My short bio: I have devoted 15 years to leading over 2000 days of wilderness leadership expeditions as a senior instructor with the National Outdoors Leadership School (NOLS) and other international organizations. For the past 5 years my skills for fostering powerful teams has have allowed me to become international speaker, workshop leader, business consultant, and author of a recent Amazon Bestseller TEAMS ON THE EDGE: Stories and Lessons from Wilderness Expedition.

My Proof:

Comments: 274 • Responses: 94  • Date: 

jazzermurphy23 karma

What is a skill you think everybody should know that will keep them alive

sstratton162 karma

Taking a certified first aid course is always a great place to start. Other than that, learn how to stay warm and read a map. It has been said there is not such thing as bad weather only bad gear.

Salacious-16 karma

Favorite National park? State park?

sstratton129 karma

I would have to say Kluane National Park in Canada's Yukon. I have led several expeditions there including one up Canada's highest mountain Mt. Logan.

guitargirl47811 karma

I drove from Alaska to TX with a friend of mine last September and Lake Kluane was the part of the drive I remember the most vividly. They could have built a bridge across the lake but instead of doing that they built a road that went all the way around. The mountains were this deep purple color. The best part about that whole leg of the trip was that it was light when we started around the lake and dark by the time we got to the other side. We watched the sunset over the mountains and the moonrise over the lake. There was no light pollution at all just billions of visible stars. The lake was choppy so the combination of that and the moonlight made it look like this pale crystal fire stretching across the entire surface of the lake. I wish I had a better camera on that trip but I am glad I brought my journal because I got to write it all down. That is one drive I would sincerely do again in a heart beat. ~5000 miles of some of the most beautiful nature I've ever seen.

sstratton15 karma

Love it! I have driven to Alaska 3 times, twice from Mexico.

Peirol11 karma

How many languages do you know?

sstratton123 karma

I know or have known a little of a lot. I really don't speak any other languages fluently but I always try to learn some of the basic language in the country I am traveling in. People really appreciate that you are trying to learn there languages even if you are butchering it.

DrNesterman9 karma

How can I get a job travelling and camping the world?

sstratton112 karma

Well, I got my start working at youth summer camps and built my resume from there. A great place to get training is NOLS where I worked for 10 years.

A good start would be getting certified in the most advanced wilderness first aid certification you can afford.

coloicito9 karma

Which is the most beautiful country in your opinion?

Which was the worst?

Did you had any problem in any of those countrys?

sstratton122 karma

That's a hard one to answer. For beautiful remote mountainous wilderness I would have to say Canada (and Alaska) and for fascinating culture I would have to say India.

coloicito9 karma

I plan to go to India someday (my SO's from India and plans to go back in a few years). Is there any tip you could give me in order to enjoy my trip? (I have to agree with the cultural thing. India's culture's a mix of many cultural current, eastern and western).

sstratton117 karma

The biggest thing is to go there with an open mind ready to learn and understand not criticize. It is great it you have local contacts to help you but it is not necessary (that goes for anywhere). Be ready to have a life changing experience and take advantage of every (good) opportunity to see the country and meet the people. Don't hang out at McDonalds and 5 star international hotels as many foreign travels do.

coloicito1 karma

Don't hang out at McDonalds and 5 star international hotels as many foreign travels do.

I'd only do that if I was going to a city in my own country, haha.

And who am I to criticize? My country's culture isn't the best in the world (I actually think that some aspects of it are the worst in the world, but well). Should I learn any language or I'll do fine with english?

sstratton18 karma

You will be fine with English, but try to learn a few important local words as well before you go or in your first days there.

sstratton16 karma

Can't say a worst country, but I do prefer unique cultures and remote wilderness so I am not at interested in countries that don't offer these.

sstratton15 karma

Problems... yes, I have lots of problems... but adventure travel is great at teaching problem solving! I have dealt with clients with broken legs high in the Himalayas of India to jewellery scams in Bangkok. I touch on 6 of my biggest challenges while leading groups in the book.

ploydgrimes8 karma

What are your favorite (or must have) pieces of camping gear for a short (week) expedition in mild conditions?

sstratton117 karma

Good footwear and a $2 bug net go over a hat.

