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The Gearzette
Front Runner On The Move​ Featuring Dylan Decker

Front Runner On The Move​ Featuring Dylan Decker

- March 31, 2022

Dylan Decker is a surf photographer and social media expert who spends much of his time on the California coast. When he’s not chasing swells however, he escapes into the mountains in search of sunsets and dramatic scenes, always with Beau, his faithful four-legged companion at his side. Out on his travels the lure of water is never far away, and he often finds himself camped next to a lake or river. Read on to learn more about his favorite campsites, how to travel with a dog and where next he plans on taking his Land Cruiser. 

© Dylan Decker

How many kilometers have you traveled in the past 18 months?

I have traveled just over 16,000km since lockdowns started. I had plans to drive up into Alaska before the Canadian border shut down, so had to pivot to a few trips through the Western States. It was honestly a blessing in disguise. I’m still itching to get up into AK, but states like Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Washington have so much to offer.

© Dylan Decker

How has 2022 been so far?

It’s off to a rolling start, but nothing major yet. I’ve been up into Big Sur and Yosemite so far, but plan on taking a month or two to dial the Cruiser in before summer comes around. Despite the heat, that’s always been my favorite time of year to be on the road.

What are your 5 favorite campsites of all time?

© Dylan Decker

1. Whitefish, Montana

Growing up in California I’ve always experienced summer on the beach. I’ve always wanted to see what a summer on the lake would be like. In Northern Montana you can experience it a thousand different ways; you just have to choose your lake. This photo is of my favorite body of water out there.

© Dylan Decker

2. Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

Really good camp spots are often determined by something significant outside the tent - whether it be massive pines, a waterfall, lake, cliff, etc. There’s something really special about having absolutely nothing around you though, and that’s what Bonneville provides.

© Dylan Decker

3. Central Utah

Utah is on the list twice, but the two spots are far from the same. One thing they do have in common is looking like they’re on a different planet. This spot is in Central Utah, and this specific photo is one of my favorites to date.

© Dylan Decker

4. Tetons, Wyoming

BLM (Bureau of Land Management) camps are a beautiful thing and when 4x4 is required to get to your site, it makes it even better. This spot outside the Tetons has endless trails and is an amazing place to watch the sun rise or set.

© Dylan Decker

5. Fire Lookout, Northern Cascades

It’s hard to make a list and not include the lookout. This little shelter was the first roof we had over our heads in over two months. It provided panoramic views of the entire Cascade Mountain Range and to this date has been my most memorable sunrise.

© Dylan Decker

What is the biggest challenge you’ve ever had to deal with on an overland trip?

I was initially wishing that I had a more exciting answer here, but I’m honestly glad that I don’t. I’ve run into some hurdles since driving the Land Cruiser long distance, but nothing major (knock on wood). Until I put an external trans cooler on, my transmission fluid would constantly overheat and turn a six-hour drive into a 10. I’ve had the brakes give out and feel useless on a couple of steep passes, but would just gear down and take it slow.

Unrelated to mechanical issues, my biggest challenge on an overland trip came in the Bonneville Salt Flats. Around blue hour I started the bike up to mess around and do some wheelies. My buddy Jeff captured this photo of the bike getting too vertical and slipping away from me. If you look closely you can see the rear fender snap, and the license plate make impact with my ankle. I popped up thinking I was fine, but after looking down I noticed the salt flats were painted red. I had gashed my ankle three inches wide to the bone and the blood was pouring. We did our best to tie a tourniquet and Jeff packed up camp so that we could start driving to meet an ambulance. Not the greatest memory, but it taught me to have a more complete first aid kit stored in the Cruiser (and to always wear proper gear when riding).

© Dylan Decker

Can you give us a brief rundown of the Front Runner products you have on your Cruiser?

I have the Slimline II Roof Rack, the Roof Top Tent, two Wolf Packs, the Easy-Out Awning, Double Jerry Can Holder with two Jerry Cans, and the Ratcheting Spade/Shovel Mount.

© Dylan Decker

Where to next with the Cruiser?

My plan this year is to finally get the Cruiser into Canadian soil. Vancouver Island is at the top of my list in places to return to. As of now the plan is to slowly shoot up the western coast until I reach Tofino.

© Dylan Decker

A lot of your photography features bodies of water. Would you say you're drawn to those visually, or do you gravitate towards them in your travels?

Being a surf photographer has my mind constantly gravitating towards water. I don’t think I consciously realize how much I’m chasing it on trips as well. It can feel therapeutic to camp next to a quiet lake. It’s something you can walk around or play in all day. Having a pup that loves to swim pushes the desire even further.

© Dylan Decker

Any tips for anyone traveling with a four-legged companion?

I think just making it a priority to exercise ‘em as much as needed and planning on where it needs to happen. Being on the road for long hours is a lot more enjoyable knowing that the pup is resting because he actually wants to. One takeaway I continue to have is knowing when to put the camera down. There’s countless moments where I look around and see what an amazing place we’re in. Some of the best memories I have are throwing a ball for Beau at sunset. Letting go of the pressure to nail a million shots and just enjoy the moment will benefit you both.