Film is not deadIlford HP5+ in a thrift shop Auto 35   Shot on Ilford HP5+ ISO400 with a thirft-store-find Bell & Howell Auto 35 Reflex Design 237 (1970’s Canon EX EE clone) and the included 50mm f1.8 lens. The batteries are unobtanium (at the correct voltage) so it’s phone-app light metering, but the rest of the controls are fully functional without power. This particular one has occasional shutter drag and the film advance doesn’t always quite make it, but otherwise it’s in excellent condition and might be worth cleaning up.  … NSFW · Explicit
The TumblrpocalypseThe end is near! Tumblr Refugees: Read On No doubt by now you’ve read news of Tumblr’s demise. No? In a nutshell they caved into the demands of Apple (and the Feds) with an epic overreaction, and brought down the oppressive curtains of censorship on us members. It’s a sad and cowardly move by Jeff D’Onofrio, and likely the final nail in the coffin for one of the last platforms with common-sense content policies. Artists and perverts alike (I love you all) have until December 17th to clear out, or lose anything the (quite inept) Tumblr algorithm deems “explicit” forever. Thankfully, with the help of a couple long-forgotten plugins, exodus to a self-hosted WordPress installation isn’t impossible.   Note: while there is enough overlap for a successful migration from Tumblr, the two platforms have several features that don’t exist on the other. Because of this there will obviously be some cleanup needed after migration (such as a ton of “no title” titles if, like me, you didn’t use titles on Tumblr), as well as some data that will be lost (such as likes and credits). Also, I’ve only used this procedure to migrate my clients’ text- and photo-based blogs, so your results may vary with reblogs, chats, etc.   This guide is just a quick-and-dirty, intended to save experienced nerds some time, since time is short and misinformation is plentiful—this is not all inclusive. It assumes you have at least a basic working knowledge of the WP-Admin and installing plug-ins. Ideally you’ll be performing these steps on a local install of WordPress using XAMPP or whatever development environment you prefer, then pushing it to a live site, but I recommend at least starting with a clean install of WordPress. If you’re migrating into an existing WordPress site please make a backup of the database first! In fact, I recommend backing up the database after step 8 on a clean install too just in case. The quick-and-dirty guide to fleeing Tumblr in a hurry: In your WordPress Admin, go to Tools › Import. Under Tumblr, click Install Now. When it’s done, click Run Importer. Yes, I know it’s ancient. Yes, I know everyone says it’s broken. It works perfectly fine—I’ve used it in both XAMPP and cPanel environments and both http and https connections. Follow the instructions to create an “app” on Tumblr (super easy), then copy-pasta that OAuth and Secret key back to the Importer and click Connect to Tumblr.… NSFW · Explicit
Fall ColorsAlways Be Creating. Always Be Focused. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert. It’s a falsehood, based on a hole-filled theory (theory != fact) disproved many times through both scientific and practical methods. If you spend 10,000 hours performing a task ad nauseam you’ll have developed muscle memory, and if you’re unlucky, carpal tunnel syndrome—nothing more. You don’t become an expert by going through the motions until they become an easy habit, that’s not enough: you have to pay attention, and learn.   There’s no insta-filter that can take the place of doing the fucking work.   Becoming an expert is not a destination, to reluctantly use the cliché, but a journey. When it becomes easy, great: that’s progress. Now increase the difficulty and keep growing, because the moment you stop learning and put your mind on autopilot is the moment you’ve settled for “good enough.” Good enough isn’t creating. Good enough isn’t expert. Good enough is stagnation of worst form. I’m reminded of this as I sit here doing lat-pulldowns—not just mindlessly repeating—focusing on my precision and fluid motion. And trying not to let my mind wander to the enticingly obvious progress Dani has made with her own fitness routines, as she stretches out in one of her impossibly graceful, borderline-erotic stances across the gym…… NSFW · Explicit