PizzaDiavolo8 karma

In your 15 years of travel, what was the scariest / most dangerous situation you got yourself into?

sstratton121 karma

Humm, I have seen some crazy stuff but I would have to say the time a client suffered an open fracture (bone sticking out) of his tib/fib on a 12,000 ft ridge in the Indian Himalayas, 5 days from a road would have to take the cake. When you are the one responsible for safety in a leadership position it makes things even more scarier. I tell the story in the book and in this TEDx video

PremiumR8 karma

Throughout your 15 year journey, dealing with so many different people from all over the world, what lessons have you learned about human nature?

sstratton116 karma

Wow that's a good one. If you are nice people will be nice to you... I need to come up with something more profound than that but it is true. Of all the bad we hear about most people are really really nice and you should get to know them more. A few months ago a had a homeless guy in Vancouver Canada found my computer bag I a had left on the sidewalk while getting on a bus to the airport. He ended up bring it into a store and they tracking me down and sent my bag to me. I had my life in that bag and I was blown away by the act.

PremiumR3 karma

I guess most things you learned are just internalized into your habits and normal routine and its hard to put in words..

Also, would you agree that the poor are generally more kind?

sstratton113 karma

No, and that would be too much a generalization for me to make. In my experience many successful people got to where they are for giving more than they get.

Sitin4 karma

Amazing. I am really interested in learning how to survive in all enviroments and be self sufficient.

I live in Australia so naturally I grew up camping quite a bit, however this was always with various conveniences.

Where would you suggest starting to learn full self sufficiency(if you know of an Australian school of some sort, even better) and what do you get from being outdoors and knowing you can survive in such remote situations?

sstratton15 karma

This is a great place to get the training you are looking for in Australia.

I have led two expeditions with them in WA in the hiking in the Kimberly for 3 weeks (lot that place) and sea kayaking near Dampier.

This is another good place to learn those skills.

Sitin3 karma

Cheers man, I guess it can't be free though. Do you have any cheaper suggestions? I don't want to come across that I am trying to half ass it, I simply don't have access to that kind of money.

sstratton13 karma

These are both non profits and both offer scholarships, apply you never know...

sstratton13 karma

Part 2. It is a wonderful feeling knowing you know how to be self sufficient in the wilderness and anywhere for that matter. It is one of the greatest confidence boosters in life. It is powerful to know that if you had to go without most of the things you use in your daily life you would be fine.

Gravy-Leg__4 karma

When you're on an expedition, what do you use to start a fire?

sstratton19 karma

A Bic lighter. Really. I even keep extras in my down jacket or sleeping bag to be sure I have a back up that won't get wet.

adoptagreyhound4 karma

What do you carry in your emergency / survival kit?

sstratton110 karma

Not much, the best thing you can carry is a brain full of useful knowledge to improvise. One of my key pieces of gear is an simple insulate pad of sitting on. Really, it keeps you off the ground if injured can be used for a splint and some many other things. At NOLS many times our spice kit is bigger than our first aid kit.

oldenbuk4 karma

Would it be worth dropping college and becoming an explorer. Thats kinda my lifelong dream

sstratton115 karma

NO! Yes, I a similar dreams during college as well but I am happy I made it though the experience. I am actually now working on my Masters in Leadership, which if funny seeing I thought I would never go back to school.

You have lots of time to be an explorer, get college out of the way first. It is nice to have a degree in your pocket to fall back on.

eyecite2 karma

what about student loans?

sstratton13 karma

Yes, you have to deal with those as well. Perhaps you can do less desirable higher paying jobs between outdoor ed contracts. I planted trees for a while and many do construction.

sstratton14 karma

How do I post a pic in a response?

EPICawesomeness2 karma

Upload the picture to imgur and then copy/paste the link.

sstratton11 karma

thanks, I figured out I can just copy paste a dropbox link.

Stoutwest3 karma

How highly would you recommend the river Kali/ India trekking trip? I would like to do a NOLS course once I graduate college and this one sounds the most interesting.

sstratton15 karma

Depends what you are looking for out of the experience.

I have led the India trekking course and think it is great. You travel in an amazing area that very few foreigner travel. NOLS has excellent contact in and out of the mountains and is well respected in India.

What is the river Kali trip?

sstratton15 karma

Right, I worked both hiking sections of the semester but not the river section. It would be a great first trip overseas as you will not be on your own and supported by NOLS every step of the way.

nord933 karma

What is your best tips for living cheap while traveling?

sstratton15 karma

Ideally, you have a job you love and get paid to travel.

If that is not the case then:

  1. research, research, research.
  2. lower your standards in an adventures sort of way.
  3. give yourself a lot of time, it is hard to do thing cheap when you are in a rush.

