Sleep In The Dirt

Going Solo – and Debuting the Tufly – in the California Sierra

Essays From the Field

“Aren’t you afraid? You know, of going to these places by yourself?”

I recently went to Death Valley National Park, and I decided to hang out in Alabama Hills for a few days before returning home. This is hands down my favorite place to camp in California, and it’s not just because of the breathtaking views of the Sierras. You may feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, but the charming town of Lone Pine is just 15 minutes away. When I drove in for coffee and a shower, I didn’t feel as though anyone questioned who I was, but rather, they wanted to know more about what I was doing. They weren’t worried about me, and they certainly didn’t think I was nuts. They were intrigued. This was progress. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt judged for being a solo female traveler, and I’m finally beginning to see a shift in the public’s perception.

With the rise of social media, more and more women are getting outside — and getting vocal about what it means to them. And they’re not just inspiring other women to push themselves and explore more. Men are starting to pay attention as well. Whether it’s a photographer whose style someone wishes to emulate or a genuine interest in someone’s backcountry adventure, traditional gender boundaries have started to dissolve into one another over the last few years. I’m thrilled to be part of that movement, and I can’t wait to watch it continue to pick up steam. It’s not about defining men vs. women — it’s about seamless inclusion and respect.

This trip marked my first time pitching the brand new Tufly tent, which was designed by women (and with women in mind). There are certain features that reflect that, but these are things anyone can truly benefit from. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t matter who built it — what’s most important is how strong it stands. Big Agnes is donating a portion of the tent sales to SheJumps, which is a nonprofit whose aim is to encourage more women and girls to find themselves outside. To me, that makes an even stronger statement, and it’s one of the reasons why I do what I do. I want to be heard, I want to grow and I want to inspire others to do the same.

Everyone is going to have a different path for finding themselves, but I’m a big believer that nature will teach you far more than anything you’ll ever learn in a classroom. Taking in a serene landscape is the best kind of therapy, but camping and hiking show you how to handle stressful situations and use your resources when things don’t go according to plan. There’s no chapter in any book that will give you the answer to that. You just have to do it. Oh, and it certainly has nothing to do with whether you’re a man or a woman.

Words and Images by Elisabeth Brentano, @elisabethontheroad

Comments (5)

5 responses to “Going Solo – and Debuting the Tufly – in the California Sierra

  1. Hi,
    I love following your insta page and now reading your blog posts. I’m curious what challenges you run into and what features make this a female friendly tent?

    Happy trails!

  2. So awesome! I just took my sons to the Alabama Hills over New Years and am planning a “girls only” 2-week backpacking trip this summer with my daughter-in-law in Yosemite. Beautiful photography and love that tent!!!!

  3. I have been a long time solo backpacker. Not because I dislike people, but because I love the solitude that solo backpacking can provide. It never occurred to me that this was a “guy only thing”. I work for an outdoor retailer and am often asked about picking up the joy of backpacking. Interestingly enough, most of them are women. After reading this article, I will make a continuous and conscious effort to encourage each potential explorer to “Jump”. As a Big Agnes fan, (three of my tents, and most of my sleeping gear are Big Agnes) I will gladly send them your way.

  4. Love the tent, a little too heavy to take with me on the PCT this year starting in April, but nice to see the TUFLY out and about. Yes to women traveling alone in the backcountry, I will be doing it and loving it. I may be ordering this one for “Girl Camping”, we will see. Love the features that the women designed a
    and I also love that the portion goes to SheJumps. Have fun out on the trail. Mig Whitt

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