The Dirtbag’s Guide to Life – Review

Full Title & Author:

The Dirtbag’s Guide to Life: Eternal Truth for Hiker Trash, Ski Bums, and Vagabonds

Written by Tim Mathis

How I Came Across This Book:

I have seen this book well it’s cover at least, when searching the interwebs for outdoor themed things. It was really brought to my attention when Jen (Chica) posted about reading it on her Instagram. For whatever reason, I just never took time to stop and actually buy the book but was always interested. Then, Tim Mathis himself contacted me about it.

Here is the honest upfront part of this review…Tim asked if I would like to read it, I said yes because I’m a bookworm and why would I say no to any book? and thus he gave me a digital copy. There was no money traded for a review, I didn’t say I would for sure do one, but yet here it is because I feel like it was worthy of one. If you have a problem with this, just don’t read any further, but don’t take that out on the book, check it out online and read the other reviews on it. 

First Thoughts:

I judged it too early. I honestly felt that this book was going to be a bit on the boring side. A guide with a numbered lists of things to read over with a little meat in and around the lists but, I did still want to check it out. Having lived as hiker trash and vagabond I wanted to see if Mathis really knew the realities of this lifestyle or if he just dressed it up and told only the parts everyone wants to hear….”it’s so easy”, “we pay no bills”, “we go wherever we want.” It seems like the dressed up version of this lifestyle is all anyone hears or sees and so that’s what I expected with this book. Mathis, thankfully, disappointed me.


Throughout the entirety of the book, Mathis really doesn’t use a filter. Although I have never met him, I feel like I know him by reading his book. He is upfront, honest, and very open about the realities of dirtbagging; he simply tells the reader how it is…the good, bad and the smelly.

I found the whole book to be easy to read. Sometimes in “guidebooks” you get stuck on boring parts and find yourself skipping around (which isn’t always a bad thing when looking back over a guidebook) or reading the same sentence ten times before really understanding it. Not to worry, I highly doubt this will happen with the dirtbag’s guide. Mathis mixes his personal experiences with helpful suggestions, presents common situations from different perspectives and adds a sprinkling of resources for your continued learning. You’ll be mistaken if you go into this book thinking it’s a guide specifically from Mathis, it’s not. I feel that Mathis really represents and shares an inside look to the community of dirtbags; it’s not just you alone on the road, trail, or wherever, there is a community surrounding and supporting you. The way Mathis has put this guidebook together really portrays this.

Oh! If your confused about what exactly a dirtbag is, Mathis defines that for you first thing! I honestly thought the term was more directed towards climbers and Mathis does discuss the roots of the term starting indeed with climbers, however, he gives the reader a full understanding that the term actually encompasses many types of people; a community.

The book is divided into chapters at which can easily be read straight through and set up in a way that is easy to refer back to (as any guidebook should be set up in my opinion). The chapter topics are all forms of questions that I had before I personally started traveling and questions that I currently get asked from others. For example, “Money” and “Responsibilities” are two chapters that Mathis focuses on. When the reader dives into each chapter, it’s not just short and sweet. Mathis really digs in and tells you what the perception is from looking outside the dirtbag life, what the reality is, what his experience is, what other people he personally knows experiences are, and how it can or maybe cannot work for you, the reader.

Not only does he give you a great break down of the various aspects of each chapter topic, but one of my favorite things was the number of resources Mathis gives. This allows you the reader, to have a better understanding of a topic and also encourages researching more on your own if you still have questions. Mathis doesn’t claim to know all the answers, he encourages you to get out there and live it to obtain your own understanding. He also doesn’t just give you resources for more books, but information on other people who are actually living and exemplify dirtbag-ery in one form or another. Awesome! Where has this book been all my life!


I learned a lot from this guide. I wish I had it when I first started traveling and before Darwin and I hiked the Appalachian Trail. There are so many aspects of the dirtbag life that Mathis touches on that would otherwise be something you kinda just have to learn on your own. I highlighted so much of this book for its awesome quotes, topics and for subjects I wanted to look further into, it’s basically yellow and I’ve lived this dirtbag style life! In a perfect world when someone sends an email or in person slams me with questions about my lifestyle, questions about money, or even pops in some criticism,  I’ll hand over or send over a copy of The Dirtbag’s Guide to Life, smile and walk away.

If your not a full-on dirtbag this book is for you. If your interested in what it means to be a dirtbag, this book is for you. If you know someone that lives a weird dirty traveling lifestyle, but don’t understand why, this book is for you. If you already are living like a dirtbag, this book is for you.