Drunk_guy_says3 karma

Society fails, and you are left to your own accord. What is the first tool you would need to survive?

sstratton13 karma

Humm - heavy duty garbage bag.


Bubblemonger3 karma


sstratton19 karma

Belay off! We like to make a belay sandwich of No Belay - Belay Off.

Bubblemonger8 karma


sstratton17 karma

Nice, lol.

growlingbear3 karma

Is there any place you would never go again?

sstratton14 karma

Humm, I could probably do without Bangkok. Hiking in the Adirondack's does not really interest me, the mountains are too low and populated for my liking.

SublimePriest2 karma

Whats wrong with Bangkok?

sstratton14 karma

Had some bad experiences there... namely jewellery scam. That story will be in my next book.

uni-twit3 karma

Do you live "under the poverty line" by choice?

If not, why don't you ask for a raise?

If so, then why do you choose to, and how does this affect how you do your job?

sstratton17 karma

Just a note, I have not lived that way for 4 or 5 years now.

At the time it was mostly by choice. I was able to see and do all the things I wanted to do at the time, at the income level I was making because of the types of jobs I had. I would have settled down or just led more expeditions and made more money but that wouldn't have been fun at the time.

xarathion3 karma

My friends and I have been casually looking at some wilderness treks as a possible trip next year. If all we care about is the exploration aspect an "outdoor experience", is there really any point in us considering NOLS or other similar organizations? We really have no interest in the team-building or leadership training at all, but it seems like a lot of the treks we briefly looked at seem to focus on this.

sstratton15 karma

Yes and no and I appreciate your honesty. Many explorations fail because of poor planning and quality leadership. If you want to greatly increase the chances of having fun and success in achieving your explorations goals and you lack wilderness experience I would highly recommend a course of some sort. If you have lots of wilderness travel experience, have close friends you can be honest with and have similar goals then you probably don't need a course.

NoWhiteGuyHere3 karma

How do I get this job?

sstratton14 karma

Hard work and dedication, like anything worth while. Call NOLS and ask them, they can help you get from where you are now to where you want to go or tell you where to go.

The_Bad_Samaritan3 karma

Have you ever felt the need to arm yourself while camping?

sstratton14 karma

No, the only time I would ever carry arm would be in polar bear country.

schrankage3 karma

I'm predisposed for a few reasons to want to live off the grid, or a hobo-lifestyle. The biggest problem I would face, I think, is finding food to eat every day. How did you find at least a meal a day, how do you survive?

sstratton14 karma

Although I kind of felt like a hobo for many years I was never in survival mode or living off the land. It look glamour's in the movies but living off the land in this day and age can get old fast. I was always (mostly) prepared and had the proper gear where ever I went. Many night I didn't know where I would sleep at days but I would alway be fine pitching camp anywhere from the side of a highway to the top of a mountain because I had the training and gear.


I just finished a NOLS class in Alaska and it was definitely one of the best experiences of my life! All of our instructors were great and it seemed like they had a blast. They were Anne Marie, James, and Mann Deep. You might know them, they were awesome. I hope I can do one again

sstratton14 karma

Fantastic, great to hear. I think you would enjoy my book of NOLS stories. Good luck with your future experiences.

treeppin3 karma

It probably goes without saying but starting a life like this requires letting go of the old and familiar. Was it hard for you to let go in the beginning and do you have any advice for people like myself who are trying to gather the courage to pursue this life?

sstratton14 karma

I think you need to be ready to embrace the adventure of this lifestyle and go with confidence that it will all work out.. I was straight out of college and into this lifestyle so I didn't have a chance it get use to our typical North American life style. Make sure you have a back up.

geenscorner3 karma

What was the worst thing that has happened to you that you completely didn't expect?

sstratton16 karma

I didn't expect finding a missile sticking out of the ground in the arctic of Alaska and on the same day find 4 of our tent shredded by a bear. That was an interesting day for sure.

MTBguide3 karma

Hey! Fellow adventure educator here. I myself am looking to get out of the industry mostly from burning out working with adjudicated youth and a lack of community. What profession do you reccommend? I'm lookimg into signing up for teach for America.

sstratton13 karma

Hey there, it can be a hard industry to get out of because as I say "it is much easier to change jobs than a lifestyle". I suggest you leave the industry gradually not cold Turkey. Teaching is a very common after life as you are using much of your current talents and experience. Think about your passions and how you can capitalize on your experiences. For me, I was always an entrepreneur at hart so it was a natural fit to start consulting.

