Tips & Stories

Planning Your Next Outdoor Adventure With Evernote — Tips From Backpacking Site Founder Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd (Travel Series)

Posted by Kasey Fleisher Hickey on 28 Jul 2011

Posted by Kasey Fleisher Hickey on 28 Jul 2011

Name: Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd
: creator of backpacking website, Calipidder and
Product Design Senior Engineer at SAP
Location: San Jose, California
Twitter: @calipidder


Rebecca Sowards-Emmerd is the creator of Calipidder, a website that offers trip reports, photographs, and gear advice for exploring California’s parks and remote backcountry on foot. By day, she is a Director of Product Design at SAP. Here’s how she balances whiteboards and spreadsheets with remote, backcountry trip planning and gear testing.

I Use Evernote, Everywhere:

Evernote Partner Apps I Use:

  • SAP StreamWork for driving decisions based on collective brainstorms.

I use Evernote for…

One of the reasons I love Evernote is the fact that I can access it from any device I happen to be using (as you can tell, I’m a technology geek). I use Evernote for my website, work, life and everything in between. Here is how I can stay productive at work and plan a trek to a remote backpacking destination with one tool.

Calipidder: planning a backpacking trip, testing outdoor gear with Evernote

I started Calipidder when I moved to California in the summer of 2000. At the time, I wasn’t an “outdoors” person, but I started exploring places and taking pictures, and wanted to share them with my family back in Michigan. I have a technical background, so I built a website where I started sharing trip reports and the site started to grow.

I use Evernote in the trip planning process:

  • Developing the route. This summer, I am doing a climb of a peak that is considered to be in the most remote area of the Sierras (Lakes Basin and climb Observation and Shakspear). There are a lot of ways to get there and most of them aren’t found in the traditional guidebooks. To plan a trip like this, you have to find people who’ve been there, who will share with you their experience and pictures of the trails and how long the trek will take.

  • Conducting timely research, even when I don’t have much time. Whether I’m at home or at the office, every time I have a few minutes, I start researching my upcoming trip and dump everything (including trip reports I come across or people who I might want to contact later) into Evernote. I can synthesize the information later and build out the trip.
  • Never forgetting what works and what doesn’t. I do beta testing of gear to help companies figure out what works and what doesn’t. I keep my notes about the gear I test in Evernote, because this information is often useful for my own trip-planning purposes. For example, if I’m testing a pair of waterproof boots, I’ll note something like, “I just hiked 10 miles in a rainstorm in these boots and my feet stayed completely dry!” Evernote lets me easily keep track of products that I test, note which ones are relevant for which trips, and keep a record of feedback that I want to share.

Beyond backpacking: My setup for creating balance at work

  • Keeping it all in sync. Sometimes I’ll go into a work meeting with one machine (either my Mac or Windows PC), sometimes it will be an iPad and sometimes just my BlackBerry. I’m on a laptop only about 20% of the time. No matter where I am, I can access work content and stuff related to my backpacking website, and quickly edit and sync it to all of my other computers and devices.
  • Creating an optimal workspace. I live in my browser (Chrome) so I always have a few tabs open: Gmail, Evernote and Producteev. At work, I use Evernote as my primary note-taking tool, but I also take web clips and drag and drop documents that I may want to access from another computer.
  • Bridging the gap between seeing things and remembering them later. I send all of my email newsletters to my Evernote account (I sign up for them using my Evernote email, so they go straight to my Evernote account and not my inbox). That way, I can catch up on my reading whenever I have a spare minute (on the bus, on the couch, etc.)
  • Staying on top of my expenses. Whenever I order something online, I drop the order confirmation into my Financial notebook in Evernote so that I can easily keep track of my expenses.
  • Capturing whiteboard photos. My team will often have a three hour discussion during which we’ll capture ideas on a whiteboard. When our time is up in the room, we have to erase it all, so I take pictures of our brainstorms—I have a huge notebook of whiteboard photos. On one particular occasion, no one had done anything with a design session we had months earlier, but I had it saved in my Evernote account so we were able to revive the conversation. If I had it an email I would have never found it again. [How to add an image in Evernote]

  • Tying in my company’s tools with Evernote. I’ll often use StreamWork, our internal collaboration program, to share stuff from my Evernote account with my team.

Notebook Stacks and how to use them

I love Notebook Stacks because they allow me to sort out my blog, work, trip planning, and personal stuff like shopping lists that I can pull up on my mobile device at a store. [how to use Notebook Stacks]

My favorite feature

One thing that I notice and love about Evernote is that the different platforms really help you take advantage of what you are doing. For example, the mobile apps let me easily take pictures, quick notes and search for something, while the desktop app gives me a nice big view of, say, my expense report. It’s really intuitive and lets me focus on what I actually want to capture and not how I should capture it.

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16 Comments RSS

  • Graham

    I would love to be able to work with Evernote like this, but I am hamstrung by a few factors:
    1. with iPhone and iPad there is no native “send to Evernote”
    2. When traveling I don’t always have access to wifi therefor no access to Evernote offline.

    If you have ways around this I would love to know about them.
    Graham , Tasmania

    • Peter Murchison

      I so agree that with out a wifi connection, a lot of utility goes out the window …. guess what – i just looked at the pay for Premium features and one of them is the answer!
      If you pay for Premium it says you get:
      For Android, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch users, access your notebooks offline.

