It’s pretty easy to get focused on the products and the activities that make up Therm-a-Rest, but, at the end of the day, our true focus is on people and their experiences.

We love pulling up a chair to the campfire. Listening to our friends talk about last weekend’s epic. Pulling out the guidebook and making plans with our adventure partners. We are built on the stories and experiences of the Therm-a-Rest tribe.

With all this in mind, we have assembled a group of individuals to share images and stories from life in the backcountry. This quality crew of climbers, skiers, thru-hikers, trail runners, photographers, alpinists and all-around dirt bags compose our 2017 Therm-a-Rest Dream Team!

This edition of Therm-a-Rest Explore will give you a chance to get to know a few of the folks that will be telling the Therm-a-Rest story this year.

Eric Hanson: Dream Team Ambassador

Eric Hanson

How did you find your passion?

I took a black and white film photography course in college. I was a fan of Ansel Adams at the time. I went on a hike and took a photo of a big set of rocks with puffy clouds in the sky. When I developed that photo, and saw it magically appear in the dark room, I thought it looked kind of like an Ansel Adams photo. All of a sudden I got a huge burst of excitement that maybe I could be a photographer. That moment was the spark.

Who inspires you, both personally and in the outdoor culture?

I’m currently binging on wisdom from a guy named Tim Ferriss, who is an author and has a super-popular podcast. I can’t get enough. In the outdoor world, I am regularly inspired by the creativity and writing of Brendan Leonard, and the filmmaking magic of Renan Ozturk.

What is your greatest triumph in the outdoors?

First thing that comes to mind is climbing Cotopaxi, a 19,300 foot volcano in Ecuador. It was the biggest mountain I had climbed at the time. And I’d never tried anything remotely close. I also climbed it while sick, but standing at the top of an active, steaming volcano at sunrise was an incredible experience.

What sport do you really want to learn more about and why?

Last year I decided to switch from snowboarding to skiing. I really wanted to get better backcountry access. But I also know it’s a whole different ballgame when it comes to safety in the backcountry with avalanche danger. Since I’m from the desert, there’s so much I have yet to learn.

Why is resting better outside important for you?

My philosophy on sleep in the backcountry changed when I got a job as a field guide. Quality sleep became the most important thing to me when I spent so much time outside. I learned that I could actually achieve better sleep outside than in my own bed. And that meant that I enjoyed my backcountry life a hell of a lot.

Follow Eric’s adventures at @erichanson

 Alicia Erskine Dream Team Ambassador

Alicia Erskine

How did you find your passion?

I grew up spending a lot of my time outdoors doing a lot of biking. Hitting my teen years, I wasn’t that interested in outdoor activities and was more of a “city slicker.” As I became an adult I became active again, running, weight training and swimming a lot. Once I got my dogs, Kona and Cali, that is when my love for the outdoors evolved. Given how much exercise the breed needs, I took to hiking with them. They absolutely love camping and it made me love camping that much more. I started taking photos of Kona when I got her, not wanting to miss moments and somewhere it turned into a full-on obsession taking photos.

Who inspires you, both personally and in the outdoor culture?

My fiancé, Colten, is a big inspiration. Kona and Cali inspire me as well. They are my rock. My friend, Domonique has been a huge inspiration personally and in the outdoor culture. I met her a couple years ago through our dogs and her and I connected instantly. She’s someone who is constantly out on great adventures in her free time. Seeing her photos from hikes and camping trips, pushes me to explore more.

What is your greatest triumph in the outdoors?

My greatest triumph in the outdoors would be the ability to hike new places alone with just dogs given growing up I was super shy and hated being alone. Also, just being able to complete a backpacking trip because I have chronic back and neck injuries from an accident. I feel so lucky and extremely happy when I can complete backpacking trips.

Where do you really want to go on an adventure?

My dream adventure destination would be Alaska. The landscape looks so beautiful and I’d like to see what it’s like there.

Why is resting better outside important for you?

Resting better outside is important to me because it’s important that I not only get a good sleep but that I’m comfortable so that my injuries don’t flare up and my body’s not sore.

Follow Alicia, Kona, and Cali’s adventures at @west_coast_heeler_pack


RJ Bruni: Dream Team Ambassador

RJ Bruni

How did you find your passion?

I grew up with many role models around me who were great examples of what it looks like to be an avid lover of the outdoors. For myself, my passion started with mountain biking and hiking but soon added on skiing, climbing, backpacking, and paddling all while bringing my camera along the way.

What is your most embarrassing backcountry moment?

I don’t like to admit this but probably the time I sunk a drone in the river… not the best feeling in the world. But with some luck it came back to life a few days later. Not really an embarrassing moment but definitely not something you want an audience for.

What sport do you really want to learn more about and why?

It’s been my dream for a couple years now to get into paragliding. It’s such a beautiful sport and, in my opinion, a much better option than hiking down. Just one more sport and more gear to add to the long list.

What is your dream adventure destination and why?

My travel ideas are constantly changing but right now my eyes are focused on South America. I would love to surf all through Mexico and then explore the South American countries on a road trip. A few years back a bunch of friends and myself bought a bus and took it to Alaska. Maybe it’s time for a second bus trip south now. 

Why is resting better outside important for you?

Resting better outside is important to me because often camping outside comes along with some sort of gruesome task and there’s no doubt that a good nights rest is important to keep the energy levels high. There’s something special about sleeping outside. Whether you’re cozy in a tent or there’s nothing between you and an infinitely starry sky, there are indescribable feelings that come along with these moments and good equipment can only make it that much more enjoyable. 

Follow RJ’s adventures at @rjbruni