NorbitGorbit3 karma

what would you say is the easiest job to acquire in terms of getting paid to travel?

sstratton13 karma

Humm, maybe teach english. I haven't done it but I know lots who have.

You can also travel and pick up side jobs as you go. I did this in New Zealand, picking fruit among other things.

Tbritton903 karma

I took the NOLS Teton Valley course when I was 15 and summited Rainier last summer. My father (60) was asked by Eric Simonson to join a climb with IMG this summer and attempt Sajama. They were 600-800 ft from summiting before weather turned them back. What is the closest to a summit you have been before being turned back? Also, any climbs/trips you have been dying to do but just keep falling through?

sstratton13 karma

Wow that is tough, but a realistic part of climbing.

I had to turn around 500 ft from the summit of Mt. Logan (highest point in Canada) after 21 days. It was -51 and near zero visibility. I still want to get back there some day... now probably with one of my kids. You can read about the expedition in my book and in this NOLS story:

TheBadgerWhisperer3 karma

How did you get into your line of work to begin with?

sstratton15 karma

I did a degree in college in Outdoor Recreation with a focus on experiential education. That is where I learned about and fell in love with the industry.

Bocephus_3 karma

What are your 5 "off the list" items that you love to have on an expedition? Everybody's got a multi-tool and a headlamp, what are some more unique things you like to have in your bag?

sstratton17 karma

Well, they have changed over the years and depend on what kind of expedition I am on but for general backpacking I would say:

  • small insulite pad
  • small tube of seam seal
  • reading material
  • lots of your favourite hot drink in your favourite mug
  • $2 bug net to go over a hat

How about those? Anything to add?

sstratton16 karma

I forgot trekking poles, I am a big fan of black diamond poles.

Bocephus_2 karma

Got my trekking poles ready to go, that's one I heard a lot and I'm sure my knees will thank me. One thing I'm trying for the first time is bringing compression shorts and shirts, for moisture wicking, keeping me cool/warm, and (supposedly) keeping the blood flowing... any experience with compression shirts of shorts for a base layer? If not, what do you prefer for a moderate climate? (40-80 degrees & humid)

sstratton14 karma

I have not tried backpacking in compression, I have used compression socks and tights for recovery from marathons and triathlons. I would think they my be hot, but there are so many type now perhaps not. I like my Patagonia baggy shorts and quick dry t-shirt. That has worked for many years, just remember "cotton kills" in the mountains.

Bocephus_2 karma

I definitely need to get a bug net, mosquitos love me. Thanks! For reading material I'm sure it'll keep me sane on those late rainy nights... besides your book, do you have any recommendations? I was thinking biographies, or maybe some 'tough guy' mountain man fiction to keep me motivated haha

sstratton11 karma

I really like to read books about the area I am traveling in, it usually gives me a much better appreciation. For example when in South Africa I read about Nelson Mandela. I get a lot of audio books from the library, they are very light wight:)

zebrake20103 karma

Would you add your perspective on the eternal question......what's the difference between NOLS and Outward Bound?

sstratton13 karma

Wellll, I have worked at both (only a little at OB) and think there are similar. The marketing material says that OB focused on personal growth and development and NOLS on wilderness skills. In actual fact they do both with just a little more emphases on their focus. You will learn sills at OB and personal growth at NOLS just not as much as the other. Which one is better... it all depends what you want out of the experience.

RetroZombie3 karma

Me and my best friend are spontaneously leaving to backpack across Europe and hopefully end up in Japan. Is there any advice you can give us on saving money, avoiding trouble, and even how we could possibly get a sponsor? Thank you!

This is the thread my buddy made:

sstratton13 karma

Very cool, this is awesome! If you have time see if you can work as you go. Pick fruit, teach english, crew a sail boat, clean dishes, etc. Not only will you make a few bucks you will really get to know the locals, the town and probably other travellers in the process. Get advice from other travellers as you meet them. Take public transit when ever possible and some what safe.

