Initiatives Helping Women Embrace Camping

When most people think of a motorcycle rally, the first images that pop into their heads are those of burly men with beards smoking and looking intimidating. But Ashmore Ellis and Anya Violet are working hard with their project Babes Ride Out to change that.

Ellis and Violet started this by just riding their motorcycles and camping out for a few days with their friends, but the movement has grown exponentially since its humble beginnings. They are aiming to redefine girls’ trips and make a statement in the world of motorcycles.

Running with the mantra, “No ‘tudes, no dudes,” founders Ellis and Violet are now the heads of an international movement. This year, more than 1,000 women from around the world showed up for motorcycle riding and camping.

“This year, at Babes Ride Out 3, we had girls come from all over the world: from as far as Australia, Canada, Brazil, France, New Zealand, Italy and London,” the pair told Motorcycle Cruiser. “It was super cool to have everybody come out from all over.”

Their final destination this year is Joshua Tree, CA, and this third Babes Ride Out event demonstrates just how much they have grown as an organization.

Rather than simply being known for motorcycles and camping, Babes Ride Out is a movement. It is now a community in which women can come together and share their passions, interests, and love for the open road, and those participating in the event go home having forged lifelong friendships over their journey.

Babes Ride Out isn’t the only movement getting women to embrace the outdoors, either. A San Francisco group is also aiming to bring women together through camping. With the reservations at California’s state parks seeing a 20% increase in visitors over the last five years, year-round camping is becoming more popular across the state.

While the majority of those campers are still men, Trail Mavens is trying to get more women out into the wilderness. Sasha Cox is helping out with the project, which aims to break down the barriers preventing women from getting out on camping trips.

There are three big barriers, Cox told ABC News 7 in San Francisco, are that woman often have no proper gear and no friends to go with, and they believe they lack the necessary skills for camping.

Since the inception of Trail Mavens last year, Cox has led 26 all-female camping trips ranging in difficulty. From camping to backpacking weekends, there is something for every experience level.

In the next year, Cox hopes to run 40 more trips.

Trail Mavens provides gear, does the planning, provides food, and teaches skills in order to promote future camping trips for the women involved. Cox stresses that while they do give a lot of help, the trips aren’t a luxury vacation.

“We use nice tents, you will set them up yourself. We use great cookware, you will cook the meals yourself.”

“We’re thrilled to see more people, especially women, experience the outdoors firsthand,” says Paul Kabalin, CEO, Engel USA. “When they’re ready to start investing in their own gear, it’s always worth it to spend a little more on well designed equipment that’s built to stand up to the rigors of life on the trail or on the road. Gear is a lot more important when you’re hours – or days – away from civilization.”

Trips offered by Trail Mavens have different difficulty levels but are all within driving distance of the Bay Area. They regularly sell out the trips as well, since each one is designed for eight to 10 women. Many come on these trips on their own, but some do bring friends along. The trips also range in price from $345 to $475 and depend on longevity of the trip. For those who don’t own any equipment, this is a steal.

Marsha Lysen participated in a Trail Mavens trip to Big Sur.

“When men are around I think they feel an inclination to just kind of take over,” Lysen said. “And so when it’s just women, it just makes it easier to step up and take initiative.”

“The conversations that come from being around a campfire or on a long hike are inevitably a lot different and a lot more substantial than the conversation you get at a cocktail party,” said Kara Brodgesell, a repeat Trail Maven participant.

First timer Jenny Cook says she was tired and dirty by the end of her weekend in Big Sur with the organization but said, “I have eight new friends. It was really everything I was expecting and more. It was awesome.”

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