May 7, 2022


My book is complete and in its fourth draft! The story has come a long way and evolved so much. I'm forever indebted to the readers who read each draft and shared their feedback. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The manuscript now sits at 29 chapters and about 70,000 words. I hope to begin pitching agents this summer. Inquiries are of course welcome. Contact me at tonypiff(at)gmail(dot)com.


Ridiculously Low-Key Adventuring:

A Dirtbag Handbook and A Midlife Memoir

By Tony Piff


“This isn’t what I signed up for!” thinks the thirty-something adventurer staring down the barrel of middle age. “Why oh why didn’t I do more with my life when I had the chance?” We fantasize about quitting the rat-race, living in a van, creating a life of travel… only to be reminded of our responsibilities, kids, and debts.

This “freedom lifestyle fantasy” is a crock of pop-culture hype, but my book proposes a viable alternative: the “midlife adventuring reality.” Middle age does not mark the end of our adventuring years. Middle age is when adventuring starts getting good!

In Part I: A Theory of Gear, I tell the story of my failed marriage and failed career, and the shattering of my identity and deepest core values. Out of this rubble, an unexpected life chapter took shape, more fulfilling and rich with adventure than anything I could have imagined. And amidst this breakthrough, I discovered a zealous belief in the power of “gear” as a sacred well of joy and meaning.

In Part II: A Theory of Adventure, I lay out an action plan for implementing the midlife adventuring reality. As I recount the humiliating mishaps and miseries collected on my extensive dirtbag excursions, readers will find themselves informed, entertained, and inspired to tap the ridiculously low-key ethos and manifest their own dirtbag adventuring visions, transcending the regimented constraints of routine grown-up life.

Part III: Adventure as Pilgrimage concludes the narrative arc with a single milestone adventure tale, undertaken at age 40 with my kids and my ex-wife.

This is a handbook about adventuring, but it’s also a very personal memoir, exploring assumptions about adulthood, work, marriage, family, happiness, and fulfilling our potential. It’s a self-help book, sort of — the book that I wish clueless younger me could’ve read. My midlife adventuring reawakening could not have happened without getting the rest of my life in order. As you’ll see. I think this is a discussion long-overdue.

At the back of the book is the Gear Appendix, which details the stuff you need, whether you’re packing for a self-contained backpacking trip, a roadtrip, or just loading your pockets for everyday preparedness, as well as a rundown of various adventuring vehicles. There’s a satisfying, intimate, elemental relationship between gear and adventure. Drawing on my own experience and nerdy obsessiveness, I identify the essential items needed and the features to look for to maximize this satisfaction. I’m not seduced by expensive, high-tech, ultralight gear for its own sake, and you won’t find much of that stuff in these pages, although I encourage you to seek it out if that inspires you. My goal is to demystify and to motivate, to get readers out and adventuring, in the spirit of the ridiculously low-key.