Alite: Fun Simple Outdoor Gear for Casual Camping

Alite Ambassador: Austin Chu

Alite Ambassador: Austin Chu

Meet Austin Chu - a down to earth Californian OG who enjoys Moms in minivans and sidewalk treasure hunting. If he's not in his own minivan on some dirt road looking for free places to camp, then he's down in the Business District of San Francisco straight up hustling at The Werehaus - a San Francisco-based creative studio producing both original and commercial content (a business he co-founded with his brother Brian). He recently went on a trek to God's Bath in search of river maids and crystal clear swimming holes. He was partially successful. Read on to learn more about our latest Alite Ambassador…

Tell us a little about your background (where are you from and what do you do?)
Hi, my name is Austin and I'm originally from Irvine, California. It's a pretty cool city down in Orange County, Southern California. People there are generally pretty cool, but it's a master planned city so naturally, everything is super duper organized, manicured, the same. I currently live in San Francisco, and have for the past 4 years. I'm one of the dudes that work at WEREHAUS - a SF based creative production studio. We typically like to design cool digital things that live on screens & mess around with cameras of all sorts. It's fun. It allows for me to find balance and spend quality time outside. Because we all know, there's nothing better than exploring the backcountry, driving up and down the coast, freestyle camp, etc with all your shit in the van or your friends' old school Tacoma. I also like to talk to old people, make fires, and collect weird rocks.

What was your favorite thing to do outside as a kid?  What inspired you at an early age to be outside?
My favorite activity as a kid was long road trips. It's really my foundation of being outside and on the road. We would drive anywhere between 2-22 hours at a time. My dad was a beast. He could cruise at 55-65 for hours. We rarely stopped for pee breaks because he wanted to get there in a certain time. Sometimes, I'm the same way with the people that cruise in the van. From the family station wagon, we zigzagged all across America's national parks. It was rad.

How do you incorporate the outdoors into your every day routine and personal environment?
I try to do simple things that put me in the headspace of being in the outdoors. The most important thing that I do is planning trips as part of my daily routine. I'll check into Google calendar and schedule a couple each month. They can be super simple ones, or trips that require a bit more attention. But, they all have to be somewhat achievable. It's an easy way to guarantee yourself a vacation. My daily rituals are biking to work, pushing around to move my van for street sweeping, or refreshing during sunset time. And, I'll always walk somewhere for caffeine in coffee form.

What inspires you to explore and live a nomadic lifestyle?
Surf videos, backpacks, and fresh natural herbs - eg. Rosemary & friends, watching someone take apple cider vinegar shots, moms in minivans, salty things, cool backyards, & taking things I find on the sidewalk home.

Tell us about this adventure trip to God's Bath!  What was your inspiration for taking this trip?
Well, the name sounds awesome. It reminds me of a town called Cool, California. It just calls to me and it's been haunting my thoughts. I'm also taking on a new appreciation for our rivers, lakes, swimming holes, hot pools, coves, creeks and it's a good reason to drive to somewhere that sounds exotic. Plus, it's icy clear pools of water from our snowpack combined with hot smooth rocks.

How did you conduct research to learn about this particular trip idea and its location?
When I hear someone talking about quietly known places. Word-of-mouth and Google Maps. I was searching something far enough that it deters people and a little hard to get to. I figure the more I learn about a spot, the more I need to see it.

What is your budget for this trip?
Tank of gas $80, food from my fridge, $50 for emergencies & friends to chip in.

What gear are you bringing? (top 10 essentials)

  • Alite Big Oak
  • Nemo cosmo sleeping pad
  • Mountain Hardwear Phantom 45 sleeping bag
  • Cypress tote bag for random shit
  • Small camera
  • Wool socks
  • Headlamp
  • Hat/beanie
  • Lighter
  • Something worth bartering

If this guy doesn't get you stoked on life and all this state has to offer, we don't know who will. You'll never catch Mr. Chu sitting still or passing up a trip to the river. His daily ambition and outlook on life inspires us. Thank you Austin, we are looking forward to hearing about your upcoming escapades and minivan burnout photos.