This is not a business

But I am asking you to buy things.
Back in 2010 the end of grad school and move to a new place, with what was finally and undeniably a real job, properly prompted introspection.  One prominent result was upgrading this blog to WordPress and taking it far more seriously.  What I’ve gotten from that commitment has been priceless; a sporadic freelance writing career that has brought both money and interesting projects, collaborations with publications and companies testing and refining outdoor gear, a far more nuanced understanding of myself, and most significantly a community of readers whose depth of commitment and breadth of background never fails to amaze me on the relatively rare occasions when it and I come face to face.  I’m an introvert, something I only poorly understood and could not embrace 7 years ago.  If I wasn’t, I’d probably spend less time writing to and for intimate strangers and more time face to face with strangers in living rooms and bars.

These intangible benefits could not have been purchased in any way other than time and concentration invested over years.  I’ve never made a cent directly from Bedrock & Paradox, and aside from writing gigs for other publications no secondary income either.  To be mild I’ve never been a fan of crowd sourcing, affiliate links, native advertising, and so many of the trappings of our current age.  I like working for a living, doing actual things, getting money without sleight of hand.  I’m also not comfortable asking for donations or doing any kind of subscription service.  On the one hand I’m small potatoes and monetizing in that way just seems insulting to you, the readers.  On the other, there are more demands on my time than ever, something which isn’t going to change, and there are some projects I’d like to push forward now, which require additional funding.


So this is the compromise, three stickers designed by my lovely wife M, the shadowy figure which has made so much of Bedrock & Paradox possible since the beginning.  We’re selling them for $1.50 each, with graduated shipping charges for US and international buyers.  I won’t make too much money on each order, but I will make some, and all of it will go directly towards equipment necessary to get the next phase of Bedrock & Paradox off the ground.  They’re the best vinyl stickers we could find, the samples having survived many rounds in the dishwasher.  They’ll last quite a while wherever you decide to put them, and will hopefully both help us out while both giving you something of substance and making more explicit the bond between reader and author.  Because as ornery as I often am, I wouldn’t keep doing this without knowing I was reaching who I am.

As an additional thank you for investing, and for accompanying us over the years, we’re holding a pack giveaway.  One lucky person will get custody of the most recent version of the 610 pack, shown below and detailed here.  It fits a ~20 inch torso, and will come with shoulder straps, foam pad, and hipbelt.  Pockets exist for dual stays, but you’ll have to supply those.  Full details can be found on the sticker page or the new Bedrock & Paradox store.

Why isn’t this a business?  Because I don’t want to make money, I want to do things, and doing those things happens to require a bit more capitol than we currently have ready access to.  Making money requires compromise for the sake of efficiency, scale, and sensibility.  Long term I have no interest in those things, only in making exactly what I want to make, as best as I can make it.  That is what the stickers exist to fund, and that is what you’ll be voting for if you buy some.

29 responses to “This is not a business”

  1. Do the stickers stick to XPac and/or cordura? While I deny any plans to ever wash my bags chances are I will. If the answer is ‘they do not stick enough to be washed’ I’d just buy more stickers.

    1. I don’t think they’d last. The vinyl they’re printed on isn’t too pliable.

      1. I got 10 I will report back

  2. Dear Dave, your blog has been, since I found it through Skurka, most fascinating. Not from a UL perspective, or a what-trip-now perspective, but from a sociological perspective. When you wrote not long ago that you were leaving social work for the corporate world, I bowed in your direction. Being in love with a social worker now, and being that my first love was a clinical social worker, and having a bunch of social worker friends between the first and current love interests, and knowing what they do and why they do it, and me being a hard-core corporate guy, and comparing fundamental corporate realities with fundamental social worker realities, I knew the bitter taste of the oil and vinegar dressing about to spill over what was once your delicious salad, would soon slather your hands and beyond, leaving all of us, me and you and all of who care enough to live your life with you and through your words – soaked beyond what can be enjoyed. To read This is not a business is, for me, to relive my own journey that sought the same goals. I have a few scientific formulas that I’ve developed in the past 30 years:

    crowds = mental illness.
    An inexpensive home base is a must to avoid crowds = no money
    Everyone wants an inexpensive home base = crowds
    No money + yearning for adventure in spectacular places = crowds = the necessity of money = WTF = mental illness = is it better to live in one remote place without money or live in a crowded place and have money = > or > the fact that every choice in life has its own victories and its own miseries.
    The square root of misery = happiness or mental illness.

    It’s the same math for everyone on the planet, just different integers. Incidentally, my mathematical theorems are fully incomplete and I have yet find a solution to any any of the equations. Perhaps humanity is left only with Buddha’s theorem: desire = suffering.

    After you check my calculus please let me know if this has any Special Relativity.

    As always, wishing you the very best,

    1. Learned a lot in the last six months, that is for damn sure. Not always easy or pleasant, but valuable and ultimately for the best.

  3. Barbara Chenault Avatar
    Barbara Chenault

    These are GREAT!!!!!!!!’!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Sent from my iPad


  4. You are defining a business too narrowly. You are describing Wal-Mart, where profit and the growth of profit are the highest priorities. But “lifestyle businesses” are legitimate businesses, too. The goal is to generate “profit” that provides the owner/s with sufficient “income” to support their family and their lifestyle. If the business grows enough, at some point you’ll need to decide whether to grow it beyond 1-person capacity, but it’s at least a choice.

    I think you would be better off accepting that you have started a legitimate businesses and running it as such, with an appropriate corporate structure, sound accounting practices, and attention to production efficiency. Running a business can be a lot of fun, and much more fulfilling than most jobs. I’m excited to see you taking this next step.