As for a sponsor perhaps you could start writing a travel blog and pick up sponsors that way. Check out this article:

svwsp2 karma

define "business consultant". What are you doing for businesses and what business are you doing those things for? Also, fellow NOLSie here.

sstratton12 karma

Right on, my consulting business is 50% doing corporate team building and leadership training and 50% keynote speaking for conferences and corporate events. You can learn more on my site here:

y89092 karma

Have you ever seen someone successfully do a long term/range expedition with minimalist footwear? I know some ultras swear by it but they generally aren't bushwacking or doing real elevation.

sstratton13 karma

Most of my expeditions have involved a big heavy pack over rough terrain so I have not used minimalist footwear. I do know through hikers on the AT and the PCT that are mainly on trail and would not go without their light shoes. Think - trail or off trail and heavy pack or light pack.

sstratton12 karma

I'm back!

Bocephus_2 karma

I'm leaving for a 50 day Outdoor Leadership Course in Appalachia in 3 weeks. Any advice for preparation besides the normal fitness routine and getting the right gear?

sstratton15 karma

Just go in with an open mind and a desire to learn and see as much as you possible can while taking advantage of all opportunities. Even more important... be the teammate you want to have. Have fun!

PSiggS2 karma

Have you ever encountered hostile animals? how do you act/defend yourself in these situations?

sstratton11 karma

Yes, I have had some close calls with snakes in Australia. There is not much you can do to defend you self with them other than wearing gators over your boots. It is more important to know the proper first aid treatment and have communication for help. I have encountered many bears in Alaska and the Yukon but have never felt threatened by them. They usually take off in the opposite direction as soon as they hear or smell us.

jrock3212 karma

Is there anything you would do different in your career knowing what you now know?

sstratton11 karma

Nothing obvious jumps to mind but perhaps if I knew about NOLS at the time and could afford it, I would have taken a course in college or high school.

Ken_Wood2 karma

This is so cool. I've got much respect for the NOLS folks. I'm just starting to get some firm feet in the wilderness tripping world working for the YMCA. So far the boldest trip I've lead is a trip just bellow the arctic circle for a couple of weeks, but I'm hooked and want to do more. I've been camping since I was a kid, and leading trips is something I love.

Any tips on where to start if I want to do more? Also, I've been looking at universities that offer an outdoor recreation degree, what are your thoughts on those programs?

sstratton13 karma

Great to here! There are more and more Outdoor Rec degrees these days and it would be a great place to start. Prescott College and the University of Utah both have really good programs and a close relationship with NOLS. If you love the mountains I would recommend a school in the west. In my book I talk about the NOLS instructor life style.

MCicero2 karma

how would I go about pursuing a similar career?

sstratton12 karma

Build a resume that has a mix of certifications (first aid, rock climbing, kayaking, etc) and personal trip experience and teaching experience. Youth summer camps and teen adventure programs are a good place to start. You may also want to take a NOLS course.

icebrain622 karma

About a week ago i finished a 3 week trip backpacking and rockclimbing in the Wind River Range of wyoming, and was inspired to be a NOLS instructor any advice?

sstratton13 karma

Awesome!! They are a great company. I would recommend you actually call them and tell them your current experience and see what they recommend. If you don't have a wilderness first aid cert that would be a good place to start. They usually like to see a good blend of teach and personal expedition experience.

CoachingPikachu2 karma

What was the closest near death experience you had? Or anything that was memorable?

sstratton111 karma

Memorable would probably be bone sticking out of clients leg deep in the Himalayas. I talk about it here:

Near death would be, being 50 ft from the second blast having just finished the 2013 Boston Marathon. I wrote about the experience here:

CoachingPikachu2 karma

Very interesting read and video! Just one last question, Where to next?

sstratton17 karma

Well, I just had my second baby 6 weeks ago (I also have a 22 month old) and I just released my book, I am currently writing my thesis of my Masters and I came 4th place in a local triathlon last weekend so maybe I should lay on the couch for a while:) As for travel I have a speaking engagement in Budapest next month. For the next couple years my adventure will involve my kids other than my triathlons and marathons. My wife and I actually have a short cruise booked (without kids) this winter. Should be tame and relaxing.

i_breathe_in_time2 karma

What were the strongest factors drove you to this job? I am always tempted to do something like this but it would upset a lot of people.

sstratton13 karma

1 Passion, #2 Passion, #3 Passion.

There is nothing better than getting paid to do what you love. It is a challenging job and has its down sides like anything but as they say, it you love you're job you will never work a day in your life.

Early on I got the "soon be time to find a real job" talk from my parents. Eventually that saw how much I loved what I was doing, the impact I was having on my clients, and that I was make ends meet.