Sex & TravelKeeping vices in check...with social The Audience This rant all started with a question: “You know this is killing your growth. Why are you flip-flopping between adventure and erotic posts instead of focusing on one audience?” The answer should be obvious: I don’t care if I have either audience, and I am not my fucking follower count. I have zero interest in maintaining my good standing within holier-than-thou “overland lifestyle” cliques, and I have even less interest in providing pervert hordes with material for their spank tanks. None of that has anything to do with my “growth” anyhow. I do, however, care deeply about the art itself and the individual connections that the art inspires. I also love the adventure of exploring and the solitude of the wilderness, whether or not the means I use are “worthy” as a status symbol. Sure, I appreciate likes and follows as much as the next guy, but I enjoy the conversations more—especially those private interactions that occur when people are moved to compliment or question my efforts backchannel. (I’m very socially awkward, so I understand exactly how much effort that can take.) I want more of that. I want to reach souls who are in search of that deeper connection. I want to inspire my fellow artists, and break down the hypocritical boundaries of censorship imposed by the false modesty of society. At the very least I want to make you feel something, and if I’m lucky, make you think. I do what I do as much to rock the boat as to share my passions (yes, rocking the boat is one of my passions). Switching it up every other post has proven a subtly effective way to shake loose from those two groups mentioned in the first paragraph while reaching for my real target audience: you. Accountability & Growth I’m at a place in life where it’s easy to be dragged down into the routine, which for a creative is the most dangerous place one can be: chaos is life, routine is death. Instagram is my accountability partner. It follows me around, that nagging little icon always on the lock screen reminding me to create something today. You see, I judge my content not by likes and comments, but against my profile as a whole. It’s a living documentary of the work I’ve done, and I’m competing with only myself. I’m there to consume what inspires, and in turn… NSFW · Explicit
MisplacedFrom the archives of Lost Arizona Have you ever shot an entire set, then completely forgot you have it? These have been gathering dust in Lightroom since April. It was a scout-and-shoot trip, and we were loaded for bear: lenses, strobes, stands, umbrellas, sandbags, and three duffel full of wardrobe…not counting the shoes. Gotta have the shoes.   We’d use none of it.   A frustratingly boring blue sky gave way to one of the warmest slow-motion sunsets we’ve ever experienced. It lingered for what seemed like hours, burning everything in sight with an ever-deepening and otherworldly golden glow. No strobes, no wardrobe, no makeup. Just the Nifty Fifty (50mm lens) locked in at f2.0. Just a coat and the flip-flops she’d worn for the drive up. Oh, and a pair of aviators for good measure.  … NSFW · Explicit
Why I LeftLet's clear up the rumors surrounding my departure from American Adventurist Yes, it’s true: American Adventurist and I have parted ways. I do still pen an article for them from time to time, but someone else is handling their creative and technology needs, and I am no longer a partner or staff. It was the best move for all involved parties. American Adventurist is headed in a different direction from where my passions lie. At the same time, (for medical reasons I won’t get into) I’m no longer able to volunteer the time and money necessary to guide a community of that size, nor maintain the dedicated technology resources it requires. But…what about Adventurist Life? A lot of people have the impression that Adventurist Life was my baby, and that I’ve somehow abandoned it. The fact is Adventurist Life drifted far away from the concept I’d created even before it’s first day in the public eye. My vision was far more edgy, elegant enough to appeal to affluent audiences, yet authentic enough for the everyman. I wanted print—an ad-free quarterly coffee table book that didn’t pull punches, wasn’t afraid to show a little sex appeal, and shamelessly told it like it was. The market, at least my audience at the time, wanted something altogether different: a free-to-view, advertiser-paid, family-friendly, budget-focused adventure blog. So I worked to give them a home and ultimately set them up with a partner who will give them the best chance of success. Thus it became a member of the American Adventurist family. Onwards and Upwards At this point I’ve done all that I can do for this project. I’ve personally invested tens of thousands of dollars and thousands of man-hours to get American Adventurist where it is today, and I’m confident that the community has all of the tools they need to thrive. I wish them all the best, but it’s time for me to get back to my vision, back to building the dream, back to what I do best: pushing the limits and creating new things. Until next time: see you…out there.… NSFW · Explicit