      1. I’very grown to enjoy car camping in areas that aren’t backpacking destinations (many Puebloan areas or similar historic areas) or in the off-season at such places as the Badlands in the winter. I treat it as a hut trip. I like it anyway. And the beer and steak I bring too. :)

        1. In all seriousness, we’ve car camped a lot in the last year. Fits well into exploring kid-sized places. Currently planning the camping van to be purchased in the future.

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  5. Somehow or other I first saw your blog a couple of years back. The name alone is is a head-snapper, and the writing has always been great. I respect you. Thank you.

    In this case I also agree with you. Everyone has to earn a living, but I’ve always felt queasy and uneasy about people who write about something and then have a bunch of links leading this way and that, all to places saying “Buy Now!”.


    I’m radical in many ways and old-fashioned in others. If someone is selling, say so up front, in a take-it-or-leave-it way. Be honest and clear. I’m OK with that. A store with an attached blog is fine. A blog with an attached store is fine. No probs.

    Then again, I completely distrust any blog or web site that purports to represent a “lifestyle” and inevitably steers the reader around to a weekly special, an airline or hotel discount, or serves as a smokescreen for a hidden sponsor. (“Trail Ambassadors?” Gag me with a spork.)

    I’ll say that there is one blog I like a lot (by a guy named Philip), where the owner constantly reviews equipment, almost all of which he says he bought with his own money, and where most of the links go directly to Amazon.

    Reading it is like skating near thin ice, for sure, but for me it’s a way to see lots of photos of stuff, in actual use, and to gather a few impressions that I manage to pull from the text, while I maintain my own frequently-disagreeing perspective. At least the information is specific. Most commercially-oriented blogs are general, vague, nearly useless, and flat-out slimy. At least that one isn’t.

    But OK. Hey. I found a great piece on the Slime World, from “The New Yorker”. See “#Vanlife, the Bohemian Social-Media Movement” at

    — Dave Sailer

    1. An interesting article. It was illuminating making the trade show rounds this winter and seeing how social media marketing works, and just how much money is hidden behind it. Possibly the least authentic such phase in the last half century.

  6. I appreciated what I’m assuming are your wife’s description for each sticker. Gave me a chuckle.

    1. You would be correct. ;)

  7. Dave,
    Is there an option to donate to you anyhow? I’m not a sticker guy at all, but I value the information you’ve provided here and wouldn’t mind paying for it.

    1. There is not. I appreciate the offer and question very much, but even the more transparent crowd funding platform (Patreon comes to mind) just don’t sit well with me yet. Our intention is to offer some more utilitarian products this fall.

      1. Sounds good; I’m anxiously awaiting them, maybe I’ll pick up a sticker for the wife or something.
        Stay true to your values and it’ll all work out.

  8. Long time lurking reader but not commenter. Happy to support you in your new endeavor, as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your writing over the years.

  9. Your site is one of the few that I check frequently (Skurka, Luc Mehl, Alan Dixon and PMags being others) and enjoy, even if I don’t agree with everything.
    I regard Skurka as a good model for outdoors material. There, I see a guy I respect (hopefully) making a living from his very interesting experiences and expertise, which (partly) will allow him to continue to do some amazing things outdoors. He provides huge (negative corporate trigger word for some) value to readers. This is sometimes done through linking to sites where products he thinks are good can be purchased but also by paying for original content, e.g., High Routes and other books. I don’t feel exploited in any way by this, e.g., he charges for his Wind River High Route while Alan Dixon doesn’t. Upset? Exercise free will – don’t buy it. For $25, if I had a chance of doing it, I’d happily pay.
    I pay for content I value, and not just through advertising. I also spend my money on lots of other crap. This ranges from good newspapers to coffee to beer. I am not necessarily typical and I understand that identifying the best way for people to support outdoor web content they appreciate is difficult. However, it’s not a religious test, e.g., finding some way to charge is not necessarily bad, sponsorship (ala Alastair Humphreys asking for the price of a cup of coffee) is not begging. This doesn’t mean that everyone has to charge for (”monetise”) everything online (thx Luc) but it means that of all the things to spend one’s money on, supporting interesting people/ material is one of the more worthwhile.
    Unrelated to this topic, your opinions are strongly held and interesting. Sometimes a little discretion/humility might be in order, albeit Hannitying it up may make it more interesting, :-), ( I don’t think that’s what you actually do but I love that “verb” ©) .
    Of course, the Internet attracts strong, negative opinions which are best ignored. Whatever you do, most people will support your approach (the illusive “silent majority”).
    Anyway, thanks for the interesting pieces, suerte con la futura agus go n’éirí an bóthar libh.

    1. Thanks JIm. There have been and will continue to be occasions when I think that stating things to maximize the promotion of dialogue and thought is of greater value than just laying out my full view of a given issue. Plenty of occasions over the years when these posts have brought forth the usual insults and ad hominem nonsense, but overall I never cease to be pleased with how infrequently that happens, especially considering I’ve outright banned only two people ever (one tried multiple names with the same IP, which did not go far).

  10. Love it, just bought a half dozen stickers! This blog and your writing are always a great source of inspiration. This has been one of my favourite blogs ever since I stumbled upon it around 3 years ago and I’m always excited when I see you have released a new post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of us, it is much appreciated!

    1. Much appreciated Rob.

  11. […] be able to continue to grow, and continue to provide plenty of interest to you, the readers.  My request for support back in April confirmed what I had long suspected, that the audience here is small by the standards […]

  12. […] is the long-awaited second phase of what began with our stickers and guidebook 2.5 years ago.  Straps today, with stock and (occasional) custom packs to come later […]

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