PK Podcast 51: Cliff Jacobson – Skills Are More Important Than Things

PK Podcast 51: Cliff Jacobson – Skills Are More Important Than Things

Cliff Jacobson is one of North America’s most respected outdoors writers and wilderness canoe guides. He is an outdoor skills instructor and a professional outfitter and guide, a canoeing and camping consultant, and the author of more than a dozen top-selling books on canoeing and camping.

In 1962 he gained a degree in Forestry form Purdue Unviersity. From 1963 to 1965 Cliff was an artillery officer in the US army. Later he worked as an outfitter and canoe guide for the Science Museum of Minnesota.

Canoeing, camping and sharing his experience has been a lifelong passion for Cliff. He seems to have paddled every river in North America, certainly in Canada. His wilderness experience is massive.

Up until retirement Cliff taught middle school environmental science but since retiring has continued to spend much time canoeing and camping. At the time of recording this podcast Cliff is in his late seventies and still he actively canoes and camps on wilderness trips. He also continues to share his love for canoeing by writing and teaching about it. And his continued passion comes through in the conversation you are about to hear.

In 2003 the American Canoe Association presented Cliff with the Legends of Paddling Award and inducted him into the ACA Hall of Fame. In 2009 Cliff was awarded the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award by the Boy Scouts of America.

I first became aware of Cliff through his books, in particular Expedition Canoeing. Later I contributed photos to another of his books, a revised edition of Camping’s Top Secrets. So, it’s my absolute pleasure to have Cliff on the podcast and bring this conversation to you in episode 51 of the Paul Kirtley Podcast….

How To Listen To This Podcast

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Connect with Cliff Jacobson


Cliff Jacobson waving from his canoe
Cliff would love to hear from you. Contact him via his website above…

Books By Cliff Jacobson

Links For This Podcast

Wilderness Solo: Berens River Bushcraft Camping Trip
Ally Canoes
NorthStar Canoes
Wenonah Canoes
Esquif Canoes
Nova Craft Canoes
The River And The Wall – Official Trailer
Yellow Yellow Obituary
Morrall River Films YouTube Cliff Jacobson interview
Vilhjalmur Stefansson
Optimus 111B stove
Bill Mason – Path Of The Paddle: Solo Basic
Cliff’s Wikipedia Page
Quiet Adventures Symposium
Midwest Mountaineering Outdoor Adventure Expos
Toronto Outdoor Adventure Show

Blue food barrel chewed by bear
One of the events discussed in the podcast – a blue food barrel that was chewed by a bear. Photo courtesy of Cliff Jacobson.

Thanks For Listening!

Thanks for joining me on this podcast. If you have any comments about this episode, please leave them in the comments section below.

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons at the top of this page. Thanks!

And Finally…

Finally don’t forget to leave an honest review & rating on iTunes or on Stitcher.

Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of this podcast and I read each and every one of them.

Related Material On Paul Kirtley’s Blog

PK Podcast 50: Les Hiddins, The Bush Tucker Man

PK Podcast 46: Kevin Callan, The Nicest Man On The Meanest Journey

Looking Beyond The Water: Benefits Of Knowing The Environment

Canoeing The River Tay – Wonderful Water And Wild Camping

Cliff Jacobson and Camping’s Top Secrets


21 thoughts on “PK Podcast 51: Cliff Jacobson – Skills Are More Important Than Things

  1. Brilliant – & essential – podcast. And Cliff’s books are brilliant too.

    1. Yup his books are great. Glad you liked the podcast. Please feel free to share the link with your network.



  2. Outstanding Pod Cast!!! Two of my favorite “experts”. Man I would love to share a camp with you guys. Thanks for doing these! All the Best!

    1. Hey Robbie, thanks for your comment. Glad you enjoyed this session, as well as the others. More in the pipeline…

      All the best,


  3. Thanks for another great podcast!
    I love listening to Cliff (especially his bear rant) and learning from him.
    I live in Saskatchewan, so can guarantee that once you’ve paddled one of our northern rivers you’ll definitely be back. Ironically, I happened to watch a Porcupine River trip video one of my friends was on shortly before listening to your podcast.

    1. Hey Ken,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you liked this session (including Cliff’s bear rant).

      I’m definitely looking forward to getting up to northern Saskatchewan.



  4. Thanks to Paul and all who listened to the podcast. I love to chat with UK paddlers who have the wonder of wilderness and the magic of canoes in their veins. Email me at info@cliffcanoe.com, or click on the “contact” link on my web-site (www.cliffcanoe.com) and I’ll get back to you ASAP. Just had a nice chat with Matt Winstanley, who is planning to canoe a wild Canadian river next summer. Yeah, it’s addictive!

    1. Hi Cliff,

      Canoeing is definitely there to stay in some of our blood.

      Thanks for making yourself so available. I hope more people get in touch with you…



  5. Absolutely love the cliff jacobson interview. I’ve saved it and will have to listen to it over and over again. It’s packed full of information. Hello from Connecticut. I paddle the housatonic River here. But know I’m bitten and must try canoe camping.


    1. Thanks for the positive words about this podcast Vincent. I’m glad you’ve found it so valuable 🙂

  6. Well Paul, that was once again an epic podcast! I very much enjoyed the candor both of you have towards the sensibilities of wilderness travel compared with canoe trips near to civilisation, and when to hold back even if things are well within your skill levels and capabilities. More of this message could do with being aired without knee jerk judgements being made. Thank you for your continued efforts and excellent podcasts. Cheers.

    1. Thanks Jason. I’m glad you appreciated the length and content of this podcast session. And thanks for your positive words about the podcasts in general. All the best, Paul

  7. Great Podcast! I really enjoyed Cliff’s perspective on things, including his rant on bears. Years of camping in Alaska I’ve never had bear in camp. I always pitch the tent 100ft from the rest of camp when possible, but have never used bear barrels or hung my food. As long as they’re kept clean, I think bears actually avoid popular camp sites. This summer I’m bringing a trail cam along just to see if we have any nocturnal visitors. Oh, and my copy of Cliff’s book will be here Wednesday. 🙂

    1. Hi Phil, thanks for your comments and perspectives. They are very much appreciated. I hope you enjoy Cliff’s book as much as the podcast.

      Warm regards,


  8. I dont see the download link were I can just download the podcast anymore?
    those other links I am not a part of and cant download anything oh well it was a nice run while it lasted keep your edge sharp…

    1. Hey Bill, it was a software update issue. You should be able to see the player and the download link again now.

      Warm regards,


  9. Paul, I really enjoyed #51, very informative without instruction if that makes sense.
    I kind of understood more since the
    Course I did with you and Ray,
    Keep them coming please.!!

    1. Hi Terry, it’s good to hear from you. I’m happy you are keeping up with these podcasts and the canoe-related sessions are resonating with you after the Exped course. More podcasts in the pipeline. Hope you are keeping well. Cheers, Paul.

  10. Hi Paul,
    Thank you to you both for this enthralling podcast. I have got to be honest and say I know nothing of canoeing but found myself really drawn into the story. Your podcasts have been in my ear most of the time as I do jobs around the house during this lockdown here in the UK. All the best Paul, I genuinely appreciate all the effort you put into educating and entertaining via your online presence.
    Thanks again.

  11. One of the best episodes. I was really glad to get to “meet” Cliff through the pod. Somehow I didn’t know about him.

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