Tools of the TradeThe ever-changing list of my go-to gear Most of the work I do is performed out of my creative studio, behind the wheel of a heavily modified Land Rover, or through the viewfinder of a Canon. Many of the tools I use are custom fabricated by yours truly, sometimes because what I need doesn’t exist, or more often because I simply enjoy building things with my own hands. I originally posted this on the about-me page at Layne Studio after being asked “What __________ do you use?” once too often, but since the studio involves more than just me now it’s time this list moved to the blog proper. This post is just an overview, I might write up an in-depth with the how’s and why’s of each category if anyone would find it helpful. Read along for the details or just click here to skip down to the bullet list of links so your inner-consumer can run wild and free. Camera Gear The Big Guns: I shoot with a variety of Canon gear, but my go-to and favorite is the 80D. It’s durable, light weight, and inexpensive enough to take risks when getting the shot. I use three main lenses: a Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 Art (my personal favorite) for most portraits and some travel/vehicle/landscape work, a Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 macro-capable travel zoom, and a Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 wide angle for grabbing wide vistas or interior shots. The Canon 10-22mm wide is due to be replaced…likely with Sigma’s superior constant-aperture variant. Yes, I’m a Sigma fanboy…because, science. Rolling Light: I loved Canon’s pocketable S-line of cameras, but since they’ve been discontinued and the latest rendition predated modern processors and sensors I’ve reluctantly moved on…to the Canon M50. It’s basically an 80D crammed into a rangefinder body; it’s just as capable as it’s big brother, and runs the same glass when paired with the EF-EOS M Mount Adapter. With the native EOS-M lenses it’s the perfect walkabout and hiking camera. Computing Gear Hardware: In the studio my workstation is a personally built Intel-powered, liquid cooled, quad-core PC tower. It’s currently clocked at a conservative 4.4GHz, drives multiple color-calibrated monitors (lead photo), and houses a RAID array large enough to eliminate the need for a separate file server. Communication and general office needs are handled by Google for Work, with weekly on-site and monthly off-site backups of all data. In the field I use a custom built ASUS X202E with enough solid-state storage to back up my cameras on a multi-week expedition. It’s small enough to… NSFW · Explicit
Arizona and New Mexico: 25 Scenic Side Tripsor Overcoming Pavement Aversion Syndrome Think back to a time when you were young and innocent—long before you learned it was sinful for an overlander to enjoy driving a paved road. Go back…before roof tents, onboard showers, and moving dots on mapping apps; back to a time where “county highway” could mean anything from divided four-lane to poorly maintained dirt. Remember when you’d pick a direction and let the road carry you away, with little more than your wits and a bag of truck stop munchies to see you through?… Link: Living Overland
NY18A champagne-fueled exploration of fluid dynamics Aside from Halloween, which only matters because it was my first date with Dani, the next most important holiday for me is New Year’s Eve/Day. It’s not because I care about it. In fact, I don’t particularly care about any holidays—most are merely attempts by one religion to snuff out another, or inventions to fuel sales, and seen in this light NYE is the most honest of the lot. Sure there’s the silly tradition of resolutions no one follows, but the date is sold as little more than an excuse to stay up late partying. I challenge you to find me one holiday, birthdays included, that is this honest about it’s history and core nature. The hustle cliché was strong this ‘eve: Sunday night, and both of us scheduled with projects for the first day, the first Monday, of the new year. I love that. This was the last sunset of 2017, and our forecast clear-and-calm had been swallowed up by overcast gloom. Not dissuaded by a little weather we made the three-hour round trip to the viewpoint anyhow, determined to improvise and make it work. Epic skies greeted our arrival, the sun popping through between layers of clouds and setting them aflame for a show of colors far better than any bluebird day could have offered. The makings of my perfect New Year’s Eve? Two bottles of bubbly, a thrift-store flute, a second-hand outfit, some cheap sunglasses, a cliffside viewpoint with storybook sunset to match, and a pretty redhead. These were all shot on a Canon 80D with my back-in-action Canon 50mm f1.4 lens (the nifty fifty), a proper high-speed-sync strobe (I’m so done with speedlites), and the laser-assist auto focus from the strobe’s transmitter. Aperture bounced between f2.8 and f4, ISO100, shutter floating around 1/1000th, with the single AD200 strobe set from 1/4th to 1/8th power and a small dish reflector/diffuser. There’s a few shots from the new-to-me Polaroid 600 as well, but those are for another time… Happy New Year! Yes, “year.” Not “years” and most definitely not “year’s.” You only get one new year at a time, and you should never let it own you.… NSFW · Explicit
Manta100 Square Feet of Shelter You read that right: 100 square feet of canvas hides inside a thick black cover, ready to deploy a generous amount of shade or shelter in a moment’s notice. These are my impressions after four years of enjoying the Manta’s shade from the blazing desert sun, sheltering from storms underneath it, and putting it through tortures that have ripped lesser awnings to pieces. The Basics When fully deployed, the Manta’s shape provides a larger than 7-by-7-foot rectangle of coverage off the side of a vehicle or trailer, which wraps around the rear with an additional 14-by-7-foot triangle. When it’s time to hit the road, the entire mass of sturdy 260-gram waterproof ripstop canvas rolls up into a UV-resistant PVC cover that’s no bigger than an awning half the Manta’s size. The Manta’s chassis is made entirely of lightweight anodized aluminum. Adjustable legs with integrated stake holes recess inside C-channel rafter arms, which pivot away from a stout length of aluminum extrusion on stainless steel hinge bolts. All of this combines to create a structure that is sturdy, lightweight, and highly corrosion resistant, and easily repaired with basic hand tools and commonly available hardware. That’s not to say the awning is easy to damage—quite the contrary as you’ll read below—but I take comfort knowing that if the Manta gets damaged all of it’s components (including the canvas panels) are field-replaceable. The awning can be mounted to most roof racks or even load bars, thanks to standard 8mm hardware that can be placed nearly anywhere along the Manta’s 90-inch frame. Of course, if you’re running an Eezi-Awn K9 roof rack there is a convenient kit available to match. The legs are adjustable in height up to 92 inches, so it sits nicely on even the tallest adventure mobiles. Setup or Teardown in Seconds (yes, really) That’s not just marketing hype. The first time I set up a Manta I skipped the directions and took just under two minutes. Today I could do it in 30 seconds, or under two minutes with stakes at all four legs. Teardown—which is the messiest and most time-consuming task with most awnings—is just as easy. Better still, you can pack the Manta away without getting the canvas all up in your face. If you’ve ever covered yourself in the previous night’s dust and campfire ashes you know just how important that is. Of all the awning systems I’ve… NSFW · Explicit
The End of SummerAdventures in our own backyard It’s been a busy season. A very wet winter meant the summer monsoons fell on an already saturated earth. I’m certainly grateful all this water spared from the massive fires blazing all over the west, but it also brought additional repairs and chores to get ready for the next winter, and left little time for anything else. Not one to be outdone by a little water—and enjoying her role of teasing and taunting until she gets my attention a little too much—Dani pushed for us to go out and shoot around town whenever we had a free hour. The abundance of water this year gifted Prescott with full lakes, green mountains, and flowing creeks. It’s the first time we really explored what this area has to offer; six years we’ve lived here but we always seem to be chasing the horizon. Lesson learned: there’s opportunity to explore just about anywhere, if you only look for it…… NSFW · Explicit
Comfort Zones Her Perspective: She doesn’t fit into societal standards. She’s been trapped inside a box where I hid her away from the world. She struggles against the restraints of respectability I bound her with to make myself fit in. She fights to feel the restraints of her desire: the cold weight of chains and the soft bite of leather. I’m done hiding; this is who I am. His Perspective: I’ve long been enamored with travel and exploration, so much it ultimately guided my career toward the premiere magazine on the subject. While that opened up a world of opportunities, it also left me wanting. I love photography as well—especially the raw, sensual, and often erotic scenes captured where nature, adventure, and personal expression meet. Creating (and sharing) imagery of this nature is often frowned upon by an overly prudish culture here in the US, where a little skin can cause a lot of scandal. We drove through the night to one of my favorite locations—secluded away from the crowded cities and popular tourist spots—and spent the morning pushing each other’s limits. No goals…except to help each move past our hesitations, learn to improvise, and explore where our creativity might take us.… NSFW · Explicit