I feel too many people live their lives for someone else.... think about it.

Bocephus_2 karma

What are your favorite pair of hiking boots?

sstratton12 karma

I just answer the questions, but am not sure what happened to it..

dontdonk2 karma

Worst injury while on a expedition, story behind it?

Thank you for doing a AMA!

sstratton13 karma

Your most welcome, this is fun!

Would have to be the broken leg in India Himalayas. I share the story in this TEDx video.

andicotsteel2 karma

Have you ever been totally lost and if so how long did it take you to right the situation?

sstratton12 karma

Only once for a short while early on in my career. This issue was we had the map folded too small and had walked right off it and were busy trying to make the may and compass fit what we were seeing. I learned a lot from that experience... the compass never lies (unless it is by metal).

zr_nf2 karma

Braves on the Woodspath Did your high school club help to elevate your interest to pursue this career?

sstratton12 karma

Ha Ha, of course! Although at the time I had know idea you could make a career out of this work.

KingNoah04052 karma

Did you learn anything that you could only learn from such extensive travel?

If not, would you care to share any random nugget of wisdom you picked up during your travels?

sstratton15 karma

This is hard to offer on the spot, I guess that is why I wrote a book...:)

Adaptability, is the first word that comes to mind. Without your willingness and ability to be adaptable adventure travel will not be very much fun. Along with adaptability comes a NOLS favourite "tolerance of adversity and uncertainty. These things can not be toughs in a classroom with walls.

When plans change, embrace the adventure!

How that?

LordDarius2 karma

Favourite country for camping?

sstratton14 karma

Canada - BC, Alberta, Yukon! Mountains and true wilderness.

Epledryyk2 karma

I live in Alberta and want to do more backpacking - are bears / cougars actually as big a threat as the city people make them out to be?

Is being smart about food / smells enough to keep you safe while sleeping?

sstratton11 karma

Bears are to be taken seriously but they shouldn't deter anyone from the backcountry. Do your research and lean as much as you can about bear safety in the area you are travelling in. Parks Canada has lots of good info on bear safety, contact them.

TRSBlackdown2 karma

Hey I have some questions concerning NOLS. I am interested in your Fall Semester expedition but I just want to clear up some questions. I have PMed you but if you could please respond I would really appreciate it!

sstratton12 karma

Just to be clear, I am a former NOLS Instructor and do not currently work for them.

First I would encourage you to call NOLS, they should be able to help you out with any questions.

You can send me your specific questions through my website and I can try to answer them a little later.

purplehaze422 karma

What are your go to meals when you are out in the wilderness?

sstratton13 karma

A lot of pasta, rice, couscous dehydrated bean and fruit, nuts, tortillas, bagels, granola, cheese, chocolate, flour for baking, etc. And a big spice kit!

GastroPilgrim2 karma

I've been considering this line of work. I had a sizable inheritance and am considering being a NOLS instructor.

sstratton12 karma

This could be the perfect job given your situation. But it still needs to be a passion or else it will just suck and be camping in the rain with people you don't know while you miss your family and girl friend / boy friend.

GastroPilgrim1 karma

Have expedition experience in a leadership position in Norway and the Indian Himalaya's and I'm not a people person. I figure if I'm not happy with what I'm doing at 30 I'll drop it and pick that up.

Bocephus_2 karma

If you aren't a people person, an NOLS instructor is definitely not the right job for you.

sstratton12 karma


SteroidSandwich2 karma

What was the worst condition you were ever in (broken bones, an infection...)?

sstratton13 karma

Fortunately I have never been sick or injured in the field (knocking on wood now). I have had lots of diarrhea in my travels and felt like death it was never anything more than a few meds could take care of.

KettleCookedMilk2 karma

How much money did you make while you were on your travels? Has it affected the way you spend money now?

sstratton12 karma

I was making less then $20,000 a year but could have made more if I wanted to take different less desirable guiding jobs or work more. Well, I am sure good at finding a good deal. Sometimes I forget don't live that way anymore and can spend a few extra bucks on some comforts, especially when I travel with the family (I have 2 girls under 2 y/o). It nice not to be super stressed on spending $50 or $100 on something you really want, anymore.

