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What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?

- Henry David Thoreau

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Athletes & Explorers

Feb 01, 2019

Imagine; A Cleaner World with Rivian, & the End of Alex Honnold’s #VanLife

With Rivian’s new electric adventure vehicles, so came Alex Honnold’s announcement of his partnership with the company and perhaps an end to his #VanLife, for the benefit of a better world.

WRITTEN BY

Brooke Hess

New to #VanLife? Check out the Dirty Secrets here

Imagine you are prepping before a rafting trip down the Grand Canyon with your family and friends. You drive to the put-in at Lee’s Ferry, Arizona with your gear packed and your rafts loaded. You park the truck, put on the river, and spend a wonderful 18 days floating through one of the most incredible canyons in the world. When the trip is over, the same truck you drove to the put-in upstream is now waiting for you downstream at the take-out. Ready to be loaded up with gear and driven away.

Imagine you’re going downhill mountain biking with your friends. You drive to the top of the trailhead, unload your bikes from the truck, and ride incredible single-track all the way to the bottom of the mountain. The same truck that you left at the top is waiting for you at the end of the trail, ready to shuttle you back up for a second lap.

Imagine heading out for a long-distance point-to-point trail run. You drive to the trailhead, pack some energy gels in your hydration vest, lace up your sneakers, and set off on a moderate pace through the mountains. However, instead of offering beers to a friend in exchange for them picking you up at the end point, the same vehicle that you drove to the trailhead will simply drive itself to the pick-up point. To top it all off – this miracle vehicle doesn’t require a single drop of gas or diesel. It runs on electricity.

Photo: Ben Moon.

This is the ultimate motivation behind Rivian, the newest electric vehicle company – to create self-driving, electric, off-road, 4×4 vehicles that appeal to folks wanting to spend time in the outdoors, and help enable them to do just that.

“better off-road than any other vehicle on the market”

Here’s a big differentiator between Rivian and lots of other companies out there – they don’t want their vehicles to be owned by every single outdoor enthusiast in America. This is because every driver in America does not need to have a vehicle at their disposal 24/7. Rivian’s goal for the future is to allow people to subscribe to their vehicles, where the vehicle then drives itself to your home for your requested time, ready to be driven. Instead of owning a vehicle, you can simply call it to your house, and then use it to take your family skiing for the weekend. Or take your friends to the beach for the day. Or take your kids mountain biking after work.

Rivian’s thoughts are simple: Fewer people owning vehicles = fewer vehicles = less waste and pollution. 

In November of 2018, The Outdoor Journal was invited to the official unveiling. You can read more about this first peek, and the car itself here

Photo: Ben Moon.

For the time being, Rivian is taking baby-steps towards that goal – starting with perfecting the electric vehicle. Rivian (you can check out their current lineup here) is the first electric car company building 4×4, off-road vehicles.
The goal? To be invitational. To help you get out there and enjoy the outdoors in a clean way. Trucks and SUV’s are currently available for preorder, to be released to the public in 2020. According to Rivian’s Founder and CEO, RJ Scaringe, their truck is “better off-road than any other vehicle on the market” – Without using any gasoline or diesel.

Sounds great, right? We think so!

The Rivian x Alex Honnold Partnership

We’re not the only ones – so does world-renowned rock climber and free-soloist, Alex Honnold. “Wouldn’t it be amazing to do a 10-day rafting trip and have your car pick you up at the end? Except it wouldn’t be your car. That’s the whole point – the Rivian picks you up and it isn’t necessarily yours, but you are still getting picked up by a quality vehicle that you know you care about.”

RJ letting Alex take a Rivian for a test drive. Photo: Ben Moon.

Honnold’s partnership with Rivian caught us a little off guard.

Honnold is switching to a truck? What about his #vanlife? He is famous for being a dirtbag climber living out of a van! How will he do that with a truck? With all those questions in mind, we called up Alex to pick his brain about his decision to ditch #vanlife and move forward in a partnership with Rivian.

To Alex, making the decision to switch was easy.

We need more companies like this in the world.”

“Well, I mean the point of van life has always basically been because it’s the easiest way to adventure and access the outdoors. And if there is a way or a cleaner way, then I’m 100% on board. I basically always wanted to go electric for my transportation but there just hasn’t really been the option. And I own a home now… so basically at least half the year I’m based out of the home, and it makes more sense to be able to commute and drive your car to the crag. This is why I’m so excited about my partnership with Rivian is that living in Las Vegas, a lot of the climbing is sort of highway driving. It’s pretty casual, like any electric cars could get you there. But then the other half is pretty rugged, four-wheel drive, you know, dirt roads and there just isn’t an electric car on the market that can do both.”

Until now.

Photo courtesy of Rivian.

From Dreams to Reality

RJ Scaringe built this company from scratch. It was just himself and his dreams, then slowly over the past ten years, built the company up to what it is now. A budding electric vehicle company with five different factories in multiple states and continents. In the way that he built the company from a clean slate, he also built the vehicles with a blank canvas, from the ground up. Completely rethinking the design and storage space available in a vehicle, Rivian went about building their trucks and SUVs from a previously uncomprehended perspective.

We were fortunate enough to sit down and speak with RJ a little later the same day. You can read “Meet RJ Scaringe. The Founder of Rivian, Changing the Way We View Transportation” here.

The entire vehicle is built upon something RJ refers to as a skateboard, because that’s exactly what it looks like – 4 wheels and board. This skateboard includes everything that the vehicle needs to run, so everything above is free for you, me and an abundance of storage. Instead of a typically huge engine being stored in the hood of the truck, there is only one vast storage compartment. Instead of the usual workings required behind the back seats of the truck, there is just another gigantic storage compartment. More information about the build can be found here

Alex and RJ checking out the storage behind the seats, wide enough for your surf or snowboard. Photo: Ben Moon.

Electric, 4×4, off-road capable, an environmentally-focused company, ample storage space… it seems perfect. So what’s the catch?

The Cost

Well, as RJ says, “Today with battery prices where they are, it’s very hard to make a large battery pack vehicle at a low cost. It’s super hard. It’s really impossible.” And when building a vehicle is expensive, buying a vehicle then also becomes expensive. With a $61,000 starting price for the truck and $65,000 for the SUV, Rivian vehicles are a price range well above many of their off-road competitors. But despite this, RJ is optimistic that as the world continues moving forward with electric vehicles, the price-point to build Rivian cars will go down, thus allowing the company to sell the vehicles at a more affordable price. “We are at a really interesting tipping point where the whole world will convert and needs to convert to electric. Essentially over the course of our lives, it will go from a percentage of vehicle sales being electric, to literally one hundred percent.”

Back to Alex and Imagining.

100% electric vehicles sounds pretty good when Alex Honnold talks about it. “When you think about how much more liveable cities will be when vehicles are 100% electric. Much more peaceful. Imagine LA without smog!”

We may have a long way to go before the entire world is driving 100% electric cars, but at least this is a step forward!

As Alex says, “It’s the  sort of company that I wanted to see succeed. Even if I wasn’t working with Rivian, if I wasn’t an ambassador or anything, I would still be supporting the brand. We need more companies like this in the world. The world has to go 100% electric at some point and the sooner the better. I am so psyched. Can’t wait to get the truck and use it.”

Photo courtesy of Rivian

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Environment

May 14, 2019

Bringing Kiwi Back to Wellington

As New Zealand announces a new plan to reverse the decline of the iconic kiwi bird, Wellingtonians are already lining up to save their emblematic bird.

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WRITTEN BY

Sean Verity

This article was made available to The Outdoor Journal via a press release by Tourism New Zealand.

As New Zealand announces a new plan to reverse the decline of the iconic Kiwi bird, Wellingtonians are already lining up to save their emblematic bird. Wellingtonians are known for their love of flat whites and their passion for the arts. But there’s a new pastime that’s rapidly growing in New Zealand’s capital and all around the country.

Assembling and setting traps for rats, stoats and other predators in their own backyards. It’s a somewhat unlikely hobby, but in Wellington alone, there are now more than 70 community groups involved in pest management.  They’re all aiming at making their home town the first predator-free capital city in the world and a paradise for native birds such as the tīeke (Saddleback), hihi (stitchbird), kākā, kākāriki and toutouwai (North Island robin). 

In Wellington alone there are now more than 70 community groups involved in pest management all aiming at making their home town the first predator-free capital city in the world. Photo by: Capital Kiwi

Ever since conservation project Zealandia created a fully fenced 225-hectare ecosanctuary within the city limits in 1999, native birdlife has returned to many suburbs and Wellingtonians have embraced their avian friends. The groups are part of a groundswell of community conservation initiatives sweeping New Zealand and delivering fantastic results.

“Where once it would have been a remarkable sight to see a single kākā (a boisterous native parrot) in the wilderness of our mountain ranges, we now have literally hundreds of them across Wellington city, screeching across city skies,” says self-confessed “bird nerd” Paul Ward. Buoyed by the birdsong orchestra he thought, “Why stop there? Let’s bring back New Zealand’s most iconic bird, the Kiwi.” “The only time I’d seen a Kiwi growing up was in a zoo, and that’s not right for our national taonga (treasure),” he insists. 

