I have known Corbin for almost 15 years, most of it before he had his son. I have watched him go on many adventures and use his creativity, engineering talent, and mechanical skills to modify equipment and test out new ideas (which you can read about on https://www.corbinstreehouse.com). So I was excited to learn more about his approach to outdoor parenting and I'm even more excited to see what he and his family do as his soon gets older. I hope you enjoy this interview also!
Currently, we mountain bike, ski/snowboard, camp, hike and backpack. When our boy gets older we will add in more activities that he is capable of.
Let’s start with camping. I have a Ford F250 truck for doing work. We wanted to still go camping with our boy, so we decided to get a truck camper for our F250. This made the most economical sense; a used truck camper was under $10,000 and had all the amenities for off grid comfort camping: bed, toilet, shower, kitchen, stovetop, oven, heater, sink and a small fridge. I added some solar panels. We started truck camping when my wife was pregnant, and we did a one month trip around the west coast and a lot of shorter trips.
For mountain biking, I’ve been taking him in a backpack since he was about 6 months old. At that age his neck was strong enough to do some light off road riding. The hardest part was finding a helmet that would fit him when he was so young. I couldn’t find one, and did three or four rides with him without a helmet. Then my wife insisted on us finding one, and we eventually did find the smallest size offered from a company, and it still barely would fit him at that point. I tried a pull along wee-hoo trailer, but he didn’t like it; it was too bumpy for even the tamest offroad riding and cornering was really difficult with the long wheel base. I found the backpack works well because the bike shocks absorb a lot of impact, and I can use my legs to make the ride even smoother for him on difficult terrain. I avoid drops and jumps; they would cause his head to fling around too much and we bump helmets. I stopped taking him on rides for the past 3 months due to COVID-19.
For cross country skiing, my wife pulled a bike trailer that had skis on it instead of wheels. We only did this a few times, and it worked fine.
We normally downhill ski and snowboard. The resorts will not let you carry a child and last year he was still early in the walking stage, so we couldn’t put skis on him. This season we will try both skiing and snowboarding (he will be 2 years old). We found one resort that would let him ride the 2-person chair lift! (I held him tightly in my arms).
Then comes in our truck camper again: when our boy was 2.5 months old we ventured off on a one month winter ski trip, touring the IKON pass destinations: California, Utah, Montana. The camper did great in the cold weather down to -7 F or so; we simply left the heater on all night and changed our propane tank every 3 days to ensure we’d never run out (and carried a spare tank) and to keep pipes from freezing. We didn’t shower in the camper at this time; it would use too much water, so we would shower weekly at various places (friend’s houses, camp site bathrooms, YMCA, etc). My wife was breast feeding, so we would take turns skiing every 2-3 hours. We could park the camper right at the base of the mountain, so swapping over was easy. We had issues with too much snow causing the solar panels to not charge the battery enough, so we ended up buying a small generator to ensure we’d never run out of power.
Transitioning to parenthood:
Two Silicon Valley engineers who have had a love of the outdoors since childhood. Parents of two small kids, spending our free time exploring the outdoors with them.