So you just booked that dream camping trip with extended family in Oregon’s wilderness. Moment of truth: How do you coordinate all of the gear? From tents and sleeping bags to food, lanterns, rain tarps and cooking utensils, it’s often an elaborate endeavor to sort out who’s bringing what gear so you can enjoy Oregon’s outdoors to the fullest.
That’s exactly what Nic Parrish was thinking in 2016 after he set out on a backpacking trip with his dad and brother-in-law, traveling from out of state. They ended up having to stop at two different REI stores along the way to their destination to replace forgotten or ill-equipped items, and drag it all through the airport and rental car transfers. “Why am I schlepping all this gear?” Parrish recalls thinking. “There’s got to be some service that sends me all my gear so I don’t have to worry about it.”
Enter the newish advent of Oregon-based companies and services that provide adventures to go. Parrish started his Portland-based company, Xscape Pod, in 2017, and now it’s serving visitors to Oregon from all over the globe. “There are so many things that hold people back [from adventuring outside],” says Parrish, a surfer who also enjoys camping, climbing and hiking in Oregon with his wife and two young daughters. “The first is: ‘I don’t have any gear.’ Or they say, ‘Where should we camp?’ It’s really intimidating. We’re removing the barriers that keep people from getting outdoors.”
From its headquarters in Southeast Portland, the company lets customers choose what they need — from $89 for a two-person camping “pod” to $149 for a four-person backpacking pod, or a la carte items. They offer free local pickup, local delivery for a $25 fee or national shipping for $35 round-trip. His biggest customers are urban millennials who are interested in camping and backpacking but don’t yet have the gear or the space for gear, as well as young families who have fond memories of camping when they were young and now want to provide the same experience for their children.
It’s one thing to have the gear; it’s another to know how to use it. The company’s free Campsite Concierge service includes a 30-minute phone consultation or email exchange to help you find the perfect campsite and answer questions about gear. It also includes video tutorials on how to set up tents, clean up a campsite and more. Each pod comes with its own journal with similarly useful information. You can also get those last-minute questions answered by a friendly expert if you pick up your gear in the shop.
Still another new service Parrish offers is a package that includes a campsite in the Mt. Hood or Coast area run by Hipcamp, as well as all of the gear and meals provided (including gourmet treats by Portland-based 1927 S’mores), and car-share transportation by Zipcar. “Like Amazon, if I can do two clicks and have my camping trip planned for me, why wouldn’t I book it that way?” Parrish says.
If You Go:
A number of Oregon-based outfitters, lodging properties and agencies are ready to help you set out for stress-free adventuring. Here are several to check out.
Head down to the front desk
In downtown Portland, the Dossier Hotel offers an “Adventure Valet” service with add-on packages such as “On the Water” (kayak or SUP rentals plus car transportation) and “Basecamp for Adventure” (car transportation to Mt. Hood for a day of hiking and use of two backpacks). Also downtown, Hotel Zags lets guests borrow equipment from their gear shed for adventuring around town and beyond, including bikes, scooters, hoverboards, skateboards, fishing poles and more. There’s even a way to try the new wellness trend of “forest bathing” by booking a three-hour private Forest Therapy session led by a certified guide. On the North Coast, Headlands Coastal Lodge & Spa in Pacific City connects guests with an “Adventure Coach” — a local expert who can help plan, schedule and book activities along the North Coast, and even have equipment, such as fat-tire bikes, delivered to you. From dory boat fishing to clamming and crabbing, horseback riding, brewery tours and spa days, they take the stress out of planning so you can relax. And at the mountain, Mt. Hood Oregon Resort has a “Nature Concierge” that helps visitors connect with everything from local hiking and mountain biking to whitewater rafting, fishing, skiing and even skydiving.
Rent with the click of a button
Wonderland Expeditions, based in Portland, rents truck campers, rooftop tents, teardrop trailers and camper vans with camp equipment, kitchen gear, bedding and snack packs by local vendors included at no additional charge. Items like stand-up paddleboards, bike racks and GPS units are available for an additional cost. They post road-trip ideas and itineraries with suggested activities, as well as conservation tips. Wee Trekkin’, based in Bend, lets you travel without schlepping all of the baby gear — car seats, playpens, strollers, high chairs, toys and more.
Let a friendly park ranger help you
Oregon State Parks offers excellent programming for newer outdoorspeople, including their Let’s Go series, which teaches the basics of paddling, camping, disc golfing, hiking, birding, fishing, cycling and more. Find out about their offerings in our Beginner’s Guide to the Outdoors in Oregon. See How to Camp Like a Pro for tips on keeping Oregon’s green spaces beautiful when wildfire restrictions are in place.