok.
On the road for adventures of all sizes
It’s hard to find a couple more adventurous—and more understated about how adventurous they are—than Dao and Fox. Together, they’ve dodged lightning storms on the Sierra High Route, ran enormous rapids in the Grand Canyon, and climbed plenty of perfectly sculpted granite boulders in Bishop.
For all their epic outdoor experiences, though, they’ve shared plenty of smaller ones, too—and life during the pandemic has shifted much of their outside time to shorter, closer-to-home adventures. Dao, who juggles her photo work with a full-time job, works hard to make time for the outdoors, whether that means a weekend of bouldering in the Sierras or escaping the Sacramento heat for a quick trip to Tahoe.
On those trips, they’ve adopted the Dometic GO collection, a suite of outdoor gear designed to streamline outdoor adventures. Camp chairs, a versatile camp table, a rugged and smart water jug, and more all fit in the back of the Subaru—often joining Dao’s giant stack of crash pads and the rest of their camping kit.
And while Fox prefers to fill his days with gigantic miles (if his current training regimen for an upcoming 100-mile race is any indicator) Dao’s ideal day outside often involves perfect scenery, bouldering, and a stockpile of gourmet snacks—for which GO’s hard and soft storage is particularly game-changing.
“On weekend trips, things always start off nicely packed in the car—but by the end, everything is just everywhere, and I can’t find any of the snacks. The storage keeps everything organized, and makes camping a lot easier,” she said.
(And for storing the cold stuff, from fresh vegetables to frozen treats, a CFX3 powered cooler is the perfect complement, and the leak-proof water jug—according to Fox, a far-cry from “those flimsy water cubes”—can be stacked neatly on top.)
Since their first road trip together, a winding journey taken shortly after Fox’s second round on the PCT, it’s fair to say that Dao and Fox have come a long way—and that many more miles (and more jaw-dropping hikes, and perfect campsites, and yes—epic snacking) await.
An outdoor community for everyone
From personal journeys to shared adventures, Dao and Fox have been shaped by experiences outside—and in their own ways are both working to create an outdoor community that is more inclusive, more welcoming, and less elitist.
For his part, Fox has a habit of jumping right into the deep-end (the PCT was his first-ever backpacking trip; the notoriously strenuous Arizona Trail his first-ever mountain bike ride), and Halfway Anywhere, he said, is about modelling the welcoming openness that he always appreciates when he enters a new outdoor community or activity.
Before he met Dao, for example, he was a hiker. “But when I met Paulina, I started climbing, and then mountain biking, and rafting. It's so nice to enter a new community, and be like, ‘I know nothing. But I really want to do this thing.’ And it’s great to have people that will help—because we’ve all been there.”
For Dao, community building has completely changed her experience of the outdoors. A decade ago, she said, she had been hyper-focused on difficulty: a hike wasn’t a hike unless it was truly challenging. But now, her focus has shifted to the people she’s adventuring with—and that focus is reflected in her work.
“I like creating content to help other people get outside—especially people who look like me, or maybe didn't have the same opportunities growing up, or have heard of this hiking thing and want to get into it,” she said.
For Dao, it’s all about encouraging those who mirror her own beginnings—back when she was a novice hiker on Half Dome with no idea how to start.
“I want to say, ‘This is possible,’” she said. “I want to say, ‘Hey: the outdoors is for everybody.’”
Whether you’re prepping for a serious trail epic, a bouldering session, or a mellow afternoon float, Dometic GO makes getting out for a day of adventuring easier than ever. For gear that packs, stacks, and goes, check out the GO collection today.