      Not the answer I wanted to hear either. 🙂

    • Tim

      Hi Graham. I use the Evernote-specific email address to add content. Evernote assigns this email when you sign up. The account email looks like this => You can access the email address by clicking on the progress bar in the desktop client. This is my primary way to add content into Evernote. In fact I also use it to subscribe to newsletters and RSS feeds – great way to prevent reading content from flooding my email account.

  • Robert Oschler

    Wonderful article. I would like to know more about how Rebecca searches Evernote to find old Travel entries and along what keyword lines (tags, titles, etc), and her workflow between the software entities she keeps open in Chrome tabs. Also, if she does a lot with the latitude/longitude fields.

  • Maria Cochrane

    You say : “At work, I use Evernote as my primary note-taking tool,”
    I’d like to know how you do that…Do you type in Word and then save a word doc to an Evernote Note..or are you typing directly into an evernote note…
    I’m trying to sort all this out. I’m a teacher..I type tons in Word, save to a hard drive, save to a flash drive and backup every night to an external…
    Any advice?

    PS and before evernote (3 wks ago) I used Google Contacts to save all sorts of notes to myself – since everything is alphabetic.

    • Tim

      Hi Maria,
      I save my documents (e.g. Word) directly to Evernote as PDFs. You can do this from the print dialog. When you install the Evernote desktop software it adds a PDF print option. This option allows you to save your document as a PDF and send it directly to the Evernote software. Depending on which operating system you use (Windows or Mac) this option will appear differently in the print dialog. On a Mac (which I use) the option appears in the lower left corner of the Print dialog as “PDF”. Click the menu and select “Save PDF to Evernote”. It’s that simple. I use this all of the time to capture web articles.

    • Tim

      one more thing. you can also drag n drop your documents into a new note and it will get added as an attachment.

  • Traveller

    Evernote really doesn’t live up to it’s potential as a travel tool for me because the mobile clients don’t support shared notebooks. It’s been so long promised, and Evernote’s been silent about a timeline. When can we get some support on this feature?

  • Manfred

    Great article with interesting approaches. I’m gonna try the expense-book. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  • Rebecca

    Hi – Rebecca here. I’ll try to answer some questions.

    1. The wifi thing: I’m almost always connected so this has never really bothered me. I actually sometimes have trouble with the ipad behind my corporate firewall so the offline capability is nice there – one of the reasons I went premium.

    2: ” would like to know more about how Rebecca searches Evernote to find old Travel entries and along what keyword lines (tags, titles, etc), and her workflow between the software entities she keeps open in Chrome tabs. Also, if she does a lot with the latitude/longitude fields.”

    -> I keep things organized in Notebook Stacks and also use tagging. For example, I have a Stack called “Trips” and inside this stack I have the following notebooks:
    – Future Trips: this is where I stash notes and ideas. For example, if I read a trip report or see some photos that catch my imagination I’ll capture it in this notebook so when it comes time to plan something I have somewhere to start
    – Packing Lists: I have all kinds of packing lists here – backpacking, climbing, car camping, skiing, snow camping, etc.
    – Reservations: permit confirmations, hotel bookings, etc.
    – Trip Planning: this is where the meat of my content goes. I use it only for trips I’m actively planning. After the trip I move my related notes into an archive notebook.
    To distinguish between trips I use tagging. Right now I have notes for about five different trips living in my “Trip Planning” notebook, but I have a unique tag for each trip.

    I actually don’t use the lat/long stuff at all.

    I use producteev as a GTD tool and will link directly to notes on evernote from within my related tasks.

    3. You say : “At work, I use Evernote as my primary note-taking tool,”
    I’d like to know how you do that…Do you type in Word and then save a word doc to an Evernote Note..or are you typing directly into an evernote note…

    I enter directly into evernote via the web app (if I have a laptop with me) or on the ipad.

    Thanks everyone! It was fun to share how I use this really useful tool.

  • Danielle

    I would like to see an alert in evernote. I have all my to dos stored in there but there are so many, some get overlooked… is that in the future of the free version? Please say yes please say yes.

    • David

      Hi Danielle, one thing you can do to overcome missing to dos is use checkboxes when creating your tasks. Learn the keyboard shortcuts of ctrl + shift + t for windows or cmd + shift + t for mac to make entering task lists easy. Once you have a list with checkboxes in a note you can search for todo:false to find all your notes that have unchecked boxes. Voila! No more missed to do items.

  • trailsnet

    I have been saving a lot of “stuff” on Evernote, but haven’t actually started using it as an organizational tool. I could really use that since I have 3 outdoor/active travel-related websites, each w/ its own blog.
    Where’s the best place to watch tutorials on how to use Evernote.
    I just downloaded Bento on my Mac. I’m wondering if using both Bento & Evernote would be redundant?

  • bibek

    how can we get alert or notification of our future plans

  • Simon Newbound

    I wanted to say great to see so much enthusiam for such a wonderful product. I have been using Evernote to research, plan and promote my 3rd Guinness Endurance World Record Challenge. The Evernote experience has totally transformed The way I utilize all assets. On such great adventurers the use of tabs and immediate access to my research such as maps, routes, photoshoots, heritage, cuisine , filming opportunities has totally made it my number one resource. obviously the evernote experience is as functional and easy as the owner is creative and dynamic but I really do love the whole experience. To share my notebooks from the iPad is what I really require now but that said it really is a truly productive app. I am indeed a Fan.

    Guinness Double Endurance Champion of the world 2012

  • Garrett

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this amazing site needs far more attention.

    I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the information!