Adventurer Jake Wilcox is Crossing All 7 Continents to Complete 50 Expeditions

Meet Jake Wilcox, the man behind the Venture 500. Having already crossed North America on bike, he is now planning to complete a series of expeditions in all seven continents for a total of 25,000+ miles non motorized travel.

In this interview, Jake shares his best tips for adventurers and explorers, what’s like to be on the road for a long time, his favorite gear, and everything you need to know about the Venture 500!

Adventurer Jake Wilcox

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Jake Wilcox, I’m a 28-year old American Explorer, Endurance Athlete, and founder of the project Venture500. I’m originally from Washington state, & have a military, wildland firefighting and bartending background.

Venture500: A worldwide quest to complete 50 expeditions of 500+ miles each, while crossing every continent non motorized. To date I’ve done 16/50 for 15,500+ miles and crossed 2/7 continents.

How and why did you get into adventuring?

I got in a pretty bad car wreck in my early 20s and after that my thinking changed a bit. I realized how fast life can change in the blink of an eye and it jolted me to start living and chasing dreams. On my 25th birthday, I needed a change of pace so I bought a used Walmart bike and backpack and hit the road. I figured I would try to ride from Washington state to Washington DC, a distance of 3,300 miles. I didn’t know much about bike touring but I learned as I went, and it was one of the best trips of my life. In the 60 days it took me to cross North America, I learned more about myself and my home country than ever before, and that’s where Venture500 was born.

Adventurer Jake Wilcox

Why is adventuring important for you?

Nothing kills ambition more than comfort, so for me adventure is a way to keep me focused on my dreams. Being out in the wild and testing myself daily does something for my soul that I haven’t found anywhere else. When you spend time traveling to new places or go on an adventure, it mixes things up from the daily grind and is like a natural reset button.

Adventurer Jake Wilcox

What have been the best and most difficult parts of your adventures and travels?

The best part for me is discovering new places, people, food, cultures, & languages. We live in such a beautiful and diverse world that can only be seen by actually experiencing it for yourself. If you don’t travel you only see a small piece to the whole picture.

The most difficult for me is probably being away from family and friends for so long. Some sacrifices definitely come into play with this kind of life style. But I have a very supportive family and they love watching all the places I get to go.

Another hard part is the funding and planning of these big expeditions. It can sometimes take 6-9 months of preparation to gather all the equipment or money needed to cross a continent non-motorized. Lastly, would be the dangers on the road. Everything from extreme weather, people, automobiles, & wild animals can hinder your progress. You can even feel like quitting often. Something I try to do when I’m down is to think of my life before I started adventuring: Would I rather be doing that working 9-5 or out here living my dreams? A flask of whiskey always helps too.

Adventurer Jake Wilcox

How do you eat and sleep on the road?

All my trips, I camp in a tent 5-6 days out of the week. I carry either my North Face Storm Breaker or an REI Half Dome. Both are lightweight and sturdy designs. When I reach a village or town, I’ll clean up in a hotel and recuperate for a night or two.

As for food, it depends on where I’m traveling and by what mode of transportation. On my Hells Canyon swim, there are no roads in or out so I needed to pack all my own food for weeks. I used a lot of Mountain House freeze dried meals and either a JetBoil Stove or MSR WhisperLite Stove to cook with.

Hitting local markets can save you a lot of money and that’s usually what I’ll do if it’s available. Rice, pastas, nuts, fruits, & beans are my staple. I’ll only eat animal products if it’s my last resort. Plant powered is the way to go.

What is your best advice for new adventurers and explorers?

Start Now! We have only on average 30,000 days to live. What would you like to accomplish in that time? The world is yours and you’re capable of much more than you think.

Adventurer Jake Wilcox

How do you prepare for your adventures?

I live a pretty active life. Cycling, kayaking, hiking, & swimming are all things I like to do regularly. When you have a healthy body, you will have more energy and better mental focus.

But even if you’re not in very good shape, you could easily hop on a bicycle and cross North America. You might hate life for the first week but you’ll survive. The human body is very adaptable and will rise to the task you give it.

How do you finance your adventures?

It took years of self funding my adventures before I ever got any help from companies. I would bust my ass in any job I could find just to travel. I’m happy to say the hard work has paid off though. I’m now sponsored both gear and money and get to be an ambassador for some pretty rad companies like Burley, Gerber Gear, Sawyer, & Helly Hanson. I don’t spend much on expeditions once the gear has been gotten. I can usually get by on $5-20 USD a day any where in the world. Shop local, drink water, and camp. It’s that simple.

How do you balance normal life with adventuring?

Adventuring is my “Normal Life” now. I can sometimes be gone 8+ months out of the year so it becomes natural to be on the road. I don’t have a wife or kids so that does make it easier for me to be gone that long. Sometimes I do miss having a stable relationship, perhaps one day I’ll settle down. But for now I’m happy with an ever changing horizon and getting my loving on the road.

Adventurer Jake Wilcox

What has been your best adventuring purchase below $100, what other favorite gear do you have?

I love the adventure shirts by Craghopper. Super versatile and you can wear them for weeks if need be.

Good pair of shoes is a must. I only wear Merrells because they are trail tested and damn comfy. Solid fixed blade and multitool, I use the Gerber Gator series. Lastly, you need something to carry this stuff, Osprey has created some of the best backpacks on the planet. It’s also back by a lifetime guarantee.

Adventurer Jake Wilcox

What will the future bring?

My 3rd continent crossing will start in September. I’m planning to Elliptigo from ocean to ocean across Australia 2,600 miles through the Outback. One of the longest journeys ever by that mode of transport.

Follow Jake Wilcox on his website, Facebook, and Instagram


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