If you have any sense of travel or adventure, you’re going to get something out of this guide. It’s definitely not one of those books you’re going to read and be done with, your going to find yourself referring back to it for information. I’m still going back and taking more notes!  Mine will be close at hand and for you, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.

book cover

(Book Cover) 

You can find this book on Amazon via this link available in both paperback and on Kindle!

Learn more about Tim and his wife Angel via their website You can check out their podcast there too!


A Few Other Book Reviews I’ve Also Done: 

Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home – REVIEW

Learning To See – Review

The Seasons Change

The seasons are changing for me and just like one would prepare for the winter with wood, food, etc. I feel like I’m stocking up on things too.

Darwin and I are returning to the wilds of the west after I have been hovering around my home town for almost four months. It seems like for me no matter when I’m leaving a place and where I’m going next, I always have a hard time with the first part, the leaving.

Since I’ve been back at home, I have been working, learning, and growing. Preparing for the changing seasons as best as I could, not knowing what the winds would bring, and now its time. I feel like I’m currently gathering experiences with my friends and family. If I can just listen hard enough, watch long enough, I can memorize every moment and take it with me. Like a piece of wood used for a winter fire, I pull each moment from the pile later and relearn from it, enjoy it again, and become warmed and renewed by it.

This is where I am.

I have enjoyed every minute of my time back home. The work I’ve been doing, the laughs I’ve shared with friends, the food, the travel, even just the sitting, and breathing, but like the seasons each have their time to begin and end. The natural world would not progress, renew, and grow without each season’s offerings.

And so, my time in Indiana is coming to a close, this season of my life is ending. I’m taking what I can with me, and although I’m not sure what the next season holds for me, I will find comfort in reflecting back on this one and the lessons it has taught me; the person I was at first, and the person I am now.

featured image

(Picture Taken From My Campspot At Grayson Highlands 2019) 

Neato Stuffs:

The Dirtbag’s Guide To Life – Review Coming Soon! 

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Another Post About Change:

The Trees They Are a-Swayin

Our Last Days In The Gorge

Caron and I spent the next few days and nights exploring the Gorge. We traveled via the Sheltowee Trace Trail a majority of the time. I wondered about those who had traveled the trail before and the history behind it. I couldn’t help but laugh as I thought back to the first time I had been on this specific trail, referring to the “blazes” as simply “turtles” not knowing their significance or what a blaze even was.

Caron and I climbed up along a ridge and I pointed out the scars left from a forest fire. I remembered hiking past this same section many years before with Darwin in the dark. Darwin and I had passed by burning embers and flames as our adrenaline pumped after being woken up and questioned by the Forest Service still several hours before daybreak. A campfire had gotten out of control and we were informed to evacuate as our camp spot was in the middle of a full-blown forest fire.

Caron and I continued hiking admiring the blooming Mountain Laurels and lost time watching the butterflies flutter around them. Eventually, we made our camp by a stream and enjoyed the company of a small (and controlled) campfire that evening. We reviewed our day and the lessons we had learned such as the below:

Check Your Mac & Cheesepowdered cheese is better for camping the liquid is just disappointing

Use A Go Girl Only When Fully Awakeusing it while in your tent half asleep will prove to be messy

The next morning we took our time packing up camp and decided to hike back out to the car in order to explore more areas of the Gorge we would be unable to hike to. We spent some time in the Visitor’s Center learning about the Gorge’s flora, fauna, and legends still being told about the area. We then drove to a few visitas looking down into a thick green and humid wilderness, trimmed with beautiful gray and brown rock outcroppings.

We ate lunch at a developed picnic area and consulted our maps, finding a trailhead to park at deciding to hike in just a few miles to camp for the evening. Hiking out a lot further than we both expected, we settled for a less than desirable campsite. The long-distance hiker in me had to grit my teeth in order to say this was our home for the night. The urge to keep hiking until a better spot came along was strong but as many may know, that perfect campsite usually doesn’t exist. I had to remind myself this was not that type of hike; it was not the miles that matter but the experience. Old habits die hard I suppose and spending time with good friends never lasts long enough.

The last few days of hiking seemed to wash over both of us as everything seemed to become a struggle, especially for me to hang a bear bag. Finally fed and camp chores done, we retreated to our tents.

The next morning marked our fourth and last day. We hiked back out to the car and said our goodbyes to the wilderness as we drove back through the Nada Tunnel. We came out the other side greeted by civilization and made our way to a well-deserved hot breakfast and coffee before our drive home.



Neato Stuffs:

The Dirtbag’s Guide To Life – Review Coming Soon! 

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures – more stories from the Gorge can be found here!

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Last Week’s Post:

Return to Red River Gorge


Return to Red River Gorge

I was on my way to the Gorge. I didn’t know if I would ever be back to this magical place; the place where it happened. After years of trial and error, fears and discomfort, I finally relaxed and let it all in. I first fell in love with backpacking in Red River Gorge (Daniel Boone National Forest).