PadLilly2 karma

Did you have any weird experiences out in the wilderness?

sstratton12 karma

Oh yes, far too many to list them all. Finding a missile in Alaska has to be up there. Check it out here:

apsentminded12 karma

How did you get started? I'm in college majoring in environmental science and would love to do what you've done!

sstratton11 karma

If you can work it, take an NOLS course for college credit. That would would a great start. Take a Wilderness First Responder first aid course, volunteer with your college outdoor club, work at a summer camp, lead trips with a teen adventure program, going on your own multi day expeditions with friends, travel internationally. Just a few things you may want to do.

Bocephus_1 karma

After my Outdoor Leadership Course (includes WFR certification) I was thinking of taking a EMT course to make my resume stand out. Would the extra training (~3 months + ~$2000) be worth it's weight in terms of getting a job in the field, or would you recommend waiting and getting experience on the job first? Do many guides have further medical training?

sstratton11 karma

By my perspective a WFR is all you need for backcountry guiding. Of course more medical knowledge is great but an EMT will teach you to use lots of toys that you won't have in the backcountry.

sstratton12 karma

Going to take a break for an hour or so, keep the questions coming. This is fun!

Thanks, Shawn

RedBeard-1 karma

I have Wilderness First Responder, all my own equipment for trekking, and a few years experience guiding in Ontario,

Can you find me a job?

sstratton11 karma

What would be your ideal job?

deweymm1 karma

What is the most surreal, breathtaking think you have ever seen? What is the closest you have knowingly come to death?

sstratton11 karma

Every time I paddle a sea kayak near claving glaciers in Alaska it is a surreal and breathtaking moment. Should be on every adventures bucket list!

Mandrir1 karma


sstratton12 karma

No, sorry.

eastsidefetus1 karma

My boyfriend, some friends, and I just went camping in northern Michigan. I had bought an atlas and we took the back roads with no phones. The world is so beautiful. My question is have you ever went to Northern Michigan/U.P before?

sstratton11 karma

No I have never been to that part of the US. I have heard a lot of nice things about the U.P. There is good canoeing up there right?

ohyah1 karma

i have to ask why "living under the poverty line" is a point you feel you have to make?

sstratton110 karma

Good question, I simply made that point because most people I meet seem to think you need to be wealthy to travel like I have and this is just not the case. I don't want people to wait until they have lots of money in the bank to travel. Too many people put travel off until retirement...

reflexgraphix1 karma

It is inspiring that you did what you did on a tight budget. I assume you mean below the US poverty line for a single person: US$11,450 annual.

sstratton11 karma

I was considering under $20,000 as the poverty line. I think that is what it is at in Canada. Either way it wasn't very much.

barnmagma1 karma


sstratton12 karma

I typically used the same system for packing my back but the contents always seemed to change a little depending on the location and how light I wanted to get the back. I used to test back packs for Arc Teryx and would highly recommend there expeditions packs if you can afford it. They are the best in the world!

For packing tips check out this video:

  • good footwear that fits

wallymomouth1 karma

Where would you head in case of a zombie apocalypse?

sstratton12 karma

Where I am right now Newfoundland, Canada. Far away from zombies... I think. How about you?

etrb221 karma


sstratton11 karma

There isn't just one, there have been so many. Watching a grizzly bear for 30 minutes in the Yukon backcountry one time was pretty amazing.

fiddyman2371 karma

I am about to start school, and will be earning my degree in Wilderness Leadership and Experiential Education. Have any pointers on getting great jobs after i get my degree?

sstratton11 karma

Where are you going to school? The degree sounds very interesting. If you have an opportunity to do an internship try your best to do it with your dream company. That way you will have a large foot in the door when you go looking for a job. You may have to volunteer and do some less than desirable work but it will pay off. Or you may find out you do not want to work for that company and you won't waste your time applying some day.

Gocelings1 karma

What country was the easiest to travel in for a American. The hardest?

sstratton15 karma

I am Canadian but interestingly every foreign country I have traveled in I have been asked what part of the US I was from.

Other than the countries at war I wouldn't necessarily say there is a hard country for American's it really just comes down to your behaviour.

sstratton16 karma

If you are courteous and interested in cultures, they will generally be interested in you.

kraps31 karma

Did you ever get down to Patagonia? And if so, how did you find the locals? As in honesty, openness to outsiders, helpfulness, etc? Thanks

sstratton12 karma

I wanted to work for NOLS in Patagonia but it never happened. It is high on my list of next places to go. I hear so many great things about the area and its people.

Badminton-16 karma

As someone who doesn't give a shit about other countries.. Why?

sstratton12 karma

Are you asking why I travel?