Christmas holidays are here and it’s time to sip on egg nog and binge-watch your favourite outdoorsy YouTube channels.
Here are a few I’ve put on my list to savour while wearing my new Christmas PJs and snacking on leftover turkey:
Alex Traynor and Noah Booth are two young, enthusiastic outdoorsy guys who are taking on some major canoe trips in the far north. They got my attention a year ago when I watched their trip on the Steel River, north of Lake Superior. I’ve done this trip, and it’s not easy. They also paddled it in a scow of a canoe—a Coleman from Canadian Tire. When I asked them why they used such a cheap canoe, they replied: “Because it’s the only one we had.” They gained my respect. Recently, they loaded a video series on an extensive canoe trip in Wabakimi (and I leant them one of my canoes for it—thankfully). The footage is great, editing and music superb and the fish they haul into their canoe are huge.
Jessica “Dixie” Mills hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2015. Here channel shows the lessons learned along the way. The videos are full of solid information and great detail about gear, weather, first-aid and pretty much anything else that relates to thru-hiking. And the best part—she’s not “preachy.”
Doug has a little bit of everything: camping, canoeing, backpacking, angling, homesteading and even wood carving (I really like the wood carving videos). He also goes alone in the wilderness a lot—and truly enjoys being alone out there. He has a quirky sense of humour that hooks you right off the start.
Why doesn’t Jim Baird have tens of thousands of subscribers? This guy is awesome. He’s the latest winner of ALONE Season 4 on History Channel; he’s canoed and hiked hundreds of kilometres in remote wilderness areas; his video footage of tundra and the boreal forest is amazing; and he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Definitely check him out. (He’s also an explore magazine contributor from time-to-time.)
I met Jon at the recent Winter Camping Symposium and I asked him how he had enough days off work to paddle—and film—95 days this summer on countless northern Ontario canoe routes. His answer was simple. He just finished his post-secondary education and couldn’t find a job. If you want to check out some great northern Ontario paddling opportunities (with good fishing) then check his channel out. I give him high praise for the time and effort he put into filming his trips—he just needs to wear a PFD more (LOL).
Most subscribers just call him “Shug,” and he seems to be one of the rock stars of the outdoor YouTube world. Shug’s one liner—“Woo Buddy”—has been quoted by many other channel creators. Sean Emery’s material is scattered at times, covering things like unicycle trips to backyard barbecue recipes. However, his main focus, and where Shug has gathered his fame, are the videos on lightweight backpacking and camp-hammocking. This guy is informative, hilarious and he’s definitely original. Best video in his collection—a winter hammock trip in Ely, Minnesota at -40 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll be hooked (if you aren't already).
Paul Kirtley’s channel is more about bushcraft than survival, and that’s why I like it. He’s true-to-life. It’s informative and well-shot. Paul also adds a lot more information elsewhere. He’s a blogger, podcaster and runs Frontier Bushcraft wilderness bushcraft school. If you want detailed content, then find him online. Paul’s calm demeanor seems to take you on his journey, rather than just report what to do if you ever go on one. A real pleasure.
This guy sure has charisma. With his wacky character, French Canadian accent, and his refreshing segments on traditional wilderness travel and homesteading Billy Rioux is a joy to watch time and time again.
I tripped (and filmed) with Camper Christina a few times this past season. She’s passionate about travelling around in wild areas. She also doesn’t label herself as a professional. She’s just a single woman trying to get outdoors as much as possible—and she definitely does that. Christina spends pretty much every weekend kayaking, canoeing and winter camping. She’s also a darn good cook and loves to share her recipes.
Chris is an amazing filmmaker and storyteller. Her channel will captivate you. Guaranteed. The videos are a mix bag of Chris’s outdoor travels with her spouse, Julia. My absolute favourite are the Algonquin canoe trip series—and when her and Julia go and cut their own Christmas tree. Totally awesome!
I want to make a special mention of this one—Scotland’s Mountains. There’s nothing better than to pour a wee dram of whisky and watch this incredible collection of footage of stunning sunsets, stormy mountain summits, wild camps and kayaking along a beautiful loch. You don’t have to love Scotland—or whisky—to enjoy this one. But it helps.
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