Hiatusnoun | hi·a·tus | \hī-ˈā-təs\ 1. a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc. 2. a missing part; gap or lacuna. I thought it was just an argument. All relationships have them: some big and some small, some brief and others passionately long-winded. We fight, we make up, we move on and grow stronger together—that is the way things are supposed to go. These were just bad times, we’d work through them and get back to making more good times. Did you know that it’s possible to be too selfless, too giving? It is. And when you’re giving up what you want for a prolonged period of time the stress that builds can lead to some very bad drama. Arguments ensued. Mean things were said. The kind of things that cut to the core and place the last twenty years in doubt. We were both sacrificing too much. And we were both sacrificing it in that void of isolation all too often created when conflicting work schedules meet poor communication. I don’t want to be needed. That implies you’re only here because you have to be, because you’re forced. I want you to be here because you choose to be here; because you want it…or not at all. Constantly giving to a relationship—be it from a sense of obligation or a need to feel needed—will only serve to make both people involved feel trapped. It is neither healthy, nor sustainable. To be in it for the long term requires a foundation of desire and trust; the willingness to both give and take; and presence of mind know when to help, listen, or let alone…sometimes when the other person doesn’t know which one they want. So it was time to re-evaluate what we’re doing; rediscover, review, and revise our goals; and most importantly execute on the steps required to achieve those goals. Solo or together. Whether we’re busy or not. Between that and a pile of other personal and work-related deadlines all piling up in the same month, it was prudent to take a step back from the (often overwhelming) commitment to publish new content and focus on our own needs…and wants. The irony of the situation is that, yes, during our two month hiatus we managed to write, shoot, sketch, and design more content than in the rest of the year to date. The difference is we did it knowing… NSFW · Explicit
Just a Scouting TripWe got a little carried away When I took these I thought they would just be rubbish test shots—all of them were taken with a brand new and uncalibrated Canon 80D and Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 Art, and focus was all over the place. At the time I didn’t much care: this was supposed to be a quick afternoon outing to check out a spot I found on Google Earth, and see if it might be good for a sunset shoot later this summer. It’s a good reminder to always review photos on the big screen before deleting anything.   I guess it was a good spot, as those few test snaps quickly turned into a few hundred exposures. No planning, no hair, no makeup—just goofing around with a few different poses, getting way too cold, and finding our way home through the dark over unknown roads.… NSFW · Explicit
OXW17Overland Has Evolved Bless me khakis for I have wandered. It has been two Expos since my last confession. You might have noticed the complete lack of content from the 2016 show, save for a passing mention of walking five miles in last May’s 52 Hike Challenge update. The fact is, as good as it was to catch up with friends in Mormon Puddle last year, I was left feeling quite “meh.” Now that’s not a reflection on the show itself, nor the hard work and excellent job the Hansons and their team do to make every Overland Expo happen—I have nothing but love and respect for them and their efforts. No, it was directed at the overland-o-sphere in general: I lost faith in the overland industry’s willingness to evolve and grow, and I’d become jaded against the overland market’s unwillingness to mature out of rampant segregation—created by both the titanium-clad and the budget-minded alike. So much preaching of how this community of adventure-seekers was different, bound together by our common interests; but the actions spoke louder. The walls built by so many, to mock or often shun anything that was “too expensive,” or “too cheap,” or “too heavy,” or “too minimalistic” said volumes. Weren’t we supposed to be sharing libations and learning from our differences? I mean, we all just want to travel by any means possible, right? Those walls finally crumbled this year. Whether caused by overlanding hitting the mainstream, or the new venue reaccommodating elites amongst the commoners at random (I like to think that was a deliberate stroke of genius by Roseann), the end result was the same: we all felt like equals. No booth, no table, and no camp felt unapproachable; all parts of the show felt warm and welcoming. I sat in a half-million-dollar camper chatting up the owner for advice on a clapped-out budget build. I shared a beer with a fellow gearhead in a $2,000 Subaru, and wasn’t thought snobbish or out-of-touch because I apply lessons learned from Land Rover. It was a reoccurring theme through each encounter from Wednesday’s Gear+Beer event until our departure Sunday evening. I was reluctant to attend, but I’m glad I put aside doubt and showed up for what became the best Overland Expo yet. Three more things stood out at the show: Overland has indeed hit mainstream. Yakima released their own line of rooftents, Nissan sees an emerging opportunity to legitimize their truck line, and traditionally offroad/racing types are pushing the comfort and endurance aspects… NSFW · Explicit
Yeah, I Said FuckDon't let "what if?" be the excuse Explore for a moment the what if’s?—not the hesitation born of fear, but anticipation of the limitless opportunity blazing a new path might bring. What if we broke with tradition and walked, leaving the paralyzing stress of clinging to what was behind? What if we embraced change, and used the contrast of decay to spotlight all the beauty that surrounds us? What if we dared bolder and lived deliberately? What if we shout FUCK IT!, cast off those chains of hypocrisy we’ve worn in the name of being a “reputable cog” in their machine, let go of the worry that our passions might be revealed, and chase after what they tell us can’t—or shouldn’t—be done? Creative is what I do, after all. That talent is useless if I never use it, if I leave what I’m passionate about on a dusty shelf, or if I forever lock away what I create. I refuse to let what if be an excuse, and so… New on Chazz Layne Daughtcom Raw: Experiments in Light and Passion Often, there’s so much more to an experience than can be summed up in a single photo on Iggy, but not quite enough to fill an article. Sometimes the subject matter just isn’t relevant to any of the magazines for which I write…or appropriate for a work-safe portfolio. These experiments of passion—when they generate share-worthy results—now have a home here: Raw. (Warning: always tasteful, often NSFW) Work: Published and Other Most of the larger projects I’m involved in eventually make it to The Layne Studio’s portfolio. Magazine articles, campaigns in progress, and other smaller projects have gone more or less unshared…until now. Merch: Stuff & Things I like to tinker—creating art, furniture, and other things I want to see made. Some of it goes to clients or is sold in partner shops, other items are more personal and now live here. Free shipping to the USA on most merch, and yeah, I will consider custom requests. My dead camera is getting replaced this week in preparation for a busy summer. Follow along via @chazzlayne on Iggy (daily), or weekly(ish)less frequently on YouTube and Facebook. Give a shout if I’ll be in your neck of the woods, I’m always down for an impromptu meetup; and please keep the comments coming, my creative lives off of your feedback. Cheers!… NSFW · Explicit
The 70D is DeadLong live the 70D! Not long ago, believing I was fighting with a damaged Canon 50mm f1.4 lens (which is notoriously fragile), I started shopping for a replacement. I considered picking up a Canon 35mm f2 IS USM at first, but after the frustration of a botched shoot caused by failed focus on the 50mm, and stellar performance from Sigma’s rock solid 18-300mm lens, I decided to give Sigma’s Art glass a go and ordered a Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 Art. I’d only just finished calibrating the new Sigma to my trusty 70D when I noticed a dark shadow cropping up in the bottom half of the frame… After a few “WTF?” moments, and a few lensless exposures later, the 70D produced this tell-tale image… That was while pointed at an entirely white screen. I may or may not have been fighting with a damaged Canon 50mm earlier, but I definitely have a dead shutter in the 70D now. In all fairness, it’s hard to fault Canon as I do have around 100,000 actuations on the shutter…and they were not easy miles. The final verdict on the 50mm’s fate will have to wait until my camera is repaired or replaced, but either way, I’m keeping the new Sigma. This last photo is the last photo that my 70D successfully took, and really showcases one of the Sigma’s seldom mentioned talents: macro photography. Web-resolutions really don’t do it justice—those are scratches in the switch, not blur. If you’re considering the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 Art, and are curious just how sharp it really is, click here for the full-resolution copy of the above image and start counting the grains of dust… I picked up the Sigma as a reliable replacement to the 50mm for portraiture, thinking I’d be able to do landscapes as well since it zooms out to the 18mm mark—one less lens change is one less chance for dirt to enter the camera in the field. I had no idea the minimum focus distance was so low, or that it would be so incredibly sharp. For reference, I’m almost touching the base of that lamp with the front of the lens, and the switch is only a fourth of an inch wide. I can’t wait to get this lens on a new body and see what it can do.… NSFW · Explicit
One Wow, it’s hard to believe this shoot was six months ago. This was really where the recent changes in my photographic style began. We’d casually fooled around less-than-clothed with the camera before, but this time Dani wanted to put in real effort and see where this kind of shooting might lead us. After picking and scouting a location that afternoon, we raced the setting sun through the abandoned desert facility to capture this set. It was my first time shooting the person as the main subject. It was her first time playing model. She was nervous. I was nervous. We both set that aside, knowing the minimal risks—snapping a few photos you aren’t required to share—would be well worth the potential rewards…… NSFW · Explicit