The flightless birds with hair-like feathers and the chopstick bill have been absent from Wellington for over a century due to the loss of their habitat and the spread of predators. Ward’s ambitious project Capital Kiwi hopes to lure Kiwi back to the Wellington region within the next decade. Approximately 4,400 traps will be set on 23,000 hectares of public and private land stretching from the outskirts of town to the coast.

“Kiwi may disappear from the mainland in our lifetime”

As long as stoats, ferrets and weasels are around, Kiwi chicks have hardly any chance of surviving their first year.  An average of 27 Kiwis are killed by predators each day according to charity ‘Kiwis for Kiwi’ which supports community-led initiatives around the country. They warn that at this rate “Kiwi may disappear from the mainland in our lifetime.” 

But projects in Rakiura / Stewart Island in the south of New Zealand, Whangarei Heads in the north and Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty have shown that with the involvement of the community as kaitiaki (guardians) it is possible to grow a wild Kiwi population. 

The project Capital Kiwi hopes to bring New Zealand’s iconic birds back to Wellington by setting more than 4,000 traps in the hills on the outskirts of the city. Photo by: Capital Kiwi.

Michelle Impey, from Kiwis for Kiwi explains that one of the challenges of Kiwi conservation is “getting people to understand and care about something they can’t see and don’t experience.”

Kiwis are nocturnal, and with only a few exceptions live far removed from cities, towns and villages. “Bringing Kiwi closer to where Kiwis live makes them top of mind, completely relevant, and creates a sense of ownership with those who are privileged enough to have them living on or near their land,” Impey adds. She hopes that the new project will create “a city of Kiwi conservationists” who feel a personal attachment to their national bird. 

In August 2018 the government’s Predator Free 2050 initiative, which aims to rid New Zealand of the most damaging introduced predators that threaten the nation’s natural wildlife by 2050, announced their support for Capital Kiwi, committing more than NZ$3.2 million over the next five years.  It may sound like a lot of money, but the other way of looking at this is “What is the cost if we don’t?” Ward ponders.

“Can we, as a nation of Kiwis, afford to let our national icon die and become extinct? What would that say about us as guardians of the taonga (treasure) that makes our country so special and unique?”

https://www.outdoorjournal.com/featured/environment/reaction-european-single-use-plastic-ban/

Ninety-year-old Ted Smith, who lives in the small seaside settlement of Makara just over the hills from Wellington, helped to kick off the project with the setting of the first trap in November. He and his local community started trapping in their backyards a decade ago which resulted in a remarkable increase in birdlife – tūī, kākā, kererū, pūkeko, kingfishers, quails and others. “If we allow Kiwi to die out then we deserve to be called idiots,” he says. Wellingtonians love the vision of having Kiwi rummaging through their gardens and Ward says he’s been overwhelmed with the offers of help and support from the community.  

“We want to see Kiwi come back into Wellington”

Capital Kiwi has received hundreds of emails from people keen to help. Schoolchildren are now monitoring tracking tunnels, mountain bikers and trail runners check reserve trap lines on lunchtime rides and families come together to build traps. If the eradication proves successful after three years, the Department of Conservation will look at translocating Kiwi to the hillsides. The hope is that in less than a decade, tourists will be able to post their Kiwi encounters on the outskirts of Wellington on social media, and locals will beam with pride at hearing the shrill call of the country’s iconic birds in their backyards. 

“I would love to be woken up by the sound of the Kiwi. We want to see Kiwi come back into Wellington,” the capital’s Major Justin Lester says. 

The Department of Conservation is backing Capital Kiwi too. “Getting Kiwi back into the hills of Wellington where people can hear them call is a great way to demonstrate what New Zealand could look like if we get rid of the stoats and ferrets,” DOC’s Jack Mace says. 

“It would certainly add another feather to Wellington’s cap as one of the best places to see New Zealand’s unique wildlife.”

Introducing The Outdoor Voyage

Whilst you’re here, given you believe in our mission, we would love to introduce you to The Outdoor Voyage – our booking platform and online marketplace which only lists good operators, who care for sustainability, the environment and immersive, authentic experiences. All listed prices are agreed directly with the operator, and we promise that 86% of any money spent ends up supporting the local community that you’re visiting. Click the image below to find out more.

Cover Photo: New Zealand’s little spotted Kiwi at Zealandia Eco-sanctuary in Wellington. Photo by: Zealandia Eco-sanctuary

 

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