#BringYourOwn in the Alaskan Wilderness

November 18 2015

This guest post was written by our friend Kedyn Sierra, who is an adventure photographer and filmmaker partnered up with Fujifilm Photographer Daniel Fox. He is supported by many more sponsors to bring stories of the wilderness to life.

What happens when all you have is a 64 oz stainless steel water bottle, a 16 oz food canister and the Alaskan wilderness? You improvise and do with the tools you have at hand.

This past summer I had the opportunity to go on a 30-day National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) kayaking expedition through Fujifilm and SanDisk Extreme photographer Daniel Fox’s W.I.L.D program.

Before the trip, I figured that NOLS would have a bowl and a spoon for me ready to go. They did, except I felt survivalist at the moment and chose not to take them. I had a 16 oz food canister in my duffle bag and I figured I would do just fine. I would learn in the hardest way possible how to work with it.

On the field, our four-person ration groups would cook our best meal every day. Naturally, this had to be done with boiling hot water, which came directly from the streams un-purified. Whenever the meals were done, we had to put it into our bowls; this would be a no-brainer, except mine was a special kind of bowl. It was stainless steel. I forgot about science until I was holding the bowl from the bottom while the food was distributed. Once my hands were toasted like a tortilla, I remembered thermodynamics! The only safe zone was the lid for the canister, and thankfully there was one. Next time, I'd be sure to bring an Insulated Canister to save my hands the trouble. 

The 64 oz Klean Kanteen served as a rain collector. We had tarps shielding us from the rain and the ropes holding the tarps up created a funnel of rain water. Pots, pans and our water bottles were gathering our only real purified water. I would normally drink out of a 32 oz NOLS provided and then store backup in the 64 oz in case we ever ended up having to survive, which happened more than once.

The bottle and canister were in for a hell of a ride through Southeast Alaska. From being submerged under frigid cold water, to being the playground for banana slugs, it was gnarly. Especially when the slugs got to the canister, which took a good 10 minutes of washing, at least. 

Without any of this gear the experience would not have been the same. I learned with the gear and they became my best friends out in the wilderness. Now that I’m back to living the urban lifestyle of San Francisco, my scarred Klean Kanteen and food canister remain with me on all of my city adventures, and they'll surely follow me onto my next wilderness adventure, too.