Canvas, meet AluminumGetting acquainted with Eezi-Awn’s new hard-shell roof tent, the Stealth. Rumors of a hard-shelled Eezi-Awn had been crossing my desk for months when the confirmation hit my inbox, in the form of an ad request and a photo of the new tent. Pictured was a thing of beauty—a sleek, wingless fighter jet hovering over a snowy landscape—but we all know photos on the internet are only half of the story. As fate would have it, Paul May of Equipt was driving right past a photoshoot I was on in the Mojave Desert, so I arranged for us to meet up in camp to check out the Stealth personally. Full disclosure: yes, Equipt is one of my studio’s clients. If you know me, then you know that’s the strongest endorsement I can give—I’ll only work with businesses I believe in. First Impressions Flipping open four latches releases the lid of the matte black shell, which is raised and lowered easily by one person thanks to the aid of gas struts and conveniently placed handles. The golden light of dawn gleams and sparkles off the metal of massive scissor-lift hinges as the roof rises, stark contrast against the darkness of the Stealth’s chassis. This new tent makes an impression, towering nearly five feet above the roof rack once open. A ladder slides out from integrated storage in the floor, and can be placed for entry through any of the tent’s three doors (or anywhere along the roof rack). Quick-release bungees run along the front, rear, and side walls so that they’ll self-tuck when packing up the tent. Intended or not, rear latches and roof supports double as convenient hooks to hang your shoes…so long as it doesn’t rain. Vents are placed above either side door, and the lack of any sign of condensation proves their effectiveness against the usual cold-weather tent problems. As is typical with most hard-shell roof tents, the walls remain tight and silent in the wind. Thick olive-drab privacy mesh screens adorn all three doors, and canvas makes up the door panels themselves. Zippers are large and easy-moving as expected, and each panel has it’s own set of lashings so they can be easily tied open independent of each other. The rear door features a generously sized awning held out by quick-release legs, which Velcro into place both deployed and when packed. The awning is a separate panel from the door, so the door can be fully closed while leaving the awning set up. Climbing Inside Despite the shell being cold to the touch in… NSFW · Explicit
Bulldust & Bad MapsRoutefinding for Hema Maps on El Camino del Diablo It was a questionable decision, running the Arizona border along Mexico in an antiquated truck with no support vehicle. A brand-new suspension had been fitted, and an extra 300 pounds of fatman-and-iron packed into the passenger side, but our little Hema Maps BJ-74 Land Cruiser stubbornly insisted on holding it’s five-degree lean to the driver’s side. The air conditioner sputters, laughs at us, then blasts hot air into the cabin. Chris and I roll down from the cool air of central Arizona’s highlands with the windows wide open. The adventure begins in the middle of Phoenix—a route declared “quickest” by Siri insists we exit the interstate in the ghetto, then brave three miles of surface streets to reach the BLM Field Office. A permit is required to traverse El Camino del Diablo. To obtain the permit, one must show up in person. From the eighth floor of a downtown high-rise a video drones on about not touching bombs, and the dangers of remote desert travel. Curiously efficient window architecture on the tower across the street prevents the summer sun from baking through the glass. My thoughts are interrupted by a disinterested federal rep as he hands over several pages of forms. I read through, then sign away any and all rights to sue the government if I’m kidnapped, injured, lasered, exploded, or a Predator drone falls from the sky and crashes onto the truck. With our lives signed away we flee the city, classic rock blaring from a set of phone-powered portable speakers as Highway 85 leads us south through an unseasonably green Sonoran. The desert heat is more humid than expected, but the freedom of this forsaken two-lane makes the journey worthwhile…even in our little tin oven. Ajo. We giggle at the potential pronunciations of the town’s name until the square rolls into view. It’s worth at least a short stop. The old Spanish architecture of covered walkways connects a derelict train depot with a converted mission, all surrounding a central park that’s in desperate need of a little rain. Dueling cameras round the plaza snapping away with abandon before we’re back in the truck. Tempting as the little café looks it’s not on the agenda—there’s a long drive ahead, and we have an unfortunately tight schedule to keep. The beauty of wide-open desert is broken by a single ominous sign at the intersection of two dirt roads, this must be the track. I hop out for a closer shot when the stillness is suddenly interrupted… NSFW · Explicit