CleverHiker.com: Interview with Dave Collins

I recently had some time to talk with Dave Collins from CleverHiker.com about his new project and I figured I would do a quick write-up to cover our discussion. Dave is a determined and passionate hiker with a vision to help spread the benefits of lightweight and ultralight hiking techniques. He is currently looking for support getting his project off the ground. You can find out more about him and his venture by watching the video at www.indiegogo.com/cleverhiker.

How would you describe the CleverHiker project in a few sentences?
CleverHiker is a project designed to make lightweight and ultralight hiking easy for anyone to learn and practice. We don’t just want to tell people about the benefits of UL hiking, we also want to show them exactly how to do it, where to find the best gear, and help save them money with gear discounts. We are starting out with a professional video series on UL hiking and a gear review document that we will release through our website. One of the best ways to learn about our project is through watching the intro video at www.indiegogo.com/cleverhiker.

Do you have a mission statement?
Absolutely! This is our stated mission. You can find it on our indiegogo page as well as our website: We help backpackers improve their wilderness adventures through knowledge, skills, and inspiration. Ultralight backpacking reduces stress on your body, gives you more free time on the trail, allows you to travel farther with less effort, and helps you to enjoy hiking more. It’s safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable.

Ultralight (UL) backpacking is not exclusive. It’s not expensive. It’s not highly specialized. And it’s not difficult. Once you make the transition to UL you will never look back.

So why aren’t more people taking advantage of ultralight hiking techniques? Simple: they don’t know about them. Although ultralight gear is readily available online, it isn’t typically sold in major outdoor stores. In order to target the most effective gear, backpackers need a reliable source of wisdom, experience, and insight to draw from.

That’s why we’re creating the Ultralight Backpacking Video Series through CleverHiker.com! We want to teach beginners and veteran backpackers alike about ultralight hiking. We want to make UL techniques accessible and understandable for everyone.

We analyze the best ultralight gear on the market and trail techniques used by backpackers who hike thousands of miles every year. We promise to create a resource that will support the backpacking community and that we can all be proud of. Thank you so much for your support!

What benefit do you aim to bring to the backpacking community?
When I started learning about UL hiking before thru-hiking the PCT, there wasn’t a lot of information out there to help me out. I want CleverHiker to be a professional learning tool to help spread the benefits of lightweight backpacking to everyone. I want to create the best learning resource ever created for UL backpacking. I also want to make it easy for anyone to learn UL techniques, use them in the field, and save some money while doing it.

I fully believe in my UL video series and my goal is to create a tool that will help spread the word of UL backpacking to the community that I love.

Are you aware that there was a similar project two years ago?
I learned about that project after starting CleverHiker. I can’t speak for any other UL video series projects, but I can assure you that I am a man of my word. I’m not doing this to get rich and I’m not doing it because I think it will be a fun hobby. I am doing this because this is my dream and there is nothing more that I would rather do with my life. I can assure you that if my project reaches it’s funding goal, I will make the video series and put my whole heart into it. That is a personal guarantee.

How will your UL video series be better than the information that is currently online?
There are a lot of free resources on the web with information about ultralight backpacking but none that have the information and approach that I want to take. The ultralight video series that we are building will be professional-quality video content with a different approach to UL hiking. We’re not going to tell anyone to cut off their clothing tags or wear plastic bags around their hands and feet. We will take a practiced thru-hiker approach to UL hiking. You don’t have to be a nut to reap the benefits of lightweight backpacking. It will be shot in HD and close attention will be paid to the aesthetics of our product. We want to build a resource that is informational, beautiful, and inspiring.

How will your gear review document be better than what is currently online?
Our gear review will be a completely independent rating of UL gear. We will work to promote the best gear on the market for backpackers and make it easy for hikers to find.

I also want to work with the best gear companies in the industry to help promote their products in exchange for a discount that will be passed on to our community. Even though we will be asking companies to pass along a discount to our customers, we will remain completely independent with our reviews. We will not require any discount for companies to be featured in our reviews. We will promote the best UL gear on the market. That being said, I have been in contact with several great UL companies that are willing to pass along a 10-20% savings to the CleverHiker community. Not only will we be able to share/promote the best gear on the market, but we’ll also be able to pass on savings to backpackers.

How do you plan to create professional quality video?
One of my very close friends owns a video production company in Portland. He has spent the last year touring the world with a feature documentary called “Chasing Sarasota.” His name is Matt Mastrantuono and his company is Blurred Lens Productions. He’ll be shooting the UL video series and his work is excellent. Expect an HD, clean, well-edited, and engaging product.

If you would like to get a rough idea of the quality of our video production, check out our promo video at indiegogo.com/cleverhiker. That being said, I expect the final product of the UL video series to be better than our promo video. We will be paying for graphics design and taking more time to complete the UL video series.

Why are you asking for monetary help with your project?
I wish I didn’t have to and I’m not trying to turn anyone off by asking for help. Creating professional quality videos is very expensive and requires lots of time, equipment, and resources. There is a lot more that goes into creating this type of content than you might think. My indiegogo campaign is essential for both generating financial support and telling people about my project. I promise that the quality of my videos and information will be well worth the investment.

My video editor/producer will be giving me a very discounted price for his professional services. That being said, his quote for the first video series (10-12 videos about 10min each) is still quite expensive. We are currently estimating that It will take 385 hours of planning, filming, editing, and post production to complete the first series. Ideally, I would like to raise enough money to have a good start on my second series as well. On top of that, I will have to build a website and pay for an online store, copyrighted music, graphics design, logo design, and probably more. The costs are sure to add up and I will be putting my own savings on the line as well.

