X1 Journal: Matt Swartz

Paragliding, Hiking the PCT, and Gummy Snakes

Meet X1 owner Matt Swartz, an avid paragliding pilot, outdoor adventure seeker, and photographer. After traveling full time with his AirStream trailer pulled by a Ram 2500, he and his wife Amanda ( and dog Royal) now reside in Boulder, CO full-time. A lifetime love of the outdoors instilled by his grandparents has driven him to explore remote destinations around North and South America, in search of the best paragliding destinations. Oh, and he loves gummy snakes.

LAUNCH CODE: 246

Ram 2500 + Switchback X1

Boulder, CO

What first inspired you to get hooked on the outdoors?

My maternal Grandfather, who was a PhD Ecologist, was a big part where my love of the outdoors came from. While my parents got me outdoors hiking and fishing, my Grandfather would build shelters out of natural materials, teach me how to make cordage out of tree bark, (gently) catch wild animals, and photograph birds of prey from a blind he set up on a mountain adjacent to his house. Through hands-on education, he showed me how amazing and important the natural world is.

With all the vehicle options out there, why do you drive a truck?

Way back, when we first lived on the road full-time, we were traveling in a 1964 RV. Living out of a coach was convenient, for many reasons. But at the same time, it was limited in terms of capability. We'd often find ourselves debating if we should take it down that Forest Service road, or if we'd be able to get out of our campsite after significant rainfall. I was also terrified of having a big heavy vehicle like that loaded up on snowy/icy roads without 4WD.

For our next vehicle, we considered doing a camper van build, but thought better, knowing how much time you can pour into a project like that. And an SUV never really felt like it would work either, given payload/towing limitations and the fact that we still wanted to travel full-time. Ultimately, we switched to a truck and travel trailer combo because we felt like it would be a much better fit for our lifestyle. We'd have to travel a bit slower, but we'd have WAY more comfort and storage space. And once we'd gotten the trailer setup at a campsite, we could take the truck wherever we wanted to go (ultimate capability). This was where adding the Switchback to the truck was also very compelling - it would provide a fast and light setup for weekend escapes from the trailer. Ultimately, since moving to Boulder, Colorado, and taking on more of a weekend warrior approach to adventuring, the truck and Switchback is a much more nimble and easy rig to take out for 2-4 days at a time. No more hitching up, no more towing, it all just feels so much easier.

What's your most memorable camping adventure?

The trip that sticks out most in my mind was when I hiked the first 800 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail back in 2014. I had just gotten divorced and laid off, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to go do something a little more intense that would require my full commitment and which didn't have a specific end date. I remember getting dropped off at the Mexican border in April, taking a few photos with my Dad at the monument, then walking north into the desert. What I found on the trail was an incredible and diverse community of people from all walks of life who had all come there for different reasons.

There one part of the trip that stands out most in terms of sheer beauty was the Eastern Sierras (John Muir Trail section), but there were many incredible moments: hiking through southern California wind farms in the middle of the night (to avoid the heat), almost stepping on huge rattlesnakes in the mountains high above Los Angeles, visiting the all-you-can-eat buffet at the Morongo casino, and summiting Mount Whitney at sunrise all rank high on that list.

What epic trip do you dream of taking?

Right now I've got my sights set on a paragliding hike-and-fly trip in Europe (most-likely France or Switzerland). The idea would be to carry an ultralight camping/bivy kit along with my paraglider, flying from one launch to another, and camping or staying at huts along the route. This style of flying is referred to as vol-biv, and Europe is one of the best places to do this style of flying, mostly this is because the sport is embraced there and you can reliably launch/land just about anywhere that you want (weather permitting).

What’s your favorite detail about your X1 Camper.

Oh man, where to begin! I really appreciate that the team at Super Pacific designed the X1 with customization in mind. Everything from the integrated wire chases to the threaded inserts, to the pre-drilled holes at the cab-end of the camper make it easy to build it out exactly how you want.

Personally, I've found the integrated lashing/tie-down tabs in the four corners of the X1 to be extremely useful, and I often utilize them to secure our full-size spare, paragliding gear, and cargo boxes in the bed of the truck so that they don't slide around while we're driving through bumpy terrain.

Road Trip guilty pleasure?

Definitely Haribo gummy candy. Lately I've been a huge fan of the twin snakes, but the coke bottles and old fashioned gummy bears will do the trick too.

 

Do you have a favorite charity?

One non-profit that I think is really worth supporting is Big City Mountaineers. They focus on bringing under-served communities into the outdoors and facilitate transformative experiences.

 

Follow Matt’s adventures:

Expedition Portal: expeditionportal.com/author/matt-swartz/

Instagram: m.b.swartz

Photos by Matt Swartz

JOIN THE MAILING LIST

Follow Us

PORTLAND,  OR  USA
COPYRIGHT 2022 SUPER PACIFIC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED