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Introducing the 2022 ACLIM8 Ambassadors

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The first-ever ACLIM8 Ambassador Team is here. We’ve assembled this team of outdoor experts to test the COMBAR as an essential part of their kit for daily pursuits in the field. They’re overlanders, mountain guides, expedition photographers, anglers, hunters, backcountry campers, and more. To help you get to know them, we’ve asked a few questions about their life and their pursuit of the ultimate multi-tool.

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Kelly Varney // IG: @adventurebuilt, YouTube: AdventureBuilt
Home Base:  Surprise, Arizona
Pursuits: Overlanding, Trail Running, Mountain Biking, Backpacking, & Rock Climbing
ACLIM8 ambassador Kelly Varney in his overlanding rig
Overlanding is an integral part of your life. What ignited that passion and hobby?

Overlanding is all about building your rig to what works best for you. Every rig might have general similarities, but nothing is cookie cutter. My YouTube channel started to build when I was doing DIY-style build videos of building my overland rig. I showed people that you don't have to be a mechanic to build an overland rig. I did almost all installations by myself in my garage and showed that the average Joe could do it in a step-by-step method.

Have you had any noteworthy adventure mishaps, successes, or a-ha moments?

Honestly, I checked all those boxes in one trip—my first trip to Moab was in my heavily loaded down overland rig. The mishap was while I was climbing up Hell's Gate, which is a much more challenging climb than what it looks like on YouTube. I got halfway up the climb, and I came off the wall, and my front end started to lift. I was probably 4" away from rolling backward down the climb. Luckily I had some buddies there that put weight on my front bumper to stop me from going over. My success was finishing that climb after a massive adrenaline dump and feeling like I had no business being on this trail.

Where is your favorite place to spend a day? 

In Arizona, the winter weather is great for being outdoors. I enjoy hanging out in the White Tank Mountains near my house. I trail run there, mountain bike there, off-road there, make YouTube videos, and go for the most epic pictures. It has everything!

Who inspires you, both personally and in the world of adventure and travel? 

Well, it might sound cheesy, but my wife is my biggest personal inspiration. She has managed to bounce back from severe personal loss and health issues, and she is better for it. She manages to stay optimistic when I have a hard time seeing the brighter side. She is my rock, for sure. So many people inspire minor aspects of my goals or ambitions, but when I think hard on the matter, she is the only one who affects my day-to-day and my future. If I had to name one person for adventure inspiration, it would probably be Clay Croft from Expedition Overland. He pioneered the overland adventure on YouTube and has built a business of taking expedition-style overland adventures. Also, he is just a nice, down-to-earth guy.  

What are your current favorite tools that aid you in outdoor adventure?

Overlanding is ever-evolving, and the gear is no different, and I am a gear nerd. Currently, I am using multiple tools that I can eventually see the COMBAR replacing. I have a lot of great tools that exceed each of their functions. However, Overlanding is also about maximizing storage space and saving weight without sacrificing function and comfort. So I am genuinely hoping through extensive testing that the COMBAR can replace each of these tools.

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Drew Baker // IG: @drewbakerphoto
Home Base:  Philipsburg, Montana
Pursuits: Overlanding, Hunting, Fly Fishing, UTV, Hiking, Camping, & Rodeo 

What is your primary passion in the outdoors?

My primary passion is photography because it encompasses and finds its way into many other outdoor passions. It gives me a way to document incredible experiences to share and remember for years to come. 

Can you tell us when you first got the itch? Did you have a mentor, family member, friend, or guide who helped get you into it? 

My passions have always involved the outdoors, but I never really captured or shared those moments. I was a bit against picking up a camera and diving in because the "cool kids" viewed it as the nerdy thing to do (pre-Instagram, of course.) Then, around 7 or 8 years ago, a lodge I was guiding for put me into a National Geographic photography workshop with Jay Dickman, against my will. This was meant to help me teach clients how to better use their cameras on trips and during their stay. That 10-day workshop changed my life as I fell in love with photography. Teaching others helped me develop my style and the necessary skill-set quickly. Soon after the workshop, I began packing a camera on my adventures, and everything just fell into place. Now, I have a camera with me wherever I go.