Five years from my last visit, I was returning to the Gorge with my friend Caron. With Darwin away in Scotland it dawned on me this was my first time backpacking without him. I was now the one with the most experience.

We started our trip off with a visit to Miguel’s for pizza. The place had grown significantly since Darwin and I had last eaten there. The environment that had once seemed overwhelming with dirty climbers and hikers now felt like home. I was immediately taken back to a time with my tramily, lounging around outside a place and stuffing ourselves silly with food, feeling refreshed from a very overdue shower. As Caron and I  ate conversation was easy and our excitement for the trail grew.

We approached the Nada Tunnel, a symbol of transition; leaving civilization for the wilderness. We entered the one car tunnel leaving behind cabins, gas stations and cell signal for a world of waterfalls and rivers, cliff faces and vistas. Everything was the same as I remembered as we drove to the trailhead but somehow different; I was different.

Caron and I sorted the last bit of our food at the car and took a pre-hike photo at the trailhead before heading off. I tried to remember my life the last time I had started off hiking up this same trail. I couldn’t exactly remember but I know I wasn’t as confident, as open to letting the adventure just happen back then.

We hiked on a dirt trail and up wooden stairs, down rock faces, and over streams until it was time to set up camp. We turned a bend and came up to a spot that I specifically remember from years ago. Darwin and I had come across the spot before but it was too early to stop hiking. Now coming across the same spot, it was perfect and where we called home for the night.

Setting up tents, filtering water, and hanging a bear bag are typical chores for a backpacking trip but with a good friend, each event is full of laughs and thoroughly entertaining. As darkness closed in, Caron and I retreated to our individual tents, emerging only once when Caron announced it was a full moon.

We stood next to each other gazing up at the bright plump moon hanging in the sky. A blessing of goodwill on our first night of my first girl’s trip and a fond reminder of trips past in the light of another full moon.

(Caron And I At The Trailhead; Me At Camp)


Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Last Week’s Post: 

4 Day/3 Night Trip In Red River Gorge (KY) Gear List

4 Day/3 Night Red River Gorge Trip Gear List

Magellan Falcon Lake Long Sleeve

Purple Rain Adventure Skirt

Sports Bra

1 – Darn Tough Endurance Socks –

Dirty Girl Gaiters

Buff –


New Balance 610v5 Trail Shoe –


Other Clothes: 



Go Girl –


Travel Tooth Brush & Toothpaste

Shit Tickets & Sanitizer


While Darwin’s Away…

I took Darwin to the airport yesterday, the first part of his journey to Scotland. We said our goodbyes and as he entered the line to go through TSA I lingered. We watched and chatted about the awkwardness of partially undressing and being “inspected” in public.

As he started loading his belongings into a bin, we waved to each other and that was that. I drove off from the airport in the Clydesdale, finally taking my place once again behind the wheel.

Sometimes it’s hard to leave a loved one but it honestly didn’t bug me this time. Perhaps I have left Darwin behind at trailheads so much I know what to expect now or the knowledge that he’s taking advantage of an opportunity to travel abroad (something neither of us of done before) made me happy for him.

As I drove, I thought of the trips I have planned this month…

The maps I had sitting on a table waiting to be reviewed and discussed with a friend…

The empty pack waiting to be loaded with gear and taken on its first big backpacking trip…

The new tent that should be arriving the next day…

I have my own plans and itinerary for May and although they are not as extravagant as hiking in another country, they are my plans and I’m pretty damn excited.

If you are someone who has a loved one hiking, traveling, etc. for an extended period of time and you’re staying behind, you may find this article I wrote for Outdoor Evolution helpful.

How to Show Support for a Thru-Hiker 


(Darwin Outside Of The Airport)

Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Last Week’s Post: 



Mugginess, stuffiness, clamminess, and damp…

Humidity, Humidity, your easy to forget when I’m away and when I’m back you always stay.

It’s warm outside and you wrap yourself around me like a blanket; I try to sweat you off.

You make me feel like I’m trapped in a greenhouse; plants and flowers thrive but my puny human form, only wilts under your weight.

You make my hair go flat and everything I touch feels sticky; those out West try to make you, while the Mid West only hates you.

Dankness, airless, wetness, and swelter…

Humidity, Humidity, please go away and hover over another town, some other day.



(Taking A Break On The AT back in 2016…This Day Was VERY Humid)


Cool Thingys That I Also Do:

My Book: Mini Misadventures

Etsy Store: TravelandTrail

Instagram: The_snuggle_diaries  

Last Week’s Post: 

Earth Day Ride