Thomas's Reviews > The Dirtbag's Guide to Life: Eternal Truth for Hiker Trash, Ski Bums, and Vagabonds

The Dirtbag's Guide to Life by Tim  Mathis
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really liked it
Read 2 times. Last read May 1, 2019 to May 12, 2019.

I picked up this book after seeing a brief review in an adventure magazine. It’s the third book written by Tim Mathis, who is behind the boldlywent.com website and promotional company.

“Partly a celebration of an underappreciated subculture of hiker trash, ski bums, and vagabonds, and partly a "how to" guide for adventure on the cheap, The Dirtbag's Guide to Life is the first solid attempt to define an outdoor movement that has taken root in backpacker hostels, long trails, and climbing crags around the world.” ~ Tim Mathis, The Dirtbag's Guide to Life

I would qualify for status in any dirtbag club. If you want to understand about dirtbags, I’d suggest Googling the term and then click images tab, and you’ll see a comprehensive dirtbag photo gallery. You'll see images like these:



For those of you who are more linguistically oriented, here’s the Urban Dictionary’s definition: dirtbag - “A person who is committed to a given (usually extreme) lifestyle to the point of abandoning employment and other societal norms in order to pursue said lifestyle. Dirtbags can be distinguished from hippies by the fact that dirtbags have a specific reason for their living communally and generally non-hygenically; dirtbags are seeking to spend all of their moments pursuing their lifestyle.”

I’m not sure that many folks who are standing at some crossroad where they are pondering a career direction would make the serious lifestyle alterations necessary to adhere to the tenets of dirtbag life, but if you have interest in wandering this book is a good start.

I’m reminded of a popular book of the 1980’s entitled Voluntary Simplicity by Duame Elgin. I have always wanted to re-read it and looks like that book will be my follow up to this one.

I’d offer that any book’s references that back up a book’s premises reflect the best examples of sucessful applications to real life that are available to bolster their position. Within the pages are numerous examples of dirtbags that have money, as they have somehow captured a niche in society that allows them to live cheap and enjoy their hours on earth. Yvon Chouinard comes to mind. He’s a billionaire that prefers driving old cars. The Patagonia clothes that he wears are years old, and he hardly buys anything new. He continues to lead a very simple life, and describes himself as a non-consumer of anything. To this day, he claims that he prefers sleeping on somebody’s floor than in a motel room, which is clearly dirtbag behavior.

There is a downside to the most dirtbags’ lifestyle (which gets harder as you get older,) which is perennial mandatory cheapness, often due to the lack of any reasonable retirement plan. If you don’t punch a time clock for decades, there’s no pension, and in some cases those years of working for cash results in a very meager social security check.

The bottom line is that living a simpler existence away from the consumer-driven life can lead to a respect for the natural world. Many of us older dirtbags have more than than a thousand dollars in our bank accounts. In my case I built my own small house over 40 years ago from wood that I cut down frm my wood lot that allowed me to have a post and beam oak frame house that I still live in. I retired from full time work 17 years ago, which has enabled me to experience life at least 18 months 100% dirtbag lifestyle in earng my Triple Crown of hiking in 2014. I have patched together several “jobs” that allow me to continue to gather an adequate pile of those elusive pieces of rectangular paper with pictures of dead presidents.

I’m always fantasizing about hitting a long trail again, because I’ve understood that collecting experiences is more important to me than amassing creature comforts and material objects.

For those of you who are intrigued by the Google gallery of dirtbags, I’d suggest check out Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey (96 minutes).

Hailed as one of the most prolific and influential climbers of all time, Fred Beckey has become a cult hero in the outdoor world It explores in cinematic rapture the unmatched drive, superhuman achievements and enigmatic genius of this man who set the bar for what is possible in an uncompromised existence. Co-starring Yvon Chouinard and Conrad Anker. I don’t know how long it will be available, but do check it out for rental at the present dirtbag deal of $0.99 .
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
May 1, 2019 – Started Reading
May 12, 2019 – Shelved
May 12, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Tim (new)

Tim Mathis thanks for the review Thomas! What was the adventure magazine? I didn't realize it'd been reviewed in print!


Thomas Tim, I don’t remember. Maybe Dirt Rag? Thanks for commenting and thanks for taking to time to write the book.


message 3: by Tim (new)

Tim Mathis Cool - cheers!


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