Where is your favorite place to spend a day? 

A tiny area a few miles out of my hometown is called Black Pine. It's one of my favorite places. I harvested my first big game animals and learned to fly fish there. Black Pine has heavily influenced my love for the outdoors.

Where do you want to go and why? 

This list is endless. My dream trips are an archery moose hunt in Alaska and chasing Taimen in Mongolia with a fly rod. Both provide such remoteness and an opportunity at genuinely remarkable species. 

What is your greatest triumph in hunting so far? 

That would have to be my first archery bull elk! Hands down one of the most exciting and emotionally overwhelming experiences of my life.

How do you plan to enhance your adventures with ACLIM8 gear?

If I'm off hunting or hiking, I'd have to say my favorite pieces of gear are my Forloh technical gear, my hunting pack, my Crispi boots, and my Garmin inReach® Mini. A good knife and headlamp have also been crucial tools in my adventuring. When it comes to actual tools on something such as a side-by-side trip, I've always used an old ax and a come-a-long to help me get down the trail and out of trouble. I think ACLIM8 will enhance my adventures with its high quality and dependable gear. As well as being compact for those backcountry trips. I value space-saving gear that can get the job done, especially when it comes to loading up the UTV for an extended camping trip or a multi-state hunting trip. Space, durability, and utility are significant to me.  

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Matt Walker // IG: @mattwalkeradventure
Home Base:  Mazama, Washington
Pursuits: Mountain Guiding, Rock Climbing, Climbing, Mountain Biking & Camping 

What does your typical day look like? 

I am a mountain guide by trade, and I live in a mountain town in Washington state on 5 acres next to the national forest. So mountain living is a daily experience for me. 

In what ways do you bring a DIY style to your adventures? How do you break away from prepackaged outdoor experiences and imprint your style on your adventures?

I look for unique ways to balance individual challenges with multi-elemental engagement in the backcountry. I like human-powered adventures across long distances and utilizing multi-elemental modes of travel like a mountain bike in, backpack to alpine climb, climbing route, descending to the river, kayak out to the road, and bike home. 

Who inspires you, both personally and in the world of adventure and travel? 

The history of mountain travel and the character of the early explorers is fascinating—one of my favorite stories is the Italian ascent of Mt. Kenya in 1952. Italian soldiers escaped a POW camp in Kenya with handmade climbing gear to ascend Mt. Kenya and then sneak back into the camp following their ascent—chronicled in the book “No Picnic on Mt. Kenya.” A fantastic story!

What big adventure do you currently have in the works? 

This year I am focused on creating experiences for my children, who are 8 and 12, that support their love of nature and the method of adventure they love: mountain biking and hiking/scrambling. In addition, this year is about creating growth experiences for myself, like my solo ascent of the North Ridge of Everest in 2022.  

What are your current favorite tools that aid you in outdoor adventure? How do you plan to enhance your adventures with ACLIM8 gear? 

Traveling with a kit that supports self-contained travel and assures problem-solving is paramount in approaching adventure. The challenge lies in making sure that the gear is durable, applicable, and high-functioning—always looking to strike a balance between not enough (going lightweight) and not too much (too weighted down). I use a GPS texting location device, a smartphone, and a small solar charger for my digital needs—everything else is analog, with the key being a waterproof paper notepad and pencil that I can sharpen with a knife.  

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Follow these field experts throughout the upcoming seasons on our Instagram and right here on the blog, where we’ll share reviews, trip reports, and editorial pieces from their off-grid pursuits. Have questions for us or our ambassadors? Reach out on social

If you think you have what it takes to join the ranks of the ACLIM8 Ambassadors you can apply here. Safe travels, everyone.


Did you like this article? Check out On Mastering The Art Of Overlanding


 






Ambassadors multi-tool Overlanding Packing + Prep

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