Will you be charging money for your Video series and Gear Review Document?
Yes, but I am not trying to get rich through this project. It is very expensive to produce video content and I don’t expect to make much money. My dream is to someday be able to support myself by working on something that I love. Hopefully I will be able to create a resource that is valuable for backpackers. That is the most important thing.

I do understand that this product will not be for everyone and that some people will not want to pay for it. Still, I know that I can help inform people about UL backpacking and I know that I can build a valuable resource for hikers. If this type of product were around when I started learning about UL backpacking, I definitely would have paid for it. My primary goal is to reach out to backpackers who do not know about UL techniques and to help UL hikers save money.

Anything else?
In closing, I would love your support in helping me to reach my dream while benefiting the backpacking community. If you are able to support me through donations to my campaign, I promise that you will not be disappointed. I can’t wait to build this resource for the backpacking community and spread the word of ultralight backpacking.

You can check out Dave’s campaign at www.indiegogo.com/cleverhiker. And find him on Facebook and Twitter (@cleverhiker).

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  • http://summitandvalley.com/ Martin Rye

    Having seen the stuff Dave has made I am convinced he can make a top quality video series. Good luck.

    • Dave Collins

      Thank you Martin! I will do my very best to make the backpacking community proud. I appreciate your support!

  • http://www.terrybnd.blogspot.com terrybnd

    Hope you do it! That video alone, you as a presenter is leagues ahead in terms of engagement and quality when compared to another well known bloggers A-Z backpacking videos. If they can raise the money for what is amateur at best, I’ve no doubt you will too! More deservedly so I have to add.

    Good luck!! :)

    • Dave Collins

      Thank you so much for the support Terry! I really appreciate the kind words and I’m going to put my whole heart into producing the best quality content available.

      • http://www.terrybnd.blogspot.com terrybnd

        Your welcome mate. Meant every word :) I’d buy it just from the demo video. That was good enough for me on many levels.

  • Andy Hawbaker

    Awesome. This looks like a really cool project. I wish you all the luck and I hope to see some of these videos soon.

    • Dave Collins

      Thanks Andy! I really appreciate the positive feedback!

  • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

    I was one of the original promoters for Hendrik’s UL A-Z Kickstarter project and a backer of the project. I have no regrets what so ever in funding his effort – heck I’ve lost more money on much more reputable purchases that I spent backing someone who I believe (and still do) had a great idea.

    Did it take Hendrik more time to create the videos that he had expected, was it possibly more than he had envisioned himself – I’m betting it was. There’s probably some pride at stake too in admitting that it was harder than he first thought and that’s okay. Then there are other factors, a new child, moving house, job changes, heck sh*t happens that we can’t always anticipate but, that doesn’t make anyone a bad person. I would never think less of anyone for having tried and failed. And I don’t think Hendrik has failed, far from it, he’s just behind schedule is all. It will happen in time, I for one can wait.

    What I can not tolerate is the insistent finger pointing and snarky comments from those that seem to enjoy slamming a person rather than helping them. Those same people go on an on about the UL community like they’re a family, but have no sense of a true community or act like one. I have never once heard anyone offer to lend Hendrik a hand – “hey Hendrik would it help you if I offered to edit some video?”, after all we all stand to benefit as a community don’t we? Or maybe “is there anything I can do to help with planning or scheduling” – no it’s far easier to sit back and write childish, abusive comments than to offer to help. Shame on you, all of you. It must be a fantastic feeling to be perfect and to have never failed or struggled with anything in your entire life.

    If you want to stand out and make a name for yourself in the outdoor blogging community, why not do it by helping a brother that is trying to do his best, instead of kicking a man when he’s down? I challenge all of you (many of whom have video production experience) to step up and offer to help Hendrik get the UL A-Z back on track for greater good of the UL “community” – let’s see who does…

    Let me end by saying that I will not allow these comments to turn into a pick on Hendrik thread. This is my blog and my rules, I reserve the right to edit and delete comments as necessary and I will do that if I have to. I will also ban repeat offenders, so be warned. Play nice, be constructive, and help others. – Brian

    • http://summitandvalley.com/ Martin Rye

      Deleting comments that point your double standards out I see.

      • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

        I said I would not permit this thread to become a personal attack on Hendrik and I meant it. I thought that I was very clear? I suggest you grow up, let it go, and move on…

  • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

    You’ve had your say, it is time to move on. Philip Werner has made his peace with Hendrik and realized how infantile this trolling is. There’s more to life than continuously digging this up.

    I’m not defending Hendrik, I was a backer too and would have loved to see the videos made and delivered, but you know what, it didn’t happen. Lesson learned I for one can get it. You just have to take a deep breath and carry one with life – this is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

    Take all the screenshots you like, cut and paste, quote me elsewhere – just know that if you continue this I WILL delete comments and if you persist I will ban you. I don’t want to have to do that because beyond this topic you both have a lot to offer the community and I personally like to follow your blogs, but I’m sick and tired of this same old crap. I’ve heard it loud and clear – thanks, now move on.

    • http://twitter.com/HikingBlogs Hiking Blogs

      Philip Werner here. I didn’t approach Hendrik because “I realized how infantile this trolling is”.

      • http://www.briangreen.net Brian Green

        Sigh: You know I wasn’t trying to put words in your mouth. My only point was that the two of you have figured it out and moved on.