An Interview with The Expeditioners
Photographers: Roberto and Bella Gibbons 

 

If you were to ask Roberto and Bella Gibbons what sparked their desire to live a life of nomadic adventure, they’d answer with a simple truth: “happiness lies in wild places.” It is this guiding principle that has inspired over a decade of adventure travel, and forms the backbone to their successful social media platform, @theexpeditioners. 


Family. Adventure. Wilderness.

Since the birth of their two children, Roberto and Bella show no signs of compromising on the lifestyle that makes them feel “truly alive.” In fact, it has only intensified their desire to share the adventure with their growing family.


Currently based out of Whistler, British Columbia, the family of 4 is in no shortage of stunning scenery and year-round outdoor activities. Whether it's canoe camping, kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, RVing or kite surfing, The Expeditioners prioritize time in the outdoors above all else. And yes, before you ask, the kids really do come along for the ride - even in the backcountry.


By stripping away at the concept of a “conventional” family life, and simultaneously documenting the process, The Expeditions have garnered an audience of nearly 80,000 people on social media. Without further ado, let us formally introduce you to Roberto, Bella, Mikio and Catalina - the newest members of the Wolf and Grizzly family. 

 

A family of four hiking near a mountain lake. Photographers: Roberto and Bella Gibbons

 

The Road to Full-Time Adventure

The adventure began over 12 years ago, when Roberto and Bella began sharing their experiences on Facebook. Their authentic demeanor, combined with the beautiful imagery they were capturing on camera was a winning recipe for social media success. As their following grew, so did the viability of making this lifestyle a long-term commitment. 


After their first child, Mikio, was born, the couple ditched the SUV they’d been living in and bought a 600-square-foot home in Whistler, British Columbia. Pre-pandemic, they rarely stayed there longer than six months, preferring the freedom of the metaphorical open road. Iceland, Mexico’s Yucatan, New Zealand, Turks and Caicos, Northern Canada - name a country and they’ve probably explored it.


During the pandemic, however, the family has spent more time closer to home. Being based in one of Canada’s most beautiful provinces, this wasn’t exactly a hardship. While the first half of the week is taken up with “the kid’s routine”, the second half is dedicated to remote adventures into the Canadian wilderness. Picture this: the whole family on a remote lake in the Rockies paddling to their next camp spot surrounded by majestic mountains. Sounds pretty idyllic, doesn’t it?


“There’s a serenity and purity that comes with backcountry camping. The remoteness and relative discomfort of certain backcountry trips is what makes it so wonderful. It’s kind of like life, if it was too easy, so much of it’s lustre would be gone.”


For many, their content has become a form of escapism - a way to live vicariously without the downside of such a nomadic lifestyle. 


That being said, Roberto and Bella are not immune to the appeal of home comforts. In fact, it was the idea of coming back to a hot shower and dry living quarters after a day in the bush that inspired the purchase of an Airstream. Instead of compromising on their backcountry exploits, it has allowed them to keep adventuring during the winter months, and most importantly, with their two young children in tow. 


While it’s not always easy to maintain this type of lifestyle, Roberto and Bella remain committed to the adventure. “People ask when we’re going to stop,” says Roberto. “For us, this is how we live. We don't want to live any other way.”

 

Family of four lounging by a campfire in front of a metal airstream trailer. Photographers: Roberto and Bella Gibbons

 

The Expeditioner’s Must-Have Adventure Tools

There are a number of must-have adventure tools that take the camping experience from the wrong side of rustic to “perfectly serene.” One of these gear sets is the Wolf and Grizzly Campfire Trio. Read on to find out more about why Wolf and Grizzly makes the shortlist, as well as Roberto and Bella’s tried-and-tested tips for safely starting a campfire in the backcountry.


WG: What do you love the most about your WG Campfire Trio?

We’ve most been impressed by the packability and ease of use. For so many backcountry trips of the past, we had bulky grills on canoe trips and on hiking trips, we would not take one. With the WG Grill and Fire Safe, the weight and size is negligible, allowing us to take it on all of our adventures. Also, the portable Fire Safe prevents scarring the earth which is wonderful for keeping nature exactly as it should be. Pristine. 


WG: What’s your favorite thing to cook on your WG Campfire Trio? 

Lamb. Hands down. It’s hard to beat the taste of a rack of lamb cooked over the fire. We’re packing up for our next adventure and we’ve got our WG Grill and Fire Safe, and a few racks of lamb ready for the canoe trip! Now, that being said, we’re bringing a vast array of foods for this adventure because of the practical nature of the grill - it makes cooking so easy. Chorizo and eggs for breakfast, chicken wings for lunch, and grilled veggies and lamb for dinner! 

 

 Young boy reading in a red camp chair beside a small campfire where a grilled cheese cooks in a cast iron pan.

Photographers: Roberto and Bella Gibbons

 

WG: What is your go-to technique for building a fire? 

It all depends on where we are and what’s at hand. When in most places in Canada, some dead pine, birch bark, dry branches from the bottom of trees or dry moss will get the fire started quickly. Then tenderly adding twigs and sticks followed by larger pieces of wood for a strong smokeless flame. 


When speed is required, whether for the kids or ourselves on a cold or wet trip, we’ll use fire starters to take away the necessity of looking for natural starters. On sea kayaking or canoe trips, dry wood on the shoreline is perfect for getting a good fire going.


WG: How do you keep the little ones safe around the campfire?

Our kids have been around fires since they were born and we have found that simply teaching them how to act around the fire has created safe fire habits. We have a 4 year old and a two year old, and both have learned to be careful around the fire, avoid the smoke, not run or play around the fire, and to always ask before putting something in it.


WG: What are your must-have adventure items?

For a camping trip, some comfortable chairs, a portable fire pit, tarp (in case it rains), inflatable mattress (for a good night’s sleep) and a good down jacket. Being cold in the backcountry is miserable, so even if it's summer we have a warm jacket at the end of the day to sit around the fire. Even if the weather looks balmy during the day, we’ve learned it can quickly turn. This is also why we have fire starters in case we need to quickly make a fire to keep warm.

 

Tips and Tricks from a Life Lived Outdoors 

WG: How do you keep your campsite clean and tidy? 

We’ve learned that constant organizing is often the key to overall tidiness. My dad always said if you’re going that way, you may as well take something with you. We also use big pelican cases to store the kid’s toys and gear, making it easy to throw everything in them, close the lid and not worry about anything getting wet. As we’re often in bear territory, having a neat campsite is extra important to keep the kids and ourselves safe. 

 

WG: What are your top tips for people looking to start exploring close to home? 

Social media is a great spot to find prime places. By using the hashtags feature [on Instagram], you can get great ideas for adventures nearby, and even see what the weather is like in those places by looking at the most recent posts. The pandemic has forced us all to explore close to home, and it has been wonderful to discover so many new places that are right on our doorstep! 

 

A young boy and girl sit in a roof top tent on a camping trip

Photographers: Roberto and Bella Gibbons

 

WG: What are your top tips for adventuring with kids? 

Go with the flow. While we often hope to knock off a certain distance on an adventure, we’ve learned that pushing the kids too much will just make it miserable for everyone. Sometimes we’re pitching the tent far earlier than expected and this keeps the kids from seeing the experience as negative and keeps their stoke high for the next day! 


Also, making sure they have the appropriate clothing is key. Just like ourselves, they are decked in merino wool base layers, which keeps them warm even when wet, waterproof pants and jacket, and a down jacket as well. 


Furthermore, having some consistent routines (wherever we may be) keeps them content. This might look like bringing their favourite books for night time reading, or their preferred hot chocolate for their morning ritual.


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