Walking Distance #18 | Careers in the Outdoors ft. Dan Purdy and Ali Carr

In this episode of Walking Distance presented by The Trek and hosted by Blissful Hiker (Alison Young), we are joined by Dan Purdy, a professional backpacking guide for Wildland Trekking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and Ali Carr, an outdoor adventure writer and founder and CEO of Basecamp, an outdoor job organization. Dan traded in his engineering desk job for a career in guiding backpacking trips in 2018, starting by volunteering in Norway through a Workaway position. Ali started the group Basecamp, which now has over 20 thousand members, and is also the co-host of the podcast Outdoor Dream Jobs. 

Blissful Hiker covers how Dan transitioned from engineer to backpacking guide, the different types of positions that are encompassed by the outdoor industry, and gets practical tips on how to break into the industry.


Download this episode.

Garage Grown Gear discount code: Use code “distance10” to save 10% at garagegrowngear.com. 

Gossamer Gear discount code: Use code “walkingdistance” to save 15% off your cart at GossamerGear.com.

Interview with Dan Purdy

1:30 – Background on Dan Purdy

2:50 – How did you get started in the industry when you were in Norway?

4:15 – Talk about that first trip you shadow guided. That was when you realized your passion, right?

6:43 – You mention a lot that you’re very new not just to guiding, but to being in the outdoors. A lot of people want to know how to get a job as a guide, and I didn’t know that the guiding field is very competitive. Did you know that when you started?

8:09 – What’s your favorite part of the profession? And what are the most difficult parts?

9:45 – On a guided hike in Peru, I was amazed that our guide was never in a bad mood, always caring and present. But I’m sure that he has bad moods, because he’s a human being.

11:30 – I was going to ask you about your tips on how to write a resume and get into the profession. But maybe a more important question for people hoping to be guides is if they have the persona and temperament for it?

14:00 – One certification you mentioned is WEMT (Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician), and that sounds really involved and expensive. Can you talk about certifications and how important they are?

15:45 – Do you have tips for folks writing resumes for outdoor jobs?

Interview with Ali Carr

20:00 – What is Basecamp?

20:36 – How did you get interested in starting this networking hub?

21:40 – Is finding a job in the outdoor industry different from finding a job in any other industry?

23:56 – I noticed that people put their candidacy on the Facebook group. How does that work?

25:52 – This podcast is supporting backpackers and hikers and walkers. So I wanted to do this episode because lots of our audience would love to work in the outdoors. But the outdoor industry needs people in all places, so you need to think outside the box in terms of what it means to work in the industry.

28:09 – What are some of the most interesting positions you’ve seen come through Basecamp recently?

29:17 – What about people in mid-career or changing careers? Do you see jobs coming up for people in those positions?

30:10 – You mentioned that it’s important to introduce yourself, network and be specific about who you are. Are there other tips you would give a person who wants to break into the outdoor industry?

33:30 – We’d love to hear from you – have you changed careers? Do you have any advice? Hit us up at [email protected] – and as always let us know how we’re doing. 

Mentioned in this episode:

“Engineer to Professional Backpacking Guide in 1 Year” by Dan Purdy

Quetzaltrekkers – León, Nicaragua branch 

Wilderness First Responder (WFR) Training with NOLS

Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician (WEMT) Training with NOLS

Basecamp Group on Facebook

Outdoor Dream Jobs on Apple Podcasts

Get all of the Walking Distance Podcast episodes.

About Alison Young

Alison Young, aka Blissful Hiker, is a former host and producer at American Public Media and professional flutist. She’s thru-hiked New Zealand’s Te Araroa and the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as long trails in South America, South Africa, Europe, Pakistan and all over the US. In her podcast Blissful Hiker, she shares personal essays from the trail along with collected sound. Her goal in life is to hike until she drops.

Subscribe to this podcast on iTunes (and please leave us a review)!  Find us on Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Podcasts.

Follow Walking Distance on Facebook and Instagram.

Follow The Trek on YouTube.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?